HOW-TO:Install XBMC on Apple TV 1

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Thanks to lots of hard work by Team-XBMC's very own Scott Davilla and Stephan Diederich it is now possible to install and run XBMC Media Center on you Apple TV.

In short it is XBMC for Mac on Apple TV made easy for everyone to enjoy!

1 How does it work?

ATV USB Creator let you make a so called "patchstick", a bootable USB flash drive which you boot your Apple TV with to install XBMC for Mac to run nativly on Apple TV OS (which by the way is "Tiger based).

1.1 Really Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

  • Question: What happens to original Apple TV software after the XBMC installation?
    • Answer: XBMC is installed onto the Apple TV built-in harddrive but you will still be able you use your Apple TV software as normal, XBMC will only be an extra option that you can launch from the Apple TV's original menu when you want to utilize the extra features and functions that are available in XBMC compared to the original Apple TV software. So XBMC will not replace the original Apple TV software, it instead works as complement the existing Apple TV software.
  • Question: Is XBMC running natively on the Apple TV or under an Linux environment?
    • Answer: This installs XBMC for Mac which is a native Mac OS X application, (Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger to be precise), this does not run under a Linux environment.
  • Question: Will the Apple TV playback 1080p videos encoded with the H.264 codec (like Blu-ray rips)?
    • Answer: No, the Apple TV hardware is only powerful enough to decode 720p videos encoded with the H.264 codec.
  • Question: Does XBMC on the Apple TV upscale standard-definition and 720p videos to 1080p output?
    • Answer: Yes, XBMC on the Apple TV will upscale all videos to 1080p is that is your output resolution.
  • Question: How do I get XBMC to show full screen rather than in windowed mode?
    • Answer: Settings -> Appearance -> Screen -> Resolution -> Full Screen

1.2 Minimum requirements

2 HOW-TO install XBMC on your Apple TV

ATV USB Creator is currently available for Mac OS X (Windows and Linux ATV USB Creator is coming soon).

NOTE: Just to be safe, unplug any other Mac formatted USB drives just in case, (as you do not want to risk the chance the patchstick utility to overwrite the data on any other USB drive you might have connected).

  1. Download the ATV USB Creator from http://code.google.com/p/atvusb-creator/
  2. Insert a 'bootable' USB flash memory drive into your Mac.
  3. Run the ATV USB Creator.
  4. Follow the GUI to select "ATV Patchstick"" and which plugins you would like to install.
  5. Make sure to select the correct disk and hit the circling arrows to the left of the drive menu if you insert the USB flash drive after launching atvusb-creator.
  6. Remove the USB flash memory drive and plug it into your Apple TV.
  7. Power on your Apple TV and the USB flash memory drive (now also called "patchstick") will automatically boot and run ATV bootloader.
  8. After the ATV bootloader finishes, remove it and restart your Apple TV.
  9. You Apple TV GUI will now have an option for XBMC on the main menu.
  10. Click on XBMC, then select "Update", (this will download and install XBMC from the Internet)
  11. Once XBMC is done installing, restart your Apple TV (again).
  12. Click "XBMC", then select "XBMC" in the sub-menu to start XBMC.
  • Later if you wish to update XBMC select "Update" under the XBMC menu on your Apple TV.

3 Known Issues

  • The default Apple TV screensaver may cause XBMC to not respond when it kicks in , (more accurately it can cause XBMC to loose control of the Apple Remote)
    • Due to the way that the Apple TV handles its 'wakeup' from its screensaver mode different from an infrared remote event from the Mac OS X computer platform, we will eventually need to make a source code change to the XBMC software to sort this out, but until then you can workaround this by disabling the screensaver on your Apple TV, (that is, not from within XBMC, but in the Apple TV's own screensaver).

4 Development for XBMC on Apple TV

To help out with the development of XBMC for Mac (which runs on Apple TV) see here. To help out with the development of ATV USB Creator or ATV bootloader see their respective project sites on Google Code:

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