I want to install Ubuntu on my 1st gen Apple TV.

How should I go about doing this, using as little third-party software as possible?


Most of the time when installing Linux on the Apple TV, you are doing it in order to unlock more capabilities when it comes to video playback and options; I assume this is what you are looking for. If you follow these recently updated instructions everything should go fine. Just be careful to read them thoroughly. They will walk you through two different options: running from a USB stick and not touching the Apple TV hard drive, or installing Ubuntu (CrystalBuntu) on the Apple TV itself. I would highly recommend the first: In the case you don't like it, you can just power off, unplug the USB and, then restart; everything would be back to normal. It has both Mac and PC/Linux instructions in there depending on what you have to work with.

Install Instructions

I know that the link says things about XBMC but it is for installing Ubuntu on it so that you can run XBMC too, its a very good media player option. It involves installing Crystalbuntu, a port of Ubuntu with media player options using XBMC.

Here is a nice how to video as well that goes over the booting from a USB stick option:



I understand that you want to do an install that will leave you with a desktop/server environment, which is also possible.

There are also a few other different options for installing a regular version of Linux, like Ubuntu 8.04 and even Arch Linux, with these, you will have a regular desktop and such, as you can see in this example video:


This process, discussed here on Ask Different, goes over the way a bootloader can be copied and used to boot most versions of linux:

What Linux variants can be installed on an 1st generation Apple TV?

The direct page link is here:


This page, has talks about the atv (Apple Tv) Bootloaders and how to use them.

For simpler install though you can download and run there is the following link, which will install the OS of your choice on an USB Drive and do all the heavy lifting can be found here:


Here is a direct link to the installer download page with more instructions:


Also, if you google search "Install Linux on an Apple TV 1st Gen" you can find loads of helpful articles too.

I hope that this helps you out.


To add to the post by @de_an77, I came across this very detailed walkthrough. It references the code.google link in the other answer, but it actually adds quite a bit... explaining each line etc.

I saved the link because it appears to be an excellent resource, but I never did test it.


I succeeded in creating a USB flash drive Crystalbuntu disc from my PPC MAC and my 1st generation Apple TV booted from the flash drive no problem. I didn't have a USB hub or keyboard and the command line reported a fail for a sync file before asking for a login where my project ended. I do not have an at home Internet connection for this.


Links are down. I made a mirror: atv.dc7ia.eu

Read the readme.txt!

Edit: I changed the scripts to download from my server. There will be no updates. Use the Ubuntu updates.

Edit2: I refer to the links to stmlabs.com @de_an777 posted. The script crystalhd installs Ubuntu on your HD or USB drive. I've mirrored the files on my server and edited all the links, so the script works again. I were able to get Ubuntu booting on my Apple TV, after 2h of link editing and upload work.


  • 1
    Can you please elaborate on your answer so it offers a more complete and self-sufficient answer? Right know it's hard to see which other answer yours refer to, what's the difference is and what exactly people should do with your answer. – nohillside Oct 17 '15 at 17:05
  • I've done it :) – DC7IA Oct 17 '15 at 19:46
  • I have no clue on how to use your mirror. I have downloaded the crystalhd.sh and install.sh and i have no clue what to do with those files. I see they are batch files, but how do i create a patchstick with your files? – user156095 Nov 6 '15 at 2:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .