How to Install XBMC on Apple TV 2

Jan 21, 2011 - 35 Comments

xbmc on appletv2

The excellent media center software XBMC has finally come to Apple TV 2, but beyond being a great media center, if you’re wondering why else you should care I’ll sum it up in one word: 1080p. Yes, using XBMC, you can unleash 1080p video playback on the $99 Apple TV2… the playback suffers from occasional choppiness on uncompressed bluray video, but hey it’s the first release, and could make the ATV2 the cheapest 1080p video playback device on the market.

You’ll need the following to get started:

We’ll now walk through the process of both jailbreaking the AppleTV2 and installing XBMC:

Jailbreaking the Apple TV2

The first thing you’ll need to do is to jailbreak your Apple TV, this is made remarkably easy with Seas0nPass, which is arguably one of the easiest jailbreak apps out there for any iOS hardware. If you’re familiar with the process of jailbreaking an iPhone this will be very familiar to you, here’s a quick overview:

  • Download and launch Seas0nPass (Direct Download link)
  • Click on the “Create IPSW” button, this will download and create a custom jailbroken IPSW file
  • You’ll now want to connect the Apple TV to your computer using a Micro USB cable, and then put the AppleTV into DFU mode (follow instructions on the screen for this)
  • Once in DFU, iTunes will launch and start to restore the Apple TV with the custom IPSW Seas0nPass created, this is how the jailbreak is actually installed
  • After the AppleTV is jailbroken, you’ll need to disconnect it from your computer briefly and then perform what is called a tethered boot. This basically just means you have to assist the bootloader by connecting it to your computer and using Seas0nPass again, but this time selecting ‘Boot Tethered’ from the menu
  • Follow the instructions to tethered boot your newly jailbroken AppleTV

Now that your Apple TV2 is jailbroken, you can install the XBMC software onto it.

Install XBMC on the AppleTV 2

Installing XBMC is just a matter of using SSH to connect to the newly jailbroken ATV2 to download and install the software. Here are the instructions from the XBMC team:

ssh root@ (fill in your own ATV IP address)

When prompted for your password, enter ‘alpine’ if you haven’t changed it. Now you’ll want to install the XBMC software, execute each of these commands independently:

echo "deb ./" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/xbmc.list

Next use apt-get:

apt-get update

And finally, install the software:

apt-get install org.xbmc.xbmc-atv2

When XBMC has completed installing, your AppleTV’s built-in media manager FrontRow will restart itself and you will see XBMC in the list of options, just select it to launch XBMC.

I haven’t had the chance to try this out myself yet, but apparently XBMC runs quite well. 720p video runs beautifully as expected, but some uncompressed 1080p videos have occasional stuttering and choppiness as you can see in the video below from Engadget. It’s possible that the stuttering may be resolved with future software updates that better optimize hardware acceleration:

If you don’t have an Apple TV you can still setup a media center on any Mac by using Plex or XBMC. It’s simple, just download the software, grab an HDMI adapter and AUX cable, and your Mac is now a media center.

Oh and while we’re on the topic of XBMC, perhaps less useful but still interesting is that it was also just released for iPhone and iPad. This too requires a jailbreak, and the XBMC app can be found via Cydia.


Related articles:

Posted by: William Pearson in Apple TV


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Culy says:

    I can’t wait to install the latest version of iOS but it doesn’t install. How can I install the latest version of iOS.

  2. CJ says:

    I am in the jailbreak process and stuck on the entering DFU process.. I have tried every combination, plugged in to the wall, not plugged in, etc.. and no luck. One thing I have noticed is that when I hold play/menu that iTunes opens up and pulls up my iPhone. My phone is not plugged in and i have also turned it completely off yet it keeps happening. Can anyone please help?
    I appreciate it.

  3. Slim says:

    “michael says:
    January 13, 2012 at 7:48 am Guys,

    I’m getting port 22: Operation timed out! What do i have to do now?”

    I have the same problem. Did you figure it out?

  4. michael says:


    I’m getting port 22: Operation timed out! What do i have to do now?

  5. Blindbat says:

    Seas0n pass jailbreak went flawless. Untethered install of XBMC went smoothly as well. Loaded PlayOn on Parallels and it says running well. Have bridged ethernet checked (Mac Mini). XBMC shows in menu but when click to install apps TV reverts to menu (with XBMC in it). HELP

  6. ooglyboogly says:

    I have jailbroken my Apple TV 2 with seas0nPass and now I want to install xbmc.
    I have downloaded PuTTy and have entered the proper IP Address number and it says username*****@###### password:

    I have NO clue what password to use. I have used every password I can think of. Please help me know where to find that password. Thank you.

    • Woodzdog says:

      Username: root
      Password. alpine

      this will help.

      I have another problem.
      I have installed NitoTV on my ATV2 (Version 4.3) and wanted to install XBMC but it tells me “E: Couldn’t find package org.xbmc.xbmc-atv2”
      What can I do? I have already done a softwarde update of NitoTV.

