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Old 08-14-2007, 04:35 PM   #1
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Default Xbox LInux

Ok, so I was wondering...has anybody put linux on their xbox? I want to put linux on it (xbox1) but i just dont want to open it up or put any modchips in...is this possible? Is it possible for me to just put in a cd to the xbox and override the software or something?

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Old 08-14-2007, 04:50 PM   #2
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Hmm i dout it because 1) the xboxs doesnt read CD-R Or w/e And 2nd U will have to get a mod chip or a modded XBOx Cd reader and then u prly can

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Old 08-14-2007, 05:39 PM   #3
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Why dont you want to open it up? there is no warranty.

Here are the instructions as of right now there is no way to install Linux w/o opening the box. These instructions are confusing as hell so just read them and re-read them before you begin! There are two sites describing how to do this. they pretty much say the same things exept they have some alternative methods to do things that the other might not so read both! the second one is a little easier but is also much older so it could be out of date.

Is your Xbox compatible?

The Software Method takes advantage of a flaw in the Microsoft dashboard to make your Xbox Linux-compatible. Unfortunately this flaw has been fixed in newer versions of the dashboard. A Dashboard version of 4920 or below is required.

* If your Dashboard version is greater than 4920 and your kernel version less than 5713 then it is possible to downgrade your Microsoft Dashboard to 4920.
* If your kernel version is 5713 or later, then it is not possible to downgrade to a 4920 dashboard, and you will be unable to use the Software Method. ALL 1.6 Xboxes (see Versions HOWTO to determine the version number of your Xbox) have >=5713 kernels, and so cannot be made Linux compatibile using the Software Method.

Even if your kernel version is 5713 or later, not all is lost: it is still possible to run the Emergency Linux mini distribution included with the MechInstaller. You could use this to telnet into your Xbox and get info such as your HD key and unique HD password which can allow you to do other things.
Missing image

Finding your dashboard and kernel version. To find out which kernel and dashboard version you have on your Xbox, boot to the Dashboard (in other words, power on the Xbox without a disc in the DVD drive), select Settings and then System Info. Once the text starts scrolling, you should see the following:


XXXX is the Xbox kernel version and YYYY is the Xbox dashboard version.

What you Need

* Any Xbox, except for the Japanese version, or version 1.6 without a modchip
* The MechAssault game for the Xbox. Only the original release will do; see below.
* A Linux, BSD, Mac OS X or Windows computer with USB connectivity
* A USB memory stick (note that you will have to overwrite it) or another USB device that adheres to the USB mass storage specification, such as an SD card reader or a digital camera (look at the Xbox USB Compatibility List)
* An adapter that allows connecting the USB mass storage device to your Xbox. (The Xbox game ports and Memory Unit slots are ordinary USB ports, but they have weird, proprietary connectors. Adapters for converting this proprietary connector to standard USB are available commercially, but you can also build one yourself.)

Some alternatives:

* You can use the Xbox version of the Action Replay device instead of a generic USB mass storage device and an adapter cable, if you follow this tutorial.
* Or, if you have an adapter cable that makes it possible to connect the Xbox controller to your PC, and if you also have an Xbox Memory Unit which plugs into a slot in the Xbox controller, it is possible to copy the MechInstaller savegames directly to the Memory Unit while the controller is connected to the PC. More details of this approach can be found in this incomplete HOWTO.

Missing image

You need the original version of the MechAssault game not the "Xbox Game of the Year" or "Platinum Hits" version. The newer releases have been patched and will not work. The CD labels are often identical, but the version that says "Platinum Hits" is ALWAYS the BAD one. Look at the laser etching on the back. The new one says MS02308L (BAD) while the original is MS02301L (GOOD). A great source for the good version is your local used game store or a rental house like Blockbuster.
Note: I bought a copy of Mechassault at my local eb games for $3!! Be sure to ask to see the actuall disk they are selling you before you buy it, so that you can look at the laser etching on the back to make sure the exploit on the disk hasn't been patched.
Missing image

The MechInstaller savegames, once transferred to your Xbox HDD, can also be copied on a standard Xbox Memory Unit.. Then just take this memory unit and the MechAssault game with you, and you can patch your friends' Xboxes as well.

