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Microsoft Xbox

How to Go from Xbox to Xbox Media Center in 30 minutes
So you've heard rumors of, or perhaps seen friends with, a pimped out Xbox running Xbox Media Center. They are streaming their favorite TV shows, movies, mp3s, and pictures all to their kickass home theater, and now you want some of that action. This guide is written to help you get from a standard Microsoft Xbox to a Xbox Media Center in a relatively short time with the least amount of headaches.
I've compiled a step-by-step guide with a complete parts/software list for everything you'll need to get, to know, and to do, so that you can consider yourself amongst the XBMC elite. I have a set up a discussion here for those of you with any questions about this guide or to answer any problems you may encounter.
Items You'll Need
  1. Microsoft Xbox ($150)
  2. Networked PC Computer ($???)
  3. Original Mech Assault game ($20)
  4. Datel Xbox Action Replay ($25)
  5. Ltools Linux loader ($0)
  6. Xbox Media Center (XBMC) ($0)
  7. mIRC ($0)
  8. FlashFXP ($0)
  9. Winrar ($0)
This list is also available on my user page here
WARNING: Attempting to modify your Xbox is done at your own risk as it is possible to damage your console through the steps outlined in this guide.

1. Get an Xbox!

Either you can go out and buy a new Xbox, a used Xbox, or use your existing Xbox. Once you are done with the XBMC modifications, it'll be worth its weight in gold. Now, you should make sure you are fairly familiar with the Xbox and the controller. This guide will refer to the Xbox "Dashboard", which refers to the software that loads (hint: it's green) when you turn on your Xbox without a game in it.

1.1 Determine your kernel version

Before you get started you must first determine the particular kernel version of your Xbox. This is a 4-digit number starting with 5 that can be determined from the Xbox Dashboard. Look for something that looks like K:1.00.XXXX.01, where XXXX is your kernel version.
To determine your kernel version, first turn on your Xbox without a game in the tray, then, using the "A" button, select "''Settings followed by System Info from within the Xbox Dashboard. Now, you must wait for the system info that is displayed to scroll down until you see something that looks like the picture I've provided. Write this number down, as it will be used in step 4.3.'''

2. Buy the necessary equipment

There are two purchases that you need to make to get your Xbox running XBMC. You need to buy a game called Mech Assault (also can be done with 007: Agent Under Fire, but that's outside of the scope of the guide), and you need to get an Xbox Action Replay.

2.1 : Buy Mech Assault

Mech Assault

You must find an original copy of Mech Assault that can be used to modify your original Xbox. This game may be hard to find, so your best bet may be from a friend or from a used store. You have to make sure that the version of the game is correct before you make your purchase otherwise you might waste $20 or so. The reason is because Microsoft has "fixed" Mech Assault in subsequent versions so that the exploit cannot be run. Please read this forum for more info.
The newer copies of Mech Assault say either "Game of the Year" or will be designated as "Platinum Hits" and these will not work. You need a copy of Mech Assault that is listed as either Part No. X08-82262 or X08-82264. Take a look at the pictures below to find out where to read the part number on the box and disc. You should note that sometimes when buying used games the disc will be matched with a different case, so you should make sure the part number on the disc is the proper one.
You will need to hang on to your copy of Mech Assault if you ever want to undo the modifications you've made to your Xbox, but otherwise this game can sit on yourself as it is will not be needed after you've performed the exploit.

2.2 : Buy an Xbox Action Replay

Action Replay!

The Xbox Action Replay is a device that allows you to load game saves from your PC to your Xbox using your PC's USB interface and an included 8 MB memory card. It is available for approx. $25 at most stores that sell games.
Once you've successfully performed the exploit, technically, you do not have any reason to keep this device as it will not be needed. However, you may want to keep it on hand in case you want to perform another exploit on another Xbox (or use it for its intended purpose).

3. Download the required shareware

Before we get started with the mod, you will need to get 3 pieces of shareware software that will become necessary later: mIRC, FlashFXP, and WinRAR. If you have any of these already, then you can use your existing copy.

3.1 : Download/Install mIRC

mIRC

mIRC has a downloadable shareware copy that can be used for 30 days until it requires registration. Once downloaded install this software as you normally would.
mIRC is an IRC client that can be downloaded from http://www.mirc.com/

3.2 : Download/Install FlashFXP

FlashFXP

FlashFXP is a great FTP transfer tool that you will use to move files back and forth between your PC and Xbox.
Go to http://www.inicom.net/pages/en.ffxp-home.php to get your shareware copy that is free to try for 30 days.

