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World's First Custom Firmware For Wii Released

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the how-to-quantify-spare-time dept.

Hardware Hacking 165

Croakyvoice writes "Waninkoko has released the world's first custom firmware for the Nintendo Wii, which is installed using the twilight hack; among its features is the ability to allow writeable DVDs to be read in emulators. From the readme: 'The Custom Firmware installs as IOS249 and it does not modify any other IOS so it is secure to install and has been made to be used ONLY with homebrew software. This is a custom IOS, an IOS modified to add some new features not available in the official IOS.'"

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coming soon (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24232405)

arrrrrr brace yerself

IT'S ABOUT TIME (0, Flamebait)

firespade (1030302) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232415)

Can't believe this is finally happened! I wonder how long it will take Nintendo to retaliate and apply a patch. What does it normally cost to get out of jail with that above your head?

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (4, Informative)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233347)

Jail? Your not serious are you?

Just in case your not kidding, it is not illegal or even close to anything remotely criminal to put custom firmware on ANY PIECE OF ELECTRONICS THAT YOU OWN.

That may just be what Sony is trying to push with their PR campaign throughout the world, which is that they have complete and total control of their equipment everywhere and to go against that is a crime... and kills puppies.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (2, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233971)

and kills puppies.

You mean it doesn't?! Damn.

All that wasted time...

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (3, Interesting)

Mia'cova (691309) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234137)

Um, doesn't the DMCA make it illegal to circumvent the Wii's anti-piracy protection? I'm no lawyer but this seems blatantly illegal in the US.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (4, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234489)

Good question. That would be a tough argument for the prosecutor. You own the equipment out right, as in TOTALLY YOURS. Your property.

I would say that completely overwriting the base software with your own is not "circumventing" anything and is not physically tampering with the hardware or software to *specifically* achieve the goal of bypassing copyright protection schemes. You would have to prove that the secondary effect of removing the copyright protection provided through factory firmware was in fact the primary goal that the person was trying to achieve. You would have to prove intent. A Modchip is a "blatant" attempt to circumvent copyright protection. You cannot interpret it any other way. Custom Firmware is not even in the same ballpark as a Modchip.

What you also bring up is an underlying misconception that many people have, which is that homebrew and custom firmware's primary goal IS to circumvent copyright protection to facilitate and abet piracy (copyright infringment).

The fundamental purpose of custom firmware is to use any given hardware *exactly* the way that you want to use it. It is not a criminally motivated behavior.

Custom Firmware != Piracy. Custom Firmware != Copyright Protection Circumvention.

In any case, if there was further legislation which provided punishments for you using the software of your choice with the hardware of your choice, I would say that the law itself is an unjust law. I would then wholeheartedly advocate civil disobediance with respect to that law. Yes, as you may already have guessed, I think the DMCA is unconstitutional and ethically bankrupt as far as laws go. However, I don't even think custom firmware for any game console is actually violating it in the first place.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24234207)

...yet the PlayStation 3 is the only gaming console that currently and actively supports the installation of alternate operating systems on it.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234351)

> actively supports the installation of alternate operating systems

As long as you can live with a crippled virtual machine that only emulates a dumb framebuffer. No, I won't be buying a PS3 because they allow you to play in a sandbox. If I can't run accelerated 2D I wouldn't even ponder the notion. Notice that Xboxes make great MythTV frontends but the supposedly newer and 'Linux friendly' PS3 doesn't. And without full (3D) hardware access it isn't really an open platform.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (2, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234571)

Exactly!

I laugh myself silly anytime somebody says that Sony PS3 is an open platform. If THAT is an open platform than I can tell somebody that they can sleep over at my house.... in the backyard ... next to the trash cans, and still seem like a nice and hospitable guy.

Sony is as much an open platform as a public kiosk is a home computer.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234691)

I wish I had mod points. I am so tired of people claiming that the PS3 is somehow friendlier or more open than other consoles.

The official Blessed-from-on-high firmware includes a deliberately and severely crippled VM that you can load stuff on. Nothing more. Not a bad feature to have; but not even close to "installation of alternate operating systems".

For that matter, I think the PS3 might still be the least open of this generation of consoles. The Wii gets hacked around pretty routinely, and there are exploits for older xbox 360's but, so far as I've heard, the PS3 has no such hacks available.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (2, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235543)

To be fair, even if it is completely crippled, it's still a lot more open than any commercial console for the last 10 or 20 years has been.

