hacking the xbox
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Post on 22-Nov-2014
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DESCRIPTIONA presentation I gave many moons ago to my local Linux Users Group on how to hack the original Microsoft Xbox. Mostly of historical interest today but maybe you ran across a cheap used Xbox at a garage sale somewhere and want to be able to do something neat with it.
- 1. Hacking the Xbox By Donald Burr
2. What Well Discuss
- What is an Xbox?
- What can you do with a hacked Xbox?
- Upgrade hard drive
- Back up games onto hard drive
- Media players/media center
- How to hack the Xbox
- Hardware vs. software hacks
- Running Linux on a hacked Xbox
3. What is an Xbox?
- Video game console marketed by Microsoft
- Introduced in Fall 2001.
- Basically an embedded PC.
- Pentium III Celeron @ 733 MHz
- 64 MB DDR RAM
- 8 GB hard drive
- DVD-ROM drive
- 10/100 Ethernet
- 4 x USB 1.1 ports
- NVIDIA NV2X custom graphics chip (Roughly equivalent to a GeForce 3 MX)
- OS based on Windows 2000
- You get all of this for $150 ($110 or lower if used)
4. Opening the Xbox 5. The Innards Exposed! 6. The motherboard itself 7. Backside of motherboard 8. Why do you need to hack it?
- If its basically like a PC, then why cant you just toss in a Linux disk or whatever?
- Its because of the Microsoft BIOS (TSOP)
- It will only run signed software
- Public key cryptography
- You need to get around this in order to run third party (unsigned software)
- Unless you have the Microsoft Xbox SDK, which can generate signed code
9. What can you do with a hacked Xbox?
- Play games made for other regions (Europe, Japan, etc.)
- Play DVDs made for other regions (Region-Free DVD player)
- Back up games onto the internal HD and play them from the HD
- No more lost/broken game CDs
- Doesnt work with Xbox Live games you still need the original CD for those
10. More hacked Xbox tricks
- Atari, C-64, Arcade machines (MAME), PlayStation, ADAM, Apple ][, N64, SNES, GameBoy, and many, many, many more
- Media Players and Media Center
- Xbox Media Center (XBMC)
- Plays audio and video file formats
- Network aware (can stream content from a server)
- And, of course, you can run Linux on it!
- More applications being made every day
11. Caveat Hacker!!! (The Disclaimer of Doom)
- Strictly speaking, hacking/modding your Xbox is ILLEGAL
- Thanks to that lovely piece of legislation we know and love (NOT!), the DMCA
- The Xbox BIOS can be seen as a digital encryption device
- And according to the DMCA, circumventing such a device is illegal
- That having been said, I have NOT heard of any cases where individuals were prosecuted
- Microsoft has gone after some companies that sell mod chips, however no individuals who have bought modchips have been prosecuted.
12. More Disclaimers
- Neither I, nor SBLUG, can or will be held responsible if you screw up, destroy, or maim yourself or your Xbox
- Remember, you ARE voiding your warranty!
- Nor can we be held responsible if anyone takes legal action against you
- However, both we and the Xbox community think that this is highly unlikely.
13. Fight for your Rights!
- This is an excellent example of Fair Use and why we should fight to protect our Fair Use rights.
- See the EFF for more info and to get involved
- Another VERY IMPORTANT new law that WILL affect things like this The INDUCE Act
- So important, it deserves its own slide
14. The INDUCE Act
- This all stems from the Sony v. Universal Supreme Court decision ruled in 1984
- Universal sued Sony over the Betamax VCR because it could be used to copy/pirate movies
- Sony argued that VCRs have legitimate uses and so shouldnt be banned
- The Supreme Court agreed in this landmark decision
- However, this ruling is now being threatened by Big Media
15. How does this affect me?
- Its a matter of legal precedent
- The Betamax decision set the precedent that allowed the development of other digital devices
- CD and DVD burners
- And yes, hacked Xboxen too
- Big Media doesnt like this!
- They want to control what content you can get, and how you can use it
- This would effectively stifle technical innovation and Open Source projects under a mass of legal red tape
- Fight the Power!!!
16. Hacking the Xbox
- Two methods
- Software hacking
- Hardware hacking
- Which one you use depends on several factors
- Vintage of your Xbox
- Your skills at soldering
- Availability of software hacks/exploits
- How daring you are
17. Software hacking
- The easiest hacking method
- Requires no additional tools (except for the software that the exploit needs).No disassembly required.
- Typical hacker stuff exploiting vulnerabilities, buffer overflows, etc. in software (games) to get the Xbox to run your own code
- Problem is, with the latest OS upgrades (esp. Xbox Live!), they have patched a lot of these vulnerabilities.
- So they only work with older/unpatched Xboxes and software.
- Youll have to resort to hardware hacking instead
18. Some example software exploits
- Splinter Cell save-game exploit
- MechAssault Audio Exploit
- Bert + Ernie Font Exploit
- Many more
19. Hardware hacking
- Works where software hacking doesnt
- Hardware hacking requires a mod chip
- Mod chips available for all Xbox versions
- Even those where software hacking doesnt work
- Some assembly required
- Requires you to open the Xbox
- Hence voids your warranty.
- Some soldering is required for new Xboxes
- Special precautions required when using Xbox Live
20. Some terminology
- The Xboxs built in BIOS
- Does not allow third party/unsigned software to run
- Low Pin Count a sort of bus that mod chips hook into
- D0 pin
- A pin on the motherboard that is used by a mod chip to interrupt the normal booting of the Xbox, to insert its own BIOS in place of the standard Xbox TSOP BIOS.
21. How it Works
- Normally the Xbox runs the code in TSOP when it is turned on
- Mod chip triggers the D0 line, interrupts the normal boot, and runs the code on the mod chip
- Mod chip contains a flash memory chip that you can flash your own BIOSes on
- 1 MB = 4 x 256K BIOSes
- Mod chip allows you to select from any of these BIOSes, or boot the standard Xbox TSOP.
22. Types of BIOSes
- Original Microsoft BIOS on motherboard
- Only runs signed code
- Required for Xbox Live
- Live checks BIOS checksum when logging in
- If it doesnt match, your Xbox is BANNED from Live
- You can buy an EEPROM code that can un-ban your Xbox, but that is a risky proposition
23. More BIOSes
- EvoX BIOS
- A hacked version of the Mi