This will remove the need for special USB mass storage devices, special adapter cables, or special PC programs. You will still need the original MechAssault game in order to actually use the savegames, but copying them around among your friends can be done using just ordinary, unmodified Xboxes and ordinary Memory Units. This way even those who do not wish to modify their Xbox, or invest in any special equipment, can participate in storing and spreading the savegames to their friends.

* a telnet client for your computer
* a hub/switch and two regular LAN cables OR a crossover network cable

You'll need this if you want to backup your xbox hard disk key (a good idea). This requires using a telnet connection to your xbox, since a USB keyboard will not work in Emergency Linux.
Meet the MechInstaller

The "Software Method" is based on a simple idea: you run a special installer that will modify the Xbox's system software so that the Xbox will accept Linux.

The problem is that this installer itself would be rejected by an unmodified Xbox. If we just burned it on a CD (or a DVD) and tried to boot the Xbox with that, it wouldn't work. That's why we have to apply a trick to run it.

The Xbox games usually allow saving the game situation so that you don't have to play the game through in a single session. It has been discovered that the MechAssault game which was published for the Xbox in 2002 has a security hole in its savegame routines. This hole allows injecting arbitrary executable code into the MechAssault savegames, and running that code on an unmodified Xbox.

This blows the door wide open for us. Code which modifies the Xbox system files can be wrapped in a MechAssault savegame. Once you have this special savegame on your Xbox and select "Load Game" in MechAssault, our installer will be launched. We like to call it MechInstaller.
Where does MechInstaller live? How does it get to your Xbox?

Now, the hard part about this is getting this special savegame onto your Xbox. Or, actually, a bunch of savegames, since MechInstaller consists of several of them.

The Xbox normally allows storing the savegames either on its built-in HDD, or on special "Xbox Memory Units". (These are proprietary, Xbox-specific memory modules that can be purchased separately. They plug into the slots on the front side of the Xpad controller, and act as vehicles with which you can transfer savegames from one Xbox to the other.)

We're not interested in the HDD because accessing it would require opening the cover and fiddling with the hardware this is supposed to be a software method, remember? The Memory Units, however, sound much more promising.

As it turns out, the "Memory Units" are actually just USB flash memory devices in disguise. Likewise, the slots on the controllers in which they plug into are just USB 1.1 ports with a proprietary connector.

Pick your poison

Now, we have two options:

1. We can try and find a way to connect a genuine Xbox Memory Unit to a PC. If we can pull this off, we can then access the contents of the Memory Unit and copy the MechInstaller savegames on it.
2. We can try and find a way to connect an ordinary USB memory stick to an Xbox (and convince the Xbox that this generic USB memory device is, in fact, an Xbox Memory Unit.) Before doing this, of course, we would have preloaded the USB stick with the MechInstaller savegames.

The first option isn't a problem: there are USB adapter cables with which you can connect the Xbox controller (and Memory Units plugged into that controller) to an ordinary PC.

The second option isn't a problem, either: there are USB adapter cables with which you can connect standard USB devices (such as flash drives, memory keys, even keyboards and other USB devices) to your Xbox.

Both ways will work, but the latter one has been more popular this far.

There is still an added complication on our way: the filesystem on the Memory Units is FATX, Xbox's own proprietary format. It is possible to access FATX volumes on a PC with a suitable FATX-aware application program (or with suitable FATX drivers), but this isn't actually necessary in this case, as we have prepared a binary image of a FATX volume containing the MechInstaller savegames for you. This way it will be enough to simply copy the binary image to the flash device: you don't need to worry about the filesystem.

Copying the MechInstaller Files on a USB Memory Stick

If you have the MechInstaller on an Xbox memory unit already or know someone who has, you can skip the following section, else you have to use a Linux, BSD or Mac OS X computer, a USB stick and an Xbox USB adaptor cable to get the savegame onto your Xbox.