Saying the 360 is more open because it's been hacked is a little unfair, Microsoft in no way helped or guided anyone to hack it, it just so happens someone found a problem with the DVD-Rom's firmware that could be exploited fairly easily.
Same for the wii, it's only open because someone found enough glitches to be able to open it. It'll soon happen to the PS3 (Although it must be said, Well done Sony for lasting THIS long, they apparently learned from their PSP botch up) and then we'll all be able to take full advantage of it.
Personally, I can't wait for it to happen as the sheer raw power available in that console could make it the biggest hacker's dream for years to come.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235687)

The PS3 does not have a spectacular video card. If you want to play with high end 3D graphics programming, go do it on your PC. The PS3 has a CBE chip and if you want to program one of those, you can do so on a PS3 freely and without breaking any rules.

If you'd like a PS3 development kit to try your hand at 3D game development, you can order one of those from Sony.

If you just want to do 3D on your desktop, then the PS3 is not the platform you're looking for. Yes, as a result of being designed primarily as a gaming system it has some limitations built in, some of which may very possibly be because of a certain third party's graphics hardware that that same third party won't release details on to Linux enthusiasts elsewhere either.

That said, no matter how much FUD you sling, the PS3 still allows you to legally and without violating any licenses or agreements, install alternate OSs on its hard drive running inside its hypervisor. Personally, that's pretty cool to hack around with and I know I'm not the only one who enjoys playing with SPE programming.

Feel free to believe that 3D graphics hardware is the be all and end all of systems programming though. You'd be wrong though.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235639)

It sure is in the USA. Modifying your devices in ways that defeat built-in Copyright protection schemes is illegal because of the DMCA.

Who gets to define Copyright protection schemes? You certainly don't.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#24236007)

Modifying the firmware isn't illegal of itself, unless the modification allows for the circumvention of copy protection. Since this modification apparently only allows for homebrew code execution, i don't think it applies..

Of course, IANAL, and i haven't actually applied/played with the code of this mod. it's possible that wholesale piracy is now possible without hardware modification, but i'll still be buying games i like regardless.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#24236133)

If you can run homebrew code, you had to break the protection that only allows the device to run signed software.

They're putting it in gray area territory here: they broke the protection, but made it so it only work on software that users are authorised to copy... so its still breaking the protection, but for stuff no one will sue for.

I feel it is a perfectly good compromise (I'm heavily against piracy, but while I don't use homebrew, I feel its good when homebrew is encouraged in opposition to piracy), especially since once they allowed homebrew, it was probably quite easy to allow pirated content, and they didn't. Hat off to them.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#24236323)

I just did some quick checking, and it's exactly as you have said.. The commercial keys are (apparently) known, and while it would still take some effort, all the stuff required for running commercial games appears to be available for anyone with the skills to make use of.

I echo your sentiments. Hat of to them for opening up the possibility of simple homebrew without the piracy, even if it's just until someone releases a new version of the firmware.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

firespade (1030302) | more than 6 years ago | (#24236145)

Are you kidding me? Yes, it was a joke but in all fairness you can't possible believe that Nintendo would condone the use of the equipment where by allowing "writeable DVDs to be read in emulators" made available by a homebrew IOS changes?? Seriously that's anticipating piracy, ANYONE can figure that out.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

xiao_haozi (668360) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233923)

I may be wrong, but I believe the twilight princess hack has already been officially patched but remember reading that you can revert. So I guess technically this is already patched. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233967)

I believe it took the scene about an hour to work around the official patch.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

xiao_haozi (668360) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234021)

Yeah, I mean that is the thing. Nintendo patches are kinda irrelevant in the long run as people often release workarounds within 24hours and/or backporting methods. This has seemed to be the trend for most of these console hacks of recent.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235957)

Actually, the fix didn't even remove installed channels, just prevented the system from loading the specific savegame used by the twilight hack.

Either the coder who fixed it did a sloppy job, or he left the actual vulnerability there on purpose.

Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (1)

xiao_haozi (668360) | more than 6 years ago | (#24236495)

"or he left the actual vulnerability there on purpose." --friends on the inside? That would be quite awesome!

I just don't understand. (0)

CubeRootOf (849787) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232451)

I really don't get why people go through all this trouble to hack up the wii to do things it wasn't meant to.

Maybe someone can explain with more than just 'because we can!' or 'because nintendo locked us out!'.

