Sep 19, 2010 edit: It has come to my attention while I was hacking a virgin AppleTV that VNC may already be present in the newer AppleTV sets.  Do check first by attempting to connect to it with a VNC Client, before you proceed to install a VNC Server outlined below.

“Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a graphical desktop sharing system that uses the RFB protocol to remotely control another computer. It transmits the keyboard and mouse events from one computer to another, relaying the graphical screen updates back in the other direction, over a network.”Wikipedia

I installed the VNC Server in my AppleTV so I could grab screenshots of my AppleTV (like this one) for the blog.  Others use it to view and control their AppleTV remotely in their computer. Unfortunately it doesn’t do so well.

  • Download Vine Server (OSXvnc) to your computer.
  • Upload the Vine Server app to the /Users/frontrow/Documents folder on your AppleTV.
  • SSH into the AppleTV and run the following commands:

cd /Users/frontrow/Documents/Vine\ Server.app/Contents/Resources/
./storepasswd YOURPASSWORD /Users/frontrow/vncpasswd
cp OSXvnc-server /Users/frontrow/Applications

  • Download this file to your computer, and unzip it.
  • Next, upload the unzipped “com.OSXvnc.plist” to your AppleTV’s /Users/frontrow/ folder.
  • Finally, issue the follow commands in your OS X’s Terminal:

sudo mount -uw /
sudo cp /Users/frontrow/Documents/com.OSXvnc.plist /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
sudo reboot

Done.

You can now use OS X’s build-in VNC Client (or any VNC Clients for your computer platform) to view and control your AppleTV!  To do so, simply select “Connect to Server …” from Finder’s “Go” menu, and enter “vnc://appletv.local” in the Server Address text field. The access password is “YOURPASSWORD”.

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