AppleTV (x86)

The 1st generation AppleTV was Apple's first foray into the set top box arena. I bought mine second-hand, and Apple released the 160 GB version somewhere mid 2007, so by now this thing might be almost a decade old. I must be getting old myself! Anyway - the AppleTV is a neat piece of hardware, beautifully designed and passive, which was quite a feat given the components (the whole case acted as a heatsink).

Hardware specifications

  • Intel Pentium M 1 GHz
  • GeForce Go 7300 64 MiB GDDR3
  • 256 MiB RAM
  • 160 GB P-ATA hard disk
  • Fast Ethernet and 802.11a/b/g/n wireless
  • HDMI
  • Optical audio
  • 1x USB 2.0

Repurposing the AppleTV as a Kodi box

Kodi, formerly XBMC, was able to run on the native AppleTV OS, but limited to 720p output (and a few other shortcomings too). Installing a Linux distribution like e.g. Crystalbuntu (now defunct, with OSMC being it spiritual successor) allowed 1080i output, and, if you replaced the built-in wireless with a Broadcom CrystalHD card, you could playback 720p and 1080p h.264 content with full hardware acceleration.

Unfortunately, the 256 MiB RAM quickly proved too taxing for newer Kodi releases, and while the CrystalHD driver had made it upstream, it was abandoned after a few years, giving developers an extra headache (newer kernels would not support it anymore). Subsequently, Kodi removed support for CrystalHD as well from v14 on. The OSMC dev added CrystalHD hardware support back into Kodi with some help from others, but from v17 (Krypton) on, the OSMC releases only support software decoding like the upstream Kodi project does.

LibreELEC has a Kodi v15 (OpenELEC 6.0.1) community image available, which is said to be the last well functioning OpenELEC release. The developer behind the unofficial AppleTV image indicated a tentative OpenELEC 7.0 build was wholly unresponsive and would not be worked on any further. However, the codebase for both branches is available online for those feeling adventurous (see the OpenELEC link, under Development).

Updated: 2017-11-27