Hacking an AppleTV v1.1

AppleTVThis post will be redundant tomorrow. Apple are scheduled to release v2 of their firmware for the AppleTV that will switch on the ability for the device to directly access the iTunes store. This will mean the ability to purchase music and rent films directly – at least for those in the US. What I and others have done, however, is made the AppleTV a bit more flexible. A bit like Xbox Media Center, in fact.

First of all, the best places (in my experience) from which to get information about modifying your AppleTV are:

I’ll continue adding links as I find them with the tag ‘appletv’ to my del.icio.us account. 🙂

AppleTV 2

The process of getting the AwkwardTV software wasn’t difficult. You simply need to create something called a ‘Patchstick’ which is a trivial procedure if you follow the Beginners Guide and are running an Intel Mac with OSX 10.4 (Tiger). If you’re on Windows or OSX 10.5 (Leopard) then you might want to search for a pre-built Patchstick image to download at somewhere like YouTorrent.

According to the instructions, you should have some problems if you’ve got an AppleTV which has v1.1 as the factory default firmware. I didn’t. All I did was follow the instructions as per v1.0 and it worked fine. 😀

AwkwardTV

Once the AwkwardTV option appears on the AppleTV menu you’re pretty much sorted. Or at least you should be. You can enable SSH and AFP access which means the AppleTV is accessible over the network. You can also install software (plugins) that add to the device’s functionality. The best of these, and the one I was looking forward to installing, is NitoTV. This plugin enables USB and network automounting, plays DivX files etc. via mplayer and supports emulators for games on your AppleTV!

Unfortunately, when I came to the list of plugins available, NitoTV wasn’t there. Apparently this is because it doesn’t appear on the list until a couple of weeks after the most recent version has been released. Don’t ask me why – I don’t know! It was manual installation time, and I was going to have to get my hands dirty…

After staying up until 3.30am (time flies when there’s a problem to solve) I discovered what I needed to do to get NitoTV onto my AppleTV.

  1. Download and extract the NitoTV plugin (usually by double-clicking on it)
  2. Open the Terminal application under OSX (open Spotlight and search for it if you don’t know where it’s located)
  3. Enter: ssh -1 frontrow@nullAppleTV.local (the password is frontrow)
  4. Enter: sudo mount -o remount,rw/dev/disk0s3/
  5. Enter: sudo mount -uw /dev/disk0s3
  6. This means that the disk is mounted and we can write to it. You can close Terminal now, although we’ll need it again later.
  7. Download and install Fugu.
  8. Launch Fugu so you can transfer files to your AppleTV. You’ll need to enter appletv.local as the location to which to connect and frontrow as the user name. Tick the Force SSH1 option under Advanced Options. The password is also frontrow. Click here for an image of how it should look. 🙂
  9. Once you’ve connected, you can simply drag-and-drop files from the local browser (on the left) to your AppleTV (on the right). Transfer the NitoTV folder to the frontrow user’s home directory (it should automatically take you there, but if not it’s under Users/frontrow)
  10. Open up Terminal again. We’ll need to connect to the AppleTV again via SSH, so enter: ssh -1 frontrow@nullAppleTV.local (the password is frontrow)
  11. Go into the nitoTV folder by entering: cd nitoTV (where ‘nitoTV’ is the name of the folder with your NitoTV files in it)
  12. Enter: chmod 755 installme (to make sure you have permission to run the installation file)
  13. Enter: sudo ./installme (to install NitoTV – the password, when prompted, is frontrow again)
  14. Once the installation is finished the last step is to enter: sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/PlugIns/nitoTV.frappliance/Contents/Resources/fixPerm (not sure what this does but apparently it’s a required step)

Once you’ve finished, restart your AppleTV by holding down the Menu and key together for 6 seconds. You will be prompted which language to choose and then will need to choose the ‘restart’ option. Once all this has been done, you should see something similar to the following:

NitoTV

The options within NitoTV are fairly straightforward and explain themselves. The only real downside to having a v1.1 AppleTV is that further steps are needed to make it ‘see’ network shares. I’ll leave that for another time as I haven’t got it figured out myself yet. At least you can transfer files to your AppleTV using Fugu! 😀

2 Comments

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  1. hi there doug,

    thanks so much for this nito tutorial, for whatever reason i found it the simplest to follow. so thanks.

    i would love to see how you got networking going. as good as nito is, it’s pretty useless to me if i can’t access all those AVI’s that iTunes wont recognise.

    if you have any good links for a tutorial on this, i would be very grateful!

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