Apple TV as Backend?

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pseudoheld Offline
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Post: #1
I have a first gen apple tv lying around going to waste, so i thought i might turn it into a small backend for tv recording.
i tried to install mythbuntu on it but to no avail. sadly my linux expertise is not very high so if someone knows how to get the atv setup as a backend for pvr it would be really great!
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matpol Offline
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Post: #2
Does this help: http://www.stmlabs.com/projects/crystalhd-for-appletv/
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pseudoheld Offline
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Post: #3
yeah tried it already. as far as i can tell its only a frontend. ie no recording just watching from a server.
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smtelegadis Offline
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Post: #4
You're going to have a real hard time CPU processing power wise running anything beyond the XBMC front end with the 1st Gen Apple TV. I'm speaking from experience trying to run TVheadend with a HDHomerun Dual tuner. In the end it would just crash continuously and the channel tuning was just too slow to be acceptable by my standards. I wound up switching to a AMD E-350 Foxconn NT-A3500 system and haven't had an issue since. My recommendation would be to try the STMLabs Crystalbuntu forums to read what I proclaimed in more detail or openelec.tv to see if they have had better progress.
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Jimmer Offline
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Post: #5
(2012-04-16 17:35)smtelegadis Wrote:  You're going to have a real hard time CPU processing power wise running anything beyond the XBMC front end with the 1st Gen Apple TV. I'm speaking from experience trying to run TVheadend with a HDHomerun Dual tuner. In the end it would just crash continuously and the channel tuning was just too slow to be acceptable by my standards. I wound up switching to a AMD E-350 Foxconn NT-A3500 system and haven't had an issue since. My recommendation would be to try the STMLabs Crystalbuntu forums to read what I proclaimed in more detail or openelec.tv to see if they have had better progress.

Well, that depends if he wants to use it as a frontend as well? If he just wants a low-powered backend, he could disable launching into xbmc, apt-get install mythtv and use it as a backend for other machines. There's not really enough info about what the OP wants to do.... he'll sure learn some linux bodging things onto an ATV1 anyway! Especially if he just has it laying around gathering dust..... might as well experiment
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pseudoheld Offline
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Post: #6
as jimmer said. backend only! no need to watch on it.
i was gonna hook it up to the network and just let it record shows and ocasionaly watch stuff on another frontend...
i'm slightly familiar with linux so apt-get etc is not too strange to me. just not sure how i would go about disabling launching into xbmc. the crystalbuntu distro just boots directly into xbmc and i couldn't find a way to access the terminal.
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Jimmer Offline
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(2012-04-16 22:15)pseudoheld Wrote:  as jimmer said. backend only! no need to watch on it.
i was gonna hook it up to the network and just let it record shows and ocasionaly watch stuff on another frontend...
i'm slightly familiar with linux so apt-get etc is not too strange to me. just not sure how i would go about disabling launching into xbmc. the crystalbuntu distro just boots directly into xbmc and i couldn't find a way to access the terminal.

You'll need to ssh in and edit the whatever file the distro uses to launch xbmc. I launch xbmc using the .xinitrc file, but I'm pretty sure that crystalbuntu uses /etc/rc.local. Whatever, you'll find the right place with a bit of digging (or ask on the stmlabs forum). If you want to be really hardcore (and learn some mojo on the way) follow the guide on setting up a minimal linux on the atv and then install mythbackend via apt instead of xbmc:

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=HOW...stallation

although if sound over hdmi isn't an issue (if you're just using it as a backend, why would it be?) then you may want to use a more modern distro than Hardy (detailed in the guide) that comes with newer libraries - or you'll find yourself bumping up against hand-compiling things when you need to hand-compile other things in the future.....

You can set this bad-boy up as a headless sabnzbd+/transmission box as well - pretty low energy way to organize downloaded/broadcast media.
(This post was last modified: 2012-04-17 11:27 by Jimmer.)
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pseudoheld Offline
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Post: #8
yeah making it into a transmission box would then be my second goal. first thing first though. guess i will have to brush up on my ssh knowledge then...
wouldn't it be simpler to install a vnc service (via ssh) and some lightweight gui (xfce or whatnot) and then just use that to do the rest of the editing.
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Jimmer Offline
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(2012-04-17 15:47)pseudoheld Wrote:  yeah making it into a transmission box would then be my second goal. first thing first though. guess i will have to brush up on my ssh knowledge then...
wouldn't it be simpler to install a vnc service (via ssh) and some lightweight gui (xfce or whatnot) and then just use that to do the rest of the editing.

If you want to make the ATV into some kind of headless mediaserver (PVR/torrent/sabnzbd), then you're going to have to roll your sleeves up and do some commandline at some point. Might as well get comfortable with ssh now!
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pseudoheld Offline
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Post: #10
don't worry i'm already brushing up on my linux knowledge. right now im going another route where im trying to install openelec which comes with a tvheadend addon Wink
will see how that goes!
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nobleach Offline
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Post: #11
(2012-04-17 17:24)pseudoheld Wrote:  don't worry i'm already brushing up on my linux knowledge. right now im going another route where im trying to install openelec which comes with a tvheadend addon Wink
will see how that goes!

I've built an OpenElec box out of my ATV. The AppleTV's CPU (which is underclocked down to around 800Mhz) isn't powerful enough to handle HD Mpeg2 streams. The one thing that could rescue the AppleTV is the Broadcom CrystalHD mini PCI-E card. It does NOT currently understand Mpeg2 TS so the processor will be doing all the work.

I've also built a nice little transmission torrent machine with it. It would pull my RSS feeds and grab all the shows and have them ready for me a little while later.

