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“Pandora’s Xbox: The changing community of the modern console”

May 1st, 2010 by bushing · 15 Comments

We spoke with Matthew Braga a little while back for an article he was doing about console hacking — at the risk of sounding self-promotional, I thought he did a really nice job of it. It was written before Sony pulled support for OtherOS from the PS3, which just makes it all the more poignant now.

Head over to his site, horriblefanfare.com, to read the article.

Tags: dsi · Other consoles · Wii

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 stern // May 2, 2010 at 4:03 am

    Given that Sony had already removed OtherOS from the slim PS3s, do you think they would have removed the capability from the old consoles even if Geohot hadn’t publicized his hack?

  • 2 marcan // May 2, 2010 at 4:50 am

    I highly doubt it.

    I say some Sony executives (who couldn’t care less about Linux) were probably scared shitless when their “unbreakable” platform was slightly broken into, panicked, and ended up pulling Other OS ASAP.

    As much as I hate Sony for that move, I think geohot’s handling of the issue was poor and that this reaction could’ve been avoided if the exploit were developed for homebrew purposes (RSX use?) and disclosed responsibly. Geohot pretty much did the worst possible thing: create as much media fanfare as he could (because he loves media attention) and widely proclaim himself to have “hacked the PS3″.

  • 3 bitflusher // May 2, 2010 at 5:37 am

    @marcan: i think Geohot did not do such a bad job, he never claimed the goal of his work was to run “backups”, it was/is to unlock the locked parts. i do agree on the part where he liked the media fanfare just a little too much.

    that said i hope all redicilously closed devices get unlocked for fun and not for profit (eg illegal mass produced copy business). Now the ps3 falls in that category it should be hacked to peaces!

  • 4 tech3475 // May 2, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I think that this whole situation can be avoided by two methods:
    1. Allow Game OS native homebrew like on the Wii/PSP, etc. Even if it’s sandboxed to just the USB stick and a resource required to pirate.
    2. Reveal the system in detail so that we know how it works, thus no reason to reverse engineer besides piracy.

    Although as good as a full hack, ultimately, it would remove as many reasons as possible to hack.

  • 5 marcusw.myopenid.com/ // May 2, 2010 at 11:47 am

    What it boils down to is that the pirates (or at least most of them) don’t know how to hack a system from scratch. They just wait for the hackers to release something which gets them into the system and then do their piratey thing. Take away the hackers’ reason to hack by giving them enough freedom to make them happy (but withholding enough to make retail games playable), and they don’t hack the rest because they can do what they want. The pirates, who can’t really hack, are stuck because the hackers are satisfied and don’t hack.

    This is the story of the PS3:
    System partially available.
    Satisfied hackers who don’t hack.
    Unsatisfied pirates who can’t do anything about it.
    Sony locks the hackers out by removing OtherOS.
    Unsatisfied hackers.
    A media outcry.
    Hackers who are hacking.

    We are currently at this point in time. Now, sony can either:
    Keep the system completely closed.
    Hackers find an exploit.
    Sony has a completely hacked system with easy, freely available exploit kits.
    Satisfied hackers.
    Satisfied pirates who use the exploit for evil.
    Decreased sales because of piracy.
    Possible lawsuits because an advertised feature has been removed.

    Or, they can partially open the system again, resulting in:
    Satisfied hackers who stop hacking and don’t release any of their work.
    Unsatisfied pirates who can’t do anything about it.
    Sales stay the same, only downside is the media outcry.

    You can choose, Sony. I’m predicting that the former path will be the one you take.

  • 6 pm_41 // May 2, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    @marcan Yeah. Geohot is a attention whore. But he does make a good hack in the end.

    As for that gal from Nintendo, I think she was saying what was “legally” allowed. If it’s one thing I’ve learned via all of Team Twiizer’s dealings, it’s that Ninty loves to keep their TOS air-tight.

    That article had a good idea. If these consoles weren’t so closed up, there would be less need for hacks. Also, they could still keep key bits encrypted for anti-piracy purposes.

