[mythtv-users] AppleTV with Linux

Scott D. Davilla davilla at 4pi.com
Sat Apr 26 23:46:07 UTC 2008

>  > >Is it possible to dual boot the standard ATV software and linux? I'd
>>  >like to be able to switch easily. I didn't really see the answer on
>>  >the wiki.
>>  http://code.google.com/p/atv-bootloader/wiki/AlternatePartitioning1
>>  This is a dual boot setup on the internal drive that uses a USB pen
>>  drive to bootstrap Linux. Remove the pen drive and reboot back to the
>>  AppleTV OS. This is the setup I use for my mainline disk.
>I ran out and bought an ATV, so I have one ready to go.
>Lots of changes have been happening and what I am really looking for
>at this point is:
>1.  A list of hardware
>- ATV (obviously)
>- Do you need a USB hub (must it be powered?)
>- Do you need the USB hub only during installation?
>- You indicate you are running this off a USB pen, with the main files
>going on the ATV's hard drive.  That sounds like the approach I would
>like to take.  Just confirming.

Actually the USB pen is just used to bootstrap the Linux install for 
the alternate install guide.

Hardware List (with options);
1) ATV (of course)

2) Powered USB Hub is required if you intend to use a non-powered 
external USB notebook enclosure. For USB flash drives and 
keyboard/mouse, the USB Hub can be non-powered. I use a CyberPower 
4-port USB 2.0 Hub
This includes an AC adapter for about $18 from newegg. The AC adapter 
outputs 5V @2.6 amps so there's plenty of power to drive a notebook 
hard drive. I've had two notebook drives connect with no problem.

3) USB keyboard/mouse is handy for setting up things. Once you have 
an IR remote working the way you want, you don't need the 
keyboard/mouse anymore.

4) external USB 2.5" notebook adapter or a 2.5" to 3.5" drive 
adapter. This depends on how and what you are going to install. The 
current methods involve pulling the internal PATA drive and using a 
working Linux system/LiveCD to pre-format and install the Linux 

5) external USB cdrom. I've installed KnoppMyth using an external USB 
cdrom. This actually worked quite well however, KnoppMyth is very 
picky about disk partitions wants to install to the first three. I've 
been able to fake it out and include a "Recovery" partition 
containing atv-bootloader as a 4th. AppleTV EFI firmware does not 
care which partition is "Recovery". I don't think you can do the 
alternate install and keep the Apple OS intact under KnoppMyth. I am 
going to try a cdrom install again using Ubuntu/Mythbuntu later this 

A lot depends on how and what you want to install, there numerious 
configurations possible. If you do the doner Linux method, then you 
don't need a powered USB Hub. But some type of USB Hub is going to be 
needed initially to get the AppleTV booted Linux configured.

Just an FYI, I've just finished written up a backup/restore guide but 
it's not posted yet. I have another version of "recovery.tar.gz" 
pending as some command-line apps are missing from the current 
(mkfs.msdos, mkfs.ext3, mkfs.hfsplus, gptsync and partprobe). It is 
possible to add these to the current atv-bootloader 
(recovery.tar.gz). I highly suggest backing up the original 
"Recovery" contents. Use "cp -arp" not "dd".  A backup of "Recovery" 
runs around 200MB not compressed. If this does not make sense, I can 
explain in detail.

Join the atv-bootloader discussion group if you want. I post all updates there.

>2.  Some reasonably current instructions.  I realize much is changing,
>but I would love to give it a go.
>Right now I am using Gutsy as my Myth 0.21 box.
>I haven't even cracked my ATV box and some of the stuff I read on the
>links provided I didn't quite understand.

Myth 0.21 Backend on Gutsy. That kills KnoppMyth, the current version 
is 0.20. I'd go with Mythbuntu 7.10, you can convert to desktop later 
if you want. Mythbuntu will have an nvidia binary that can be 
installed from the start, that means X11 will come right up when you 
boot on the AppleTV. The nvidia driver Mythbuntu 7.10 is not the 
correct verison that can be under-clocked but that can be changed out 
once you get boot. Install frontend only, then exit myth and take the 
updates first thing once you boot. That will put you into 0.21.

I also have some new tricks that will eliminate having to rebuild the 
kernel. An module option for usbhid and patch rebuild ALSA for analog 
audio instead of the kernel. Much easier. These are mentioned in the 
blog section but I've not focused back to Ubuntu/Mythbuntu yet. I 
always test the guides that I create.

>So looking for a couple of current links and some short instructions
>if someone has some time to help.

If you can identify exactly want you want to do and which distro you 
want to use, then I (atv-bootloader kungfu master) can assist. email 
is at top or you can move further discussion to atv-bootloader 
discussion groups or keep it here. If you start a new topic in 
atv-bootloader discussion groups, then it's nice and compact and 
others can use it for reference. This thread has become quite long 
and hard to find specific info.

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