Since the AppleTV doesn't run Linux, let alone a Debian based Linux, Apt is not a possibility. You'll need to either run a live distro off of a thumb drive, or install it on the internal drive. Once you wipe out the internal drive, there is no going back. If you do attempt to plug a keyboard and/or mouse into the ATV's single USB port, do NOT use a powered hub. You'll fry the port.

I'd go the route of just using the installed OSX Tiger that's running by default. It's Unix (not 100% certified Unix but close enough), so it's very Linux like. You'll need to download a version of transmission compiled for the architecture.

Probably a billion more things I can say, but I'll let you play for a bit.
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Jimmer Offline
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Post: #12
(2012-04-19 23:22)nobleach Wrote:  
(2012-04-17 17:24)pseudoheld Wrote:  don't worry i'm already brushing up on my linux knowledge. right now im going another route where im trying to install openelec which comes with a tvheadend addon Wink
will see how that goes!

I've built an OpenElec box out of my ATV. The AppleTV's CPU (which is underclocked down to around 800Mhz) isn't powerful enough to handle HD Mpeg2 streams. The one thing that could rescue the AppleTV is the Broadcom CrystalHD mini PCI-E card. It does NOT currently understand Mpeg2 TS so the processor will be doing all the work.

I've also built a nice little transmission torrent machine with it. It would pull my RSS feeds and grab all the shows and have them ready for me a little while later.

Since the AppleTV doesn't run Linux, let alone a Debian based Linux, Apt is not a possibility. You'll need to either run a live distro off of a thumb drive, or install it on the internal drive. Once you wipe out the internal drive, there is no going back. If you do attempt to plug a keyboard and/or mouse into the ATV's single USB port, do NOT use a powered hub. You'll fry the port.

I'd go the route of just using the installed OSX Tiger that's running by default. It's Unix (not 100% certified Unix but close enough), so it's very Linux like. You'll need to download a version of transmission compiled for the architecture.

Probably a billion more things I can say, but I'll let you play for a bit.

Well, I thought the OP wanted to "repurpose" his ATV to use as a headless backend. If you're using it as a backend only, then your dvb-t (or dvb-s) card dumps the mpeg stream to disk. All the backend has to do is "serve" up the mpeg file to whatever frontend (that's hopefully powerful enough) you want to play it on. The ATV should have the stones to do this. Plus you install from a linux netboot image (or install Crystalbuntu and disable xbmc launching on boot) then you should have something pretty lightweight.....
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nobleach Offline
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Post: #13
(2012-04-20 09:23)Jimmer Wrote:  
(2012-04-19 23:22)nobleach Wrote:  
(2012-04-17 17:24)pseudoheld Wrote:  don't worry i'm already brushing up on my linux knowledge. right now im going another route where im trying to install openelec which comes with a tvheadend addon Wink
will see how that goes!

I've built an OpenElec box out of my ATV. The AppleTV's CPU (which is underclocked down to around 800Mhz) isn't powerful enough to handle HD Mpeg2 streams. The one thing that could rescue the AppleTV is the Broadcom CrystalHD mini PCI-E card. It does NOT currently understand Mpeg2 TS so the processor will be doing all the work.

I've also built a nice little transmission torrent machine with it. It would pull my RSS feeds and grab all the shows and have them ready for me a little while later.

Since the AppleTV doesn't run Linux, let alone a Debian based Linux, Apt is not a possibility. You'll need to either run a live distro off of a thumb drive, or install it on the internal drive. Once you wipe out the internal drive, there is no going back. If you do attempt to plug a keyboard and/or mouse into the ATV's single USB port, do NOT use a powered hub. You'll fry the port.

I'd go the route of just using the installed OSX Tiger that's running by default. It's Unix (not 100% certified Unix but close enough), so it's very Linux like. You'll need to download a version of transmission compiled for the architecture.

Probably a billion more things I can say, but I'll let you play for a bit.

Well, I thought the OP wanted to "repurpose" his ATV to use as a headless backend. If you're using it as a backend only, then your dvb-t (or dvb-s) card dumps the mpeg stream to disk. All the backend has to do is "serve" up the mpeg file to whatever frontend (that's hopefully powerful enough) you want to play it on. The ATV should have the stones to do this. Plus you install from a linux netboot image (or install Crystalbuntu and disable xbmc launching on boot) then you should have something pretty lightweight.....

For a simple tvheadend, mythtv or VDR backend... it could probably do well enough. I'm not sure if the USB port on the back of the AppleTV is 2.0 or 1.1. For a TV Tuner to work, it would need to be 2.0 as the max throughput of the 1.1 standard is 12Mb/s. Broadcast channels (at least in the United states) have a bandwidth of 19Mb/s. Most of them don't use that full bandwidth, but seeing channels use 12Mb/s is not uncommon.
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Jimmer Offline
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Post: #14
lsusb -v on my ATV:

Code:
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 0000:0000  
Device Descriptor:
  bLength                18
  bDescriptorType         1
  bcdUSB               2.00

seems to be USB 2.0 to me.....

I'm curious about the powered usb hub thing.... I've seen a few comments like this, but for years I used my atv as my primary rig and had a powered hub with about 4 HDD's hanging off it and never had a problem.... was I just lucky or is it down to the quality (or lack thereof) of the hub?
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GiJOr33 Offline
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Post: #15
Hi,

How did you go with this? I'm looking to do the exact same thing. ATV as a recorder, and then play it through XBMC with a CrystalHD card for the decoding.

The idea is that I can record to the 1tb hard disk and watch it off the device. It would be also good if I could copy it over the network to an external HDD to then plug into my Media Player at the office.

Cheers,
Andrew
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