Well, that didn’t take long. People are already opening up the AppleTV and installing extra stuff on it, like browsers, and Perian, which gives you the ability to play rather more video formats. There’s a wiki with more info here.
Now, I have a Mac Mini under my TV so I don’t need one of these. But I can think of a few nice uses for a box that size if somebody made it run Linux… which I’m guessing might not be too hard…
It seems like Apple may have predicted this might happen…
This from the MacUser website:
“Several Apple TV users who have made ‘improvements’ to their systems, such as enabling SSH or VNC access, report finding those improvements mysteriously rolled back over night. Speculation is that Apple has a back door into the system, and it returning the boxes to their original factory condition.
If this is the case, then it would be fairly standard practice in the world of television set-top-boxes. Satellite broadcasters often update their customers’ decoder boxes overnight, to ensure they are running the most up to date software and have current programme guides for timing recordings.
While Apple TV is not a traditional set to box, as it lacks a tuner, it does link to an external media source – iTunes on a Mac or PC – and so it is conceivable that Apple could require access to the boxes to make small software changes that would keep it in line with changes either on your local machine or – less likely – on the iTunes Store. This would be the same as upgrading iTunes on a Mac through OS X’s Software Update feature.
Further, Apple has worked hard to get agreements from music companies and TV studios to feature their content on its platform. Part of the agreement could have included tight control over the devices on which they are played. This would likely necessitate frequent updates to Apple TV, in the same way that it releases periodic updates to iPod firmware.
However, it should be noted that conventional set-top boxes remain the property of the broadcaster from which they are leased, which is in stark contrast to the Apple TV, which is owned by the purchaser.
Naturally some users who have ‘improved’ their systems once they’ve got them home are unhappy. Tutorial Ninjas recommends changing the Apple TV password and denying it access to the Internet.
A more likely explanation is that Apple TV has built-in automated routines to re-install a clean version of the operating system periodically to avoid problems developing over time.”