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Old Oct 15, 2013, 06:43 AM   #1
MultiFinder17
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Repurposing an old Apple TV

Hello all! I just wanted to share a little story with you about my old Apple TV.

I've had a first-gen Apple TV since late 2007, and I've been absolutely in love with it. Despite its age, it is still a wonderful little set-top box. Recently, though, my fiancé has been pressing for a new one, mostly so that we can watch netflix without booting up the Xbox and use AirPlay. As such, a refurb is on its way here, and I found myself looking for a new purpose for my trusty old Apple TV.

I self-host my website, and have been looking for a new, low-power server for several months now; I don't want to leave my iMac running at all times just to serve a website that gets very few hits. I suddenly realized that I now had a small, silent,, good-looking, low-power little computer sitting around in my unused Apple TV! I popped it apart, got Leopard installed on it, and am now using it as my server; it happily sits on a shelf, serving up my webpages and managing my e-mail. I also have it set up as a network bridge, providing an internet connection to my wifi-challenged old Xbox 360. I plan on setting it up as the central media repository for my home soon, a task that should be interesting to see if it is up to.

With a 1GHz Celeron, 256MB of RAM, and a slow PATA HDD, it's certainly not a speed demon; the little guy takes around two minutes to boot and another minute before it's at idle, but once it's finished, it's plenty snappy for my needs. I run it headless, only accessing it via screen sharing. This experiment is working out beautifully! With the machine idling most of the time, it actually runs cooler than it did as an Apple TV, so I have high hopes of it lasting for many years to come in its new role.

TL;DR An old Apple TV makes a decent server.
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Old Oct 16, 2013, 10:02 PM   #2
thomassilcox
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Could you run plex server?
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 02:15 AM   #3
Jon-PDX
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That's pretty cool!

I had no idea an ATV could be used in that way.

I guess I better start reading this section more to find out what other things they can be used for.

Jon...
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 05:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomassilcox View Post
Could you run plex server?
Apparently so. I've never used plex or really anything like it, but it seems that some others out there on the internet have gotten it running on their original Apple TVs!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon-PDX View Post
That's pretty cool!

I had no idea an ATV could be used in that way.

I guess I better start reading this section more to find out what other things they can be used for.

Jon...
The original one is a great little device - it's essentially an extremely underpowered, low-power-draw, silent, flattened Mac mini. You can install Mac OS X on it in place of the original Apple TV OS (which itself is just a derivation of Tiger), or install any number of other operating systems on it to suit your needs.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 06:26 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info.

Can the newer ones also be modified to run different OS's ? And if so, do you have a link to more info on how to do it?

Thanks,

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Old Oct 17, 2013, 08:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon-PDX View Post
Can the newer ones also be modified to run different OS's ?
They can as much as iPads or iPhones.
They share more iPad architecture than Mac architecture and run on ARM CPU, using a derivative of iOS.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 05:28 PM   #7
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anyone got a link to a decent guide of how to do this, i too have an Apple TV gen 1 sat about doing nothing, would love to turn it into a mini headless file and iTunes server hooked up to my old drobo via USB. Is there a way to do this without opening it up ? i know it could be "jailbroken" via a USB key to install XBMC and stuff, is there a similar method to install mac OS ?
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 05:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomassilcox View Post
Could you run plex server?
Plex server requires 10.6. The Apple TV 1 cannot run Snow Leopard due to it not having the proper CPU instruction set. If it could, Plex server would be very slow and would crash very often due to its high (on a system with 256MB ram) ram requirement.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 07:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightarchaon View Post
anyone got a link to a decent guide of how to do this, i too have an Apple TV gen 1 sat about doing nothing, would love to turn it into a mini headless file and iTunes server hooked up to my old drobo via USB. Is there a way to do this without opening it up ? i know it could be "jailbroken" via a USB key to install XBMC and stuff, is there a similar method to install mac OS ?
This is the guide that I used when I set mine up.
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Old Dec 30, 2013, 09:22 PM   #10
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Just an update! The server has been working out wonderfully, especially since I installed an SSD in it. Using a cheap SATA --> PATA bridge from Amazon, I installed a 120GB SSD in the little guy, and what a difference it makes! Activities that were once painful and awful to do are now much less so, and the machine overall is much snappier. I use it as an iTunes and file server on my LAN, and a file and web server on the internet. I have a 320GB SSD on its way here so that I can keep even more stuff on it as time goes on; this little guy is turning into quite the wonderful little server!