* Download MechInstaller images from SourceForge [1] (http://sourceforge.net/project/showf...group_id=54192)
* If you have a less than 2000 blocks USB stick, use the image "MechInstaller-1.0-FATX-8MB-to-32MB.img".
* If you have a memory stick with at least 2000, but less than 4000 blocks, use "MechInstaller-1.0-FATX-64MB.img".
* If you have a memory stick with at least 4000, but less than 8000, use "MechInstaller-1.0-FATX-128MB.img".
* If you have a memory stick with at least 8000, but less than 16000, use "MechInstaller-1.0-FATX-256MB.img".

* If the correct image didn't work, please try all other images one by one.

e.g. :- dd if=MechInstaller-1.0-FATX-64MB.img of=/dev/sda Warning /dev/sda may be your hard drive if you have a SATA drive

1. Please enter the brand and type of the USB stick, as well as the size and the detected number of blocks into the Xbox USB Compatibility List - just click "edit" on that page.

Alternative to the procedure mentioned above (tested for Mac OS X 10.3):

* plug in the stick and find out what device it is by typing mount in the Terminal. The stick should appear as /dev/diskXsY where XsY is most certainly the highest number. It may also appear simply as /dev/diskX.
* Read the data on the stick by typing cat /dev/diskXsY > backup.img. You now have a disk image of your original stick as a backup. If you get an error saying that /dev/diskXsY is busy, use /dev/rdiskXsY (character device) instead of /dev/diskXsY (block device). The same technique can be used with the dd command.
* Write the downloaded images to the stick by typing cat MechInstaller-1.0-...-.img > /dev/diskXsY (or /dev/rdiskXsY). Try out which one works for you by verifying if the savegames appear in the xbox or not.

Nb: for Linux (Debian/Knoppix) need to remove usb-storage module with modprobe -r usb-storage in order to enable write of disk image. the command was: cat MechInstaller-1.0-FATX-128MB.img > /dev/sda Warning /dev/sda may be your hard drive if you have a SATA drive

* Once you copied the savegames to your xbox's hard drive you can restore the data on the stick by typing cat backup.img > /dev/diskXsY (or /dev/rdiskXsY).
* There is no need to be admin or root to do this, as you have full write permissions to the stick.

Windows 95/98/SE/ME/NT/2000/XP

(If you have a 32 mb stick, you can skip all of this, and get the MXK software from http://www.megaxkey.com, and use the Action Replay files from the download page since Action Replay files are compatible with MXK software.)

For Windows users there is a great program called OzXMemory Stick Explorer (http://xbox-linux.sourceforge.net/down/ozxmemory.exe) (unofficial link (http://maxconsole.com/?mode=gotodownload&downloadid=211)), which can write the MechInstaller FATX images files to your memory stick. You will need a .rar extractor (http://www.rarlab.com/). The program has a GUI so it's quite easy to use.

* Connect the USB stick to your X-box goto memory then controller the x-box will erase and format the stick for you.
* Connect the USB stick to your PC and launch the program.
* Press Open 32MB image button and locate the 32MB FATX image file
* Press Write to xxx MB Stick button and the program should write the image file to the USB stick (you should choose the button corresponding your USB stick size). (If you choose the right size and but it doesn't work, try "Write to 32 MB Stick")

Now you have a USB stick that looks like an Xbox memory unit to the Xbox and contains the savegame that starts the MechInstaller.

Copying the MechInstaller Files to the HDD of your Xbox

In order to actually launch the MechInstaller, you will first need to copy the savegame files from the USB memory stick over to your Xbox HDD. Trying to launch them directly from the USB memory stick will not work.

Copying is done by using the savegame management features on the original Xbox Dashboard. You will need to navigate to your USB stick and copy each savegame on it one by one to your HDD. (You will get the "copy" option by moving to the right in the menu. The MechInstaller savegames should have little penguin icons on them.)
Missing image

You can't copy the savegames as a group. You will need to select the individual saves, one by one. Move to the right in the menu in order to get options.

