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Hacking the Xbox

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the setec-astronomy dept.

XBox (Games) 30

minuszero writes "BBC News is reporting that the hacker community has already begun to crack the Xbox 360 system. From the article: 'A group of crackers called Team PI Coder says it has discovered the basic workings of the console's file system. The information has helped the group dig out the raw data from the console for 13 Xbox 360 games.'" Relatedly, Mancomb Seepgood writes "Xbox-Linux have published a new paper 17 Mistakes Microsoft Made in the Xbox Security System, which will be presented at the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress in Germany. It details the history of efforts to crack the Xbox and highlights a number of mistakes Microsoft made, including not understanding basic cryptographic algorithms or reading Intel's CPU datasheets." This latter article focuses on the original console.

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BS (4, Interesting)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275862)

They didn't discover anything. They just repacked other people's work from the old Xbox extractors. The author of Qwix has stated that Qwix (Xbox unpacker that's been out for a long time) will unpack a 360 iso with no changes other than renaming the 360 image file to .iso.

I JUST HACKED A FRISTY PSOT!!!!!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14275871)

I JUST HACKED A FRISTY PSOT!!!!!!!!! - Mic$o$o$$ can't buy these for there $-box!!!!!

they're not editors (1, Troll)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275933)

If /. had editors they wouldn't have missed this DUPE [] from three days ago.

Re:they're not editors (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277172)

How is the parent offtopic? Wouldn't readers want to see the other thread which has more and better comments?

Re:they're not editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277441)

People here are narrow minded bitches.

That's wonderful and all, but. . . (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#14275988)

Let me know when I can install SuSE, ubuntu, or Mandriva on it, then I'll buy a bunch of XBoxes and have a nice Linux server farm for lower cost than I can build a single dual core PC for.

Cheap (3, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 8 years ago | (#14276006)

> The Xbox is supposed to find out the highest clock speed the RAM chips can go
> and run them at this frequency - this is the reason why some games don't run as
> smoothly on some Xboxes as on others.

Sounds like a good way of getting your money back, in the UK at least - if you see a demonstration Xbox on demo in a shop, and find that the one you bought isn't the same then you've been misled and can get a full refund from the retailer.

It's also just a shitty thing to do. Does the Xbox2 also pull this trick?

Hmmmm (2, Interesting)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14276337)

Why is this news to some people? I can't see any reason to not expect this. As long as the curiousity is there, and there is a market for pirate (cheaper) games there will always be people willing to crack the console, and the earlier they can do it the more money (or fun, depending on their reasons for doing it) they can have/make.

Microsoft can write all the protection they want into their consoles in the time they develop them, but at the end of the day as soon as it changes hands.. someone has 24 hours a day all day to do what they like to try and crack it. Unlike a salaried coder at MS, they probably have a lot more motivation to do it as well. Just a thought.

From TFA... (1)

fujiman (912957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14276562)

No Linux hackers ever attacked the Playstation. When you are fair, people don't fight you.

What they're trying to say here is, "Since Sony put out a commercial Linux kit, Linux hackers didn't hack the PS2". I would venture a guess (from experience and Linux/PS2 sales) that Linux hackers did not gravitate toward the XBox because commercial Linux was not available for it, but because it is a cheap x86 box with hard drive and USB ports.

I do however, find the hackers sense of "ethics" quite laughable -- That they are some sort of heroes "fighting" an "unfair" company. Typical hacker rationale: Locking it gives us the right to crack it.

Re:From TFA... (1)

Tyir (622669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14276603)

I thought the rational was *buying* the hardware gives them the right to crack it (i.e. use it they way they want to).

Re:From TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14277252)

Typical hacker rationale: Locking it gives us the right to crack it.

Typical fujiman rationale: "Aww shit, I locked myself out of my car, now I'll have to go buy a new one."

I own it. If I want to void the warranty and break it open and fuck with its guts, that's my choice. If they put locks on it, well, I'll just have to jimmy one, won't I?

Re:From TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14278417)

fuck off and die, the only reason anyone hacks an xbox is so they can play games they didn't buy

Re:From TFA... (1)

The Tyrant (472050) | more than 8 years ago | (#14279038)

Not at all. Slightly different example, but I'm in the process of cracking my Nintendo DS, but not so I can play pirate games, infact, with the hardware I have, I cant do that. But I can write homebrew stuff on it, and yes, run linux, if I so desire, but with no x, and no wifi, there isnt too much point in linux yet, for me at least, I'm more interested in writing games for it.

Re:From TFA... (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14292893)

OK Lets See.

