Oct 5, 2010 Addendum – Now includes instructions for XBMC Dharma.

Basically the fonts used by both XBMC and Boxee are not Unicode fonts, and hence non-English text such as Japanese, Korean, Simplified and Traditional Chinese etc show up as squares or garbage text on your AppleTV. It’s annoying. Fortunately, the fix is simple – just replace the font files with Unicode versions!

For Boxee, the lone font files named boxee.ttf is in:
/Applications/Boxee.app/Contents/Resources/Boxee/media/Fonts

For XBMC 9.11, there are four .ttf files for the Confluence theme and they are in the following folder:
/Users/frontrow/Applications/XBMC.app/Contents/Resources/XBMC/skin/Confluence/fonts

For XBMC Dharma, the four .ttf files are in the following folder:

/Users/frontrow/Applications/XBMC.app/Contents/Resources/XBMC/addons/skin.confluence/fonts/

Where to get a copy of Unicode font file, you ask? Well, there’s one included in your AppleTV and it’s here: /Library/Fonts/Arial Unicode.ttf

To use it, I’d suggest you first download it to your computer. Then make a duplicate copy, and rename the duplicate, for instance, to “boxee.ttf”. You can then upload and replace the original copy in Boxee’s fonts folder I mentioned earlier. Make more duplicate copies and rename them for those in XBMC’s fonts folder.

If you get an error to the effect of “Read-only File System” after attempting to transfer a file, then launch the Terminal.app in your Mac OS X and issue the following terminal commands:

ssh frontrow@appletv.local
sudo mount -uw /
exit

What the above does is mount the boot drive as read/write.

You can use symbolic links to save on disk storage space but I won’t go into it here.

Don’t forget to re-start your AppleTV after making the changes. (Software Menu -> Restart Finder)

One last word:  If your non-English media file show up as garbage text in iTunes, the above fix does not fix it.  You have to convert them to Unicode yourself first, a tedious process I won’t go into detail here.

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