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[LINUX] Apple TV Crystalbuntu (Ubuntu Linux and Crystal HD) Disk Image for Apple TV
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I'm sure many of you are hearing about the superior performance of CrystalHD with Linux in comparison to the Apple TV OS and want to try it for yourselves. I am posting a disk image that will allow you to do just that without needing any Linux knowledge at all Smile

I have optimised a Ubuntu 8.0.4 installation for you and have imaged it so you can easily restore it to a 4GB flash drive. However, please note that I have not minimalised this install much, it is OpenOffice short of a fully fledged Ubuntu desktop. I recommend that you remove the packages that you do not want and customise the installation to your preference.

Full Image Download (Sam Nazarko) ~ 780MB

md5 hash: d4cb24bca0042e84425ab23454a5bab4
Here are the key features of the disk image:
  • XBMC R28256 - latest SVN build from XBMC repository

  • Crystal HD Driver 1.0.3 - latest stable version (r26)

  • ALSA 1.0.19 - which has been configured to offer sound over HDMI

  • Customised mach_kernel - meaning that Linux is booted directly which is a little faster and the boot process is more streamlined.

  • Linux 2.6.24-27 kernel - for compiling ALSA drivers (one of the functions was not backported to 2.6.24-26, so had to update), as well as NVIDIA drivers.

  • NVIDIA 100.14.19 Drivers - so that HDMI audio is not broken, also fixed two issues:
    1. Turned off TurboCache - to conserve memory
    2. Turned off DynamicTwinView to fix issues with refresh rate
Advantages over native Apple TV OS:
  • 1080p output support (aTV OS will only allow a resolution of 1280x720p then upscaled to 1920x1080p)
  • 23.976p refresh rate
  • Better CrystalHD performance than aTV OS at this point of writing
  • Snappier interface
For your reference:
  • The SSH username and password is xbmc, xbmc. This can be changed via ssh with command "passwd"
  • For sound output over HDMI in XBMC with ALSA 1.0.19, use custom device: "plughw:0,3". This has been done already, so for those planning to use HDMI sound, no change is necessary in audio settings. Remember to configure what codecs your receiver is compatible with.
  • To verify the detection of the Crystal HD card, enter the following command through SSH:
    "lspci | grep Broadcom"
    if the card is detected, then the expected output will be:

    02:00.0 Multimedia controller: Broadcom Corporation Unknown device 1612 (rev 01)

  • If you update the Linux kernel, you must recompile the mach_kernel from atv-bootloader source by putting in the new initrd.gz and vmlinuz from "/boot", else aTV will not boot the new kernel. Darwin Cross Tools are required for compiling atv-bootloader (included). You'll then want to install the new headers and modules.
  • I have disabled video thumbnail generation and file information extraction. This is because the subversion build included has issues with this feature. Having this setting enabled will cause performance issues.
How to restore the disk image:

Note: Use a high speed flash drive for optimal performance.

If you are restoring to a hard drive, and it will be the only mass storage device connected to aTV, you will need to modify com.apple.boot.plist kernel parameters, for they assume that the installation is located at /dev/sdb2.

Under Linux:

Linux will let you natively image your USB without third party utilities. After downloading the image, extract it with:

then write it to USB with:

sudo dd if=xbmc-r28256-crystalHD-1.0.3-alsa-1.019-nvidia100.14.19-hardy-cust_machkernel- of=device bs=4096
substituting device with the location of the drive to restore to. If this is the only USB device connected, it will be /dev/sdb.

Under Windows:

You can restore the disk image (after extracting) with USB Image Tool, nab the latest version from here. Extract the archive and run the application as an Administrator.

It is important you run it as an administrator as it is necessary to restore the image in Device Mode for correct functionality

Note: To regain full access to your USB in Windows at a later date, restore this 512 byte bootsector

Minimalised Disk Image by pin87a ~ 650MB

This is a minimal version of my disk image. It means that there is not a Ubuntu desktop, and it uses the XBMC live package.

  • Minimal Ubuntu 8.0.4
  • atvclient (http://wiki.github.com/Evinyatar/atvclient/)
  • crystalhd 1.0.3 (http://code.google.com/p/crystalhd-for-osx/)
  • alsa 1.0.19 (needed for hdmi audio)
  • Nvidia Driver - 100.14.19 (only driver that allows hdmi audio to work properly)
  • XBMC svn r28256
  • xbmc-live (used to auto-launch xbmc, auto adjust volume levels, etc..)
  • powersaved (auto-throttle cpu to minimize heat)
  • custom mach_kernel (2.6.24-28-generic) for atv-bootloader (allows atv-bootloader to load ubuntu directly)

Just like my image it includes atvclient, crystalHD, ALSA, functional Nvidia drivers, r28256 of XBMC, cpu throttling and a custom mach_kernel (mine uses older kernel though). The same imaging methods apply. The SSH username and password are the same, as is all other information under the reference heading.

Requires 4GB (or larger) usb drive. Image is slightly undersized so it should fit on all 4GB drives.


I should be done with a new version of atv-win in a couple of months, allowing you to customise the software you want to install like the Mac version, and allowing custom scripts. Check my twitter for updates.

Sam.Nazarko Wrote:Okay, sorry for the delay, the image was finished last night and I was just "testing" it Wink

I am uploading it now. This will take some time (have to image it, archive it then upload it)

Nice work! Looking forward to testing it myself.
WOOHOO!! Big Grin

Great work again!!!!

Can't wait to plug this baby in the usb-port!
Nice job Sam.
MediaInfo : http://mediainfo.sourceforge.net/
Do not e-mail XBMC-Team members directly asking for support. Read/follow the forum rules.
Where is the link going to be posted?
right here.
How big is it? Smile I cannot wait to check it out.
Looking forward to this. Good stuff.
aTV 2
@reddeath - it's weighing in at around ~780MB as a RAR - bare in mind it will be 4GB extracted

i think my server's going to get hit quite badly Eek

sorry about the slow upload
Sam.Nazarko Wrote:@reddeath - it's weighing in at around ~780MB as a RAR - bare in mind it will be 4GB extracted

i think my server's going to get hit quite badly Eek

sorry about the slow upload

Upload it to Usenet Cool
Sam.Nazarko Wrote:@reddeath - it's weighing in at around ~780MB as a RAR - bare in mind it will be 4GB extracted

i think my server's going to get hit quite badly Eek

sorry about the slow upload

Thanks for the hard work... I think this will be much appreciated from a lot of ATV user. For each user saying thanks, I'm guessing that there's 2-3 hiding that will benefit from this.

Sam, why not use torrent for this? Not all of us has access to newsgroups.

Davilla, what's difference from your solution that you were hinting a few days back?

Is the link up already? I don't see anywhere to download the file.
No the link isn't up yet.

Not a fan of torrents or UseNet.
is it easy to change audio output to toslink?
just change the device output in XBMC.
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[LINUX] Apple TV Crystalbuntu (Ubuntu Linux and Crystal HD) Disk Image for Apple TV4.6715