Backing up your Xbox Hard Disk Key

In case of problems, it is important that you have your Xbox hard disk key.

1. Insert the MechAssault game
2. Select "CAMPAIGN"
3. Select "Emergency Linux"
4. Get the key: Using a telnet connection to (a USB keyboard will not work in the Emergency Linux) telnet log in as root, password xbox, and type xbox_tool -a Then write down the hard disk key and pass.

Making the Xbox Linux-compatible

1. Insert the MechAssault game
2. Select "CAMPAIGN"
3. Select "Install Linux"

Your Xbox will now be prepared. This will take some time. Afterwards, your Xbox is fully Linux-compatible, and there is an item "LINUX" in the Dashboard main menu which boots a minimal Linux system. Use an installation CD from http://xbox-linux.org to install a full Linux system.

Undoing the changes

You can always fully undo the changes by selecting "Restore Dashboard" in the "CAMPAIGN" menu of MechAssault. NOTE: from bagaudron54321@hotmail.com if this does not restore your dashboard, you may have to reimage your drive using XBOXHDM.

Removing the Savegames

You can delete the "Install Linux" savegame from hard disk, if you wish, it is not needed any more. If you don't plan to undo the changes, or if you can have the MechInstaller memory unit again when you wish to undo them, you can also delete the "Restore Dashboard" savegame.

Using your Modified Xbox

You can use the Xbox as before, you can play games and video DVDs (if you have the dongle), and you can run Linux. But you have to be cautious with the following:

* Video DVDs will not work if they are already in the DVD drive when you turn on the Xbox. Instead, insert them when the Dashboard is running.
* If you select "LINUX" on the Dashboard, a minimal Linux system with text mode only will start. After you install a full Linux system to E:, this will be booted if you select "LINUX".
* You can install a full Linux system by inserting an Xbox Linux installation CD (at the moment, only Xebian (Ed's Debian) works with this modification). As with video DVDs, only insert them when the Dashboard is running.

Creating a MechInstaller Xbox Memory Unit

With the savegames on your Xbox hard disk, you can easily copy them to a standard Xbox Memory Unit using the Dashboard, which you can give to your friends, so that they don't need a USB stick and the USB adaptor cable to prepare their Xboxes.


Flickering Screen

If your screen starts flickering after you select "Emergency Linux" and you can't see anything on the screen, then you have an Xbox manufactured since August 2003 (version 1.4+ Xbox) NOTE: from bagaudron54321@hotmail.com You may also have received updates to your kernel if you have used xbox live recently some times this can cause the flickering screen error /END NOTE. There is nothing wrong with that, a full Linux system such as Xebian will work without any problems, just the Emergency Linux shipped with MechInstaller does not support the new video encoders yet. Which also means you won't be able to use the method below to fix the blackscreen.

NOTE: from mr.octopus@mipgaming.com Strictly speaking this is not 100% for sure. If your screen starts flickering after you select "Emergency Linux" then try selecting Install, the xbox will display an error and reset itself, [with orange light on power] allow it to reboot into MechWarrior, then select "Emergency Linux" and it should work, did with mine anyway and it's not a V1.4. If this doesnt work then the guys above are correct.

Boot CD errors

If you succesfully completed the software modification and burned an installation CD, however after booting the xbox with the CD many lines of text scroll by for an hour or so, then the screen turns staticy with a red "X" in the center.

Solution: Just shutdown the xbox before you see that red "X" and start the installation again, rechecking your steps.

Error Message

Also, some users noticed that Emergency Linux prints the line "sh: can't access tty: job control turned off" at the end. Just ignore this message...

[Mr.Octopus@mipgaming.com] After googling it seems that this is an error/problem that some have had with BusyBox [dunno if you guys used that to do this or what, just a suggestion. =]

If anyone had any information on this it would be very helpful. It seems that after the line is printed Emergency Linux halts. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

[tapi@free.fr] Actually it doesn't halt, this is only an error message displayed during the shell startup, and may be due (i'm not sure of that) to missing tty devices (/dev/ttyx). But never mind, it doesn't harm that much, the shell works seamlessly.

