Hosting and bandwidth provided by MacAce.net.













Apple TV Q&A - Updated April 12, 2012

To be notified of new Q&As, use Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Alternately, sign up for EveryMac.com's twice monthly "old school" site update summary via e-mail.

If you find this page useful, please Bookmark & Share it. Thank you.




What operating system do the Apple TV models use? Do they run Mac OS X? Do they run iOS?

When the original Apple TV was first announced as "iTV" on September 12, 2006, it appeared that the device was running a "stripped down" version of OS X. Upon its release, Walter Mossberg in the WSJ confirmed that the Apple TV uses a "modified version of the Mac operating system".

In an in-depth review, ArsTechnica went a step further, stating that:

The operating system on the disk is a stripped down version of OS 10.4.7. . . There is at least one partition for the operating system which is mounted as read-only (the second is where all of the media files are stored, [and] a third contains a fresh copy of the OS for factory restores).

Likewise, in a "First Look," MacWorld noted that the original Apple TV runs "a version of MacOS X; version 10.4.7 Build 8N5107 to be exact."

The original Apple TV was not intended to run a "full" version of Mac OS X, but mere days after it shipped, creative hackers developed a way to run a full version of Mac OS X on the original Apple TV, as well as run the "Apple TV OS" on a MacBook and a PC.

The black 2nd Gen Apple TV and 3rd Gen Apple TV have a completely different architecture -- each is similar to an iPod touch without the display rather than an Intel PC -- and although neither formally runs iOS, both run a variant of the same iOS operating system that powers the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad models.

Can the Apple TV models run Mac OS X software applications? Can they run iOS applications? Can they play iPod games?

Officially, the original Apple TV is not designed to run any Mac OS X "applications" other than the software pre-installed and fine print on the Apple website at the time of the Apple TV's release noted that "iPod games will not play on Apple TV." However, hardworking hackers reported that they were to get some Mac OS X applications running to varying degrees of success on the original Apple TV including iTunes, VLC, Joost, Firefox, and even World of Warcraft using the default operating system as well as a "full" version of Mac OS X.

Neither are for beginners, but Tutorial Ninjas has more information for adventurous users who are willing to void their Apple TV warranty and attempt to run Mac OS X software on the original Apple TV using the original operating system and AppleTVHacks.net has a tutorial with details on how to run the full version of Mac OS X.

The black 2nd Gen Apple TV and 3rd Gen Apple TV have a completely different architecture than the original model and cannot run Mac OS X or Mac OS X applications. These cannot run iPod games written for the pre-iOS powered iPod models and are not intended to run iOS applications written for the iPod touch, iPhone or iPad models either.

However, as the 2nd Gen and 3rd Gen Apple TV internally are quite similar to an iPod touch, it shouldn't be a surprise that hardworking hackers have been able to run iOS applications on these models and the process is getting easier as time progresses.

For more on Apple TV hacks, see AppleTVHacks.net.

Can the Apple TV models run Windows or Linux?

The original Apple TV was not intended to run operating systems other than the one pre-installed on the system. However, as it uses a standard Intel architecture, the underlying hardware is capable of running Windows and Linux and creative hackers have been able to do so.

The black 2nd Gen Apple TV and 3rd Gen Apple TV have a completely different architecture -- internally these are similar to an iPod touch -- and as such, they cannot run Windows. Theoretically, a version of Linux could be ported to run on the Apple TV, but as of the date last updated (see top), no one has announced an effort to do so.

For more on Apple TV hacks, see AppleTVHacks.net.

Permalink | E-mail a Friend | Bookmark & Share | Report an Error/Typo

Suggest a New Q&A | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Join E-mail List


<< Apple TV Q&A (Main)



EveryMac.com is provided "as is" without warranty of any kind whatsoever. EveryMac.com, and the author thereof, shall not be held responsible or liable, under any circumstances, for any damages resulting from the use or inability to use the information within. For complete disclaimer and copyright information please read and understand the Terms of Use and the Privacy Policy before using EveryMac.com. Use of any content or images without expressed permission is not allowed, although links to any page are welcomed and appreciated.