Softmod An Xbox, And Run Your Own Software

The original Xbox might be old hardware, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth messing with. Wonder what it takes to softmod an original Xbox? Modding is essentially jailbreaking, and softmodding is doing it using an entirely software-driven process, with no need to crack open the case or mess with electronics.

Don’t let that fool you into thinking the process requires nothing more than pressing a button; it’s actually quite involved, but more accessible now that [ezContents] has published a comprehensive walkthrough for softmodding an original Xbox, complete with loads of screenshots and photos.

The process uses a softmodding tool but that’s only the first step. Making the magic happen comes from installing a carefully crafted save file to the console, booting with an exploited game disk, and then installing software that the manufacturer doesn’t want on the hardware, via a process that the manufacturer doesn’t want to happen. Considering that, it’s expected to have to jump through a few hoops.

Now that your original Xbox is freed from its shackles without having to crack open the case, maybe crack it open anyway and check it for leaking caps and internal RTC batteries before it dies a corrosive death.

17 thoughts on “Softmod An Xbox, And Run Your Own Software

  1. or you can just pull the eeprom to get the hdd unlock code, then using linux you can setup any new hdd with all the games and program you could want the re-lock the drive and throw it back into your OG xbox

    1. That’s the hard way. Much easier to hotswap the HDD to a Linux PC so you can access the file system after the Xbox has unlocked it. Install Linux on that and you’re all set.

  2. This wasn’t hard 15 years ago. Prior to softmods, the trick was to open it and bridge a single trace with a conductive pencil so you could flash a custom firmware over the original. Minus v6, the Xbox was a single beer mod.

  3. I bought one to run Linux on there, some memories of GentooX running on my TV, shorting pins of the flash to install then cromwell bootloader, exploits in SplinterCell to load some code, and last but not least, some people trying the LPC connector with an arduino to rewrite the flash.

  4. I softmodded mine many years ago, the method I used involved hot-swapping the HDD: you open the console, let it boot normally (so it unlocks the HDD), then with the console ON, remove the HDD IDE cable (but keep the power connector attached, to avoid a power cycle re-locking the HDD) and plug the IDE interface to a Linux PC. Now you have the disk fully unlocked so you can install whatever you want.

  5. I used a softmodded XBox as a video titling device in a Digital Betacam videotape editing environment. Text to be put on the title screen (usually tape archive number, video title, input/output timecodes, duration) where put from a database into a formatted text file stored on a local web server, and the XBox homemade application was downloading it and displaying it on a nicely formatted screen, to be recorded on tape. Worked great, and was more compact, reliable and cheaper than other professional titling device.

  6. I remember copying files off my Xbox HDD to my PC, then flashing them and the nod to a new HDD. Then put the old one back in the Xbox with the lid off. Power on, count to 5, then swap in the new HDD in under 2 seconds. Ouala!!!

    1. Afair this only worked up to 128GB HDD. Original bios wouldnt let you see above this capacity. I still have original Xbox with 160 PATA drive that is seen by console as 128GB :(

      1. I have been using a 250 gig drive for over 15 years, is only like the very fist gen XBOX’s cause its news to me (and no I used the splinter cell exploit to unlock the drive, funny enough the only USB storage device that it would recognize was my PSP)

  7. I’ve gone the softmod route on several consoles, and I must say, a good hardmod bests them every time. Softmods are so easily lost, but hardmods are for the life of your console/modchip. Modding in any way is a lot of fun and I highly recommend it.

    1. Based on the summary, the mod sounds almost identical to how the Wii was modded for homebrew. You loaded a bad save file from the SD card that was read by Super Smash Bros disc. Since the bug was in the disc, Nintendo couldn’t patch the consoles to counter the attack. I believe later versions of the Wii eventual patched the firmware but all the older consoles were vulnerable. It’s been a while since I’ve jailbroken any console now that I can afford the games. I don’t play enough to justify hoarding every game available (no time), and when I do want to play the one-two games, the $70 the games cost nowadays don’t seem so unreasonable anymore. If I want to run custom code, there are thousands of options that are better suited for the task. Cracking a console has to be just for fun now and maybe after all useful life has been drained out of it.

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