Xbox Media Center (XBMC) is a free and open source software media player and entertainment hub. Originally developed as Xbox Media Player for the first-generation Xbox game console in 2002, XBMC eventually became a complete graphical user interface replacement for the Xbox Dashboard, and has since been ported to also run under Linux and Mac OS X operating system.
I have an Xbox classic so XBMC is perfect for me. Whilst I was not blessed with the Xbox WiFi adaptor (MN-740 WiFi Xbox) or the Media Centre extender (NTSC) software I have built my Xbox into an MCE beast.
I have a Netgear WGE111
attached and the Xbox can see the internet and Live so I am ready to go.
(Xbox Live is not that important after soft modding, there is an alternative
called XLink Kai (Xbox Live online-gaming alternative)) My
first step is to try the open source Xbox Media Center (XBMC) software. My Xbox
is out of warranty and I have not used a mod chip nor changed the hard disk
(It is still locked). The machine up until now was as Microsoft intended.
What I have done is a softmod and
whilst not supported by Microsoft, I believe it is the best upgrade to do
with an Xbox classic. Warning:
If you are following this, once you've modded your Xbox you can no longer use Microsoft's Xbox Live
online gaming service. Xbox mods are not endorsed or supported by Microsoft
and they void the warranty. If you read this and wish to follow this path,
be aware and have the phone number of an Xbox repair person handy (Or go buy
a cheap Xbox from Cash converters or some other Pawn shop). What are the Xbox
Hardware specs? 733 MHz Intel Pentium III (32-bit x86) CPU @ 133 MHz FSB (like a Pentium
III) (supporting MMX/MMX2 and SSE) 32KB Level 1 cache, and 128KB Level 2 cache (Like a Celeron)
64MB of shared DDR SDRAM RAM @ 200 MHz (memory is shared between CPU and
GPU) Xbox GPU is a nVidia NV2A @ 233 MHz (somewhat in between GeForce 2 and
GeForce 3 series) The APU is a nVidia MPC (designed for Xbox, a.k.a. MPCX), which supports
only 48Khz-output The APU is integrated to the MPCX APU and can encode to AC3 audio on-the-fly
in hardware 64 3D channels, or 256 stereo
The Xbox-chipset can be described as something similar to
the first nVidia nForce 8 or 10 GB internal IDE/ATA harddisk drive Ultra DMA 33 (though MPCX-1)
supports Ultra DMA 100) Xbox DVD-ROM are 2-5x speed read
My first step is to try the open source Xbox Media Center (XBMC) software.
My Xbox is out of warranty and I have not used a mod chip nor changed the hard disk (It is still locked). The machine up until now was as Microsoft intended. What I have done is a softmod and whilst not supported by Microsoft, I believe it is the best upgrade to do with an Xbox classic.
Warning: If you are following this, once you've modded your Xbox you can no longer use Microsoft's Xbox Live online gaming service. Xbox mods are not endorsed or supported by Microsoft and they void the warranty. If you read this and wish to follow this path, be aware and have the phone number of an Xbox repair person handy (Or go buy a cheap Xbox from Cash converters or some other Pawn shop).
What are the Xbox Hardware specs?
733 MHz Intel Pentium III (32-bit x86) CPU @ 133 MHz FSB (like a Pentium III) (supporting MMX/MMX2 and SSE)
32KB Level 1 cache, and 128KB Level 2 cache (Like a Celeron)
64MB of shared DDR SDRAM RAM @ 200 MHz (memory is shared between CPU and GPU)
Xbox GPU is a nVidia NV2A @ 233 MHz (somewhat in between GeForce 2 and GeForce 3 series)
The APU is a nVidia MPC (designed for Xbox, a.k.a. MPCX), which supports only 48Khz-output
The APU is integrated to the MPCX APU and can encode to AC3 audio on-the-fly in hardware
64 3D channels, or 256 stereo
The Xbox-chipset can be described as something similar to
the first nVidia nForce
8 or 10 GB internal IDE/ATA harddisk drive Ultra DMA 33 (though MPCX-1) supports Ultra DMA 100)
Xbox DVD-ROM are 2-5x speed read
This softmod takes advantage of a game exploit using a saved game that I downloaded and moved onto my Xbox. I required the following:
I arranged an Action replay kit (PAL from the UK) for about $50 AUS and Splinter Cell (The original) from Ebay ($10 Aus).
I had to wait 18 days for the PAL version to arrive from the UK to Australia (By Royal Post).
Waiting for the kit was the the hardest part of this whole process :)
First step: Obtain the softmod and Xbox Media Center software
As the developer of the XBMC is a group hidden behind the internet, you need to use IRC (Internet Relay Chat) to get the binaries needed for this. To do this, I used popular IRC MIRC
Once connected to EFNet,
Alternatively I found the xbmc on rapidshare by searching for
XBMC-2.0.1-FINAL-FAT-T3CH.rar in Google.