    On a related note, my cousin had her non-hacked Wii bricked via the 4.2 update. Two weeks later, she recieved a ceist-and-decist letter accusing her of piracy, along with a bill for $200 for “unauthorized modifications”…

    -IF YOU HAVE SMALL CHILDREN IN THE ROOM, SEND THEM AWAY FOR A FEW MINUTES (RANT ALERT)-

    Here’s what I have to say to that:

    Dear Nintendo,

    MY WII IS MY CONSOLE. I BOUGHT IT WITH MY OWN GOD DAMNED MONEY! YOU DON’T OWN THE WII! I DO! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO SAY WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT DO WITH MY CONSOLE! I CAN INSTALL HACKS! I CAN PUT AN EXTRA LED IN IT THAT MAKES THE WII LIGHT UP GREEN! I CAN FLUSH IT DOWN THE TOILET! IT’S MY F***ING WII! IF I’M WRONG, SUE ME! I DARE YOU!

    (now that that’s out of my system, back to the regularly scheduled program…)

    …Like I said, my cousin’s Wii was NOT hacked and she was still charged $200 plus a legal threat. She was forced to pay the $200 (because she didn’t want a hacker like me to aggravate Nintendo.

    In conclusion, Nintendo, please clean your act up. It’s really starting to hurt us legit users.

    Oh, and BTW, I <3 System Menu 4.1U w/ anti-update hacks!

    (Phew! Glad to get all that off my chest…)

  • 7 leonardo2204 // May 2, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    I’d like to know if you guys have or know some tutorial for beginners to read memory(like NOR) and how to assemble pieces like the DSi !

    At least something to google ! Thanks !

    Thanks and you guys kick asses !

  • 8 bushing // May 3, 2010 at 3:54 am

    @pm_41: That’s pretty incredible, can you get ahold of that letter and scan it in? That’s the first I’ve ever heard of anything like that.

    If that was right after 4.2 came out (within the first week), you should try calling Nintendo back — I bet their attitude would be a bit better now.

  • 9 Isakill // May 3, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Yeah that’s an interesting take on this. Because if it was a vanilla system with only ninty updates, that should make for a great time wondering why they came to that conclusion.

  • 10 pm_41 // May 3, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    @bushing She sold the Wii on eBay and threw away the letter. She also bought a new Wii with the money. And yeah, she sent it in within 48 hours of the update being first published.

  • 11 leonardo2204 // May 3, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I’d like to know if you guys have or know some tutorial for beginners to read memory(like NOR) and how to assemble pieces like the DSi !

    At least something to google ! Thanks !

    Thanks and you guys kick asses !!

  • 12 tech3475 // May 4, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I wish to make a correction to a previous comment I made. I said:
    “1. Allow Game OS native homebrew like on the Wii/PSP, etc. Even if it’s sandboxed to just the USB stick and a resource required to pirate.”

    What it should have been was:
    “1. Allow Game OS native homebrew like on the Wii/PSP, etc. Even if it’s sandboxed to just the USB stick and restrict access to resources required to pirate e.g. use a different executable file, SDK, etc. ”

    I only just realised the error that makes it sound like I want piracy possible.

  • 13 kmeisthax // May 5, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    @tech3475: Believe me, I’m pretty sure bushing understood what you meant.

    Also, by “Game OS native homebrew” you mean “Other OS native homebrew”. Additionally, the Wii already sorta-does this when you load HBC.

    To IOS, HBC is just another game and it runs with the same permissions; i.e. can only modify own savedata, cannot r/w other channel’s saves or contents, etc.

    The way most piracy works involves doing very icky things to every IOS on the system. By default, IOS is actually a good security design and Nintendo could have easily included a “Homebrew mode” from the start.

    Of course, this would have been a disaster for Nintendo. IOS was written by BroadOn, a company no one has ever heard of. Evidence has shown that BroadOn is technically incompetent in several areas of basic code security and software engineering.

  • 14 tech3475 // May 6, 2010 at 8:24 am

    @kmeisthax, When I said Game OS native, I meant within the same OS as the system. “Game OS” is the term used on the PS3 for the XMB when switching from linux to the XMB.

    I know about the security of the system, this is why I think Game OS native homebrew is better because if something goes wrong, Sony would still be in control and release a simple patch, which I believe was one reason for it’s removal, a lack of control of that area of the system.

  • 15 Sven // May 8, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    tech3475: “Other OS” was still running without hypervisor privileges. They still had control over that mode. The difference between “Other OS” and “Game OS” is just the hypervisor (or maybe just its internal state)

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