USB Keyboard

No, USB keyboards cannot be used with MechInstaller 1.0 Emergency Linux yet. Just telnet connections work. A full Linux supports the use of a USB Keyboard.

Black Screen

If you get a black screen when selecting "Install Linux", your Xbox is very new (or your monitor (TV) is having a hard time displaying it. If you're using the HD-AV pack, try using the regular one. Or try it on a different monitor). Try this workaround:

Notice: If your Dashboard version is >= 1.00.5659.0, you need to downgrade the Dashboard first (See the section 'Install Linux' Fails below)!

* start MechAssault
* plug in Ethernet cable and connect it to another NIC (this is necessary for the upgrade option to become available)
* "Multiplayer" -> "Xbox Live" -> A button -> "MechWarrior" -> "Create new account" -> Xbox will say it is restarting to dashboard and will update.
* start MechAssault again
* "Campaign" -> "Emergency Linux"
* upload fonts-2004-01-15.tar.gz (http://www.xbox-linux.org/down/fonts-2004-01-15.tar.gz) to
* telnet (user: root, pass: xbox)

cd /mnt/C/fonts
tar xzf /mnt/E/fonts*.tar.gz
mv XBox Book.xtf XBox Book.bak
mv Xbox.xtf Xbox.bak
mkdir /mnt/C/Linux
cd /mnt/E/UDATA/4d530017/E8FF68C9193B
cp -p default.xbe linuxboot.cfg vmlinuz initrd /mnt/C/Linux
umount /mnt/C

* reboot and remove the game

This is the equivalent to "Install Linux". Your Dashboard will now include the menu item "LINUX".

'Install Linux' fails

If your Dashboard version is >= 1.00.5659.0, you need to downgrade the Dashboard first. Get the 500 MB image of a pre-5659 C: drive (/dev/hda51; this is legal if you have possessed an old version before, if not, we can't tell and it is up to you), upload it to, telnet (user: root, pass: xbox) and type:

umount /mnt/C
cat /dev/discs/disc0/part51 > /mnt/E/backup-C.raw

Then if you have an old version image you can type

cat /mnt/E/Xbox_Dashboard_pre_Live_C_FATX_image.raw > /dev/discs/disc0/part51

If you don't have an image, but have the files then upload the file xboxdash.xbe and the directory xboxdashdata.hhhhhhhh (and all its contents) to /mnt/E and

mount /mnt/C
cp /mnt/E/xboxdash.xbe /mnt/C/xboxdash.xbe
rm -rf /mnt/C/xboxdashdata.xxxxxxxx
cp -R /mnt/E/xboxdashdata.hhhhhhhh /mnt/C/xboxdashdata.hhhhhhhh

where xxxxxxxx is the old one and hhhhhhhh is the new one.

In case anything goes wrong, you can restore the old version:

umount /mnt/C
cat /mnt/E/backup-C.raw > /dev/discs/disc0/part51

Alternatively, if you are using Kubuntu (or just Konqueror) to access your xbox over the network, you can type in


in the address bar. Network Address is the IP of the Xbox, and /mnt/C is the directory where the Dashboard files are.


Log in to your xbox with

username: root
password: xbox

Next, simply copy over all the dashboard files from your local machine to the /mnt/C folder in Konqueror. Boom, there you go. Now, just run the "install linux" option in MechAssault and it should work.

hint: if you can't find a copy of your dashboard files that you previously owned but forgot to back up, try googling the name of the dashboard file: xboxdash.xbe

Clock Loop Problem

It's best not to unplug the Xbox from power after the modification. If you do, you may experience the Clock Loop Problem.

NOTE: from bagaudron54321@hotmail.com if the clock loop problem does occur, it does not mean your xbox is broken!!! If you cant get out of the loop by any of the ways listed in the Clock Loop Problem HowTO page refer to the image your hard drive section in this page, and downgrade your drive, or if you have a 5713 kernel the image will just restore your dashboard and get rid of the clock loop problem. /END NOTE.

