New Xbox Exploit Allows Linux Install - MS say they will take legal action

By Phantasm66 ยท 13 replies
Jul 4, 2003
  1. "A group of Xbox hackers called "Free-X" claim to have broken all security measures on the games console without any hardware modifications whatsoever, prompting Microsoft to threaten a legal attack against its members."

    So its finally been done - a hack for the Xbox that alllows you to get Linux onto the machine without any hardware mods at all.

    Free-X claim to have been trying to negotiate with Microsoft for some time, requesting the release of a "signed" Linux boot loader, which would permit Xbox users to run Linux on the machine in much the same way that PS2 users currently can - i.e. without any hardware modifications. Microsoft refused to listen.

    A signed boot loader won't allow the console to run pirated games, whereas the exploit they have developed will. Free-X say piracy is not something they wish to encourage. The exploit in its released form will not directly allow "backed up" games to run, but from what I have read from the documentation this is a matter of a simple fix.

    "If Microsoft had agreed to sign Linux then it would have been possible... to prevent the illegal use of pirated software," the statement said. "It is a shame that Microsoft appears to not share our concerns about protecting the intellectual rights of those who develop software for their console".

    Somehow, I think that all Microsoft are dealing with here are some disgruntled games developers who just want to use open source tools to develop games for the Xbox. If only they had listened.... But now, I think we will see Xbox games piracy galore. And all the legal action in the world will not change that.

    Full story here.

    Full details of the exploit here.
  2. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,978   +15

    Thats an intresting article.

    Im defently on Free-X's side here, but why would you want to run Linux on your XBox anyways? To make games? Just get it for your pooter :)
  3. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 863

    Yeah, but think about it. It will keep growing and piracy will rise. Once you've got an OS, you can do anything and expand off from there. I support Free-X but I do understand Microsoft disliking this idea.

    Really, think about it. Xbox has internet and online games. Then Xbox will have a OS. Then Xbox will be able to download games illegally. Think about it. Now do you realize why Microsoft takes this action?

    Game consoles are turning into computers now--in fact, they are computers. I wouldn't doubt it that in the future you'd buy a computer just to hook up to your TV and game, thus making consoles obsolete. Or, even selling "consoles" that are like 4.0GHz powered by Intel or something, lol.
  4. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Sony has no problems with PlayStation2 running Linux :rolleyes:
  5. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 5,734   +8

    Linux is a great development environment for people wanting to write games for the Playstation2 or the X-Box.

    All things considered (32 mb and all!) Linux runs very well on the PS2 (even although its stuck in 2.2 kernel land....) and I expect that it runs well on the X-Box as well.
  6. TS | Crazyace

    TS | Crazyace TS Rookie Posts: 275

    Do you guys actually think that xbox games arnt downloaded of the internet now?? cmon....

    The xbox has been hacked for almost 1 year now!
  7. TS | Thomas

    TS | Thomas TS Rookie Posts: 1,319

    This one doesn't require you to mess around with anything inside the case, which is obviously gonna be far more appealing.
    Then again, it does sound (again) like Microsoft's own fault. Yet again they have security problems pointed out to them & they fail to do anything about it.
  8. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 863

    Microsoft is all about Windows... not Linux... I'm sure if they got Windows working on it Microsoft would have had a different reaction... but still, piracy is always gonna be arround, they just want to make it hard enough so an inexperienced user with little to no computer knowledge could not download.

    Yeah, but it's not necessarily that easily... first you've got to find the game file illegally hosted somewhere, you've got to convert them to a certain format, have a burner that supports it, hook up some illegal hardware, write cd, some pre-setup every time you wanna play that game. Most likely, it will be tough to find instructions cause you'll have no idea on what to do. Whooh, long huh?

    Well now that they've got an OS + internet, it's a download and open situation.

    It's all about making cracking harder, so not that many people have illegal copies of their games.

    I don't think there will ever be an end to file cracking, warez, and illegal stuff. If there won't be an end, why not make the process alot more harder?
  9. MrGaribaldi

    MrGaribaldi TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 2,512

    The problem is that the harder the protection is to break, the more people will try to break it...

    Why do you think there are so many that are trying to hack into Nasa, Pentagon and large businesses?

    It's not just because of the secrets they've got...

  10. XtR-X

    XtR-X TS Rookie Posts: 863

    A little more like War Games :D
  11. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 5,734   +8

    Some people just like to break into things just to show that it can be done, or that they can do it.

    Some people want to know as much as they can about computing even at the risk of having few friends, etc. They certainly want to show everyone how much they know.

    Some others do it for what they see as moral reasons.

    Very few people crack systems for personal gain, I would imagine. But when the info is leaked or made public domain, that's when someone else does...
  12. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 5,734   +8

    However, in this case, I think we are dealing with a bunch of good, likeable folk who just want a good development environment for writing XBox games.

    They liked being able to, perhaps, write for the PS2 under Linux, compile it on a fast PC and then test it on the PS2 running Linux by sending to it via ftp, for example - another ability which running Linux on the PS2 gave it. Linux has other advantages that perhaps they liked - like KDE's Kdevelop which is a little like Borland C++ Builder.

    Now, they just want the same thing for the XBox.

    If Microsoft had only listened rather than ignore them and incurr their wrath then none of this would have happened.

    Always expect that when you release something wonderful, other people will take it apart to see how it works. If they can, they will get to a stage where they understand what you have created better than you do....
  13. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,978   +15

    "Hacking" the XBox is easy, what I mean by that is throwing a modchip in, downloading the game (ISO), burning it on a DVD-R, and there you have. Actually hacking it, to put linux on it isnt, though they had done this quite awhile ago, however had made hardware changes, not any major ones ofcourse. Theres a key they had to hack that was encryped - It was 2042 bits or something, cant remember the exact number.

    I know many people that just go rent a PS2 game from Blockbuster or Videoword, burn it, and have it ;) Its cake :)


    I think if games we're $30 or cheaper, less piracy would happen, as $50 is ALOT for one game...4 games = a new PS2. I know it'd stop me.
  14. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 5,734   +8

    Yeah, but the point was that was done for the first time without any hardware mods at all. This leasts to an actual installation CD for Linux for the XBox, where one actually just slips a CD in and installs away, with little or no trouble at all.
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