      Thanks in advance!

      • Paolo says:

        Have you found a work around for this…. I have tried to install XBMC all day and continually get the exact same error. Have looked everywhere for an answer but cannot seem to come up with any :(

        Please advise of any news. Thanks :)

  7. gess24 says:

    Please help getting error:

    E: Type ‘.deb’ is not known on line 1 in source list /etc/apt/sources.list.d/awk wardtv.list

    Any body Please


  8. Dave says:

    I have loaded XBMC works fine except for 2 issues. XBMC drops out to the ATV2 menu at random points in the film. and i seem to have buffer problems.

    Any ideas?

    • cassbc says:

      Im having the same problem. It seams to be during fast action parts of a 720p movie(cowboys and aliens).haven’t noticed this happen on any other movies yet. is it possibly because the file is slightly corrupt? Have you come up with a solution?

  9. missform says:


    what kind of links I need to do that?

  10. Mike says:

    I tried to jailbreak my ATV2 with seasonpass, all went well but when it finished, itunes came up and said my Apple TV (4.3) is not eligible for this restore. what am I doing wrong ?

    • M says:

      You are trying to restore with the wrong IPSW file, be sure you are using the proper version of iOS for your Apple TV and the newest version of SeasonPass

  11. john says:

    I have done the seasonpass jailbreak but now I am completely lost as to how to install the XBMC. When i hit the link it just shows code (what do i do with that?) and a screen shot of the xbmc page??

  12. […] Web Server – Bored with your Apple TV 2 just being a media player? Did you already jailbreak, install XBMC, and turn the ATV2 into a media center? Go a step further and turn the Apple TV2 into a full blown […]

  13. Wth says:

    I have made a discovery. I guess it’s the “cowards” way out, but if u have a win doze machine in your LAN somewhere. You can install “Play-on” and everything seems to work fine.

  14. […] TV 2 remote stopped working. Thought it might have been something to do with the Jailbreak/XBMC install. Nup seems looks like it got locked up. Also referred to this post a few times about […]

  15. […] via How to Install XBMC on Apple TV 2. […]

  16. Wth says:

    Ok. I got season pass jb untethered. Installed xbmc. Also did the blue cop zip add on. Classic movies work ok. My net hds will stream…..but hulu will not play. Spike will not play. TNT, etc etc. None will play. Log file says this
    sha module is deprecated; use the hashlib module instead
    What does that mean in English or is there a fix. Am I too late? My movies download on hulu but then it says that it doesn’t have everything it needs for playback or some such. I even tried myth thing. Changed settings 720 etc. Used default. I have done everything. And it just don’t work. Btw I have done this on my iPad, iphone4 and appletv2 and none will work. All have same error message in log files.

  17. Chas says:

    I got as far as the first command in terminal but got a

    “Connection refused” error.

    Any ideas?! BTW thanks to everyone involved with XBMC, it rocks

    • Terry says:

      You have probably put the wrong IP address in. Make sure you have the IP address of your ATV and replace the above with the IP address of your ATV

      • I’m sorry, but this is why it’s usually a very bad idea to let people just copy/paste commands into terminal. Many have no clue what it all means and what it’s supposed to be doing. That’s just opening doors for disaster.

  18. […] your Apple TV If you really want to maximize your media experience, sync your remote and then try installing XBMC on the Apple TV 2, XBMC is great software and it really excels on the ATV platform. While pairing the remote […]

  19. Arturito says:

    Here you can find easy to follow tutorial that includes untethered jailbreak of apple tv 2 and installation of XBMC

  20. Siftah says:

    Cheapest 1080p playback device on the market?

    How can that be when the hardware is only 720p capable? Decoding 1080p content and then outputting it at 720p may make this a fairly cheap 720p playback device, but it’s not much use for 1080p content.

  21. P says:

    !!!Please Read!!!

    I tried the above and it took me serval tries before i figured out that when you install the xbmc on the apple tv2 you will do this WITHOUT the usb connected to the apple tv – so terminal will make the apple tv connect via the net and download and install xbmc. This is in the final steps.

    Also you should read this guide on SeasONPass they give a few tips that is not here :

    By the way I got xbmc installed but was stupid enough to play with the display settings – I could not get back to the “right” display mode – and so far I haven’t been able to install xbmc again after i did a recover. The good news is that you can get back to the original apple firmware again…

  22. Roko says:

    Thanks Manish, that clears it up perfectly!

  23. Roko says:

    Question: after the tethered boot of the ATV2 is it save to disconnect it completely and move it elsewhere, or will this cause the ATV2 to fail the next time it boots?

    • Manish says:

      Every time the ATV2 boots it needs to be connected to a computer for the tethered boot procedure, that’s the major downside to the tethered jailbreaks.

  24. Starbuck says:

    Cool I will give this a go, weekend project!

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