UPDATE: Did have a weird issue where the AppleTV was rebooting randomly. Restoring to factory defaults again (after the 3.0.1 update), then re-updating to 3.0.1 seems to have fixed it. Will know more after the weekend.
My boss, about a year ago or more, had his HD crap out on his Apple TV. So, being ingenious, he brought it to me and I proceeded to get it back working by finding a DMG online of the boot partition that allowed it to work again. Problem was, he couldn’t run software updates on it. It would see the update, but wouldn’t let him install it. Was quite odd.
So, fast forward to today, when he finally brought it back in, and I started looking around online. Turns out, you need the recovery partition to be intact for updates to work. Not sure why, but you do.
So, after looking all around online, I did find a source for a full image of a working 2.0.2 Apple TV. If you’re familiar with torrents (and more specifically, the former major torrent site that is still around, but who knows for how long…), you can look for something called “smallatv.rar”.
So, once you have that, take a new drive (or one you’ve removed all the partitions from (you can do this via disk utility by selecting 1 partition, and then for type, select “free space”.), and do the following from terminal.
With that, find the drive you’re restoring. In my case, it was “disk6”.
dd if=/location/of/smallatv.dmg of=/dev/disk6 bs=1024k
That’ll take a bit, but you should now have an AppleTV drive. Problem is, the media partition is only 35GB. If you only had a 60GB drive, then you’re good. If you had bigger than that, then read on.
Now, go get a copy of AtvCloner from here: http://dynaflashtech.net/atvcloner/
Load that up, and in the first tab, point it at /dev/disk6 and hit “image source partitions”. This will take a bit, but you should end up with 3 dmg’s. An efi.dmg, a boot.dmg, and a recovery.dmg. Once you have those, quit AtvCloner, and go back into diskutil and “re-empty” the drive.
Okay, so now, go back into AtvCloner, and go to the second tab. In this tab, point it at the 3 dmg’s you just created, and if the drive is bigger than 500GB, then check the appropriate box. Then hit “Prepare New Drive”. This will take a bit, but once you’re done, you will have a functional, and full sized AppleTV drive. Drop that into your AppleTV, and boot it up.
One thing I did notice was that the downloaded image isn’t stock. It has some hack in it, since you see a Linux logo when booting. But, once you’re booted, you can go to “Update Software”, and it’ll download the latest AppleTV OS (in my case, 3.0.1), and update itself, which removes whatever hack was there.
Good luck! I really wish Apple made some stuff easier.