After a mention by Kevin van Haaren, I decided to try boxee, a multiplatform open source media sharing project. Specifically, I was interested in running boxee on our Apple TV, and pointing it at a share on a Linux server, since the Apple TV's 160gb hard drive is perpetually full, and I spend a significant amount of time moving video on and off via iTunes. Additionally, boxee adds support for additional video formats, and facilitates access to Internet content such as hulu and RSS video feeds (ONN FTW, although I was already getting that through iTunes).

atvusb-creator

My first problem was some confusion in the atvusb-creator, which builds a "patchstick" by copying the appropriate files onto a flash drive. Booting an Apple TV from the patchstick adds boxee to the existing Apple TV software, and provides additional menu items and ssh access.

I was distracted by the bright blue Choose a DMG button. In Mac OS X, blue buttons are supposed to identify the default action, so I kept trying to find a suitable .dmg file to feed it, with no luck. I saw a few warnings that the creator only works with some flash drives, so thought mine were incompatible. After I watched a video on creating the patchstick, I realized this button was a herring -- it is apparently unneeded. Once I skipped straight to Create Using ->, I got a patchstick. Hooray!


Today, I got Boxee installed. It was pretty simple:

  1. Pull the plug.
  2. Plug the patchstick into the back.
  3. Turn on the Apple TV.

I watched Linux boot messages, then saw a message telling me no errors were detected, and to reboot the Apple TV. When it came back, I had 2 extra menu items: XBMC/Boxee & Software Menu. The former includes a (highly recommended) Update command (but after updating I am still offered the same set of updates), a Boxee command which gives me an inescapable black screen, and an XBMC command that lets me configure and use up the Xbox Media Center (which Boxee is built upon). Unfortunately, XBMC doesn't see the videos, music, & photos iTunes synched over, so there's no content yet.

Ah, well. That's progress, at least.