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Published on September 17th, 2007 | by James Smythe

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Transform Your Classic Xbox into a Killer Media Centre using a softmod.

I bought a modded Xbox a few years ago and primarily used it as a media server. In fact I only replaced it when i built a dedicated media PC and I still miss it. Lifehacker has recently written a guide to modding your xbox into a Media Centre. This technique uses a soft mod so there is no need to even open the Xbox.

Here is exactly what XBMC can do:

* XBMC can be used to play/view the most popular video/audio/picture formats, and most other multimedia formats (including many more less known formats).

Including:

* Video – DVD-Video, VCD/SVCD, MPEG-1/2/4, DivX, XviD.

* Audio – MP3,AAC.

* Picture – JPG, GIF, PNG.

Which can all be played directly from a CD/DVD in the XBox DVD-ROM drive or from the XBox’s built-in hard-drive, XBMC can also play multimedia from a computer over a local-network and media-streams directly from the internet.

* XBMC can play DVD-Video movies (with and without menus) from ISO/IMG images and even ZIP/RAR-archives.

* XBMC has playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations.

* XBMC can in addition run python-scripts written for XBMC as plugin widgets.

* XBMC has a simple and user-friendly user-interface, it’s easy to use, it’s convenient, flexible and offers a great price/performance ratio.

All these features enable the XBox™ running XBMC to fully function as a multimedia-jukebox.

The main reason why I replaced my XBMC is the lack of storage on the unit itself and the lack of HD support. This is due to the limited processing power of the Xbox, however it make for an incredibly versatile and very cheap media player.

Materials needed:

* A classic Xbox (duh)—I have seen them very cheap on Ebay, you should be able to pick up one for around £40 with a couple of games

* An original (not a copy) of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell game.—(Not the Pandora’s Tomorrow or Chaos Theory versions.) Other games work, like Mech Assault and 007: Agent Under Fire, but I used Splinter Cell (the Platinum Hits edition) so that’s the only one I can vouch for. I have seen this on ebay for £5.99 Buy it Now

* The Action Replay kit—Action Replay is a USB interface to an Xbox memory card that lets you load pre-saved, unlocked games and cheats onto the card. Annoyingly this is quite an expensive purchase, £18 on Play

* A home network router with a free Ethernet port and a network cable. Chances are you’ve already got one of these. Plug one end of the cable into your router, and the other into your Xbox.

Install the softmod and Xbox Media Center

Once you’ve got the materials together, you’re most of the way there. Onto the modding.

1. Determine the location of the softmod installer and XBMC downloads. Never in my online life have I had to go through such a rigamarole to get ahold of files. These Xbox hackers are careful people: in short, you have to log onto an IRC channel, issue a command to query the FTP server location, and get temporary login details in order to acquire the files (the equivalent of finding hidden door and using a secret knock). So, using your favorite IRC client (I went with the Chatzilla Firefox extension), type:

/server irc.efnet.net

Once connected to EFNet, type:

/j #xbins

Then:

/msg xbins !list

You will receive a private message with 2 sets of FTP login details. One is for the softmod installer, the other is for XBMC.

# Download and extract the softmod installer and XBMC. Whether it’s FileZilla, FireFTP, SmartFTP or Transmit, use your favorite FTP client to hit up the first file location you got from xbins and download the softmod archive, which is located at:

/XBOX/Console Based Applications/exploits/Packages/Softmod Installer Deluxe/Softmod.Installer.Deluxe.v2.0.Xbox-Hq.rar

Then, disconnect and login to the second FTP server to grab the XBMC archive, XBMC-2.0.1-FINAL-FAT-T3CH.rar. Using your favorite RAR extractor (I recommend 7-Zip), extract the files to your PC.

# Move the saved game exploit onto a memory card with Action Replay. Now, break out the Action Replay software that comes on CD in the package and install it on your PC. Plug in the USB cable and the 8MB memory card that came with it. From your Softmod.Installer.Deluxe.v2.0.Xbox-Hq folder, drag and drop two files into the “PC Database” column of the Action Replay software: the one named SID.Splinter.Cell.v2.0.NTSC.Xbox-Hq.zip, and the one named SID.Splinter.Cell.v2.0.Xbox-Hq.zip. (Note: If you’re in the US, you’ll need the NTSC version of the first file; UK folks, go with the PAL version.) That will add a “LINUX_Profile” saved game to the Splinter Cell folder, as well as a “Linux Installer” folder. Drag and drop the Linux Installer to the Memory Card column

Transfer the Linux Installer to your Xbox hard drive. Pop the memory card out of the Action Replay kit and plug it into one of your Xbox’s controllers. Make sure the disc tray is empty and start up the ‘box. Go into the Memory area and drill down to the controller’s memory card. When you see the Linux installer saved game, hit the right button pad once to select the game, then select “Copy” from the menu to copy it to the Xbox’s hard drive.