I could understand the xbox, and the ps3, as those are superiour graphical environments where you are getting great hardware at a significant discount. The wii's selling point is the great cool new interface to playing games. Hack that up all you want: Wiimote hacking is awesome. but why hack the hardware that talks to it, and isn't that much more advanced than the gamecube, to do things that it just isn't all that great at in the first place?

Re:I just don't understand. (4, Informative)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232539)

There is the Mt Everest answer and there is the "it isn't as weak as you make it out to be" answer. I don't plan on installing this firmware (not till the first wave of guiniea pigs test it for me ^_^), but I do have several Wiibrew games installed, some of which are WiiPorts of old games that have been released to the wild (GPL'ed or put in the public domain) and though the Wii homebrew scene isn't quite as polished as say the DS homebrew scene, they still have some impressive things out already.

In the end though, the real question is "why not?" Do you only drive your car from home to work and back again? Sometimes something doesn't have to have a strict utility or direct benefit to have fun doing it.

Re:I just don't understand. (3, Funny)

skamunisM (811384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232755)

Do you only drive your car from home to work and back again?

These days I sure do!

Re:I just don't understand. (-1, Troll)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232541)

Because if you get this, then you can "patch" your wii, and download games for the wii. So you don't have to pay for them.

Re:I just don't understand. (3, Informative)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232773)

Actually no you can't. It was even stated in the summary this only works for homebrew software, not comercial rips, and on purpose. The people who are doing most of the cool stuff in the Wii Homebrew scene are fairly ethical folk.

What this should mean however, is now people can start making DVD's of their homebrew software and popping it in like a normal game instead of having to cram everything in a 'small' memory card.

Re:I just don't understand. (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233395)

Because, you know, the summary didn't link to a place where they had an adapter for this program, that specifically lets you run gamecube iso images. And making an app for it that loads up an ISO image, wouldn't be really that hard. Just the fact that it can do this, means that is around the corner.

Re:I just don't understand. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234337)

I suppose it won't even defeat the regular region lock?

Re:I just don't understand. (2, Informative)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235557)

Having not used it, I can't attest that it works perfectly. But you don't need this firmware to do that, there is already a homebrew 'region free' app out there.

This firmware isn't what is needed to run custom code, it's just an additional layer of the onion being pealed back to allow people to do more with their Wii.

If you aren't familiar with the state of homebrew on the Wii, here's a quick and only partially informed synopsis. I'm not hooked in sufficently to have history book accuracy.

Near the begining of the year, folk discovered a bug in Zelda:Twilight Princess that allowed them to do a stack smash and allow them to bypass the code that prevents 'unauthorized' programs from running. However, at that time you had to use the bug each time you wanted to load a program.

About a month ago, a team of coders released a custom built channel (The Homebrew Channel - HBC) that could be installed using the TP hack. The channel allowed you to launch homebrew apps from your memory card directly, (i.e. once installed you didn't need the TP hack).

Thats when alot of the programs avaliable right now took off.

This firmware is the next level. Another layer of the onion being pealed back. As I understand it, the Wii actually keeps a copy of all the versions of firmware that are installed on it, for compatibility purposes, and loads the version games specificly ask for. So this doesn't actually do anything directly except allow programs that are written to ASK for the new firmware to enjoy the new level of access provided. That's why you can't use this to play copies, because the copy of the game would still be asking for the offical Nintendo firmware, which would then detect that it's a copy.

I'm at work right now so I can't look up the name of the region free program. I believe it's something similar to "Gecko Region Free".

From reading about it, it sounded as if you just launched the program, then inserted your imported game and hit a button to reset the machine. From there, you were good to go as long as the game didnt' try to install region specific stuff (i.e. like the WiiFit channel or system updates from Smash Bros) and even then there were work arounds.

Re:I just don't understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24233207)

Mod Parent Down.

That isn't the reason to do this, This particular step will now allow us to do some crazy stuff like WATCH DVDs on the Wii I could only assume, also it will allow for people to get deeper into the hacking possibly even enabling a Hard Drive so that we could play the games and have a Hard Drive too.

This is a step in the direction of opening this up the way that the R4 Card opened up the abilities of the DS to things like MP3s and EBooks, at least for me...

Re:I just don't understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24235541)

No, you need special software to do that.

Re:I just don't understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24232651)

Maybe the Wii doesn't have all the flashy graphics the PS3 and Xbox360 do, but what homebrew game really uses the full graphics capability anyhow?

Most homebrews look like old nintendo or maybe a slightly more modern system's game, but nothing like EA Sports Madden, and those are things the Wii can display just fine.