3.3 : Download/Install WinRAR

WinRAR

WinRAR is an archive manager that you will need to uncompress .RAR files. This is much like a .ZIP file that you may already be familiar with.
Again, there is a shareware copy available from http://www.rarlab.com/

4. Download the Xbox software

There are two key pieces of software that need to be loaded onto your Xbox for your mod to be considered complete. These can be downloaded from an FTP site, however, you need to first get access to the FTP site using IRC.

4.1 : Get your FTP password from IRC

There is a great, detailed guide here how to perform this step. To sum up quickly what you need to do:
  • Open up the mIRC software and connect to an EFNET server.
  • Connect to a channel called #xbins
  • type "/msg xbins !list" at the command prompt in mIRC
  • instructions how to access the FTP site (complete with username and password) will popup
Write this information down, as it will be required by the next step.

4.2 : Connect to the Xbox FTP distribution site

Start FlashFXP and create a new connection using the information that was provided to you from the IRC session. There should be an FTP site, a username, and password filled out. You have a limited session allowed on the site, so the first time you log in, you should get both of the files necessary in one shot. Otherwise, you will need to repeat step 4.1 to regenerate a new username and password.

4.3 : Download ltools

Navigate to /XBOX/Operating Systems/linux/distributions/ltools/ from within FlashFXP and you should see a list of files. Based on your kernel version from step 1.1 you should download the appropriate file:
  • Kernel version less than 5530 €“ download the file called ltools_MA_v1.7.5.zip
  • Kernel version greater or equal to 5530 €“ download the file called ltools_MA_v1.8.rc1.zip
Save the file in a location that you will find easy to access later, since this file will be used in conjunction with the Action Replay to exploit Mech Assault.

4.4 : Download Xbox Media Center (XBMC)

Xbox Media Center

Navigate to /XBOX/apps/media players/XboxMediaCenter (XBMC)/ so that you can download Xbox Media Center. It is a RAR file that is approximately 40 MB in size. Download this file to a safe place on your computer. Within this RAR is the media center program that will run on your Xbox, effectively turning your Xbox into the ultimate media streamer/player.
Visit http://www.xboxmediacenter.com/ to read about this application. You should note that you can download versions of XBMC through your favorite torrent client as well.

5. Install the ltools exploit on your Xbox

Now that we've collected all of the necessary hardware, software, and game necessary to perform the XBMC modification, we can get started with the actual mod. The first step of the mod is to load the ltools file onto your Xbox using Action Replay. Actually, this "file" is a gamesave that runs within your copy of Mech Assault.

5.1 Install and run Action Replay on your PC

Action Replay should come with an install CD that you need to install first before you get started. Follow the instructions provided by the install software, and once finished, insert the Action Replay device complete with the memory card into your PC's USB port, then start the Action Replay software.

5.2 Copy ltools to the Action Replay memory Card

You should see three columns in the Action Replay window. Drag-and-drop the ltools ZIP file downloaded in step 4.3 into the center column labeled "PC database". Now scroll down the list until you see "Mech Assault" and a child item labeled "Run Linux".
"Run Linux" is the title of the game save that you will load up within Mech Assault. Drag and drop this file from the "PC Database" column to the "Memory Card" column on the left. This process can take several minutes as the memory card is written. A dialog should tell you when it is complete, then proceed to step 5.3.

5.3 Copy ltools from the memory card to the Xbox

You now must move the "Run Linux" game save from the memory card to your Xbox hard drive. Technically, you can run the game save from the memory card itself, but I prefer to load it onto the hard drive for safe keeping. If you prefer to do this as well, you can skip to step 6.
Insert the memory card into your Xbox controller, power on your Xbox (without a game), and you should see the familiar Xbox dashboard welcome screen. Select the section labeled "memory" and follow the following three screen captures to get the gamesave from the card to the Xbox.

6. Perform the exploit

Up until now, you have not done anything to your Xbox other than load the gamesave. Step 6 crucial as this is where the actual exploit will take place.

6.1 Run Linux

Put your copy of Mech Assault into your Xbox and it should load up. From the main menu in Mech Assault select the option labeled "campaign". Now, you should see the familiar gamesave title "Run Linux". Load this gamesave by highlight it and pressing "A".