Re:From TFA...(Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday

fSck off and die,
Why so hostile?
the only reason anyone hacks an xbox is so they can play games they didn't buy

Right, nobody uses: [] FreeBSD,Linux and Darwin. [] Multimedia Studio XBOX Linux Live CD 28-2005Jan29.html [] XBOX Media Center ile=article&sid=22 [] SoftMod [] Emulation of Old Systems that we OWN

Maybe all these people are just wasting their time so losers can pirate games, but then again, if you look closely you will find more than a few Developers like the Idea of a $150.00 PC with TV out and Net Access.

I know I owe them my thanks, I'm purchasing an old black box right after the next price drop around 2006 (PS3 Launch). I probably won't even pick up 1 game. I just need a media extension in another room.
Silly Trolls.

Re:From TFA... (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14279629)

I do however, find the hackers sense of "ethics" quite laughable -- That they are some sort of heroes "fighting" an "unfair" company. Typical hacker rationale: Locking it gives us the right to crack it.

You are mistaking the hacker ethic. Think of it this way. Since I bought it, it belongs to me and I can use it anyway I see fit.

I own several things which now serve a totally different purpose from which the manufacturer intended. His intentions are not an issue now that it is no longer his.

Paraphrasing RMS, a hacker is someone who uses tools for a purpose other than normally intended.
Might be best to let him speak for himself.

It is hard to write a simple definition of something as varied as hacking, but I think what these activities have in common is playfulness, cleverness, and exploration. Thus, hacking means exploring the limits of what is possible, in a spirit of playful cleverness. Activities that display playful cleverness have "hack value".

Yet when I say I am a hacker, people often think I am making a naughty admission, presenting myself specifically as a security breaker. How did this confusion develop?

Around 1980, when the news media took notice of hackers, they fixated on one narrow aspect of real hacking: the security breaking which some hackers occasionally did. They ignored all the rest of hacking, and took the term to mean breaking security, no more and no less. The media have since spread that definition, disregarding our attempts to correct them. As a result, most people have a mistaken idea of what we hackers actually do and what we think.

You can help correct the misunderstanding simply by making a distinction between security breaking and hacking--by using the term "cracking" for security breaking. The people who do it are "crackers". Some of them may also be hackers, just as some of them may be chess players or golfers; most of them are not.

Source []

Might also Check Out Wikipedia [] In modern parlance, the hacker ethic is either:

* the belief that information-sharing is a powerful positive good, and that it is an ethical duty of hackers to share their expertise by writing free software and facilitating access to information and computing resources wherever possible; and/or
* the belief that system hacking for fun and exploration is ethically acceptable as long as the hacker commits no theft, vandalism, or breach of confidentiality.

Both of these normative ethical principles are widely, but by no means universally, accepted among hackers.

There, now don't we all feel a little more informed.

Re:From TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14281011)

Sounds good, except that this all ignores liability law. Let's take a different example: I buy a hydraulic press. (If you're not sure what that is, watch the last scenes of Terminator -- it's the thing that kills the Terminator.) Now this is a large dangerous machine and, because it's dangerous, it has sone significant safety interlocks. Modern ones, for instance, have two buttons that must be pushed simulaneously to make it go... and they're separated by enough that you need both hands on the buttons. That way, you can't have your hand in the machine. That way, you can't have your arm taken off.

Now, by your logic, I've bought the machine. It's mine. I can modify it to suit my purpose as long as I'm not stealing. So, I decide to defeat one of the two buttons. A few inches of duct tape and I've done it. And then, oops, my arm is cut off. Can I sue?

Well, yes. In the US, I could say the manufacturer is at fault. Remember, this is the country where someone sued (and won) because they were too stupid to know that hot coffee is hot and that if it spills in your lap (because you put the cup there) it will scald you. In the US, being stupid is a means of getting rich. So I sue the manufacturer because my arm is off. And the manufacturer goes out of business... and that's one less toy the world has access to.

So, hack the machine. You're harming no one. But don't expect to have it both ways. If your machine breaks, don't expect it to be fixed. If your machine causes a fire, don't expect to be compensated. If that fire kills somone, it's your fault -- accept it. If you electrocute yourself, don't expect your estate to collect. Add THAT to your ethic and perhaps you're OK. Otherwise, you're just a juvenile playing with matches and then claiming it's not your fault you got burned.

Re:From TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14281714)

Err, has anyone ever suggested that the "hacker ethic" includes expecting to retain warranty even after breaking warranty? But yes, if anybody ever did say that, I would agree that that would be a foolish "ethic". (Anyway, I find the phrase "hacker ethic" a bit too pretentious and grandiose for my tastes. It's not as if the practice of taking things apart and putting them together again constitutes a whole new ethical system.)