Why create Emulators for old systems? Your PC will play games that will blow the graphics out of the water? It's the fun of playing these games. Graphics aren't everything, as I'm sure many people here can attest to

Re:I just don't understand. (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234787)

Graphics aren't everything, as I'm sure many people here can attest to.

I would attest to that, but it appears I've been eaten by a grue.

Heck, just for nostalgia I occasionally whip out the ol' Trash-80 emulator and play Raaka-Tu [figmentfly.com] every so often, or Bedlam... [figmentfly.com]

Ditto for the DOS games. When a game is still enjoyable 20 years later, THAT, my friends, is value.

Re:I just don't understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24232695)

Piracy. Also backups, emulator playing (that can be or not piracy), using various open source programs. Basically like a pc instead of being $COMPANY bitches.

Re:I just don't understand. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232705)

So you can write your own game that uses the wiimote?

Re:I just don't understand. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24232959)

Problem being, you can do that already with nearly arbitrary hardware. Wiimote drivers exist for Linux at least, and most likely also Windows and OS X. All you get out of the deal by hacking it is, well, a neat-looking box and presumable auto-syncing to the remotes.

Hacking the PS3 is too damn easy... (0, Offtopic)

Doug52392 (1094585) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232707)

They put an option right into the main XMB menu to "Install other OS", which automatically formats the system's hard drive. All the user needs to do is download a minimal Linux boot image from Sony's site, download a distro of Linux that supports the cell arch (which is usually the version for Mac PCs), burn it, and install it.

No exploits needed, an IQ of maybe 100 is needed, etc. I would be bored with that in a few minutes, I would rather hack a system NOT meant to be hacked :)

Re:Hacking the PS3 is too damn easy... (1)

xiao_haozi (668360) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234133)

granted the video resolution stuff can be a bit daunting for some based on browsing through some of the linux on ps3 forums and the number of video mode problem posts. But that is what has always made me have a special place for sony consoles in my heart...i think i use my ps3 for multimedia pc purposes 10:1 over gaming.

Re:I just don't understand. (1)

gblfxt (931709) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232765)

when the new wii's come out, it will give us something to do with the old ones!

Then you never will. (1)

NNKK (218503) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232961)

There is an insurmountable disconnect between those that understand why these things are done and those that don't. It's fundamental to how each thinks. As much as you say you don't understand us, we don't really understand you. There isn't a good/convincing way to explain either position to the other, nor should there really need to be.

In a way, it's like asking someone why they like, say, raw fish, or really any other food one might find unpalatable. It's not a very useful question, because it comes down to individual taste. If the questioner doesn't already understand, they're unlikely to appreciate the merit of any particular response someone might come up with.

Re:I just don't understand. (1)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233139)

I could understand the xbox, and the ps3,

I don't have a xbox nor a ps3, you insensitive clod!

Re:I just don't understand. (1)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233615)

Then you aren't living.

Re:I just don't understand. (1)

SargentDU (1161355) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234077)

On the contrary, the GP is probably living life more than you are. :)

Re:I just don't understand. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234615)

Might have been a reference to the PS3 ad campaign or might have been me reading too much into it.

Re:I just don't understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24233169)

Well, when your brother buys a wii and you are an anti DRM free software fanatic, things start making sense.

Generally vendors do not understand their products (1)

tlambert (566799) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233397)

Generally vendors do not understand their products.

The most important use for a platform is frequently something the vendor never considered in either their software design, their marketing plan, or their business model. Or they considered it, and wanted to hold it hostage in the name of an ongoing revenue stream. Consider that most consoles are loss-leaders, with the money being made up on the licensing rights to put software on the box, with per unit royalties to ensure an ongoing revenue stream. The restrictions necessary to implement this business model disable a lot of the potential of the platform as a basis for other applications.

-- Terry

Really now... (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233537)

Let's see:

- The Wii has a nifty built-in remote that can do all sorts of things... and homebrew offers learning coders the chance to play with it and come up with innovative ideas and neat tricks.

- A codebase set up to allow you to run burned discs with homebrew will hopefully be expanded to allow using the old (and quite solid) emulators that ran on the Gamecube. Being able to run my SNES/NES/Genesis/etc libraries from a burned CD rather than wasting space in the Wii's highly-limited 512MB of internal RAM would be a major benefit.

