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Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering Paperback – 11 Jul 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (11 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593270291
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593270292
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 491,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Hardware hacking may seem daunting at first because of the sophisticated tools that are required for some projects. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
...but then I am a geek! I do not own an XBOX and do not plan to. I simply bought this out of curiosity as find hacking and modifying electronics interesting. I might pick this up and read it again. I thought the Author introduced topics nicely and gave a good insight into his adventures. I'd recommend it, but don't pick this up as an infinite guide to how to run pirate games on an XBOX. It's not that.
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By Thornhill on 12 Aug 2014
Format: Paperback
This book has now been released as a free pdf download from the author's website.
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9 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Jeff. Clark VINE VOICE on 9 Nov 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are interested in Xbox hacking this is a must, if you are interested in hacking electronics, this is a must, if you are just interested this book is a must, whichever way you look at it READ IT, its good...
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4 of 78 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 April 2004
Format: Paperback
this is great isnt it. Nowadays software piracy is at its highest point. The theory has been made that piracy funds terrorism and then they bring a book out like this. Unbelievable. A guide that appears legal teching the world to do things that are legal. point 1 im suprised microsoft allow this. point 2 im suprised the publishers allow this and finally point 3 dont make pirate copys of console games ive noticed a fiew ppl in the shops offering "backup copys" fair enuff get your console modded to play imports but dont do the biggest growing market out of money. Youll regret in the future anyway. game prices will rise because of this.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 33 reviews
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Gentlemen, Start Your Soldering Irons... 23 Jan 2004
By Marc Ruby™ - Published on
Format: Paperback
I bought this book, probably as most people do, out of an interest in getting into my Xbox from a software viewpoint. I wound up enjoying it from an entirely different viewpoint - the insights into the obscure process of hardware hacking that people like Andrew Huang love to do. In the process I gained considerable respect for Microsoft's ability to protect their investment in what has become the number two console in the game world.
To put this in context, the Xbox is really a full fledged PC, repackaged and sealed up with security to prevent game copying and to stop buyers from turning in into the ultimate cheap computer. Microsoft sells the Xbox considerably below manufacturing cost, using it as a loss leader to sell games. The last thing they want is for everyone to turn the Xbox into $150 computers. Hackers like Huang saw the opportunity to do exactly that and began the ultimate adventure a trip into the devious mind of Microsoft's engineers. Every bit as exciting as the latest game disk.
This is both the story of that effort - the creation of a fully functional Linux computer and a fascinating training manual on what actually goes into the hardware hacking process. Huang understands full well the danger that he might go over the heads of his readers and makes every effort to explain exactly what is going on. He has a lucid, self-effacing style that is like a geek chat session. For someone like me, who started out with a pile of 'chips' and a breadboard, and then graduated to 16 Kilobyte memory boards it is pure fun to see what has happened in the past 40 years.
I also was astonished at the ingenious subterfuges Microsoft used to hide the Xbox's innards from casual observers. For those who always are critical of Microsoft's capabilities, this is a lesson in hubris. Huang proves that the time honored traditions of hacking as a way to learn and grow still exist, and that not everyone with a soldering iron is out to bring the Internet down. This is probably the most technically informative book I've read in the past 10 years. If you are a 'gotta know' kind of person, this is a must have book.
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Also a great diary of reverse engineering! 27 Jun 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I got this book mainly out of curiousity. I don't have much background in computers, especially not when it come to how they work, other than a firm belief that it's all done with magic.
The great thing about this book is that it reads like a buddy explaining something to you. It's not a sterile textbook about AD-SRAM 511 chips or whatever, it's a book about a guy who tinkered with something he bought, and kept a log about it. Even when it gets technical, it's easy to skim over those parts and still know what he was doing. A great mix of extremely informative but at the same time not overwhelming. Reading what he thought and the struggles he and others have gone through just for the *right to talk* (or 'Freedom of Speech', as I've heard it called somewhere...) about what they want is as interesting as the xbox motherboard itself.
If you're looking for instructions about modchips and playing copied games, this *isn't* the book for you. On the other hand, if you've ever wondered how these systems work, and how people are ever able to figure this stuff out in the first place, then you'll never find a better book.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Soldering techniques, debugging tips, and much, much more 15 Sep 2003
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Paperback
Hacking The Xbox: An Introduction To Reverse Engineering is, quite literally, the book that Microsoft (makers of the popular Xbox video game console) does not want you to read. Individual chapters comprehensively addresses in depth how to modify this gaming console for one's own ends, from physically opening it (and voiding the Microsoft warranty) to installing a blue LED, replacing a broken power supply, reverse engineering Xbox security, developing software for the Xbox on Xbox-Linux, soldering techniques, debugging tips, and much, much more. A knowledgeable and technically detailed instructional, Hacking The Xbox offers specific, authoritative, accessible information about reverse engineering a specific device, as well as basic principles that can be generalized to other reverse engineering hardware projects.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Read 26 Jun 2003
By Robert Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have an xbox that has been fully modded out to allow me to run some truely intresting applications on it. I can watch region free DVDs, watch divx movies, play mp3s, listen to shoutcast servers and play any game in my library all thanks to the work described in this book.
Andrew 'Bunnie' Huang embodies all that is great about the computers and hacking. He lays out not only the technical details of how to overcome the xbox security model, but also discusses his failures and the philosophy behind the hack.
This book welcomes the newbie hardware hacker with open arms and guides then through the fundimentals. It quickly moves into cryptography and much more complex material. While not a be all end all of hardware engineering, it is enough to get any young mind excited for the field and points them to where they can learn more. Hopefully it will inspire a few more MIT grads like Bunnie.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great coverage on taking your Xbox to the next level... 7 Nov 2004
By Thomas Duff - Published on
Format: Paperback
Since my son is into hardware hacking and also into his Xbox, I got a review copy of Hacking The Xbox by Andrew Huang. While not my particular area of interest, he really thought the book was great!

Chapter List: Voiding The Warranty; Thinking Inside The Box; Installing A Blue LED; Building A USB Adapter; Replacing A Broken Power Supply; The Best Xbox Game: Security Hacking; A Brief Primer On Security; Reverse Engineering Xbox Security; Sneaking In The Back Door; More Hardware Projects; Developing Software For The Xbox; Caveat Hacker; Onward!; Where To Get Your Hacking Gear; Soldering Techniques; Getting Into PCB Layout; Getting Started With FPGAs; Debugging: Hints and Tips; Xbox Hardware Reference; Index

Within 10 minutes of getting this book, Cam was hunting for my toolkit and shortly thereafter had his Xbox opened up all over my office floor. I knew basically that the Xbox was a PC disguised as a gaming system, but I didn't realize how true that was until Cam opened it up and showed me the internals. It was like opening up my desktop system! Huang does a great job in showing what tools are necessary as well as illustrating via pictures what needs to be done to "lift the lid" of your system. Once there, he shows you some of the basic modifications you can make like adding custom lighting or replacing power supplies. Beyond the basics of hardware, Huang takes the reader into very in-depth examinations of the system structure of the Xbox and what needs to be known in order to understand how to modify software and hardware. For me, the most interesting chapter covered how you can modify an Xbox to turn it into a low-cost Linux machine. Although it's not what Microsoft envisioned, there really is a lot you can do to and with this machine.

If you're ready to dig into your Xbox and go beyond just playing games, this is the first book you should get your hands on.
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