Note 2: from thepureamrit@gmail.com I Have Heard That When/IF You get The Clock Loop Error, Just Turn Off YOur XBOX, Plug In An Ethernet Cable Into A Router (Or A PC's NIC Card), Then Turn On The Power, You Should Have Avoided The Clock Loop. /END NOTE
The Second Site

Would your clients like to put their Microsoft Xbox gaming console to work as a full desktop computer with a mouse and keyboard, or as a Web/e-mail box connected to the TV or even a server or router? How cool -- uh, I mean, how practical -- would it be to run one of the many available Linux applications on an Xbox? Or how about browsing the Internet on a high-definition, big-screen TV while still being able to load games?

In this TechBuilder Recipe we'll explore what an Xbox is made of and how to make it work running Linux. Best of all, we'll do it without opening the box!

But first, I'd like you to consider the fact that an Xbox is no mere gaming console. In reality, it's a powerful PC. Take a look at what's inside that $150 Xbox:

* Intel Celeron 733MHz CPU

* 300 MHz Nvidia Geforce MX3 Graphics

* 64 MB of RAM

* 8-GB or 10-GB hard drive

* DVD drive

* 4 USB ports

* 10/100 Mbit/sec. Ethernet port

That's a lot of PC. The question is, how do you get to it? The answer, of course, is with Linux.

Naturally enough, Microsoft does not invite the use of other operating systems on its premier gaming machine. Especially free ones. But in few simple steps, and with the support of a friendly Linux community, you can load and run Linux to unlock all the Xbox hardware.

A group known as The Xbox Linux Project has pioneered the way. They have kindly posted a wealth of information and experience on their site. We'll make use of all that information. But before you get started, it will be helpful to understand a bit about the Xbox's internals.

When an Xbox is powered up, like any computing machine, it needs to boot something. Off the shelf from your local Wal-Mart, the Xbox contains a Spartan operating system that has just enough smarts to load a minimal set of drivers and display a simple user interface called the Dashboard. The Dashboard lets users select games, save and copy gaming information to hard-disk or memory units, copy music from CDs, but not much else. In fact, a user's only interface to the Dashboard is the system's four gaming controllers, known as Xpads. There is no keyboard, no mouse, and only a very limited operating system. In addition, the Xbox will run only those DVDs it recognizes as an Xbox game. The good news: It's pretty easy to overcome all of these obstacles.

In fact, to gain access to the real potential of the Xbox, all you have to do is trick the Xbox into thinking a small version of Linux is actually a game. The Xbox starts this small version of Linux, which, in turn, loads the drivers. These drivers support things like telnet sessions that allow entry into the hardware and invites the possibility of installing a full, bootable distribution of Linux. Voila! Computing freedom!

Okay, maybe you're thinking, "This blows my warranty, right?" Well, not entirely. Yes, the Microsoft literature states clearly that opening the Xbox or running software other than games voids the one-year warranty. But some experts say otherwise. More important, there is some precedent showing that at least part of your warrantee will hold. If you're truly worried, read this short article about the differences in "Warranty by Law" and "Insurance of the Manufacturer."

Basic Steps

Below, I've broken the operation down into steps with some technical details briefly explained along with links to even more detailed information provided by the Internet Linux community.

Step 1: Build a cable to attach USB memory devices to the Xbox console.

Step 2: Find a suitable USB memory device.

Step 3: Get an image that will boot Linux onto the USB memory device.

Step 4: Use Xbox copy utilities to copy the image over to the hard drive.

Step 5: Run the image using licensed game software.

Step 6: Obtain and install a full distribution of Linux.

Now let's look at each step in more detail.

Step 1: Build a cable

Xbox controllers, called Xpads, are really just USB devices. They may not look like USB devices, since they don't use the standard USB connectors. But inside the shielded cable that connects the gaming controller to the console are the familiar four wires used in standard USB cables,plus one mysterious yellow wire rumored to be for a future addition of a lightpen. This is good news: USB memory devices, keyboards and mice will attach here with just a modified cable. I built a cable using a female connector chopped from a cheap USB extension cable and a frayed controller cable I needed to replace.