In fact, word behind closed doors indicates that Nintendo is going to HAVE to open up something to allow games to read the external SD card reader as normal storage shortly. Anyone who's spent any amount of money in the Wii online store is getting pretty close to the limitation as-is even without the ever-expanding savegame files eating it up. It's one of the Wii's few major mis-design problems (the other being the incredible dead-zone that prevents the wii from detecting small motion, like trying to putt a short put in Wii Sports Golf, reliably).

- The Wii has more than enough power to become a pretty nice streaming media player (say, a MythTV frontend) if you can build it properly. The original Xbox is nearing the end of its usable lifespan (unable to handle 720p or higher content and a few of the newest and most processor-hungry video codecs with its processor) and both the Xbox360 and PS3 are locked in ways that opening them up for homebrew code is far more difficult than rewriting something (though rumors have it that PS3 custom firmware is being worked on). While it's true the Wii couldn't put out a true 720p signal, it could very likely process high-def content and display it in extremely pretty 480p, which would put it a step above the aging Xbox.

And before you say "but the PS3 allows you to run linux natively"... no. It doesn't. It allows you to run a very stripped-down Linux, and segregates hardware control to prevent Linux from being able to do most of the things that you'd want Linux and associated programs to be able to do. For example, the XBMC team (who are porting to both Windows and Linux right now) have already said that the PS3 will not allow them enough direct access (processor, video, RAM writes) to do what the software needs to do.

- The Wii is in more homes. That means that more people are able to enjoy the fruits of their work when they get the nifty home-brewed programs running.

Re:Really now... (1)

CubeRootOf (849787) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234035)

I Like this answer.

It actually addresses the question that I asked, and I appreciate that.

Thank you very much.

Re:Really now... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235735)

You're right, and you're wrong.

A) the PS3 does the home media player thing natively, without running any version of Linux, right from the XMB. I watch video and listen to music from my Linux media servers with it all the time.

B) the PS3 runs _full_ (not stripped-down) versions of Linux that will run within its memory limitations and don't require 3D acceleration. I fail to see how a media client requires 3D accelerated graphics.

Considering the raw power of the cell processor to do video processing and scaling, you should be able to stream and scale very high quality video in full 1080p using the PS3 from say MPlayer or something, but since the native XMB already does this (with scaling, with full DivX support), I don't think many people are bothering to try.

Would a weather channel and Tetris and E-mail app be cool? Sure. Oh yeah, those don't require 3D acceleration and will all run very happily in 256MB of RAM.

What's with the FUD exactly? Try "but the Wii's cheaper" next time -- at least that's true.

Re:Really now... (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24236049)

A) the PS3 does the home media player thing natively, without running any version of Linux, right from the XMB. I watch video and listen to music from my Linux media servers with it all the time.

Funny. I tried that with mine and it has all SORTS of problems with interesting file formats.

Plus, the PS3 knows shit-nothing about Samba. And some of us aren't going to waste 400+ hours of our life fucking with the linux crap trying to get it to work just so we can use a PS3 to do it, especially when we have a perfectly good samba-based NAS running already.

B) the PS3 runs _full_ (not stripped-down) versions of Linux that will run within its memory limitations and don't require 3D acceleration. I fail to see how a media client requires 3D accelerated graphics.

You just repeated what I said before:
- PS3 limits its access to RAM
- PS3 doesn't allow it proper access to the video card (which is VERY useful for media playback, scaling in particular).

Re:I just don't understand. (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235001)

If you think the XBox is a good choice, then why not the Wii? The Wii is 3 times stronger than the XBox.

But can it... (4, Insightful)

corychristison (951993) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232649)

... play DVD's?

That's the only feature missing on the Wii, in my opinion, anyway.

Re:But can it... (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232731)

They have/are working on ports of Mplayer, I haven't installed it yet but given it can handle dvd's and this firmware will allow access to the DVD, it sounds reasonable to believe that if you can't yet, it's only a matter of time.

its also missing... (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232805)

its missing the ability to play pirated games. or, it was...

Re:But can it... (1)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232903)

Take this with a grain of salt, as it may just be made up crap I read on the internet: I have been under the impression constant reading of the Wii laser is bad for the assembly for whatever reason (uh, cheap manufacturing perhaps?) and this is a reason DvD playback has not actually been included by Nintendo or focused on heavily in the homebrew community. If I had a wishlist that could be filled on Wii features, I'd rather have a nice stable network aware "media center" that can stream video and mp3's. Another cool feature would be the ability to use a mounted HDD or a USB memory stick at the least to add more internal storage to the Wii so I can keep more WiiWare games...at 250+ blocks the damn thing fills up fast. Last, someone will hopefully come up with something that will load Wii game images over a network or a USB-medium...and this will be amazing. I won't ever have to stand up to swap games again and I can't wait for that to develop. If I could program my way out of a cardboard box I'd work on it, but I'm really too lazy to learn. Haha.

