Apple TV (1st Generation) – A Few Notes (2022 Edition)

Apple TV (1st Generation)

It seems silly to be writing about a device that went end of life over a decade ago, but I recently came across a 1st Generation Apple TV for less than a price of a carton of domestic beer and had an itch that needed scratching. You can read about the Apple TV family of devices here. There’s also an Apple TV (1st Generation) overview here. I think I bought my first one in 2009 or 2010 – not long before the end of its usefulness, if I recall correctly. At the time (and to this day), I was fascinated by the idea of being able to stream content to a television from my computer. I’d messed about with cheap hard drive based streaming devices, and even have a Pixel Magic HD MediaBox sitting in one of my cupboards. This was my first foray into Apple-based media handling (beyond plugging my iMac into the TV). The 1st Generation device was cool in that it was able to store data locally on its hard drive that was synced from iTunes. Unfortunately, the hardware was a little underpowered for what you paid for it, and you were locked in to the Apple ecosystem when it came to content selection. By that time I’d already invested in iTunes for music, but the video side of the equation was still a ways away from the relatively seamless experience that it is today.

Enter The FireCore

It took about 5 minutes to realise that only being able to watch Apple content was going to be a pain, so I paid for an app (aTV Flash) from FireCore that effectively enabled the Apple TV to load software like nitoTV and XBMC. You booted off a USB stick, loaded some code, and then you could run the FireCore apps and the Apple TV code at the same time. I thought it was pretty neat, although it again highlighted how the Apple TV wasn’t that great a performer when it came to watching any real variety of media formats. That said, it handled music videos pretty well, and I remember it playing standard definition DivX without too much trouble. FireCore Support is still up on the website, and I was even able to login to my account again and download the files I needed to get up and running with this new box.

High Definition, Or More Than Standard Definition? 

I harp on a bit about the specs of the Apple TV, but it really wasn’t all that bad. If you wanted support for 1080p content, however, you really needed to install a third-party card: the Broadcom Crystal HD card (model BCM70015). FireCore support for the card is outlined here. You can view an installation guide here. There were a few different options for accessing the capabilities of the Crystal HD card, including using FireCore. I think I booted a USB stick running Crystalbuntu. There’s also an article on playing non-iTunes video that’s worth looking at.

Other Notes

You probably won’t be able to watch Netflix with it, even with the HD card installed and a working copy of XBMC. The native youTube app won’t work anymore either, I think. And there’s no chance you can log in to the Apple servers, or watch or listen to any of your content with modern versions of Apple Music or TV. I will admit, I have some old versions of macOS running as VMs, and I haven’t fired them up to see whether I could get iTunes to connect to the AppleTV at that point. Maybe something to waste a few more hours with on the weekend.

If you try to ssh into the box, you’ll likely get an error and you’ll need to configure your client to deal with a legacy ssh connection.

ssh -oKexAlgorithms=+diffie-hellman-group1-sha1 user@legacyhost

Once you’ve done that, you can login to the box and have a poke around. The username is frontrow. The password isn’t hard to guess.

Also, if you’re having trouble with the Smart Installer for nitoTV, you’ll need to track down a copy of MacOSXUpdCombo10.4.9Intel.dmg and ftp it to ~/Documents. You should then be able to run the installer.



I get what I need from my Apple TV (4th Generation) box nowadays via Plex and various streaming services, but my fascination with these little boxes that can connect you to various media sources remains a drain on my disposable income. Just as my Boxee box is no longer anything more than a fancy paperweight, so too has the utility of my various, older generation Apple TV devices waned over time. It’s not just an interesting lesson in the useful lifecycle of technology devices (“How dare I expect something to be functional after ten years”), but also an interesting reminder of how little control we have over the content we continue to pay the big studios for. I’m sure I’ve opined over the years about the number of times I’ve purchased Enter The Dragon and various Star Wars episodes on a plethora of different formats and resolutions, never really owning a “license” to consume the movie across various resolutions and devices. But the Apple TV (1st Generation) really brings home the fact that, even when I’ve purchased a copy of media from Apple, when and how I watch that piece of media is somewhat out of my control.

Hey, I’m not saying you need to be a weirdo like me and buy everything on physical media and then own multiple players of various formats. Heck, they’re just movies after all. And when you’re buying digital content from Apple they are reasonably clear about the fact that you’re really not in control of said media. But it’s nonetheless a scary thought to think about how much money we plough into this stuff. Just to have working devices sitting obsolete on the shelf within 5 years. Which reminds me, I should fire up my 2nd and 3rd Generation devices and see what they can do.


