Beginners Guide for 1.x

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Revision as of 13:54, 5 November 2007 by Simplicity (talk | contribs) (Step Two: Making the USB Stick)
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Beginners Guide

First off let's be clear. Everyone's still learning what they're doing here and whilst I have done this procedure several times without incident, that's with my own setup. You follow this at your own risk and as with anything unauthorized and unsupported, there's a chance you might end up with a permanently broken (also known as "bricked", for obvious reasons) Apple TV. What you do here is entirely at your own risk.

--Simplicity 14:08, 5 November 2007 (CET)

Now that that's out the way, let's get started. There's a wealth of good information on the site, so I thought this might be a good place to bring everything together into a simple "how-to beginners guide, making a few assumptions as to a basic list of things everyone would like their Apple TV to be able to do. So, this page will be dedicated to very simple instructions on how to achieve the following:-

1. Unlock the Apple TV so it can be "seen" on your network.

2. Have the Apple TV use an external drive USB drive to sync and store your iTunes content seamlessly

3. Be able to copy other video formats not supported by iTunes to the Apple TV and play them using the on screen menus

4. Stop the Apple TV updating itself so you lose any of these functions

5. Remove any unwanted menu options left from the above process to make things all tidy.

Further, the goal of this guide is to achieve the above steps in easy to understand steps, so we must meet the following criteria:-

1. Explain each part of the process, so you know what it is you are doing

2. Keep it simple!

What you need before you start

1. An Intel Mac

2. An external USB Hard Drive - I suggest about 500Gb (at time of writing, these seem to be best price/size ratio).

3. A USB Thumb Drive - 128Mb will do.

I'm not going to cover how to do this on a PowerPC Mac or Windows. If someone would like to write a separate guide to do this, based on this one, that's fine, but I would rather not mix the procedures, as it creates confusion.

If you're not sure if your Mac is running Intel, then just click the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen and choose the menu option About This Mac. It will tell you what processor you are running. If it begins with "Intel", regardless what it ends with, you're good. If it says anywhere "PowerPC", you cannot use this procedure.

What you will do in this process

(And why you need the above)

You might already know that when on a network, Apple computers, be they laptops or desktops, simply "appear" in your Finder. However, the Apple TV does not. It only appears in iTunes. This is because the Apple TV has most of its network systems turned off, making it pretty hard to modify to do anything other than that which Apple intended - that is, sync iTunes content. There is an "in" for us, however. The Apple TV will read the contents of a USB Drive attached to it when it thinks it is doing a specific type reboot. What we are going to do is use this back door if you will, to install a small menu option on the Apple TV that will allow us to do three things:-

1. Enable SSH. This is a network option which will then allow us to use OS X's Terminal program log into the Apple TV and make some changes. Don't fear this, it's actually pretty simple.

2. Enable AFP. This will make your Apple TV appear on your network like any other Mac, allowing us to modify files, make folders, etc.

3. Intall other menu options, which in turn allows us to achieve a couple of other niceties, too, like playing films in .avi format.

Don't fear the Terminal

As beginner as this guide is, we are going to use something that looks frightening. The Terminal. Don't worry, things will end well. ;-)

Most of the time, you control your Mac using the mouse to drag and drop files, set program options, etc. The Terminal is a way of doing this using text. For every action you can do with a file, like copy from one location to another, there's a way of doing this with the Terminal. The Terminal also provides a few more options that we'll need. You should not fear the Terminal and most of the time, you're going to just be doing copy and paste actions. You can copy the commands from this page and paste them straight into the Terminal. I will explain each command, so that if it needs any changes specific to your system, you can make them easily.

Step One: Preparation's what you need

We need the Apple TV to be in its virgin state. This means, no content and running the software it shipped with. A few months back, Apple updated the Apple TV software to include a few extra functions, like YouTube. Originally, this was not on the Apple TV as an option. This update to the controlling software (known as "Firmware") was version 1.1, known as the YouTube update. We need Apple TV to be running firmware 1.0. So, you need to go to your Apple TV, Settings then Reset Settings then choose Factory Restore. Yes, you are going to wipe your Apple TV clean, but unless you've been hacking previously, there's no need to worry, because all your content is in iTunes and will be synced back again when we're done.

So, your Apple TV will reboot and restore itself to it's virgin state with firmware 1.0. Go through the process of setting up your network and registering it with iTunes again, just like when you bought it, but turn off syncing of any content. In iTunes, sleect the Apple TV nd go through Music, Pictures, Video, etc and select the option to not sync any content under each. Then press Apply. We'll turn this all back on later.

Important Note

I do not know if Apple are now shipping Apple TVs with 1.1 firmware out the box. If you follow the Factory Restore process and still see the YouTube option, then you can't restore your Apple TV to 1.0 firmware using the above process. Perhaps someone else can help with a guide on how to do this.

If you see the YouTube option after factory restore, stop here. The rest isn't going to work.

Step Two: Making the USB Stick

Please remember: all this must be done on an Intel Mac and your Apple TV must be using Firmware 1.0. If you can see the 'YouTube' option, it's not. Turn back now!

The USB Stick we're going to use is commonly referred to a Patchstick. Fortunately for us, the hard work here has been done, so there's very little we need to do to complete what would otherwise be a pretty complicated step. What you're about to do:-

1. Download a file

2. Use the Terminal to enter one line that will run a series of commands

3. These commands will gather files you downloaded and files off your Intel Mac

4. They will place them on the USB Stick in such a way that it will do what we need it to when plugged into the Apple TV.


Step 3 is why you must use an Intel Mac. The Apple TV runs on an Intel Processor. If you try and use files from an older PowerPC Mac, you'll 'brick' your Apple TV. If you're not sure if your Mac is running Intel, then just click the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen and choose the menu option About This Mac. It will tell you what processor you are running. If it begins with "Intel", regardless what it ends with, you're good. If it says anywhere "PowerPC", you cannot use this procedure.

So, let's go through these steps.

Download this file When it has finished, double click on it, and you will see a new folder on your desktop. In here, we have the files that are going to go onto your Patchstick. Round about now is the perfect time to plug in that USB Stick into your Mac.

Now, open a Finder window, go to Applications and find the Utilities directory. Locate the Terminal utility and double click to run it.

xx More to follow later.