Re:But can it... (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233539)

Take this with a grain of salt, as it may just be made up crap I read on the internet:

It's made up crap you read on the Internet. Like most made up crap, though, there's a grain of unrelated truth. The Wii's firmware drives the disc at a constant velocity, no matter what track is being read. This is different from regular DVD drives that spin the disc faster or slower depending on the track. The latter puts more strain on the motor, which often causes the drives to fail faster. Thus the Wii's design is for reliability purposes.

Remember all the drive failures in PS2 models? Well, we'd definitely see a higher rate of drive failures if Nintendo supported DVD playback. In addition, Nintendo would need to add MPEG decoder hardware or software. At a minimum that would be additional licensing fees that would drive up the cost of each unit. At a maximum, that would mean licensing PLUS extra decoder chips.

So in effect, no DVD support is a practical measure. With DVD drives being plentiful, there's no realistic reason why anyone actually needs their Wii to support such a feature.

Re:But can it... (1)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234527)

So would this spinning interfere with the ability to play DVDs using homebrew software?

Re:But can it... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234869)

It's just a firmware change. Either the hackers are updating the firmware on their DVD burners, or they're updating the drive firmware in the Wii to support both methods of reading.

Re:But can it... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235447)

Nintendo would need to add MPEG decoder hardware or software. At a minimum that would be additional licensing fees that would drive up the cost of each unit.

Which is why the DVD Video Channel would probably cost 2000 Wii Points if Nintendo made one.

Re:But can it... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235717)

One less thing sitting on my entertainment center springs to mind.

They can solve their issue with buffering.

Re:But can it... (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233789)

The reason its not an official feature is that they'd have to pay royalties if it could play DVDs, and there's no reason to either add that to the cost or subtract it from their profits, everyone already has a DVD player.

Re:But can it... (1)

Tryfen (216209) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232975)

Really? The Wii is limited to 480p - so that's a rubbish picture for those of us in PAL territories. The sound is limited to stereo - so no DD or DTS. Considering an £20 DVD will have digital sound and better quality - why bother using the Wii in that way?

Re:But can it... (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233093)

Really? The Wii is limited to 480p - so that's a rubbish picture for those of us in PAL territories. The sound is limited to stereo - so no DD or DTS. Considering an £20 DVD will have digital sound and better quality - why bother using the Wii in that way?

As you say you will probably get more out of a dedicated DVD player, but it can't really hurt if does play DVDs.

Re:But can it... (0, Redundant)

BobNET (119675) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233109)

Really? The Wii is limited to 480p - so that's a rubbish picture for those of us in PAL territories. The sound is limited to stereo - so no DD or DTS. Considering an £20 DVD will have digital sound and better quality - why bother using the Wii in that way?

I have a standard definition TV in an NTSC region with only two speakers hooked up to it, you insensitive clod!

Re:But can it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24233963)

Wait, so the Wii can't play my DVDs with resolution better than the DVDs themselves? Horror

Re:But can it... (3, Informative)

Handlarn (911194) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234355)

A PAL DVD is 576p.

Re:But can it... (2, Informative)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234215)

Uh. Wii carries Dolby ProLogic 2, like the GameCube.

Re:But can it... (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235345)

No it isn't.

I'm no fan of the Wii Graphics - frankly on an HDTV they look shit - but it can do 576p, a little better.

Re:But can it... (1)

dunezone (899268) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233069)

The reason for no DVD playback is that the drive was designed for short reads not constant reading. If the current Wii drive is used to play DVDs you will either wear it out or it will burn out. That's why Nintendo kept telling people who asked about DVD playback they would have to do some manufacturing changes to allow it.

Re:But can it... (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233689)

Wrong. The Wii spins the disc at Constant Angular Velocity, which means that it is far better designed for constant reads. DVDs are spun up and down at Constant Linear Velocity. Which makes the electronics simpler, but puts a lot more wear and tear on the motor. Thus the PS2 drives that failed during its early lifetime vs. the low rate of Wii drive failures.

Re:But can it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24233809)

Constantly reading the DVD does produce heat, which can be a problem in a tight package like the Wii.