EMC today announced their VSPEX BLUE offering and I thought I’d share some pictures and words from the briefing I received recently. PowerPoint presentations always look worse when I distil them down to a long series of dot points, so I’ll try and add some colour commentary along the way. Please note that I’m only going off EMC’s presentation, and haven’t had an opportunity to try the solution for myself. Nor do I know what the pricing is like. Get in touch with your local EMC representative or partner if you want to know more about that kind of thing.

EMC describe VSPEX BLUE as “an all-inclusive, Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Appliance, powered by VMware EVO:RAIL software”. Which seems like a nice thing to have in the DC. With VSPEX BLUE, the key EMC message is simplicity:

  • Simple to order – purchase with a single SKU
  • Simple to configure – through an automated, wizard driven interface
  • Simple to manage – with the new VSPEX BLUE Manager
  • Simple to scale – with automatic scale-out, where new appliances are automatically discovered and easily added to a cluster with a few mouse clicks
  • Simple to support  – with EMC 24 x 7 Global support offering a single point of accountability for all hardware and software, including all VMware software

It also “eliminates the need for advanced infrastructure planning” by letting you “start with one 2U/4-node appliance and scale up to four”.

Awwww, this guy seems sad. Maybe he doesn’t believe that the hyperconverged unicorn warriors of the data centre are here to save us all from ourselves.


I imagine the marketing line would be something like “IT is hard, but you don’t need to be blue with VSPEX BLUE”.



  • VSPEX BLUE Manager extends hardware monitoring, and integrates with EMC Connect Home and online support facilities.
  • VSPEX BLUE Market offers value-add EMC software products included with VSPEX BLUE.

VMware EVO:RAIL Engine

  • Automates cluster deployment and configuration, as well as scale-out and non-disruptive updates
  • Simple design with a clean interface, pre-sized VM templates and single-click policies

Resilient Cluster Architecture

  • VSAN distributed datastore provides consistent and resilient fault tolerance
  • VMotion provides system availability during maintenance and DRS load balances workloads

Software-defined data center (SDDC) building block

  • Combines compute, storage, network and management resources into a single virtualized software stack with vSphere and VSAN


While we live in a software-defined world, the hardware is still somewhat important. EMC is offering 2 basic configurations to keep ordering and buying simple. You getting it yet? It’s all very simple.

  • VSPEX BLUE Standard which comes with 128GB of memory per node; or
  • VSPEX BLUE Performance comes with 192GB of memory per node.

Each configuration has a choice of a 1GbE copper or 10GbE fibre network interface. Here’re some pretty pictures of what the chassis looks like, sans EMC bezel. Note the similarities with EMC’s ECS offering.



Processors (per node)

  • Intel Ivy Bridge (up to 130W)
  • Dual processor

Memory/processors (per node)

  • Four channels of Native DDR3 (1333)
  • Up to eight DDR3 ECC R-DIMMS per server node

Inputs/outputs (I/Os) (per node)

  • Dual GbE ports
  • Optional IB QDR/FDR or 10GbE integrated
  • 1 x 8 PCIe Gen3 I/O Mezz Option (Quad GbE or Dual 10GbE)
  • 1 x 16 PCIe Gen3HBA slots
  • Integrated BMC with RMM4 support


  • 2U chassis supporting four hot swap nodes with half-width MBs
  • 2 x 1200W (80+ & CS Platoinum) redundant hot-swap PS
  • Dedicated cooling/node (no SPoF) – 3 x 40mm dual rotor fans
  • Front panel with separate power control per node
  • 17.24” x 30.35” x 3.46”


  • Integrated 4-Port SATA/SAS controller (SW RAID)
  • Up to 16 (four per node) 2.5” HDD


The VSPEX BLUE Standard configuration consists of four independent nodes consisting of the following:

  • 2 x Intel Dual Intel Ivy Bridge E5-2620 V2 (12 cores, 2.1 Ghz)
  • 8 x 16GB (128GB) , 1666MHz DIMMS Memory
  • 3 x 1.2TB 2.5” 10K RPM SASHDD
  • 1 x 400GB 2.5” SAS SSD (VSAN Cache)
  • 1 x 32GB SLC SATADOM  (ESXi Boot Image)
  • 2 x 10GBE BaseT or SFP+

The Performance configuration only differs from the standard in the amount of memory it contains, going from 128GB in the standard configuration to 192GB in the performance model, ideal for applications such as VDI.


