FreeBOOT Gives The Xbox 360 JTAG Hack New Life


There has been another development in the never-ending battle that is Microsoft trying to keep its gaming system closed to unauthorized use. Xbox-scene reports that a new hack called freeBOOT v0.01 allows the Xbox 360 to upgrade to the newer kernels, but allows the option of rebooting to an older kernel in order use the JTAG exploit and gain access to the hardware.

In case you missed it, the JTAG hack is a way to run homebrew code on an Xbox 360. Exploiting this hack makes it possible to boot a Linux kernel in about five seconds. We’ve long been fans of the homebrew work done with XBMC on the original Xbox and hope that advances like this will lead to that end. We want this because the older hardware cannot handle high definition content at full resolution but the Xbox 360 certainly can.

This exploit is still far from perfect. It currently requires that the Cygnos360 mod chip be installed on the system. A resistor also needs to be removed from the board to prevent accidental kernel updating. That being said, this is still progress. If you’re interested in step-by-step details, take a look at the text file instructions provided.

[Thanks wdfowty]

39 thoughts on “FreeBOOT Gives The Xbox 360 JTAG Hack New Life

  1. I still use XBMC at home. Sure I don’t get HD, but the upscaling is not too shocking, and it is so nice just to watch something direct from an ISO.

    I’ve been a big fan, and eagerly await any developments that will allow this to happen on the 360.

  2. The description has it backwards, the 360 is kept at an exploitable kernel and is then soft rebooted to a higher kernel stored on a separate flash chip which is fooled into thinking update is fully applied. The best comparison is BootHook for PSP because the device keeps the old firmware but can run the higher level stuff as well.

  3. Mike,
    Sorry for the previously offensive post. My point was to encourage something like journalistic integrity for writing currently relevant posts. I’m sure you are aware of the Boxee-XBMC transition, it would just help if you didn’t write posts in the style of someone who has only known about this site for 2 and half years.

  4. @cheztir : you sir, have it exactly correct. Too bad DA has left the PSP scene, hopefully FW 6.00+ get opened up soon [unless it has already].

    also, this doesn’t yet support all the x360 motherboards, especially mine [zephyr==elite]. Almost there.

    Too bad we don’t have a full XBL emulation scheme >.>; –Unfortunately both XBL & PSN are big value adds.

    Also, looks like somebody inherited the first post…


  5. Also, lot’s of tags on this post, wow. is there a way to browse all the tags ever used? wait… “Filed under” and tags are different, odd.

    And– it’s not filed under xbox hacks? this is confusing. I guess googling is the only solution?

  6. @cheztir

    The kernel itself isn’t exploitable, its the boot loader. XBOX kernel 7371 and lower have an exploitable boot loader. This allows you to run the newer dash/kernel (8498) without updating the bootlader. The method involves having virtual efuses (read: IBM efuses) to fool the 360 into thinking the new boot loader exists.


    If you aren’t interesting in hacking, why bother posting. Removal of the resistor is not necessary, its only a safety measure as to not update to the new non-exploitable boot loader. The update process cannot complete with the removal of the resistor.

    I don’t even know what you mean by unsupported kernel. It’s an ms kernel, what support do you want?

  7. As far as i know, the XB360 cannot output a native full-HD signal.
    And as much as I LOVE my XBMC (most/longest used electronic gadget in my flat) I recommend the WD HD. Costs < € 100 and plays it all. And I guess the external power-adapter of the XB360 wastes more energy alone than the whole WD thing in full action…

    The XBox360 is the perfect example for how the companys don't want the user to harness the full potential of their products.
    XB360 plays only some fileformats and those only in ridiculous bitrates. The only high-bitrate-codec is WMV.

    PS3 plays more, but still it sucks when dealing with surround-sound in files.

  8. @SZ

    “As far as i know, the XB360 cannot output a native full-HD signal.”