Re:But can it... (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233939)

Constantly reading the DVD does produce heat, which can be a problem in a tight package like the Wii.

Which is why the Wii has proper ventilation. There are large vents out the back and bottom of the unit. These allow heat to be dissipated while hiding the bottom vents with a stand underneath the unit. (Check it out sometime. The stand has a huge hole in it and notches on the side.)

Heat with the Wii is primarily a problem when it's "turned off" in WiiConnect24 mode.

Re:But can it... (5, Informative)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233225)

Let's get this straight.

The drive in the Wii is NOT a DVD drive. In a DVD drive, the speed changes so the laser reads at the same speed all throughout the disk. This puts a strain on the motor (different speed and etc)

A Wii drive does NOT spin at different speeds, only one. The laser reads at variable speeds all throughout the disk. This makes the drive like a tank.

One is not the other, at least not without a firmware mod.

Re:But can it... (1)

realisticradical (969181) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234511)

Ok, I get what you're saying. I just don't understand what it is about a laser reading at variable speeds that makes something act like a tank.

Re:But can it... (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235829)

Let's get this straight.

The drive in the Wii is NOT a DVD drive. In a DVD drive, the speed changes so the laser reads at the same speed all throughout the disk. This puts a strain on the motor (different speed and etc)

You're talking about constant angular velocity" (CAV) [wikipedia.org] versus constant linear velocity (CLV) [wikipedia.org] . Only old CD-ROM drives [wikipedia.org] and DVD writers use CLV. A modern DVD or CD drive will use CAV when reading a disc [dvd-and-media.com] .

Re:But can it... (3, Insightful)

merreborn (853723) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233609)

But can it... play DVD's?

That's the only feature missing on the Wii, in my opinion, anyway.

Really? At home, I've got two laptops, a desktop, a PlayStation 2, and a DVD/VCR combo -- all of which play DVDs. The fact that my Wii does not also play DVDs has not been an issue.

Hell, I didn't even find out that it doesn't play DVDs I read it on the 'net, months after having purchased my unit.

Are there really that many people who would purchase Wiis that don't already have a DVD player set up? When you can pick one up at Wal Mart for $40 or less...

IMO, the biggest thing working against the Wii is that it's being treated as a last-gen console by many developers. The Wii port of Guitar Hero 3 had graphics worse than the PS2 version of GH2. Rockband for Wii has no online capability whatsoever, even though GH3 had some, and GH4 is planned to have full online capability on Wii.

It seems like the development process these days is:

  1. Develop original version for PS3/Xbox360
  2. Backport to PS2, cutting out features and reduce graphical complexity
  3. Port PS2 version to Wii

Which really shortchanges Wii owners. Yes, the console is far less capable by the PS3/Xbox360... but it's far more capable than the PS2. Try to fully utilize the hardware. Please.

Re:But can it... (2, Interesting)

CottonThePirate (769463) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234015)

It's about boxes around the TV and connectors on the back of it. I use my xbox to play DVDs. Sure I could get a DVD player for $30, but why would I want an extra remote, extra box, extra connection etc.

Re:But can it... (1)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234557)

Gawd I hate having to swap my Xbox and Wii out all the time. At least the PS3 has HDMI.

Re:But can it... (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#24236273)

If your TV doesn't have more than 2 inputs, maybe you need a new TV... Mine's got 3 HDMI, 2 Component Video, 2 Composite, 1 S-Video, VGA, and coax in, as well as optical and coax digital audio out.

Re:But can it... (1)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 6 years ago | (#24236377)

No need to get a new TV. There are plenty of multi-input boxes that one could buy. Some even have IR/RF remote capability.

Re:But can it... (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234871)

It's about boxes around the TV and connectors on the back of it. I use my xbox to play DVDs. Sure I could get a DVD player for $30, but why would I want an extra remote, extra box, extra connection etc.

Allow me to emphasize:

I use my xbox to play DVDs

That's my point. You already have a DVD player. You only have one input on your TV? Buy a switch box.

Re:But can it... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234027)

Nope but a console playing DVDs is sort of like an appliance that has a clock display. There are so many that it is no longer an important feature.
My PS/2 Plays DVDs. My DVD player plays DVDs, My HDDVD player plays DVDS "It was cheap", and my XBox plays DVDs. I need the Wii the wii to play DVDs.....
Now if it could play Divx from a network share that would be useful.

Re:But can it... (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234477)

My PS/2 Plays DVDs. My DVD player plays DVDs, My HDDVD player plays DVDS "It was cheap", and my XBox plays DVDs. I need the Wii the wii to play DVDs.....