Shut down your Xbox and head back to your computer. Repeat the same process with the Splinter Cell LINUX_Profile: copy it to your Memory Card (you’ll have to delete the Linux Installer first, the card isn’t big enough to accommodate both), then plug the card into the Xbox controller, boot up the ‘box and copy the saved game to your Xbox’s hard drive. Turn off the Xbox. Now the magic happens.

# Use the Splinter Cell exploit. Insert the Splinter Cell game disk into your Xbox, and start the game. When it comes time to choose the profile, underneath your regular aliases, you’ll see a new one named “Linux”:

Select Linux and then select “Check points” (not “Levels”). After a few seconds, Your Xbox will display an UnleashX intro screen and control panel. This is the Linux-based Xbox dashboard, which will look like this:

Before we hit that magical menu item—Install Softmod—do two things first. Hit up the “Create MS Backup” item first, and when that’s complete, hit the “Create Mod Backup.” (Better safe than sorry.)

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for: select the “Install Softmod” menu item. Don’t turn off your Xbox during the process, and when the status bar completes and disappears, you’re all good.

Now choose “Install UnleashX” from the menu to replace the standard Microsoft dashboard with UnleashX permanently. Restart your Xbox and pat yourself on the back. UnleashX will boot up instead of the Microsoft dashboard, and it’s got all sorts of goodies in store for you:

Using only the UnleashX dashboard and its default apps, you can watch DVDs using your controller, and under Applications, you can rip DVDs to your Xbox’s hard drive. But what we’re really interested in is its FTP server.

#Configure the Xbox’s network settings and start the FTP server. The first order of business is to get your Xbox talking to your PC so you can start transferring files. First make sure your Xbox is plugged into your working, online home network router. Then, using the soft pad to navigate UnleashX menus and the green A button to select items, go to System > Settings > Network. There make sure Enable is set to Yes, Type set to DHCP and FTP Server is set to Yes

Note: These are the most common network settings, but yours may differ depending on your home network.

Restart your Xbox to save your settings. When you boot back up into UnleashX, you should see your Xbox’s new IP address appear on the lower right hand corner of the screen. Take note of it.

# Install XBMC on your Xbox. Back at your PC, fire up your favorite FTP client and log into your Xbox. The server location will be the IP address shown on the UnleashX screen, and your username and password will be in the Xbox’s network Settings (xbox/xbox, by default.) Navigate to /E/Apps/ folder. Back on your local machine, extract the XBMC archive you downloaded, and from the XBMC-2.0.1-FINAL-FAT-T3CH folder you unrar’ed, grab the entire XBMC subfolder and FTP it to the Xbox’s /E/Apps/.

Restart your Xbox. When it’s up, navigate to the Applications section, and you’ll see Xbox Media Center listed. Select it to launch.

From here you get treated to XBMC’s beautiful and (mostly) intuitive interface for navigating your Videos, Music, and Pictures.
To access your media library, you can either move files onto the Xbox hard drive itself (which has its size limits), or browse and play media on a shared drive on your network. Using Windows built-in sharing (or Mac OS X’s Windows Sharing), you can use XBMC’s SMB (Samba) support to play videos that you record with your PC’s capture card in the den or download via BitTorrent from the Mac in the bedroom. As you’ll see, XBMC is very configurable and

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About the Author

I am a UK tech blogger and have been in the industry for over 5 years now running Mighty Gadget, its sister sites and contributing to other sites around the web.



3 Responses to Transform Your Classic Xbox into a Killer Media Centre using a softmod.

  1. Pingback: Xbox » Transform Your Classic Xbox into a Killer Media Centre using a …

  2. Pingback: Media Centre for the Wii - Make your Wii a Media Hub | Mighty Gadget Technology Blog

  3. Areeb Bajwa says:

    No way.. that is sweet. But why not just install, let’s say Linux on it?

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