Modifying the Xbox

The Xbox is very unlike other game consoles, in that it’s actually a complete x86 PC. Here are its specs:

  • Intel Pentium III 733
  • 64MB RAM
  • GeForce 3 graphics
  • Ethernet port
  • 4 USB ports (the controller connections are actually USB!)
  • 8 or 10 GB IDE hard drive
  • DVD-ROM

All this only costs $150! Here’s the bad news. In order to prevent people from doing whatever they want on the Xbox, Microsoft added a protection scheme which requires them to sign code before it can be run. However, when you unlock the full power of your Xbox, you can do so much more with it: run Linux on it, use it as a media center for your home theater, modify the games that you own for more gameplay (Halo!), use it as a web server, anything you can use a normal computer for.

There are two options: 1) buy a modchip, 2) use a “softmod”, which exploits a bug in a game by opening a tampered savegame. Both options allow you to run unsigned code on the Xbox. Continue reading