(By the way: if you "hack" a dangerous machine, as in your example, not only would I not expect you to be able to sue the manufacturer if something goes wrong, I would expect that somebody could sue you. If I die a horrible death after touching your modded X-Box, I would expect that I(well, assuming that it was a very slow horrible death, so that I had time for a lawsuit) could sue you, because it was basically your machine that killed me, not Microsoft's. (I'm aware a modded XBox most likely isn't deadly, but I haven't seen Terminator, so I couldn't go along with your analogy.)

Re:From TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14282688)

Ah... but what you say is logical. US civil law is far less than logical. The case I gave is a real one. In fact, it's worse: the hydraulic press above was 30 years old at the time of the injury. Yep, sold a long time ago and modded. And they got sued anyway. The problem is... if you did the modding, your pockets are not as deep as the manufacturer, so it does not pay to sue you. I could sue you, but why bother if I can get 2, 3, or even 4 orders of magnitude more money from the original manufacturer for roughly the same effort? Look, I'm not challenging what the modders do. Some of the creativity I've seen in finding the mods... and some of the countermeasures... show a great deal of innovation. What I'm challenging is the self-congratulatory claptrap that this is based on some ethic that's divorced from the real world. And, from your remarks, I take it you agree with that challenge.

Crackers? (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14276577)

Is the media confusing the difference between crackers and hackers again? Or is my understanding of the definitions out of date? (ie hackers = good, crackers = evil hackers)

Re:Crackers? (2, Insightful)

macshit (157376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14276909)

Is the media confusing the difference between crackers and hackers again? Or is my understanding of the definitions out of date? (ie hackers = good, crackers = evil hackers)

It's just that the words have different accepted meanings in different contexts; there are no absolute "definitions".

Potentially confusing to be sure, but that's natural language for you (though in practice, of course, nobody actually gets confused over this issue; some people just like to use the unrealized possibility of confusion as an excuse to make their favorite rant).

Re:Crackers? (1)

triso (67491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277033)

Is the media confusing the difference between crackers and hackers again? Or is my understanding of the definitions out of date? (ie hackers = good, crackers = evil hackers)
I have never seen "the media" use the term "crackers" unless the writer was a hacker, in other words not "the media."

Re:Crackers? (1)

Bazzalisk (869812) | more than 8 years ago | (#14279075)

Plus that isn't the standard definition of the words. A hacker is a code-monkey, a cracker is someone who breaks encryption/copy protection - whether for good or bad reasons.

Re:Crackers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14283730)

No, they just don't care. No one cares, get over it.

Another Gem from TFA... (1, Flamebait)

fujiman (912957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14276642)

Know your enemy - and talk to them. They are not terrorists that you are not supposed to negotiate with. [story about how they approached MS] ... But as they refused to talk, we were forced to release the exploits, and they were lucky we heavily obfuscated our solutions so in order to slow down people interested in using it for copies.

Apparently, the hackers are more like kidnappers that you have to negotiate with.

So I have it now: Bad Hacker == terrorist, Good Hacker == kidnapper

I must be missing the point. (4, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14276916)

I really think I must be. Microsoft put in some security measures on their console, and not all of them were top notch. Okay, that's a flaw in the design, but come on... This is a GAME CONSOLE. It plays games. These things aren't used to store credit card numbers.

I'll be happy if they do fully crack the 360... (4, Interesting)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277568)

... because I modded my Xbox and put a bigger hard drive in there and it's been one of the best console setups I've ever had. I can install all my games to the hard drive, reset to the menu system via the joypad, FTP files to the Xbox and watch divx/xvid and DVDs in 720p or 1080i.

Before anyone reminds me about the evils of piracy, I do buy all my games, it's just the convenience of not having to keep all my game discs around if on a whim I decide to play one I've not played in a while. I can just turn it on, browse the list and pick whatever takes my fancy. It saves on disc scratching too. In fact the only drawback is that when the hard disk dies (which I had happen a few days ago) you have to spend a few hours loading your games back onto a new drive.

So I eagerly await a mod chip for the 360 that allows me to replace the removable HD with something bigger and to allow me to run imported games from any region, to install my games to the hard disk, play any region DVDs and watch non DRM'ed movie files. I can't wait!

That 17 Mistakes article (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278368)

The "17 Mistakes..." article is one of the coolest things I've ever seen linked to from Slashdot. I am in a blissed-out state of ultimate geekness!

regardless of there "mistakes" (1)

cyrax777 (633996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14278620)

its only a matter of time before theres a mod out anyway. no such thing as a "uncrackable" system when it comes to games someone will make a work around anyway.

Dear Zonk, (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14283696)

Please fuck off and/or die.

A victory for disabled force-users everywhere! (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14300972)

Now if only someone would have the foresight to install a wheelchair lift or entrance ramp in the Jedi temple.
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