Download and extract the softmod installer and XBMC to your PC
I used SmartFTP to download the location listed in xbins and download the softmod archive found at:
This product is called SID (Softmod.Installer.Deluxe)
Move the saved game exploit onto a memory card with Action Replay
Start the Action Reply for Xbox tool from the start menu.
From your '
This will add a "LINUX_Profile" saved game to the Splinter Cell folder, as well as a "Linux Installer" folder at the top of the list. Drag and drop the Linux Installer to the Memory Card column and it will be copied onto the memory card.
I noticed that the Action Reply kit did not show up under the "Safely remove hardware" icon so I could not power it down. I just yanked it and took out the memory card after exiting the software.
Transfer the Linux Installer to your Xbox hard drive as save games
Plug the memory card 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 move from the Xbox's hard disk to the Datel memory card. Move down to the "Save Game". 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. (Not being a serious gamer myself and not owning any other memory cards, it took me a few times to work this interface out).
Shut down your Xbox.
On your PC delete the Linux installer from the memory card and then repeat the same process with the Splinter Cell "LINUX Profile". (copy it to your Memory Card), then plug the card into the Xbox controller, boot up the 'box and copy the saved game to your Xbox's hard drive.
Use the Splinter Cell exploit (Or one of many other games like Mech Assault etc)
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 and is currently only running in Ram (No changes to the Xbox yet).
Don't turn off your Xbox during the process (Wait until the status bar completes and disappears)
Now choose "Install UnleashX" from the menu to replace the standard Microsoft dashboard with UnleashX permanently. Restart your Xbox. UnleashX will boot up instead of the Microsoft dashboard.
This is all over within 10 minutes and is incredibly easy. This is the scary section over with.
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 and setup it's FTP server. Applications is where the XBMC software will appear later.
The first thing I did was resize my screen correctly with the settings.
Configure the Xbox's network settings and start the FTP server
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
Make sure Enable is set to Yes, Type set to DHCP (Or use a static IP for your network) and FTP Server is set to Yes.
I also opted to setup the DNS1, DNS2 and Gateway but these are optional at the moment.
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 if you used DHCP.
Install XBMC on your Xbox
Back at your PC, fire up SmartFTP 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.)
My first action was to copy the backups MS and Mod to my PC. (172 Mb each)
Using SmartFTP Navigate to the
Restart your Xbox. When it's up, navigate to the Applications section, and you'll see Xbox Media Center listed. Select it to start using it.
Connecting to your PC based MCE machine
Using the My Videos (Videos), My Music, My Pictures etc options on the Xbox you can select to look via SMB at your workgroup. From there you can locate PC's and Shares. From there you select either music, pictures or Videos and can select them to be played.
I found it slow to do slideshows over my wireless network but a Divx movie played well.
Now I have my MCE extended I always wanted, and in PAL to :)
Working with IR
My Xbox remote and DVD IR dongle came from the USA. Hence region 1. I bought a "compatible" remote locally for region 4 ($19) but the remote was horrible. To my surprise, the Region 4 IR receiver worked well with the original Xbox remote. So I have a cheap imitation IR unit and an original Xbox remote. Initially I could not get the remote to function. I went into settings and verified all the IR settings (I made no changes) and then saved. The remote now works. Weird but working well.
So what can I really do?
XBMC has been extended to include large metadata databases for multimedia libraries, weather forecasts, TV guides, website interaction (such as for YouTube videos and Apple.com movie trailers), SHOUTcast and Podcast streaming, among other things. (Unfortunately a number of the settings does not catered for Australia)
XBMC also functions as a gaming platform by allowing users to play Python-based mini-games (and Xbox games), while the Xbox version we are using here contains built-in support to launch console games and homebrew applications, plus a free alternative to Xbox Live called XLink Kai. (Xbox live is turned off by installing XBMC)
XBMC can play media from CD/DVD media using the Xbox's built-in DVD-ROM drive. It can also play media from the Xbox's built-in hard disk drive, or stream them over SMB/SAMBA/CIFS shares (Windows File-Sharing - How I connect to my Workgroup and MCE05 PC), ReplayTV DVRs, UPnP (Universal Plug and Play ) shares, XBMSP (Xbox Media Stream Protocol) shares, or stream iTunes-shares via DAAP. XBMC can also take advantage of the Xbox's Ethernet network port and a broadband Internet connection if available, using the IMDb to obtain thumbnails and reviews on movies, CDDB (via FreeDB) for Audio-CD track-listings), and album-thumbnails via AMG, it can stream Internet-video-streams, and play Internet-radio-stations (such as SHOUTcast). XBMC also includes the option to submit music usage statistics to Last.fm and a weather-forecast (via weather.com). It also has music/video-playlist features, picture/image-slideshow functions, an MP3+CDG karaoke function and many audio-visualizations and screensavers.
XBMC can upscale/upconvert all 480p/576p standard-resolution videos and output them to 720p or 1080i HDTV-resolutions.
Can it play my videos?
