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Apple TV hacked to run XviD, other formats

updated 09:20 am EDT, Fri March 23, 2007

Apple TV Already Hacked

The Apple TV has already been hacked to run non-supported video formats, according to a pair of forum users. Confirming Walt Mossberg's claim that the media hub runs a custom version of Mac OS X, the technique involves removing the hard drive and mounting it on a Mac, where it appears as a native HFS volume. Installing the SSH server Dropbear, the video container Perian, and a custom script lets the Apple TV play files outside of its normal MPEG-4 and H.264 standards.

The solution is not failsafe, the discoverers say: the solution requires the creation of reference QuickTime movies, preventing the hub from directly synchronizing the movies themselves. No video formats outside of the XviD standard have been tested so far, they add. However, the discovery suggests that the Apple device will be relatively easily accessible for hobbyists.

by MacNN Staff




  1. Ben Lawson

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Itchy Fingers

    I can't believe how fast people have started "hacking" the Apple TV! Bigger hard drives, non-HD compatibility, adding video codecs, etc. Seems like there's a lot of tweakers out there that like the concept but want just one more feature...

  1. trevj

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "Installing the SSH server Dropbear, the video container Perian, and a custom script" Heck is that all? I'll get grandma right on it.

  1. TheBum

    Joined: Dec 1969


    quicktime wrapper?

    Couldn't an XviD movie be placed inside a QuickTime wrapper, turning it into a .mov file, or does iTunes check the codecs inside the .mov file before allowing them to sync?

  1. rotuts

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Boot from this HD?

    Id like to know is this mini OS bootable or is it just a 'HD" that comes up with the main full OS as the boot? if so: how to you 'add' to the mini OS? copy/paste?


  1. lmhaffner

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: huh?

    "Heck is that all? I'll get grandma right on it."

    I think it's meant to contrast with something more drastic like having to modify the hardware or hack firmware. Just installing a few things on the HD does seem pretty easy for anyone that has desire enough to go outside the box, so to speak...

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Why go through all this work to support Xvid? Is the codec that much better than Apples H.264 codec?

  1. mgpalma

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What I want is...

    The Apple TV interface on my Macmini! I would love to see this as my Macmini (coreduo) has more capabilities then the Apple TV. Since people were able to hack Front Row onto non-supported Macs I would think it should be possible. Any thoughts?

  1. technomaster

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Well... a huge benefit of hacking is that you'll be able to play whatever content you want, in whatever format through the Apple TV box.

    You won't be limited to mov files you buy or things that natively come in that format. This potentially opens the door to all the DIVX/XVID/WMV/AVI/etc and "whatever the hip open format of the day is" content out there.

    Makes the Apple TV that much more appealing a device. (No more need for the trusty Phillips DVP642!)

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "quicktime wrapper?"

    All you have to do is run this thru some conversion software and export out to whatever format you want_

    "Why go through all this work to support Xvid? Is the codec that much better than Apples H.264 codec?"

    Not sure myself_ My guess is that Xvid/DivX are older formats than h.263/4_ And they aren't HD formats_ So my question becomes - why would one want to downgrade the play quality of a machine to meet the standards of a lesser format_

    [read sarcasm] Yep - I bought a DVD player when they first came out and then instead of buying DVD based copies of the movies I owned - I opted to copy the VHS versions onto blank DVDs [end]

    Otherwise I think they do it because it's there_

  1. Titanium Man

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Xvid is definitely older and less advanced than H.264. People may want it because a lot of content (almost all pirated) is available in that format in places like Usenet. H.264 content is still very rare except from Apple and on Blu-ray, mainly because it takes a lot more time and CPU power to encode in H.264. Whatever kind of "wrapper" doesn't matter. Quicktime (and thus iTunes) does not have built-in support to play back Xvid. That's what this hack is about, adding that support.

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