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Apple TV has been freed of Apple's restrictions, thanks to the hard work of the jailbreaking community.  (Source: pod2g)
The new set-top box can now support apps

Much to Apple's chagrin, the Library of Congress recently legalized jailbreaking of electronic devices in a clarification to 1998's Digital Millenium Copyright Act.  The move puts Apple in an unpleasant spot as the company has long reveled in locking its consumers out of its devices' built in functionality, and yet has proven utterly inept at developing sufficient protections to prevent firmware savvy software enthusiasts from breaking these locks. 

Apple has perpetually expressed its dismay at this state of affairs, saying that jailbreaking destroys the "magical" experience of its devices.  Apple also claims jailbreaking supports a sickening slew of crime, including terrorism, drug-dealing, and organized crime.

It didn't take long for the new Apple TV set-top box to be jailbroken.  Why the need for the jailbreak? The new, much smaller box -- which lacks a hard drive -- runs a full version of iOS (versus the modified version of OS X 10.4 or OS X 10.5 that Apple's first generation models ran).  Yet Apple has locked users out of using apps on the device.

The jailbreak uses SHAtter jailbreaking tool, developed by @pod2g.  SHAtter is a jailbreak for iOS that Apple is literally powerless to fix, as it exploits the boot ROM.  The tool can be used to trick Apple TV into removing the current iOS firmware image and installing a jailbroken image created by the Apple Dev Team's Pwnage tool.

Like the recent iPhone iOS 4.1 jailbreak, the new jailbreak is extremely impressive, given how quick its turnaround was.  The new second gen Apple TV hasn't even widely shipped yet.  Apple has been quiet about when exactly it will ship.  Initially it indicated that it would ship in September, but customers are now reporting that the ship date may have been bumped as late as October 18.  Apple may be having some supply issues, given the long shipping delay.  Apple TVs are currently available at some Apple stores, though.

Despite the promise of the jailbreak, there are some definite limitations.  While the Apple TV's Apple A4 ARM processor and 256 MB should be beefy enough for most apps, the 8 GB of flash memory doesn't leave much room for such apps.  Further, than memory is used for cache, so there's no telling how installing third party apps might muck with performance. 

The jailbreak is not widely available yet in easy to digest form, but then again neither is the Apple TV.  Video of it in action can be found here.

Despite exposing vehemence towards the jailbreaking community, Apple has begrudgingly accepted some measures pushed by jailbreakers -- such as apps on the original iPhone.  Likewise some believe that jailbreakers may force Apple to release an official App Store for the Apple TV.  In this way the jailbreak may not only benefit those who use it, but may benefit Apple TV owners in general.


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RE: Why?
By Samus on 10/2/2010 5:57:25 PM , Rating: 5
Sony has always been amazingly competent with securing their game consoles. It is always a few years before you see modchips surface. They also have the advantage of being uniquely proprietary and on the bleeding edge of technology.

The PS1 was basically the first wide-spread CD-ROM game console, before most people had a CD burner. It had excellent copy protection and they constantly revised newer models (over 10 revisions were made, excluding the PSone) that made older chips incompatible.

Previous CD-ROM consoles, such as the Sega CD, had no copy protection whatsoever. The Sega Saturn had pretty good protection but a simple swap trick with good timing always got a burned copy to boot.

PS2, the first DVD console, was released with the same inherated benifits of the PS1. Nobody had a DVD burner when it was released. When DVD burners became mainstream, the Messiah modchip was released. The PS2 had 7 revisions, excluding the PStwo. They generally made older modchips incompatible, but sometimes people found alternate soldering points. It took years for decent PS2 modchips to surface.

PS3, like the PS1 and PS2, had the same distint media advantage, a BD-ROM drive. As almost nobody has had BD-R burners until recently, there was simply no demand for a modchip. The security, however, is similar to the PS2 where a negative sector (inner) data ring is used to verify the disc. No known DVD or BR burners can reproduce this ring as the laser in the PS2 and PS3 has longer actuation than normal drive lasers. Also, there is no media available that has a burnable sector in this location. So, a modchip was required to emulate this ring, which was different for DVD and CD-based games (much like the PS3 has different security for BR and DVD-based games.)

The only software hack to grace the PS2 was released as a linux bootloader a few years ago. McBoot or something like that. It took the scene seven years to finally soft-hack the PS2.

That is world-class security if you ask me. Even Sega with its proprietary GD-ROM discs didn't last a year before somebody figured out how to dump the discs to CD-ROM, as most games were <700MB or could have video's recompressed to fit. Sega was naive and thought their proprietary format would protect them, and left out even the most basic copy protection. That, I believe, killed the Dreamcast. I remember a guy in my school 10 years ago who sold DC games for $3 bucks out of his backpack. The piracy was super wide-spread.


RE: Why?
By Alexstarfire on 10/3/2010 7:19:39 AM , Rating: 1
Ummm, I think you're forgetting about Nintendo. Other than the DS, and now the Wii I believe, their consoles are practically unpirated. Of course, everything before the N64, DC, and DS era is available to emulate at will.


RE: Why?
By drumhellar on 10/3/2010 4:49:46 PM , Rating: 2
ROM copiers were extremely widespread in Asia for a long, long time, so piracy was rampant for at least NES and SNES.

I used to own a Dr. N64, which was a little box that sat on top of an N64. You could load up Zip disks with ROMS and play them.

I think the main issue with GameCube pirating was just the size of the disks. the smaller-diameter DVDs aren't very common. For a while, though, it was possible to play GC games that were stored on your computer, and loaded via serial/ethernet. This wasn't widespread, though.

I must say, I feel sorry for Sega. The copy protection was so easily bypassed. It didn't need any sort of mod, just a properly made boot CD, and later just a properly made disk image. Their reliance on a propriety disc format didn't mean anything when you could just drop the bitrate of videos and audio to make them fit on a 700MB cd. I'm sure the rampant piracy helped to cause their exit of the console market.


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