To build the modified cable, I matched the colored wires in the cables, red to red, black to black, etc. I left the yellow one disconnected, but insulated from the others. The table below gives a bit more detail:

Standard USB Pin-out

* Red: VCC (5Volt, max. 100mA/500mA)

* Black: Gnd

* White: D0 negative

* Green: D0 positiive (could be blue)

* Shield (braid): Drain-wire (usually connected to the case)

For more information on attaching USB devices to an Xbox, check out this Xbox Linux Project article. Alternatively, if you do not want to make your own modified cable, you can also buy a pre-made cable from Lik-Sang.

Step 2: Find a USB memory device

Memory cards that plug into the Xbox controllers are simply USB memory devices -- like the portable data drives, USB "sticks," or "jump drives" -- but with a proprietary connector. The trick is to find one that the Xbox will work with and that you can get an image on. Unfortunately, some work, some don't. Here are two devices that work with the Xbox and are widely available:

* Kingston DataTraveler 32 and 256 MB.

* Lexar JumpDrive Secure 128 and 256 MB (must be "Secure" -- other models may not work).

Also, be sure to refer to the Xbox/USB device compatibility list here.

Important: Be sure to back-up your USB memory device. Once the USB device is sensed by the Xbox, it will be reformatted.

Next, plug your modified USB cable into the console. Insert the USB memory device at the other end. Power up your Xbox. The USB device will be discovered and reformatted. It may take a minute, and you may have to try more than once. Once the USB device is formatted, it will appear under Memory Devices in the Xbox Dashboard. Unlike the other memory devices, this device can be read and written to by your PC. By the way, you can use the USB device just like the Xbox memory cards, even saving your games to it. Best of all, you're no longer limited to 8 MB on the standard Xbox memory units that plug into the Xpad controllers. Third-party cards are available, but they are all small compared with the hefty 128-MB or 256-MB memory stick.

Step 3: Get a bootable image

The image you will want to download and copy to your newly formatted memory device is a "Savegame" that can be loaded by a couple of games. It will help you to boot a rudimentary Linux operating system. The one I used is the Xbox licensed game MechAssault. A MechAssault image is available from SourceForge.net. Download the image that matches the size of your memory device: 128 MB, for example.

Note: The format used by Xbox memory devices is FatX. FatX may be easy to deal with if you already have a Linux box or a Mac with OS X. But it is not Windows PC-friendly. In other words, when you plug the memory stick into a Windows PC, you will see the device, but not the contents. You will need to use a shareware program called Stick Explorer, which is available at OzXChip.com to flash the FatX image to the USB stick. It works quite well. Or find a friend who runs Mac OS X.

For more information on using the Stick Explorer and on software preparation of the Xbox, check out this Xbox Linux Project page.

Step 4: Copy the image to the Xbox

This step is a natural for all you gamers. Use the Xbox Dashboard to view the contents of the USB memory stick. It should now contain three entries: Emergency Linux, Remove Linux, and Install Linux. (By the way, that handsome penguin in the icons is Tux, the Linux mascot.) Use the usual Xbox methods to copy all three savegames on the USB memory stick to the hard drive. You will now see, and more importantly, be able to invoke these Savegames in our next step.

Step 5: Run the image to start Linux

To run the image, you will need the MechAssault game DVD. Savegames are associated with specific games. It is this association that tricks the Xbox into running the image. You will need the game only to get Linux started. I rented a copy from my local video store.

While I chose MechAssault for our installation, I've heard of other modifications using EA's 007 Agent Under Fire DVD. It's important to note that the game you use must match the Savegame images that you've downloaded as it is the game that "tricks" Xbox into running them.

Okay, let's do it!

Insert the MechAssult game. Select Campaigns and Emergency Linux (one of the Savegames we copied in the previous step). You will see the Xbox restart. This time, you won't see the usual Dashboard graphics; instead, you'll see a black screen with white letters scrolling through the Xbox Linux boot-up.

