I have both a legitimate, store-bought retail license for OS X Snow Leopard, and I own an Apple TV.
(Neither were stolen, copied, etc. ;-)

Is it possible to install OS X Snow Leopard on an Apple TV?

If so, how, or where can I find more information?

p.s. I don't care about my warranty; it's long gone.


If you have an old AppleTV it may be possible, but to me it seems a bit like a hack. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if the license doesn't allow it. Your Snow Leopard license is probably an upgrade license for Leopard (Apple doesn't sell hardware without OS, so they only sell upgrade licenses I think), and I doubt the Apple TV runs the default version of Leopard.

If you can install Snow Leopard then don't use updates, as the kernel needs to be replaced :)

  • 2
    He would be "upgrading" from the gimped Apple TV OS. FYI, Apple does in fact sell full, non-"upgrade" licenses. The Snow Leopard upgrade is for Leopard owners... users of Tiger and previous must buy the "full". However, from my experience and other peoples' anectodal evidence, the upgrade edition does not care whether you have any version of OS X whatsoever. – Robert S Ciaccio Sep 12 '10 at 21:22

Maybe if this is possible, an AppleTV do not have all the hardware requirement for Snow Leopard, as it needs 1G of RAM. The processor is also only 1 GHz (maybe a bit more, depends on your version) and the lowest Intel processor built on an iMac was a 1.83 GHz Core Duo.

So, even if you achieve to install Snow Leopard on your AppleTV (let say you remove the disk, install Mac OS X on it, then plug it in back), it will be really slow.

  • I have OS X 10.5.8 running on mine. I have stripped out just about every possible service. It uses nearly all 256MB at boot. The swap file gets really big. And with the slow hard drive, it's painful. I bought a 32GB IDE SSD so it can swap faster, I'm interested to see how it performs with that. Right now I'm just using mine as an iTunes Match server, I have Hazel watching a remote NFS directory, then when it finds new Music files, it imports to iTunes, and iTunes uploads via iTunes Match. Then I immediately can listen to the music on any device. It's sluggish at best, but it gets the job done. – Nick Woodhams Dec 4 '12 at 16:19

I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work "by default" (i.e. without a kernel and bootloader hack). You might be able to run it using OSx86, but I'm really not sure.

Like Studer said, even if you achieve to install Snow Leopard on your Apple TV, it will be really slow.


In addition to my rant answer, I took a look at this thread and did a little skimming. Sounds like Snow Leopard is not supported due to some unreleased kernel headers. Not sure why that would matter considering Snow Leopard runs on unsupported x86/64 hardware, but there it is on page 8 from some people who obviously have spent a lot of time with this.

So it would seem that there are software issues in addition to the slow hardware.

HOWEVER, it looks like the aforementioned thread gives quite a bit of practical information on getting Leopard to run! Might be the way to go since Leopard has lower system requirements anyway.

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