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Wii Update 4.2 tries (and fails) to block homebrew

marcansoft (727665) writes | more than 4 years ago

Games 3

marcansoft writes "On September 28, Nintendo released a Wii update, titled 4.2. This update was targeted squarely at homebrew, performing sweeping changes throughout the system. It hardly achieved that goal, though, because just two days later a new version of the HackMii installer was released that brings full homebrew capabilities back to all Wii consoles, including unmodified consoles running 4.2.

However, as part of their attempt to annoy homebrew users, Nintendo updated the lowest level updateable component of the Wii software stack: boot2 (part of the system bootloader chain). Homebrew users have been using BootMii to patch boot2 in order to gain low level system access and recovery functions (running Linux natively, fixing bricks, etc). The update hasn't hindered this, as users can simply reinstall BootMii after updating (it is compatible with the update). But there's a much bigger problem: Nintendo's boot2 update code is buggy. Boot2 had never been updated in retail consoles until now. During BootMii's development, its authors noticed that Nintendo's code had critical bugs and could sometimes permanently brick a console by writing incorrect or unchecked data to flash memory, so they decided to write their own, much safer flashing code. Now, Nintendo has pushed a boot2 update to all Wii users, and the results are what was expected: users are reporting bricks after installing 4.2 on unmodified consoles. Nintendo is currently attempting to censor posts and remove references to homebrew.

It is worth noting that the new boot2 does not attempt to block anything or offer any additional protection or functionality. Its sole purpose is to simply replace current versions which may or may not have been modified with BootMii. Another interesting tidbit is that Nintendo is not believed to have any method to repair this kind of brick at a factory, short of replacing the entire motherboard."

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Classic Slashdot (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29600153)

Another interesting tidbit is that Nintendo is not believed to have any method to repair this kind of brick at a factory, short of replacing the entire motherboard."

Citation please

Re:Classic Slashdot (2, Insightful)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29600683)

This isn't wikipedia. No need for a citation when you know what you're talking about. Which is: many attempts have been made to find any kind of loader/JTAG pins on the Wii motherboard, including mapping the vast majority of the Hollywood pinout (hundreds of pins), without success. There is no indication that Nintendo can program the Wii's flash memory in place. All guesses point towards preprogramming with a bootstrap before soldering, and then later completing the installation of the rest of the software and testing via DVDs and the like.

That's it for the hardware side. As for the software, we know how the Wii boots starting from a small boot ROM burned into the Hollywood die (which has been dumped). There's no recovery code whatsoever, all the way from boot0 (this code) to the System Menu. That's where the first chance of recovery comes in, but by then tons of different things have to work. The Wii's boot process is extremely fragile.

Nintendo obviously isn't going to be reworking NAND chips off and on to boards to fix boot2 bricks (nevermind that there are all sorts of issue with per-wii keys), and all reports from people who have sent their Wiis in for repair point towards Nintendo replacing the entire mobo when "no video" bricks happen. As far as we know, all the service techs can do is pop in the recovery disc (which will only work if the System Menu main() function runs, which will never happen if boot2 is dead) and, if that doesn't boot, replace the motherboard (losing all user information on the old one).

Of course, no one has any *proof* that that is the case, but everything points toward it. Hence the 'believed' part on the summary.

Re:Classic Slashdot (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29601107)

No need for a citation when you know what you're talking about.

Citation please.

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