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Free60 Project warns against 'dangerous', 'homebrew killing' Xbox 360 update

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 12 Aug 2009 19:57 User comments (10)

Free60 Project warns against 'dangerous', 'homebrew killing' Xbox 360 update The Free60 Project - which aims to open up the Xbox 360 to homebrew to the same degree as the original Xbox (or as close as can be achieved) - has warned those who have not already gotten the Tuesday Xbox 360 update to avoid the update altogether. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, its the first Xbox 360 update to overwrite the first stage bootloader of the system.
Any failure when this process is under-way could badly damage an Xbox 360, according to Free60. The second reason is Microsoft's intention for doing this. According to Free60, a vulnerability exists which can be used to boot Linux, or other operating systems, on the Xbox 360 console, and that this hack will be released very soon. The Tuesday update fixes the vulnerability.

Here is the full Free60 take on the update...

On Tuesday, Microsoft has released an Xbox 360 software update that overwrites the first stage bootloader of the system. Although there have been numerous software updates for Microsoft's gaming console in the past, this is the first one to overwrite the vital boot block. Any failure while updating this will break the Xbox 360 beyond repair. Statistics from other systems have shown that about one in a thousand bootloader updates goes wrong, and unless Microsoft has a novel solution to this problem, this puts tens of thousands of Xboxes at risk.

It seems that this update is being done to fix a vulnerability already known to the Free60 Project. This vulnerability has been successfully exploited to run arbitrary code, and a complete end user compatible hack has been in development for some time and is planned to be released on free60.org shortly. It will allow users to take back control of their Xboxes and run arbitrary code like homebrew applications or Linux right after turning on the console and without the need of a modchip, finally opening up the Xbox 360 to a level of hacking as the original Xbox.

Because of the dangerousness of the update and the homebrew lockout, the Free60 Project advises all Xbox 360 users to not update their systems to the latest software version. The Project website at http://free60.org/ will provide the latest information on this ongoing topic, including the final hack software.

Free60 (www.free60.org) is a project that aims to enable Xbox 360 users to run homebrew applications and operating systems like Linux on their consoles. The effort is headed by Felix Domke and Michael Steil, who have a background in dbox2, Xbox and GameCube hacking, and who have spoken at various conferences about their findings. Two years ago, Free60 released a hack that allowed arbitrary code execution using a game ("King Kong Hack") as well as an adapted version of Linux, but this possibility has been disabled by Microsoft in subsequent updates of the Xbox 360 software.

Felix and Michael have repeatedly argued that game console manufacturers should open up their platforms to Linux and homebrew, similar to what Sony has done with the PlayStation 3.
This will be an interesting development to follow. Just to add an interesting video to this news item, for those who have never seen it before, here is the Google Tech Talk on "The Xbox 360 Security System and its Weaknesses"

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10 user comments

112.8.2009 20:16

hrmmm, so should i update so i can play LIVE, or not update in case these people actually make progress and allow linux or something else to be used? i choose LIVE.

212.8.2009 20:17

A friend passed this news on to me this morning. I watched the video, it'd pretty long, but it's incredibly in-depth too, and very interesting. I haven't updated my XB yet and probably won't. I'll just play my brother's in the meantime.

edit : Yeah, an Xbox just isn't an Xbox without Live. Probably gonna need 2 boxes.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 12 Aug 2009 @ 20:18

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312.8.2009 23:21

"a vulnerability exists which can be used to boot Linux, or other operating systems, on the Xbox 360 console, and that this hack will be released very soon. The Tuesday update fixes the vulnerability"

So sad...the ability to install linux is considered a vulnrability of the highest order, given far more attention than actual problems.

I can't say much nice about sony, but at least the ability to install linux is built right into the firmware, no vulnrabilities to worry about.

412.8.2009 23:22

nice dont got live here and will probably end up getting a second xbox for this reason. that would be great if they could make it soft moddable like the original.

513.8.2009 1:29

Originally posted by KillerBug:
"a vulnerability exists which can be used to boot Linux, or other operating systems, on the Xbox 360 console, and that this hack will be released very soon. The Tuesday update fixes the vulnerability"

So sad...the ability to install linux is considered a vulnrability of the highest order, given far more attention than actual problems.

I can't say much nice about sony, but at least the ability to install linux is built right into the firmware, no vulnrabilities to worry about.
They even sell pre-configured PS3 Linux clusters for use as server farms...I think the minimum is an 8-unit cluster.

613.8.2009 7:04
chris4160
Inactive

They've had 9 months ffs. If it hasn't happened by now it's not going to happen.

713.8.2009 7:08

Never seen the benefit of having a PS3 until now... As for 360 getting a soft-mod, is it really feasible at this time? The games are freaking ass huge, and most people only have a 20GB-60GB drive, you'd be circulating your games every couple of months *faster during X-Mas season* lol.

I guess what I curious about is I still have yet to be able to update my firmware: how will this 360 update effect my ability to update the firmware with JungleFlasher?

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 13 Aug 2009 @ 7:11

813.8.2009 7:14

Luckily both my consoles updated fine, glad i spent time sorting out the flaky port forwarding, i'd have been more than miffed if my consoles had have been buggered as they're not modded.




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915.8.2009 7:10

Would this suggest games to be played off the HDD?

1016.8.2009 19:47
Demonix90
Inactive

People with 2 360s should update 1 for Live, leave the other to get the softmod. The original Xbox has been turned into one hell of a valuable multi media system. Mine has a 500GB HD, over 70 Xbox games on the HD, and 3000+roms for 10 different emulators. Don't get me started on TV shows...

Needless to say, this is apparently a crucial point in the struggle this team has done. To think some possobilities can exist on the newer system, with newer games...superb. Don't update if you have the option, you won't regret it.

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