Daily Tip: How to install XBMC on Apple TV 2 [Jailbreak]

IAlready jailbroken your Apple TV 2 and curious how to install the nifty little XBMC add-on that allows you to stream and add even more content from your network? Since we don't have Cydia for Apple TV (yet), the process of installing jailbreak apps is a bit different. Hit the jump for a quick walkthrough on how to get XBMC working on your jailbroken Apple TV 2.

First you'll need a jailbroken AppleTV. If you haven't done that already, check out our guide on jailbreaking the AppleTV 2 with Seas0nPass.

After you've done that, follow these steps.

  1. Open a terminal app as you'll need to gain SSH access to your AppleTV.
  2. Type ssh root@apple-tv.local - if that doesn't work for you, instead of typing apple-tv.local, replace it with your AppleTV's IP address which can be found under Settings then Network on your AppleTV.
  3. You'll be asked for the password to your AppleTV next. By default, it is alpine. If you have changed it, enter the password you chose on your own instead. You may be asked if you're sure you wish to continue, just type "yes".
  4. Once you are at the root menu, type (or copy/paste) this: echo "deb http://mirrors.xbmc.org/apt/atv2 ./" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/xbmc.list and hit "enter".
  5. Next type (or copy/paste) this: apt-get update and hit "enter".
  6. A list of available apps will populate. Type (or copy/paste) this: apt-get install org.xbmc.xbmc-atv2 and hit "enter".
  7. You'll see the app begin to install and once it reaches 100%, you're done. Your AppleTV should flash briefly and when the main menu pops back up, XBMC should be added.

As a side note, I had issues getting my MacBook to connect to my AppleTV via SSH. I kept getting connection refused or invalid host errors. There is a file on your Mac you can delete in order to stop these errors (not sure where it would be located on a PC if anyone wants to chime in here). You'll need to unhide files on your Mac first. You can do that by following the steps below.

  1. Open Terminal and type (or copy/paste): defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE and hit "enter".
  2. Type (or copy/paste): killall Finder

That should unhide all of the hidden files on your Mac. Now you should be able to navigate to /Users/username (in my case Ally)/.ssh and delete the file titled "known_hosts". It should be the only file in that folder. Then try the above steps again. Only some of you may need to do this but I figured I'd throw it in there for anyone who has issues connecting via SSH to their AppleTV.

If you tried this or have installed XBMC, let us know how you like it so far!

If you have any questions or need any extra help, jump on in to our Apple TV Forums.

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you'd like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to dailytips@tipb.com. (If it's especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we'll even give ya a reward...)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Daily Tip: How to install XBMC on Apple TV 2 [Jailbreak]


Can XMBC play dvd discs that are on one of the networked macs? Currently, that would be the only feature I would want on the aTV2 that is missing...

Good question, if it does would it apply to blu-ray as well as DVD? That would be pretty much awesome if it did.

XBMC can't play Bluray directly. Not on any platform. You have to strip the copy protection on another machine before XBMC can play it.

this is great! set it up on friday and it worked wonderfully all weekend.
I LOVE that its an app in the ATV interface so you can exit out of XBMC and still use the atv normally.
great XBMC client for $100 = AWESOME!

"ou’ll need to unhide files on your Mac first. You can do that by following the steps below."
Huh? If you're not comfortable enough with the Terminal to fix this simple issue, then you shouldn't be doing a jailbreak. Also, in many cases, it is NOT the only file in the .ssh folder!
It's easy to do with Terminal, since you have it open to download the debs anyway.
rm ~/.ssh/known_hosts

There is no reason sometime who had files hidden can't do this. Terminal normally has nothing to do with jailbreak. No need to patronize.
Also, on my computers (both macs)... yes, it was the only file in that folder, and most sites I've looked online said it was the only file in that folder. only known_hosts should be in there for MOST users.

Be careful about simply deleting known_hosts if you do any sort of key exchange with other machines, (including iphones) as you'll lose all existing authentication. What would be better is to edit the file and remove the offending line. For example:
open -a TextEdit ~/.ssh/known_hosts
Find the line containing apple-tv.local or the IP of your apple tv and just delete them.

Excuse the n00b-ish question: When you say you connect to your Apple TV, how is that exactly? Via the USB port or via WiFi/Ethernet? I'm asking because my HDTV is not in the same room as my iMac and I don't have a MacBook of any kind (yet).
One additional thought: I have the iMac 27" and on the 27 inchers, the miniDP also works for incoming connections, as opposed to outgoing only. I also have the miniDisplayPort-to-HDMI connector, so would I be able to hook up my iMac to the Apple TV as if it were a TV? It should work, shouldn't it? Hmmm...

Ok, I installed XMBC and Plex on my ATV2 over the weekend and not I"m all, "what next". really, PLEX won't let you install any new plugins and the plugin list that shows up with XMBC is nothing short of lame. Where are all the good plugins for XMBC like Pandora, Comedy Central or PBS Kids!
The only reason I installed Plex was because XMBC couldn't finr ANY of the macs in our house over SBM/SICF, AFP or ZeroConf/Rendezvous. At least with plex I could use the plex server to play my local content and stream it to the ATV2, but of course I could already do that with AirFlick.
Rene, I'd like to see an advanced HowTo on adding additional XMBC plugins (good ones, not just the ones that come with the install).

i got xmbc on my apple tv but i don't know how to get more add ons on it like pelisalacarta or an other add-on that its not already on the xmbc list

I'm having trouble ssh'n into my atv2. i open terminal and put in the command with my apple ip but it doesn't ask for a password and eventually times out. please help

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