Front Row On Other Macs

by Tom Bridge

Related link:

There are Several Sites reporting that Front Row can be retrieved (albeit in a shady grey market sort of way...) from the internet and installed on most Macs. So, of course, being the lunatic early adopter that I was, I installed it this morning.

The hacked version that's making its way around the internet is a copy of Front Row that's bypassing the requirement to have the remote present for startup, and includes a new set of bezel frameworks that need to be installed in /System/Library/Private Frameworks, as well as the application itself which has to live in /System/Library/CoreServices and your apps folder. Don't forget iTunes 6.0.1 and Quicktime 7.0.3, since otherwise Front Row will freak out when you ask it to look at your iTunes Library.

Good luck, however, getting it to work with the DVD player on the Mac mini. I've been unable to view the Lost Season 1 DVDs that I have in my office. It just doesn't want to communicate with the DVD player application that exists as a part of the Mac OS X install on my mini (currently 10.4.2). If you've figured that part out, do let us know in the comments.

Now, it's no picnic running the app. The mini is a bit underpowered in the video department with just a quarter of the video RAM that the iMac G5, and it shows. Perhaps this is why Apple is currently keeping the lid on Front Row until things get a bit more beefy in that department (ah, January, how soon you are, yet how far!). Now, Front Row seems to be a transparent screen applied in a specific way, bringing up each application involved in the background (you can tell because when the application needs to be...unexpectedly quit, iTunes and iPhoto are running), which could be gumming up the works a bit.

Overall, it's functional. Just don't expect it to work as advertised.

Have you installed Front Row?


2005-10-25 12:01:29
shady grey market, hmm
I have mixed feelings about this, Tom. Sort of like, I really don't care if you want to do it but am questioning the intention of posting links to sites that seem to condone this sort of dubious activity.
2005-10-25 12:07:58
shady grey market, hmm
I think it's perfectly acceptable to try, sjk. And that's what I'm reporting on here, what happens when you install the hacked version that's floating around. Is it entirely above board? No, it's not. But is it fully illegal? I'm not so sure.

Besides, you know you were curious ;)

I'm just the one crazy enough to try it.

2005-10-25 15:39:29
I'm sorry, but you should be ashamed of yourself
and O'Reilly, at least, should have had the sense to nip this in the bud.

All moral precepts aside, when Apple picks up the phone and calls Tim O'Reilly, and asks him why he supports the theft of their software, do you really expect to survive?

2005-10-25 16:17:04
I'm sorry, but you should be ashamed of yourself
Part of being a power user these days is trying things that weren't necessarily part of the standard operating procedure, and installing Front Row on a non-iMac is something that I'm sure many folks have wanted to do. I explain how the process works and the clear and obvious limitations that this is perhaps illegal, may void your warranty, not to mention get you in trouble. But it's our job to explore these options. That's what I'm doing here. You'll note that I don't link to the file itself, that O'Reilly's network does NOT host a copy of this file, and that getting the file is up to the intrepid user. Personally, I recommend taking this off your legitimately purchased iMac G5.
2005-10-25 18:56:40
Thin cover indeed.
The fact that you provide instruction and ask for feedback means that you endorse stealing the app and, by implication, so does O'Reilly.

That's a big line to cross and it goes well beyond merely reporting on the issue.

2005-10-25 21:14:58
How is this "gray"?
How is this "gray"? How do you see this as possibly being approved by APple?
2005-10-25 22:38:42
shady grey market, hmm
Well, everyone's curious about many things they don't act on. They just wait for and watch someone else to do it. ;-)

If I did happen to try this Front Row hackery (which I didn't; my interest in FR is how it may evolve in the future, e.g integrated with an EyeHome-like streaming media device) I wouldn't be posting about it on a weblog at this site. I don't know your relationship with O'Reilly so I won't assume anything about that.

To me this seems like yet another "just because you can do it doesn't mean you should do it" issue. As I wrote earlier, my feelings are mixed. While I appreciate the "geek curiosity" reasons for doing and reporting it part of me wonders if that may not have been such a hot idea. With the latter, especially since you're claiming to be unsure of the legal implications. How could you not know that downloading an unauthorized, unlicensed copy of FR is a no-no. That was obvious to me even before reading any of the articles about it. Clearly a sign to avoid radar if you choose to fly into enemy territory?

Anyway, I've already overinflated this more than it needs to be. I felt compelled to mention my perception and opinion; it's not meant to judge your actions. Frankly, I'd rather we had more freedom to "break the rules" for learning and exploring things like this without an ever-present threat and fear of potentially serious consequences. That's the spirit I felt participating on the ARPAnet, before "hacking" became negatively redefined in the mainstream plus all that other stuff ...

2005-10-26 04:59:08
How is this "gray"?
From Wikipedia:

The grey market (in U.S. spelling, gray market) refers to the flow of goods through distribution channels other than those authorized by the manufacturer or producer.
Unlike those on the black market, grey market goods are not illegal. Instead, they are being sold outside of normal distribution channels by companies which may have no relationship with the producer of the goods.

Front Row's status is mired in shadow. You can't purchase it from Apple separate of the iMac, which is a source of consternation for many in the Mac community. You can't just plunk down $50 and get a remote and a copy of the software, you're stuck without the solution that many would like to see. Enter the grey-market community. If Apple was interested in fully protecting the software, it would have been keyed to an individual serial number range. What we're doing here is showing Apple a demand, using market forces to say to Apple "We want this product on our computers TOO!"

Is out method orthodox? Not at all. But the force is still plain and clear: we want Front Row for our minis. Front Row for our G5 towers. Because that converge is long overdue. The video over at TUAW shows the potential of Mac as media center, a mini hooked up to a projector filling a wall with its desktop. DVDs and Movies 9ft diagonal. Eventually, Television shows (possibly recorded on your Mac? Oh the thoughts that brings to mind.) and video podcasts and whatever other content we can throw up there in our homes.

But they have to see: We Want This!

And now they do.

2005-10-26 08:23:05
RE: shady grey market, hmm
Of course is it illegal. Only wishful thinking can lead a person to think otherwise. There is nothing gray about it. Stealing software and then saying it is O.K. because there was no serial number is like stealing a car because the door wasn't locked.
2005-10-27 10:58:36
Super Slow Mo
I've heard that if you hold the shift key (like several other transitions) Front Row "slides" in beautiful slow motion. Even on a mini. I've heard.
2005-10-27 10:58:37
Super Slow Mo
I've heard that if you hold the shift key (like several other transitions) Front Row "slides" in beautiful slow motion. Even on a mini. I've heard.