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The Apple TV is a great accessory for the living room, but many with media center and home Theater PC Experience prefers more powerful apps like Plex and XBMC for their extra features and wider support for video codecs. With XBMC you can play almost any video or audio format, access shared network drives for network playback and accept media streams install new user themes (skins) from a LAN or the Internet, display weather and news information and basically serve as a full-fledged multimedia jukebox.
Thanks to the wonderful world of jailbreaking, you can now install the excellent free XBMC software on an Apple TV 2 with 5.2 (Apple TV 5.2 software delivered alongside iOS 6.1 for other ID devices) and help unlock the full potential of the devices. unleash as one home theater device. Get everything up and running is a bit more complicated than the average jailbroken app installation process as there is no Cydia and you have to put SSH in the ATV and then use a package manager to get and install the correct XBMC files. But it’s really not too complicated so follow along and you will be able to get it done in a short amount of time.
- Apple TV 2nd generation
- Update the Apple TV 2 to version 5.2 (iOS 6.1) if you haven’t already
- Download Seas0nPass (Mac OS X) (Windows)
- USB cable to connect the Apple TV to a computer to perform the jailbreak
- SSH client (Terminal for Mac OS X, PuTTY for Windows)
Unfortunately, the 3rd generation Apple TV has not yet been jailbroken and thus cannot accept an installation of XBMC. Jailbreaking an Apple TV with Seas0nPass is very easy and is quite similar to the Evasi0n tool for mobile iOS devices, you need to physically connect the Apple TV to a computer to perform the jailbreak. If the basic requirements are met, you are ready to proceed.
Jailbreaking Apple TV 2 with 5.2 (iOS 6.1)
- Open Seas0nPass
- Choose “Create IPSW” and let Seasonpass build the jailbroken IPSW to install, then follow the onscreen instructions to connect the Apple TV 2 to the computer via USB when prompted
- Put the Apple TV into DFU mode by pressing and holding both MENU and PLAY with the ATV remote buttons for 7 seconds
- iTunes will be launched to restore the Apple TV to the newly made jailbreak IPSW, follow the onscreen instructions from Seas0npass
Apple TV will reboot and you will know that Seas0nPass has been successfully installed thanks to the Settings icon on the Apple TV home screen has been temporarily replaced with a red “FC” logo.
Now for the good part, install XBMC.
Install XBMC on the Apple TV 2 (5.2)
Before you start, find the local IP address of the Apple TV by doing the following:
- Go to “Settings”, then “General” and then “Network”
- Make a note of the ATV IP address, you need it for SSH in the device and install XBMC
From a Mac (or Windows PC) open a new Terminal window and use SSH to connect to the Apple TV as the root user with the IP address you just got:
ssh root @ appletv-ip
The default password for Apple TV is “alpine” without the quotes, as are all iPads, iPhones and iPods. It will be “alpine” unless you changed it at some point.
Now that you are remotely logged into the Apple TV, the installation process begins. XBMC’s official method detailed below uses the command line, although the XBMC Wiki offers an alternative method if you’re feeling adventurous.
apt-get install wget
wget -O- http://apt.awkwardtv.org/awkwardtv.pub | add apt-key –
echo “deb http://apt.awkwardtv.org/ stable main”> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/awkwardtv.list
echo “deb http://mirrors.xbmc.org/apt/atv2 ./”> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/xbmc.list
mkdir -p /Applications/AppleTV.app/Appliances
apt-get install org.xbmc.xbmc-atv2
mkdir -p /Applications/XBMC.frappliance
The Apple TV will restart and you now have the nice XBMC media center app on it.
Install plug-ins and custom skins in XBMC on Apple TV
You need to use the Terminal or SFTP (with an app like Cyberduck or from the OS X Finder sFTP feature) to install custom skins on an Apple TV with XBMC, but it’s not complicated if you’ve gotten this far. Connect to the ATV with root @ ip address and navigate to:
/ private / var /mobile/
Place the zip files in that folder, then from XBMC go to “Add Ons” and use “Install from Zip”
Alternatively, you can extract skins and plugins on the computer and then use scp or SFTP to copy them directly to the appropriate plugin or skin folders.
Skins can look great and are free to download from XBMC.
Confluence is a great looking subtle skin that became the default, and AEON is a popular third-party choice, although it hasn’t been updated in quite some time.
Delete XBMC from Apple TV
Decided you’re not a fan of XBMC? No problem, it is much easier to remove than to install. Log back into the Apple TV with SSH:
ssh root @ appletv-ip
Now use the apt-get packaging tool to remove XBMC:
apt-get delete org.xbmc.xbmc-atv2
Finally, restart the ATV:
The Apple TV2 reboots without XBMC.
Uninstalling XBMC will not unjailbreak the Apple TV. If you want to unjailbreak the Apple TV, you must connect it to iTunes on a computer and use the “Restore” function feature to reset it to factory settings.
What is XBMC anyway?
For part of history, XBMC is short for “Xbox Media Center,” yes, Xbox, as in the Microsoft game console. XBMC was originally built for modified Xboxes to turn them into media centers, but has since grown into a cross-platform compatible media center app that runs directly on just about anything from Mac and Windows computers to the Raspberry Pi. The latest versions of XBMC include support to function as AirPlay receivers, both for streaming video and audio from iTunes, so you can enjoy those iOS-designed features by using XBMC, but unlike the standard Apple TV software, it can play mkv files directly on the ATV (or desktop) without any struggles.
XBMC has been able to run on jailbroken Apple TVs for a while, but this is the first time it has been available in the latest 5.2 software update.
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