Geeks turn Apple TV into ‘Mac nano’

The price of the Mac mini went up $100 with Apple’s switch to Intel processors over a year ago, but a user with a little extra time on his hands has managed to turn Apple’s $299 Apple TV into a “Mac nano” of sorts. The Apple TV, which came out a couple of weeks ago, is essentially a set-top box that lets the user stream videos from a PC to a TV via Wi-Fi. However, with its 40GB hard drive, HDMI audio/video output, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and USB2.0 ports, the device is more PC-like than many set-top units.

As Wired reports, a user who calls himself Semthex has come up with a 13-step procedure that allows one to install a copy of MacOS X on the Apple TV. The procedure mandates popping the device open, removing its hard drive, and backing up/copying files to the drive with another machine via a FireWire or USB dock. The Apple TV isn’t exactly a hot rod—Semthex’s “About This Mac” screenshot says the system has a 1GHz processor of unknown origin and 256MB of DDR2-400 memory. Neither the Apple TV’s HDMI audio output nor its Ethernet connection work in MacOS X, either. Nonetheless, installing OS X on a $299 system does present many interesting possibilities. Wired suggests that with OS X on board, the Apple TV may soon even be running Windows.

Comments closed
    • adisor19
    • 14 years ago

    Hmmm.. let’s give it a few more months and see what comes out of these hacks. I’m deffinetly keeping an eye on this as a potential replacement for my XBMC enabled Xbox.


    • DASQ
    • 14 years ago

    OSX must run like crap with only 256mb.

      • Hattig
      • 14 years ago

      If you disable services and features like Dashboard, it could be liveable.

      The first Mac Mini in 2005 had a 1GHz G4, 256MB RAM, and a 32MB Radeon 9200 (IIRC). This has a 1GHz Dothan, 256MB RAM, and a 64MB GeForce 7300M, so it is a higher spec than that first $499 Mac Mini (sans optical drive).

      I don’t have a HDTV so the Apple TV is worthless for me, but I will probably get one or a rip-off copy in a year or two when I do have the required display equipment. Hopefully by then the product will be more refined, with more features (widgets are rumoured for a future Apple TV update) and capabilities, in a variety of configurations.

      They’ve also got Linux booting too, with full support of the graphics chip, optical output, HDMI… that could be the more interesting hack.

        • DASQ
        • 14 years ago

        But then you’re just disabling all the fun stuff :/

        I can’t live without my speed.

      • MagerValp
      • 14 years ago

      If you limit yourself to 1-2 apps at a time, it runs ok. It’s a decent machine for light websurfing and watching movies.

    • Drewstre
    • 14 years ago

    Hmmmm… An TV running OS X with SecuritySpy installed and a few network webcams would make for a very capable home security system… Motion sensing, email notification, web-based configuration and remote viewing, etc… Nice. And no extra monthly monitoring fee, like you’d get with a big name security company.

    • blastdoor
    • 14 years ago

    What is more interesting to me is the fact that Apple has offered some tacit approval of these hacks. For the time being, they seem content to allow users to do what they want with these things.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t buy one myself. I’m waiting for the next revision of the mini — I’ll put that under my TV. But I think it’s neat that people are having so much success in hacking this thing. Maybe in a year or two apple will refine the product to the point that it’s a little more interesting to buyers like me.

    • mirkin
    • 14 years ago

    Installing Mac OS X presents no interesting possibilities … : )

    • Chryx
    • 14 years ago

    the Processor in an AppleTV is an embedded Dothan, so no SSE3
    the GPU is a Geforce 7300Go

    • ew
    • 14 years ago

    Kind of old news. It was published ‘Sunday 01 Apr 2007’. 🙂

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