EMC had a number of design goals for the VSPEX BLUE Manager product, including:

  • Simplified the support experience
  • Embedded ESRS/VE
  • Seamless integration with EVO:RAIL and its facilities
  • The implementation of a management framework that allows driving EMC value-add software as services
  • Extended management orchestration for other use cases
  • Enablement of the VSPEX partner ecosystem

Software Inventory Management

  • Displays installed software versions
  • Discovers and downloads software updates
  • Automated, non-disruptive software upgrades


Hardware Awareness

In my mind, this is the key bit of value-add that EMC offer with VSPEX BLUE – seeing what else is going on outside of EVO:RAIL.

  • Provides  information not available in EVO:RAIL
  • Maps alerts to graphical representation of hardware configuration
  • Displays detailed configuration of hardware parts for field services
  • Aggregates health monitoring from vCenter and hardware BMC IPMI
  • Integrates with ESRS Connect Home for proactive notification and problem resolution
  • Integrates with eServices online support resources
  • Automatically collects diagnostic logs and ingrates with vRealize Log Insight

RecoverPoint for VMs

I’m a bit of a fan of RecoverPoint for VMs. The VSPEX BLUE appliance includes an EMC Recoverpoint for VMs license entitling 15 VMs with support for free. The version shipping with this solution also no longer requires storage external to VMware VSAN to store replica and journal volumes.

  • Protect VMs at VM-level granularity
  • Asynchronous and synchronous replication
  • Consistency group for application-consistent recovery
  • vCenter plug-in integration
  • Discovery, provisioning, and orchestration of DR workflow management
  • WAN compression and deduplication to optimize bandwidth utilization


One final thing to note – VMware ELAs not supported. VSPEX BLUE is an all-inclusive SKU, so you can’t modify support options, licensing, etc. But the EVO:RAIL thing was never really a good option for people who want that kind of ability to tinker with configurations.

Based on the briefing I received, the on-paper specs, and the general thought that seems to have gone into the overall delivery of this product, it all looks pretty solid. I’ll be interested to see if any of my customers will be deploying this in the wild. If you’re hyperconverged-curious and want to look into this kind of thing then the EMC VSPEX BLUE may well be just the thing for you.

EMC announces new VMAX range




Powerful, trusted, agile. That’s how EMC is positioning the refreshed range of VMAX arrays. Note that they used to be powerful, trusted and smart. Agile is the new smart. Or maybe agile isn’t smart? In any case, I’m thinking of it more as bigger, better, more. But I guess we’re getting to the same point. I sat in on a pre-announcement briefing recently and, while opinionalysis isn’t my strong point, I thought I’d cover off on some speeds and feeds and general highlights, and leave the rest to those who are good at that kind of thing. As always, if you want to know further about these announcements, the best place to start would be your local EMC account team.

There are three models: the 100K, 200K and 400K. The 100K supports

  • 1 – 2 engines;
  • 1440 2.5″ drives;
  • 2.4PB of storage; and
  • 64 ports.

The 200K supports

  • 1 – 4 engines;
  • 2880 2.5″ drives;
  • 4.8PB of storage; and
  • 128 ports.

Finally, the 400K supports

  • 1 – 8 engines;
  • 5760 2.5″ drives;
  • 9.6PB of storage; and
  • 256 ports.

*Note that the capacity figures and drive counts are based on code updates that are scheduled for release in 2015.

Hypermax Operating System is a significant enhancement to Enginuity, and is built to run not just data services inside the box, but services coming in from outside the box as well. This includes an embedded data storage hypervisor allowing you to run services that were traditionally run outside the frame, such as management consoles, file gateways, cloud gateways and data mobility services.

Dynamic Virtual Matrix is being introduced to leverage the higher number of cores in the new hardware models. In the largest 400K, there’ll be 384 CPU cores available to use. These can be dynamically allocated to front-end, back-end or data services. Core / CPU isolation is also an available capability.

While they look like an ultra-dense 10K, they’re not. You can have two engines and drives in a single cabinet. All models support all-flash configurations. If money’s no object, you could scale to 4PB of flash in one frame.

Virtual Matrix is now Infiniband, while the backend is now SAS.

EMC claims base support for 6 * 9s of availability, and 7 * 9s availability with VPLEX (that’s 5 seconds per year of downtime).

Snapshotting has been refreshed, with SnapVX supporting up to 1024 copies per source. Doesn’t impact I/O, and doesn’t require target configuration.

Finally, read up on EMC ProtectPoint, it’ll be worth your time.