Moving to the Front Row

I’m always amazed that so many Mac users haven’t seen Front Row just because it is installed only on an iMac (G5 and Core Duo).

Now that the MacBook Pro is out with the Front Row installed, I recalled that there was some way to hack other Macs to run the software. I wondered what the status was and a quick web search shows that it is alive and well.

Following the instructions, I got it working on my Powerbook G4. As you can see from the video, it is a little sluggish when you are running it and SnapzPro to record it, and I think it may be related to some issues I might have with DVD Player crashing the first time I launch it. But other than that, the behavior is full of the usual Apple eye-candy goodness.

“Moving to the Front Row” by me
Front Row running on a Macintosh Powerbook G4 (sped up 2x).

The control isn’t complex or feature-ridden, but this is a good thing when you are lying in your sleeping bag watching the latest NetFlix rental on a HDTV LCD television. In order to do that without getting up, I used Salling Clicker to turn my cell phone into a remote and downloaded this script to enable it to send controls to Front Row.

All told the process took 30 minutes. The hard part was using Pacifist to bypass the software check blocks in the installer (Pacifist is shareware, but you do not have to buy if you are only going to use it once).

You might want to try this on your Mac.

Being a looker, not a booker…

If you want to see how it sounds and works before trying, you can try this Apple demo. It gives you a good idea. (BTW, the icons look excellent even at 1920×1080.)

Looking a gift horse in the mouth…

I definitely wish for a couple more features: for instance selecting/turning on iTunes visualizer when in Music or controlling the music for the slideshow when viewing photos (or, better yet, tying it to Aperture instead of iPhoto). But it’s a great first start and an uncluttered interface has huge advantages that I don’t want to lose at this point.

Hopefully Apple will open up an API to it later.

5 thoughts on “Moving to the Front Row

  1. You don’t need Pacifist if you’re using Frontrow Enabler 1.1. It’s needed for 10.4.4 anyway. I have it installed on my Powerbook and my Mac mini and the only thing that’s really slow is the video preview in Movies, because it has this mirror thing.

    What I’m still missing is TV integration for my Elgato Tuner.


  2. @Niko: That is great to know.

    Yeah, I’m hoping Front Row is going to be like Address Book. At first nice, but not very functional; next integrated with Apple’s own applications; and then finally an open API where developers can add/change things.

    Integration with an EyeTV would be one of them. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the link, debating whether to go for it now, or get my computer set up running merrily first, think I daren’t risk it on a new untested G5 tower.

  4. Apple posted an update to Front Row on their website, which contains bug fixes discussed here.

    (I disagree with the end of the article entry, what Apple should do, besides bundle Front Row with every Mac, is make it extensible to 3rd parties via API, not waste their time adding a non-existant click wheel support or shuffle to iTunes. If users want it so bad, they can download a plugin some developer can make to enable it.)

    Of course this means a new Front Row Enabler.

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