6.2 Start the Exploit

After you selected "Run Linux" some Matrixesque graphics should've appeared and you ended up at what looks to be a new program. This program is the MXM dashboard written as an alternative dashboard to the Xbox dashboard. The exploit is bundled with this dashboard and can be accessed from the menu option labeled either "UXE install" or "UDE install" depending on which ZIP file you downloaded according to your kernel version from step 1.1. Note: you may have to press "B" on the controller to get to the main menu in MXM where this option will appear
Press "A" on "UXE install" (or UDE) and you will be prompted with several questions by the installer to configure your particular setup. Those of you with kernel version lower than 5530 should select UDE as opposed to UDE2 as the answer to the first question. (Questions are answered by pressing either "A" or "B" on the controller). The answers to the other questions should be "PBL/Metoo" as the choice for BIOS loader and "EvoX" as the choice for the default dashboard. These choices are a matter of taste, but for simplicities sake, choose these two options.
Once you've answered all of the configuration questions the exploit will begin. It has been my experience that you may or may not see the command window displaying what is happening. Either way, do not panic. The circular light on the front of the Xbox will glow orange while the exploit is being performed. This should take a few minutes when you will see the light start flashing "green". This signals the completion of the exploit, and you can turn your Xbox off and then on using the little button to power up your modified Xbox. DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR XBOX BEFORE THE LIGHT TURNS FROM ORANGE TO GREEN.

6.3 OPTIONAL: Uninstallation and troubleshooting

After step 6.2 is complete your Xbox is setup so that you can get to the MXM dashboard either by turning on the Xbox with the eject button or by launching "Run Linux" as you did in step 6.1. You can uninstall the exploit by selecting "UXE uninstall" from within the MXM dashboard. '''note: MXM has FTP functionality which may come in handy if something goes wrong". For now, we can move on to step 7.

7. Install XBMC on your Xbox

Powering on your Xbox without a game loaded should now bring you to EvoX dashboard. Many people are happy to leave EvoX as their default dashboard on their modified Xbox but I prefer to install Xbox Media Center because it has all the capabilities of EvoX plus the aforementioned amazing media streaming capabilities.
This is possible because you now have access to your Xbox's hard drive through FTP access over your network. Cool, eh?

7.1 Connect the Xbox to your network

If you haven't already, you need to connect your Xbox to your network (or at least your PC) so that you can get FTP access. If you have a typical home network with a router, then your Xbox would have been assigned an IP address automatically using DHCP. If you don't have a network, then you will need to connect your Xbox to your PC using a crossover cable and manually assigning the IP addresses. (Read this if that is your case)
Determine your Xbox's IP Address by looking at the upper right corner of EvoX where it should be listed. (Alternatively, your network setting can be viewed from the settings section within EvoX). You can check to see if your Xbox is available on your network by "pinging" this IP address from the command prompt on your PC.

7.2 Copy XBMC to the Xbox using FlashFXP

Go to the location on your PC where you download your copy of the XBMC .RAR file. Using WinRAR, extract the files to your PC.
Start FlashFXP and navigate locally to the location where you extracted XBMC on your PC. Now, open a new FTP connection to your Xbox. Enter in the IP address from step 7.1 and username: xbox with password: xbox. You should now be able to get access to the Xbox's directory structure.
Navigate to /E/Dashboard/ on your Xbox. This is where EvoX is installed, so to have XBMC replace EvoX, you simply have to copy the XBMC files to this location, overwriting the existing files. If you like you can make a copy of the /E/Dashboard/ directory on your XBox as /E/Dashboard_BAK/ or something similar. Now select all of the files from XBMC that are located on your PC and transfer them to the /E/Dashboard/ directory on your Xbox. This will take several minutes, so please be patient.
Once this is complete and you power cycle your Xbox, Xbox Media Center should start up.
You can configure Xbox Media Center from within the dashboard itself or the setting can be modified directly in the XboxMediaCenter.xml file located in the root of the application directory on the Xbox.

8. Configure your network shares

To start streaming your media from your PC or home network it is as simple as creating network shares of your media folders on your PC. You should be able to navigate to the computers on your network using the SMB network options from within XBMC. Also, you can create shortcuts to you media folders in XBMC so you don't have to navigate through so many folders to get at all of your media.

Conclusions

Congratulations, you now have a pimped out Xbox running Xbox Media Center!
There are many capabilities that have not been mentioned in this guide, and I leave you to discover the splendor that is the modified Xbox with Xbox Media Center.