EDIT: This is the adapter that I wound up buying. It took a little bending of the adapter to get it to lay flat enough to close up the Apple TV again, but it works like a champ. And for $3.77 shipped, what's not to love?
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Last edited by MultiFinder17; Dec 30, 2013 at 09:43 PM.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 02:13 PM   #11
Delmar
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Thank you for the update. I'm looking forward to doing this with my ATV1 in the near future.
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Old Jan 8, 2014, 01:16 PM   #12
Mondeo Man
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Like your work, and would like to add my little bit of work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MultiFinder17 View Post
Just an update! The server has been working out wonderfully, especially since I installed an SSD in it. Using a cheap SATA --> PATA bridge from Amazon, I installed a 120GB SSD in the little guy, and what a difference it makes! Activities that were once painful and awful to do are now much less so, and the machine overall is much snappier. I use it as an iTunes and file server on my LAN, and a file and web server on the internet. I have a 320GB SSD on its way here so that I can keep even more stuff on it as time goes on; this little guy is turning into quite the wonderful little server!

EDIT: This is the adapter that I wound up buying. It took a little bending of the adapter to get it to lay flat enough to close up the Apple TV again, but it works like a champ. And for $3.77 shipped, what's not to love?
Hi my friend, interested in all the upgrades you achieved, good bit of work, you can see what I've been trying out, and at last I've got it to work

My new Storage configuration on the APPLE TV 1st Gen using OPENELEC, I know that this post should be about Crystalbuntu, but my problem is: I cannot recognize my Slave drive in Crystalbuntu, it is recognized in the Jailbroken version of XBMC, and now its installed and active in OPENELEC, so therfore it should show up in Crystalbuntu, but I cannot find the correct format, ANYMORE IDEA'S GUY'S ?

And once more to those guy's that want to know why I want to do this, the answer is: By using a 30gb Mini MSATA SSD to install the programs on, so it speeds up Boot up, switching between Menu's etc, and using the large 1tb drive for the downloading of Movies etc, you guy's all know that the downloaded movies all play with no interruption's, or stopping halfway through the movie, so in the evening before retiring to bed I select the film's that I might like and start downloading them, sometimes about half a dozen, so when we get up in the morning, even if there had been a number of slow downloads, the job will have been completed.

The 26.7G drive is the Mini Msata SSD drive, and the 931GB is the slave drive. The format of the 1TB Slave drive is HFS+

FILESYSTEM...........SIZE.............USED.............AVAILABLE...USE%...MOUNTED ON

/Dev/SD1............200.OM..............115.1M............84.9M...........58%......../Flash

/Dev/sda2...........26.7G.................525.6M............24.8M...........2%........./Storage

/Dev/sdb2...........931.1G...............3.1G................928.0G..........0%......../Var/Media/1TB

SO ANYMORE IDEA'S GUY'S ON THE POSSIBLE FORMAT NEEDED FOR THE SLAVE DRIVE TO BE RECOGNIZED BY CRYSTALBUNTU.
http://forums.macrumors.com/attachme...1&d=1389208248
Mansel.
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Old Jan 8, 2014, 11:30 PM   #13
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I'm impressed that you managed to squeeze two disks into the Apple TV - kudos to you! I agree that the addition of an SSD makes a world of difference in the operation of the Apple TV, especially when running a more fully-featured OS than the stock OS. However, I took a different route than you did - rather than putting in a small SSD and a large HDD, I simply stuck in a large SSD; I recently upgraded it to a 320GB SSD, and it is working out wonderfully!

I was honestly not aware that the Apple TV would possibly support a Master *and* Slave drive, and I am incredibly impressed that you have gotten both of them to work and be recognized in XBMC. As for Crystalbuntu, I have next to no experience with it, having only ever run the Mac OS on my Apple TV as a server. I believe that it was mentioned in your thread that Crystalbuntu has issues with HFS+ Journaled, and that you might try reformatting it as plain HFS+ without the journaling.

Good luck with your Apple TV, and that is some impressive hackery! It really is amazing just how much these old little boxes can do - whether it is an amazingly extensible set-top box that you are building, or the small, quiet, low-power server that I made out of mine, they are still astoundingly useful machines.
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 07:14 AM   #14
Mondeo Man
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Thanks for your response friend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MultiFinder17 View Post
I'm impressed that you managed to squeeze two disks into the Apple TV - kudos to you! I agree that the addition of an SSD makes a world of difference in the operation of the Apple TV, especially when running a more fully-featured OS than the stock OS. However, I took a different route than you did - rather than putting in a small SSD and a large HDD, I simply stuck in a large SSD; I recently upgraded it to a 320GB SSD, and it is working out wonderfully!

