Xbox Softmod Guide

For the latest version of this guide, check out this thread

Last updated: February 5th, 2007 (changelog)

This is an Xbox softmodding guide originally written by Waffle Zone and posted on the Something Awful forums, with some minor edits from myself. Neither I nor him are responsible if you fuck up your Xbox, so follow directions carefully. For a guide to easy media streaming with XBMC, look here.



This new package is more stable, idiot-proof and has safeguard against security risks like your little brother, or stupid friends. You cannot break this without knowing enough to disable the security so you can finally mod without worry. Above all, this package has the option to dualboot to a retail package and allows you to play on xbox live safely in this mode. All you need to do to play on xbox live is press the eject button instead of power.

ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP OF YOUR EEPROM ON YOUR COMPUTER IF THE XBOX IS MODDED!! MAKE NO EXCEPTIONS!!

IF YOUR XBOX DOES NOT BOOT TO A DASHBOARD CORRECTLY FOR WHATEVER REASON DO NOT UNPLUG IT OR YOU WILL POSSIBLY LOSE THE ABILITY TO BOOT GAMES AND USE THE MODDED GAMESAVE TO FIX IT. DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO GET IT BACK IN A STATE WHERE IT WILL BOOT PROPERLY AND NEVER UNPLUG IT FOR MORE THAN A MINUTE

Needed

Recommended

  • Latest MS Dashboard (Try a semi recent game like Halo 2 first and failing that, try to connect to Xbox Live through dash or games, though I am uncertain whether connecting to xbox live this way locks your eeprom to your harddrive)
  • Connection to same network as your PC
  • FTP Program
  • Computer know-how and logic (Using FTP and knowledge of IP addresses)

Can

  • Play backup games
  • Play homebrew software (Emulators, Xbox Media Center)
  • Run games off of the harddrive
  • Install a new harddrive
  • FTP into your Xbox to install and edit software
  • Reset Xbox with button combo
  • Access the original MS Dashboard
  • Use Xbox Live (Simply turn the xbox on with the eject button)

Preparation

  • Extract krayzie’s Ndure package out of the rar file.
  • Use your Action Replay PC transfer device to transfer NDURE to a memory card. Usually this entails installing Action Replay’s software and pointing Windows to the driver folder in the Action Replay folder if it can’t find the drivers for the memory card.
  • After you install the software, just run it and drag NDURE (udata.zip) from an Explorer window onto the memory card in the Action Replay software. If you did this right, you should see "Run Linux" on the memory card.
  • Delete Mechassault saves from your Xbox’s harddrive and copy "Run Linux" from the memory card to your harddrive. If you don’t see copy you need to press right to select "Run Linux". Verify that it copied fine.

Installing the Mod

  • Start up your exploited game (in this case Mechassault).
  • Load the exploited save (in Mechassult you just go into campaign and select "Run Linux").
  • Select "1st backup eeprom" then "Backup eeprom". NDURE will boot evolution x with a menu item to backup your eeprom. After you select backup eeprom, return to the main menu.
  • At this point I recommend FTPing into your xbox and downloading the eeprom. Use the IP in the bottom right corner and the user/pass of xbox/xbox.
  • Next, select "Install NDURE softmod. Another option will come up. The top option explains what they both mean but most likely you’ll be using nkpatcher 06 unless your harddrive is larger than 250 gigs. Next you choose the dashboard you want to use, evox doesn’t do half the things that unleash can so use UnleashX. Ndure warns you that it will scan for the presence of files needed for the dashboard, and if you don’t have them, it will cancel the install. You’ll need to update to dashboard 5960 before going through with the install (more on that later). You also will get an error if you haven’t backed up your eeprom.
  • If your dashboard checks out, Ndure will continue with the installation. The installation goes through a lot of beeps and pauses so be sure not to turn your xbox off until it says that the process is done.
  • After it is done installing the core package, it will tell yoy to remove the game and reboot, but it will turn off the xbox for you. Turn the xbox back on with the eject button and take out the disk.
  • Your only option here is to press A so just press A. The shadow C function will hide all your important dashboard files behind a fake C image that shows only the normal MSDashboard. This protects your xbox from security risks ranging from updaters to little brothers and sisters. Your xbox is now idiot proof so long as you don’t delete the exploited gamesave or start deleting things from inside the gamesave (the only state where your real C drive is exposed).
  • Your xbox is now modded! If you didn’t before, FTP into your xbox and backup your eeprom and C drive. Just grab the folder E:\backups\.

Finding Homebrew Software

  • Join #xbins on irc.efnet.org with your favorite IRC client.
  • Send a /msg to xbins, /msg xbins !list.
  • Read all the instructions that xbins sends to you and connect to the FTP server.
  • Go into XBOX, and download whatever you need (there’s a file limit so don’t go crazy).

