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Upgrading your Gen 1 Apple TV to CrystalBuntu..

I recently did a post on cutting the cable which the article explained how you get XBMC 11.0 ontop of the ATV OS. Having run with this for a week or so it turns out that when streaming media from a NAS the playback becomes very choppy and out of sync audio and video occustrs a lot.

Thankfully there is another option however which involves removing the Apple TV OS and putting a Linux based OS onto the box which has been built specifically to work with an AppleTV containing the CrystalHD card.

Before doing this you need to know it is irreverable and a one way path… However having run this OS for a week, it boots fast, works well and no choppy videos.


I did this from a Mac, and the site has great instructions on how to get the OS onto a USB stick from the Mac Terminal

Open Terminal, navigate to the downloaded file, and enter the following command followed by return:
gunzip installer.img.gz
diskutil list
This will list all connected memory devices. Look for the one that is your USB stick. Normally, with no other USB drives connected, it is listed as disk1. If your USB drive shows up as something else then you must replace that number in the instructions below. Failure to do so will likely result in data loss.
Enter these commands in your Terminal window, in sequence:
diskutil umountDisk /dev/disk1
dd if=installer.img of=/dev/rdisk1
Wait for the process to finish. It may take a while.
Remove the USB drive and take it to the Apple TV 1, along with a USB hub and a USB keyboard
Plug in the USB hub into the Apple TV 1, and then plug the USB drive and USB keyboard into the hub
Boot the Apple TV 1 and wait until it gives you an error.
Log-in using atv as both the username and password
Enter the following command:
sudo -s
You will be asked for a password, again, which is still atv
Enter the following commands:
cd /
echo ubuntu > .distro
Wait for the initial installation process to finish. It will ask you to remove the USB drive and reboot. Do so.
Wait for the rest of the installation process to finish and soon you will be using XBMC via Crystalbuntu on the internal hard drive
Thankfully for the Linux and Windows users there is a GUI installer

Some things worth noting about this install procedure..

There are points during the 2nd reboot when the distro gets updated and it appears to be doing nothing.. It is doing something there is just no output on the screen.
Rebooting the device from XBMC seems to take about 4 minutes to shut down the box
While i managed the 1st boot using the Powered hub and keyboard I couldn’t manage the 2nd boot until i plugged the USB stick into the ATV directly. As long as you have made the necessary change of adding the word Ubuntu you shouldn’t need the keyboard again.


One comment on “Upgrading your Gen 1 Apple TV to CrystalBuntu..

  1. Albert
    January 28, 2013

    How can I login? I’m following all you say, but if I put atv, it does nothing, is there any command?

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This entry was posted on May 23, 2012 by in Hardware, Linux, Uncategorized.
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