I was honestly not aware that the Apple TV would possibly support a Master *and* Slave drive, and I am incredibly impressed that you have gotten both of them to work and be recognized in XBMC. As for Crystalbuntu, I have next to no experience with it, having only ever run the Mac OS on my Apple TV as a server. I believe that it was mentioned in your thread that Crystalbuntu has issues with HFS+ Journaled, and that you might try reformatting it as plain HFS+ without the journaling.

Good luck with your Apple TV, and that is some impressive hackery! It really is amazing just how much these old little boxes can do - whether it is an amazingly extensible set-top box that you are building, or the small, quiet, low-power server that I made out of mine, they are still astoundingly useful machines.
Hi Friend,

The trouble with me is, once I've solved or beaten a problem I tend to move on to something else, this is only one of four Apple Tv 1s I'm working on, and all with different configurations,

1. This one with a single 1TB Sata hard drive, with Crystalbuntu etc. works ok, but not as fast as an SSD drive.

2. This one with a single 30GB Mini Msata SSD drive, works well with all O/S including, Crystalbuntu and Openelec, with a 65GB external SSD USB Drive for downloading Movies etc, very smooth and super fast switching between programs, etc.

3. This one with a single 30GB Mini Msata SSD drive, and a 160GB 2.5 Sata SSD on the dual drive cable works the sweetest, but still not a big enough drive for all the downloading etc.

4. This one is the one shown in the pic attachment, with the 30GB Mini Msata SSD drive for the speed, and the 1TB for the downloading and storage, and play back of movies etc. Think this might be my winner overall.

When I finally reach my goal whatever that be, I will just flog off the remaining three boxes, and retain the best.

In the meantime will be making a couple of video's of the above builds.
Hope to speak to you soon my friend from sunny Florida.

Mansel.
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 07:25 AM   #15
Jon-PDX
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WOW…… two drives. That's impressive!

I had totally forgot about this thread until I got notified about the recent posts.

So curiosity git the best of me and I did a quick search on the local Craig's List. I came across a Gen-1 for $150.00!!! WOW….I guess the seller knows they can be turned into servers. I can get an older mac-mini for that price.

There was also another one for $50.00 but it's not in my local area. Maybe I'll email the seller for more information since that's a reasonable price for something that I would use to experiment with.

This thread might cost me $$$

Jon…
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 09:13 AM   #16
Mondeo Man
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon-PDX View Post
WOW…… two drives. That's impressive!

I had totally forgot about this thread until I got notified about the recent posts.

So curiosity git the best of me and I did a quick search on the local Craig's List. I came across a Gen-1 for $150.00!!! WOW….I guess the seller knows they can be turned into servers. I can get an older mac-mini for that price.

There was also another one for $50.00 but it's not in my local area. Maybe I'll email the seller for more information since that's a reasonable price for something that I would use to experiment with.

This thread might cost me $$$

Jon…
Hi Jon,
At that price my friend you need to snap it up, in the UK the cheapest on E bay works around about $135.00 each, and thats the basic box with a 40gb drive, the price of one with a Crystal HD Card and a ITB Sata Hard drive works out at about $300.00, so git it as you say, with double haste.

Mansel.
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 11:28 AM   #17
Mondeo Man
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Dual SSD Drives in Apple TV 1st generation.

Another pic of my fully working test model with two SSD Drives, work smoothly and faster than normal hard drives, in fact 200% improvement on basic configuration.http://forums.macrumors.com/attachme...1&d=1389288420

Mansel.
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 09:58 PM   #18
Delmar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon-PDX View Post
WOW…… two drives. That's impressive!

I had totally forgot about this thread until I got notified about the recent posts.

So curiosity git the best of me and I did a quick search on the local Craig's List. I came across a Gen-1 for $150.00!!! WOW….I guess the seller knows they can be turned into servers. I can get an older mac-mini for that price.

There was also another one for $50.00 but it's not in my local area. Maybe I'll email the seller for more information since that's a reasonable price for something that I would use to experiment with.

This thread might cost me $$$

Jon…

Keep an eye on your local craigslist, I just picked one up a few days ago for $30. It's in the original box, original remote & power cord. A couple months ago I picked on up for $75 that looks & works like it's new. The good deals are out there, you just have to find the sellers that either have no clue what they have, just don't care or is some guy's newly ex-wife & she doesn't care about his old *****.
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