    “The XBox360 is the perfect example for how the companys don’t want the user to harness the full potential of their products.”

    “XB360 plays only some fileformats and those only in ridiculous bitrates. The only high-bitrate-codec is WMV.”

    Umm, I think you’re missing the point of the hack. This will give way to harnessing it’s full potential (read: Linux), allowing virtually any content to be played. Your comment about “native full-HD signal” is also mistaken, or at least misguided and easily misinterpreted.

  9. now that XBMC has been ported to Linux and HTPC-esque setups are getting cheaper and cheaper you could easily just run XBMC on a cheap, low power linux box. of course then you have to question whether you’d rather run MythTV at that point.

    Personally I have a custom built DVR running SageTV (it’s not free but IMO it’s much more user friendly than MythTV) the rest of the TVs in my home have Xbox 1s running XBMC that can stream from my SageTV box.

    I have a 360 and it’s probably the most used device next to the DVR but it’s not hacked, I enjoy the online features far too much to lose them by hacking it. Thats the real problem. with the Xbox 1 the online features were pretty basic, and you could “turn off” the hack with the flip of a switch and use your console as if it was unmodded, not so with the 360… at least not yet.

  10. @twistedsymphony

    in regards to your final comments… maybe you didnt read the article? the cygnos + freeboot rebooter code is just that. flip a ‘switch’ (press eject) and you are running XELL, run rebooter code, and you are in the newest retail kernel.

  11. I like how Apple and MS are finally focusing on coding around hardware supported out of context processing, and it shows by how release groups are totally absent of solutions for new chips and firmware despite exhausted reversing efforts.

    I don’t support vendor lock or DRM, I just like to see systems become complex beyond the understanding of conventional thinking.

    Most people still try to reverse the PS3 from the Linux LPAR ignorant of TLB and publicized design features.

  12. how about get MS points, find someone with a jtag and get whatever hack you want instead of ripping apart my….. ehrrrrmmm not jtagged xbox XD hahaha hit me up on live and well fuck shit up and emulate things and run some nand here and there

  13. As a Psychology major I find it interesting how we humans are never happy with anything and are always trying to change things for something they are not. I see people changing the configutarions of vehicles creating souped up cars, only to live in a country with a 55 MPH speed limit. I see it in handgunners, who spend endless money and time handloading bullet, so it will do what commercial rounds do not. Now it’s with the Xbox 360, where people feel superhuman changing the configuration of these game boxes in order to make them do what they’re not suppose to do.

    I don’t know, I find humans fascinating………

  14. People always want more, this is what made us what we are now. If we didn’t had that urge, we would still be in a tree and not even invented fire.

    On the other side people are selfdestructive so we need regulation to keep us from destroying ourselves.

    The limits given by M$ on the xbox360 is not to withhold us from destroying ourselfs, but max-out proffit.
    Back on topic.
    Nice that people are taking the effort for making this possible for the “public”.
    For them it is probably more a personal victory of solving the puzzle.

    Ding an sich

  15. I have A jtag but ms changing the dash board isnt gonna stop hackers from hacking the system further . Now that the new Dash is out for Kinenict all of us hackers will hav to wait a short period but it wont be long before we r back to running lobbys . I spoke with Ms techs and they have no idea what hackers are using but they claim they have decoys out on mw2 trying to get ppl to disclose how the process is done but we are not that stupid considering When the IP address matches ms IP we can assume its a Ms employee looking to get more information on how hackers are continuing to crack the 360 . Hackers are not stupid but ms trying putting their own employees on mw2 as just normal players and asking for the process is stupid on their part . As we all know Ms is investigatiing this potential crac wen hackers can kick ppl offline but its not easy to solve considering Hackers have out witted MS for years and ms is now just taking action . Tha cat and mouse game will continue cause ms doesnt have the tech brains or the know how to stop Hackers . They bricked a 360 so hacker just unbricks the 360 and continues playing banning a 360 isnt gonna help much .

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