If you've gotten this far, congratulations! A small version of Linux is running, and you can now telnet into the Xbox at its default address:

Log in as "root" with the password "xbox." Then type the following command:


Write down this hard disk key. The hard disk key is encrypted in the EEPROM memory of the Xbox and can be used if you ever need to recover or do further modifications. Now you know it.

Again, insert the MechAssault game. Select Campaigns, and this time select Install Linux. Once this completes, the Xbox disk has been set up and the item Linux will appear in the Dashboard. Our Savegame trick will no longer be needed.

If you need additional help with the above step, follow the detailed directions at this Xbox Linux Project page.

Now, simply selecting Linux from the Dashboard will boot the minimal version of Linux. A complete full-featured distribution of Linux can be loaded in our next step. Emergeny Linux is essentially a temporary way to get started; Install Linux really sets-up the disk; and Debian installation (our next step) loads the real Linux OS.

Step 6: Install a complete Linux distribution

As you probably know, there are many Linux variants including RedHat, Mandrake, FreeBSD, SuSE, and Gentoo. But the best and probably only choice for reliable operation on the Xbox currently is Ed's Debian. It's based on the popular x86 Debian and tailored specifically for Xbox. Here's a good general page for information on Ed's Debian Linux.

Recent versions of Ed's Debian come with a bootable CD, which is used for installing the base system on the hard drive. The CD boots into a clean, graphical Xwindows desktop environment. There is even a virtual on-screen keyboard you could use with the Xbox controller, but a real USB keyboard will work, too. Another option is to log in via SSH ( and complete the installation that way. The default login and password are "root" and "xbox," respectively.

Also, here are two tutorials on obtaining and installing Ed's distribution: How To Debian and Install Debian.

When Debian loads, you need to use the virtual keyboard to start the installation process. After the installation, the OS recognizes USB devices.

Installing Debian is straightforward. Insert the Installation disc into the Xbox drive and boot from it. After a short time, a virtual keyboard will appear on screen. When it does, type "su" to login as a superuser. The system will prompt you for a password; type in "xbox." Now type "XBOXLinuxInstall," and remember that capitalization does matter. Then follow the onscreen instructions to complete the installation.

Since you now have a standard USB connector on the XBox, you can connect any USB keyboard, mouse, webcam, printer, or scanner that is supported by Debian. You might consider a USB keyboard with a USB or PS2 mouse connector built-in for convenience. Or use a simple USB-to-PS2 splitter cable, which costs about $10.

That's all there is to it, but that's also just the beginning. Now put that Xbox gaming console to work as a full desktop computer with mouse and keyboard or a web/email box connected to TV or even a server or router. Oh, and have fun playing a few games on it now and then, too.

Last edited by lacrosse_man16; 08-14-2007 at 05:57 PM.


Old 08-17-2007, 08:57 PM   #4
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O damn.....But thanks..thats all i needed to know. Have you tried these instructions yourself?

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Old 08-18-2007, 12:13 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Mrtacobell View Post
O damn.....But thanks..thats all i needed to know. Have you tried these instructions yourself?
Ive gotton as far as obtaining the linux thing through MechAssult but that was way back in 2004 when this thing worked for sure. Then I stopped for some reason.


Old 08-18-2007, 11:43 PM   #6
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I didnt bother to read the whole guide but are you trying to get the linux to run a moded box i got crazies uxe or whatever the one for splinter cell its been so dam long since i messed with that last time i did i crashed the whole box

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Old 08-21-2007, 04:25 PM   #7
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Do you just mean you want a modded dashboard on your XBox? Or do you want an entirely new OS on it?

If you just want to mod it, that's easy. All you need is an Action Reply pack, and a copy of Mech Assult. Or if you can unlock your HD you can manually install the files. Never tried. But the Action Reply method works. I've done it 5 times. If you need help with it you can AIM me:


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Old 08-30-2007, 09:19 PM   #8
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i have and i modded up halo 2 but it just got boring after awhile all the fun came from trying to figure out the best way to mod it yourself

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