Modded XBox
September 25, 2004 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Recently The Howie linked to a place that sells modded Xboxen. My question is--if I get one of these modded boxes, can I just use it as a turnkey solution for running a little dual-boot computer that can emulate a bunch of game platforms, play my mp3s with a decent interface, and play quicktime movies that I've ripped with a reasonable amount of clarity? (oh yeah, and save xbox games to the HD). Or, is it one of those deals where I *could* do most of that stuff, but I'd spend a heck of a lot of time messing with config files and otherwise slowly morphing into a Eunuchs Guru...

Or would I just be better off getting a cheap little mini-itx computer and putting an lcd monitor on it?
posted by mecran01 to Technology (15 answers total)
I talked to a friend that has a modded xbox, and yes indeed, you can run the xbox media center software, tons of emulators, and use the box as a ftp/web server.

Apparently, the only way to get the software to load onto your xbox is via a bunch of weird IRC chatrooms and cvs repositories.
posted by mathowie at 9:33 AM on September 25, 2004

I have a modded Xbox, it's great and yes it's all fairly simple (once it's modded -- that part is hell). You don't need to go near installing Linux on it to get the functionality you want. With the new Evo-X dashboard installed you can run Xbox Media Center, all your favorite emulators, backed up games, etc without getting into anything nasty. You just FTP it over, maybe (rarely) edit an option or two in a config file.

The software isn't so hard to get. Most of the popular stuff (like the Xbox Media Center, which is fantastic) you can get via Bittorrent and emulators are all over the web. More obscure stuff you'll probably need to hit IRC for. The forums on are really the best starting point for newbies.

Also: 10GB may not be enough disk space if you're thinking about buying the smaller model. The cool games are generally 2-4GB, so you'll run out of space quick if you're renting and backing stuff up. I have a 30GB hard drive in mine, which was starting to get a little tight until I set up SMB sharing so I could stream video to my Xbox from other computers on my network. (The most complicated thing I've had to configure on the Xbox, and it was pretty easy.)

So anyhow, yes, it's great and it's easy. You can do everything you want to do without having to install Linux on it, so don't worry about that.
posted by frenetic at 9:53 AM on September 25, 2004

I've got an 80GB hard drive in there, and I'm still out of space.

Mind you, I have emulators and a complete collection of ROMS for the NES, SNES, Genesis, TG-16, 2600, and MAME.
posted by Jairus at 9:59 AM on September 25, 2004

(Oh, and the video/mp3/etc streaming is fantastic. Seriously the most useful piece of electronics in my house.)
posted by Jairus at 10:04 AM on September 25, 2004

That's basically why I want a modded xbox: to play thousands of old mame and nes games using a good controller. Movies and games are just a bonus.
posted by mathowie at 10:37 AM on September 25, 2004

I've had some trouble playing .mov's via Xbox Media Centre, but everything else works fine.

Work's really well for watching divx's streamed wirelessly from my pc, but the high point for me is as an mp3 jukebox when I have people round.
posted by toby\flat2 at 10:39 AM on September 25, 2004

Response by poster: Not that I really want to rip DVDs (I don't really want to watch that many movies more than once) but does it dump the DVD to the hard drive before playing it? Anyway, these things look darn cool and don't cost much. My kids would love this. They would then worship me like a god. For about ten minutes.

Thanks for explaining this for me.
posted by mecran01 at 12:46 PM on September 25, 2004

mecran01, XBMC plays DVDs like any other DVD player. You can rip CDs and such with it if you like, or play DVDs ripped to the HD or over the network, but normally it just plays them.
posted by Jairus at 1:03 PM on September 25, 2004

I have a friend who's pretty handly with Linux system administration and the Xbox/Linux route has been pretty painful for him so far. First it didn't work, then it was pretty unstable. Older rev Xboxes are supposed to be better.
posted by weston at 1:23 PM on September 25, 2004

The only thing I've ever used Linux for was playing a port of Star Control 2. Otherwise, native XBox apps do everything I need.


Anyone up for porting The Ur-Quan Masters to XBox?
posted by Jairus at 1:59 PM on September 25, 2004 [1 favorite]

Don't play dvd's with Xbox Media Centre, the playback isn't as good as with, say, dvdx2 (you can find this in the so called weird irc channels).

If anyone doubts this just watch the first 2 minutes of the new Star Wars dvd. Many more artifacts and colour weirdness.
posted by toby\flat2 at 2:01 PM on September 25, 2004

Uh... the new Star Wars DVD has xbox-specific malware/code in it designed to 'prevent piracy'. Just so you know.
posted by Jairus at 4:24 PM on September 25, 2004

I do these for a living. Ask any questions you have.

Here's your steps to make this SUPER DUPER EASY:

#1. Download hacked XBOX BIOS from said underground sites.
#2. Download Slayer's EvoX (find it yourself).
#3. Burn said BIOS to a DVD-R and name it BIOS.BIN. Make sure you have the BIOS.BIN that is the right size for your modchip.
#4. Turn on modded console, insert DVD-R, wait, cross fingers.
#5. Reboot, insert Slayer's EvoX, let it install fully (assuming you have a brand new hard empty drive in there).
#6. Enjoy your new dashboard and everything else.

Said Slayer's EvoX includes the nice DVD player, BTW. :-)

It doesn't matter if you insert the Star Wars DVD into your XBOX if you have a modchip because you don't need to use the exploits on the dashboard anyways (in that case).

Linux on the XBOX sucks rocks. Don't waste your time. I tried and the installer is so badly munged you need a windows system to make it work. Yep. You have to have windows to get GentooX installed. Pretty lame, eh?

BTW: Don't wear out your XBOX DVD drive by playing DVD movies in there. Your XBOX, modded, is worth many times more than a cheap DVD player.
posted by shepd at 4:39 PM on September 25, 2004

Yep, no problems with the Star Wars dvd's here either. The only thing that wouldn't work was the Battlefront demo, which I couldn't give a hoot about really.
posted by toby\flat2 at 6:02 PM on September 25, 2004

I have a self-modded xbox too. I have a 130GB hard drive in it and used the exact steps that shepd described above to mod mine. With the exception of actually installing the mod chip, he left that part out and it wasn't easy.

I would never have anything else. For a little under $300.00 I can play new games I can never play on my PC now. A decent sound card and vid card would be way more. I have all of the older game emulators and ROMs I could ever want including MAME and the kids have their new stuff. Add to that a region-free DVD player and the ability to stream media from my network... I'm sorry I ever said a bad word about the xbox. But, like most M$ products, it's not so great until you tweak it the way you want it.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 7:59 PM on September 26, 2004

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