Installing Homebrew Software

  • Unzip your program of choice to a folder on your computer.
  • Upload to your xbox. If your xbe file is C:\horseporn\whateverthefuck\default.xbe, upload the whateverthefuck folder to (e/f):\(apps/games/dashboards)\ on your xbox.
  • FTP into your xbox using an FTP client like FlashFXP. Connect using the the ip address that shows up in the bottom left corner and the user/pass of xbox/xbox.
  • Upload to your xbox. If your xbe file is C:\horseporn\whateverthefuck\default.xbe, upload the whateverthefuck folder to (e/f):\(apps/games/dashboards)\ on your xbox.
  • Decide whichever you want to use in those parantheses, E is if you're using a stock harddrive and F is if you've upgraded to a larger drive. The different folder names determine which menu item the program will go under.
  • For example, if you're installing xbox media center on your F drive (because you have an upgraded harddrive), it will go in F:\apps\xbmc\ and F:\apps\xbmc\default.xbe will be the program itself. After you refresh your lists by pressing start in the main menu, xbox media center will show up in the applications menu.

Making XBMC Your Default Dashboard

  • Delete everything in E:\dashboard
  • Put everything from the XBMC folder into E:\dashboard
  • Make sure E:\dashboard\default.xbe is valid and that all the XBMC folders are there or you'll have to boot the gamesave to fix it.

Playing on Live

  • The first thing you have to remember is that when xbox live first sees your xbox, it "marries" your harddrive serial number and your xbox’s serial number together. If it sees either one separated, it assumes the xbox has been modified and bans it within 24 hours. So if you play on xbox live and then switch harddrives later, you’ll get banned for trying to go back on. You can switch harddrives before playing on live, just don’t play on live and then switch harddrives.
  • To play on live safely, you’ll first have to activate the dual boot retail mode. Load up your exploited gamesave of choice.
  • Go to "extras" and then "multiboot." The option you want is dual-retail. Tri-save also works but I don’t recommend it because it takes forever to boot.
  • When you reboot, boot the xbox by ejecting the tray. When you boot the xbox this way, your xbox is considered unmodded by xbox live and you should be safe for playing online.
  • Put in the xbox game you want to play and close the drive. The xbox will automatically load it and you can play online safely.

Installing a new harddrive

IMPORTANT XBOX LIVE INFORMATION
If you have logged on to xbox live at all, your serial number is now matched to the harddrive serial number. If you switch harddrives, and login to live, 12 hours later you will be banned.

Needed

Getting the EEPROM

  • The EEPROM is what you need to get the password to lock the HD for use on your xbox. It is specific to your xbox so you cant just download one.

Backing up old harddrive data

  • Krayzie's Ndure uses a shadow C protection system which protects your dashboard from being overwritten or messed with.
  • To access your real C drive for backup purposes you'll have to run the exploited gamesave
  • When you're in the Krayzie installer menu, log on to your xbox using FTP from your computer and download everything off the C and E drive.
  • The EEPROM is in E:\backup.

Preparing the Linux bootdisk

  • Unzip xboxhdm and go to the linux folder inside it.
  • Copy the backups you made to their respective folders. The C drive goes in "C", the E drive goes in "E", and your EEPROM goes in "eeprom". The eeprom must be named "eeprom.bin" and that is most definitely CASE-SENSITIVE. If you want, you can put any homebrew applications as will fill the CD or DVD in "F"
  • In the xboxhdm folder, run make-iso-win.bat and burn it to a disk using an image burning prog like Nero.
  • If the ISO is too large for a CD you can burn it to a DVD or remove gamesaves from the TDATA and UDATA folder to make it fit.
  • Shutdown your computer.

Preparing the Harddrive

  • Change the jumper settings on the Xbox harddrive so it is on "CS" or "Cable Select"
  • Connect the Xbox harddrive as the primary master and remove all other harddrives from your system so you don't inadvertantly change them into Xbox harddrives.
  • Start up your computer with the xboxhdm cd in and go into the BIOS to make sure your computer will boot from the CD drive.
  • When the CD loads, select "1) Boot VGA console with xbox-drive utilities (default)".
  • After it is done loading, type in "xboxhd" to start the tool.
  • Press 1 to choose "1) Build a new Xbox HD from scratch" and it will ask you some easy to answer yes or no questions. Yes, you do want an F drive and you do want everything formatted for you.
  • Answer some more questions. Yes, you do want to format the F drive and yes, you want to transfer the files from C and E over (As well as F if you added some files). Transfering the backups can take a while so you'll have to come back to your computer after it's done to tell it to transfer E and F.
  • Exit out and type reboot to restart your computer

Locking the Harddrive

  • Wait for the linux bootdisk to load again then choose option 3 "3) Boot linux with locking/unlocking utilities".
  • After it finishes loading, type in "lockhd -a" to automatically lock the harddrive with your EEPROM.
  • Shutdown your computer
  • Take the harddrive out of your computer.

Installing the Harddrive in Your Xbox

  • Opening XBOX Tutorial
  • Only go up to the part where you remove the harddrive, but also unscrew it from the little tray and remove it.
  • After that, verify that your harddrive is on "Cable Select" and connect it to your xbox to test it. If it seems to work, test everything. Test a back up game, an original game, a game from your harddrive, and XBOX Media Center. In your dashboard you should see an F drive with all the extra space thats on your harddrive above a normal stock xbox.
  • Some games won't boot unless you clear the cache after installing a new xbox, so delete E:\cache and everything off the X Y Z drives.
  • If everything works, go through the steps backwards to put your xbox back together.