The only thing I own out of that list is my Wii...

Case in point.

Re:But can it... (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235247)

Then you don't have a problem unless you go buying some DVDs!

Re:But can it... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235753)

My PS3 upscales DVDs and plays DivX from network shares. It also plays BD movies.

Just saying :-)

Garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24232675)

this is total bullshit. We should run Waninkoko out of town so he can hide in a cave and fiddle with other people's code... Like he already does. THIEF. This is garbage. This is worse than E.T. for the Atari

Better uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24232789)

Why stop there?

The Wii channel interface seems to me to be the perfect GUI for providing access to the gigabytes of videos that I have on my home media server.

Re:Better uses (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233811)

I disagree. I have XBMC right now and about 900GB of data that streams to it. If you put each item into a "channel" there would be hundreds and hundreds of pages to flip though. I think that a scrollable list that can handle directory structures is the only way to go.

Re:Better uses (1)

xiao_haozi (668360) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233999)

I agree. For me this is same with those fancy cover art viewers. They are fun and all, but really slow to find things.

Re:Better uses (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234255)

What if you created a number of channels, and assigned things to them? Sports channel, action channel, cartoon channel... and an "Unassigned" and "Everything" channel? Opening the channel plays a random video at a random position (as shown by the preview, running!); or selecting it with another button brings up the programming list :)

This is not the first custom firmware for the Wii (4, Informative)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 6 years ago | (#24232811)

I know of at least a [gbatemp.net] couple [hackmii.com] that were released before.

Re:This is not the first custom firmware for the W (2, Informative)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233037)

Those look more like applications for the Wii (WAD OR ELF's) more than a total custom firmware.

Re:This is not the first custom firmware for the W (3, Informative)

Eluan (788868) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234659)

Waninkoko's "custom firmware" is just a ripoff of PatchMii with reduced functionality. PatchMii actually downloads the IOS from Nintendo's servers, patches and install it. It's even easier to use. Waninkoko has a bad reputation on the wiibrew community for stealing credits, and, as always, he releases a new tool days after someone else do all the hard work and release it for free under the GPL. PatchMii was created by bushing, one of the creators of the twilight hack. The unencrypted dvd read patch is by svpe based on an earlier patch for IOSes older than 30.

so, reading R/RW media is a feature? (2, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#24233491)

The "features" that this firmware enables that were not present in the official firmware..

These are not features. If your hardware can read the disc, then the manufacturer specifically disabled the ability to read from writable media. This firmware disables a form of DRM.

That said, I agree wholeheartedly with the intent of this firmware!

Why Just Homebrew? (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234497)

Why limit piracy? Nintendo hates it all the same, so why limit the possible applications of said firmware?

Videogames are too expensive to purchase often. :P

Re:Why Just Homebrew? (2, Insightful)

satoshi1 (794000) | more than 6 years ago | (#24234885)

Nintendo has cracked down on piracy, yes, but they have NEVER stopped homebrew projects (and things like OoT2D don't count). They don't seem to really give a shit about homebrew, it's just that both are often lumped together thanks to people like you, asshole.

Re:Why Just Homebrew? (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#24236071)

If you can't afford them, find another hobby between your purchases. Not like you're entitled to them.

Not a custom firmware. No DVDRs on unmodded Wiis. (4, Interesting)

josath (460165) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235825)

1. This is not a "custom firmware". It is a hacked copy of an official IOS. IOS is the code which runs on one of the sub processors on the wii, it has nothing to do with the main firmware you see that shows channels, launches games, etc
2. You still CANNOT read dvdr's on an unmodified Wii. On an unmodified Wii, this modified IOS lets you only do one thing: dump commercial wii discs.
3. To read dvdr's in wii homebrew, you need a drivechip (a modchip attached to the DVD drive in the wii)

Conclusion: This is pretty much useless for homebrew, unless you are in the small minority who installed a modchip for piracy, but are still interested in homebrew. Even then, burning DVDR's is much more hassle than using SD's.

There is so much factually wrong in this story... (4, Informative)

STKD (1295515) | more than 6 years ago | (#24235905)

That the wiidev guys don't know where to start with correcting it. Seriously. For one thing, wanky borrowed these features from patchmii. Just as he borrows for everything he does. The version he released yesterday was almost 100% Nintendo copyrighted code. He cannot code. Fact. Sad slashdot, sad.
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