This software supports:
CDs, DVDs, Video CDs (including DVD-Video, VCD/SVCD and Audio-CD/CDDA)
AVI, MPEG, WMV, ASF, FLV, MKV, MOV, MP4, M4A, AAC, NUT, Ogg, OGM, RealMedia RAM/RM/RV/RA/RMVB (RealAudio/RealVideo), 3gp, VIVO, PVA, NUV, NSV, NSA, FLI, FLC, and DVR-MS (beta support)
MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 (SP and ASP, including DivX, XviD, 3ivx, DV, H.263), MPEG-4 AVC (H.264, including Nero Digital), HuffYUV, Indeo, MJPEG, RealVideo, QuickTime, Sorenson, WMV, Cinepak,
AIFF, WAV/WAVE, MP2, MP3, AAC, AACplus, AC3, DTS, ALAC, AMR, FLAC, Monkey's Audio (APE), RealAudio, SHN, WavPack, MPC/Musepack/Mpeg+, Speex, Vorbis and WMA.
BMP, JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, MNG, ICO, PCX and
Note: The Xbox does not handle disks with open sessions on them (Not finalised). Multisession disks with open sessions come up in the file manager as bad disks. I have also found the DVR-MS support (Beta) to not work. The video runs at 2x speed and Audio at normal speed. (Looses sync). The Picture is nice and clear, but unwatchable because it is too fast and the audio is playing normally.
DVR-MS support is being worked on and you can download the latest versions of the product here
Update June 08
I have my DVR-MS working. This is great as I save on space on my DVD disks. MCE05 burns DVR-MS in DVD format using time coding. MCE05 burns DVR-MS in File format per Gb. I can pysically get more files on a DVD by File than as DVD Video. Also it does not end up with some of the Sync issues and glitches with the Sonic encoders.
I do have a 0.2s audio offset, I am using the XBMCs audio properties to delay the audio by 0.2s. (Press menu, into the Audio properties and drag the slider across).
link download Mplayer.dll . (click on the megaupload link, enter the
code and wait 45s until you can download it).
Mine was in E\Apps\XMBC\system\players\mplayer.
You should see a copy of mplayer.dll in there - rename it to
mplayer.dll.orig, then ftp the version you downloaded from megaupload into
If you have an older copy of XMBX and are wondering how to get XBMC to see your .dvr-ms files, you need to add the extension type to the xboxmediacenter.xml in your XBMC install directory on the xbox.
If you are bringing MCE DVR-MS files over to DVD and they are too large and you end up writing the DVD in UDF mode, the Xbox ignores the disk! I have found Nero has an Xbox UDF option but I don't know about other burning software. This seems to allow Xbox to see the disk and play any SD DVR-MS files. It will ignore HD files (The processor is not powerful enough to playback HD).
From the XBMC Wiki
"Unfortunately, the XBox's 733Mhz Intel Pentium-III CPU, is to slow to play native HD video (Microsoft® and DivX® recommends a 2.4 Ghz PC + 384MB RAM for 720p MPEG-4 playback!). This means that you might only get maybe 10-20fps (frames per seconds) displayed which would appear so jerky because of all dropped frames that it will be un-viewable."
Blog post 2nd January 2009
is UDF not UDF ?
Lets not forget that your Xbox can now serve media through a web browser.
Get your Playstation, Gameboy and other emulators here
Things go wrong - Ok so the grass is not greener on the other side
With my initial installation ...
Lets fix these things or roll back the dashboard.
To fix these things I edited the Config.xml file on the Xbox.
I removed the following line all together ....
<Item Action="C:\msdash.xbe">MS Dashboard</Item>
and I replaced ....
<Item Action="LaunchDVD">Launch DVD</Item>
<Item Action="E:\APPS\XBMC\default.xbe">MCE (DVD and Music)</Item>
I also changed the autolaunching to No for ...
Maybe during the install, it failed? Maybe you do not like it? Lets put Microsoft back
If you still have the Hacked Softmod
files still on your Xbox then the simplest way would be to load up the
softmod installer using splintercell.
Download the latest version of the Microsoft dashboard and extract it http://rapidshare.com/files/14478719/ms-dash-mik3h.rar
FTP to your Xbox (you might need to launch the softmod installer via Splinter Cell) or like me, FTP is working.
Using smartFTP Double click on C, Now, on the left hand side, navigate to where the Microsoft dashboard is (the one you just extracted)
Now highlight all the files on the left hand side, and drag them to the right on C:\ (if prompted to overwrite files, choose "Yes".)
Once the transfer has completed, turn off your Xbox and turn it back on. If all has gone well, your Xbox should be restored to it's retail state (don't worry, saved games, music etc. is still there)
Whoops, I can't FTP to start this process?
If you cannot FTP to your Xbox and you still need it fixed, the second method would be to make a Data DVD with software like Nero. Simply make a Data DVD of the Microsoft files, and put it in your Xbox, and use an file explorer program for your Xbox and move all the files from D (disc drive) to C (msdashboard).
This page was written and designed by Michael Jenkin 2011 ©