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Xbox Classic to Media Center beast

 

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.

 

 

Why do I want an Xbox Media Center?

The Xbox is very powerful. It's got a sizable hard drive, fast processor and an Ethernet port.  I planned to network with the rest of the computers in my house and:
  • Play videos, music and photo slideshows located on any shared drive in the house displayed on the television in my living room (My actual MCE is big and bulky)
  • Watch Apple movie trailers, You Tube videos, Launch.com videos and see RSS newsfeeds dynamically loaded from the internets
  • Transfer files to and from your Xbox's hard drive
  • Rip DVDs to a shared network drive to play later or backup
  • Watch DVDs sans "dongle" (no more DVD Playback Kit required!)
Plus all my games and saved games work as usual. (And I no longer have to hover around my MCE05 PC)
 

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
    The chipset designed by nVidia and makes up a southbridge (the MPCX-1) and the GPU (NV2A)

  • 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
    DVD-ROM made by Philips/Thomson/Hitachi can not read CD-R media
    DVD-ROM made by Philips/Thomson/Hitachi can not read CD/DVD subchannels either
    Samsung made Xbox DVD-ROM drives can read CD-R media and sub-channels

 

 


 

This softmod takes advantage of a game exploit using a saved game that I downloaded and moved onto my Xbox. I required the following:

 

  • A classic Xbox
  • An original (not a copy) of Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell game.—(Not the Pandora's Tomorrow or Chaos Theory versions.) I believe other games work, like Mech Assault and 007: Agent Under Fire.
  • The Action Replay kit (PAL for Australia)—Action Replay is a USB interface to an Xbox memory card that lets you load pre-saved, unlocked games and cheats onto the card.
  • A home network router with a free Ethernet port and a network cable. I am using the previously mentioned Netgear device.

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

  1. Determine the location of the softmod installer and XBMC downloads.

    You will need 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.

    Install MIRC. In Mirc, put in your username, email address and other details. There will no need to register it as you will be done before the 30 days is up (Unless you want to which I do recommend as this IRC tool rocks).

    /server irc.efnet.net

Once connected to EFNet, type:
 

/j #xbins


Then:
 
/msg xbins !list


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

Alternatively I found the xbmc on rapidshare by searching for

XBMC-2[1].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:


"/XBOX/Console Based Applications/exploits/Packages/Softmod 

Installer Deluxe/Softmod.Installer.Deluxe.v2.0.Xbox-Hq.rar "

 

This product is called SID (Softmod.Installer.Deluxe)


Then, disconnect and login to the second FTP server to grab the XBMC archive,

XBMC-2.0.1-FINAL-FAT-T3CH.rar (Or find it with Google)
 

Extract the Softmod.Installer.Deluxe.v2.0.Xbox-Hq.rar file onto your PC.

 

 

Move the saved game exploit onto a memory card with Action Replay


I installed the Action Replay software that comes on CD in the AR package (Nothing hard here, follow the prompts, select a drive to install to on your Windows PC) . Plug in the USB cable and the 8MB memory card that came with it (Windows finds a Datel Max Memory device).

Start the Action Reply for Xbox tool from the start menu.

From your 'Softmod.Installer.Deluxe.v2.0.Xbox-Hq" folder, in Windows Explorer drag and drop the following two files into the "PC Database" column of the Action Replay software (Use the PAL file for Australia/UK):

  • SID.Splinter.Cell.v2.0.PAL.Xbox-Hq.zip
  • SID.Splinter.Cell.v2.0.Xbox-Hq.zip.

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.


Turn off the Xbox.

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).

  • Select "Create MS Backup" item (This backs up from the C:\ to E:\Backup\MS)
  • Select "Create Mod Backup." item (This backs up from the C:\ to E:\Backup\Mod)
  • Select the "Install Softmod" menu item.  (Install to C:\)

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

-System
    -Settings
       -Network

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 /E/Apps/ folder. Back on your PC machine, extract the XBMC archive you downloaded, and from the XBMC-2.0.1-FINAL-FAT-T3CH folder you extracted, grab the entire XBMC subfolder and FTP it into the Xbox's /E/Apps/ folder.

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:

 

Physical media:

CDs, DVDs, Video CDs (including DVD-Video, VCD/SVCD and Audio-CD/CDDA)


Container formats:

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)


Video codecs:

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,


Audio codecs:

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.


Digital picture/image formats:

BMP, JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, MNG, ICO, PCX and Targa/TGA
Subtitle formats: AQTitle, ASS/SSA, CC, JACOsub, MicroDVD, MPsub, OGM, PJS, RT, SMI, SRT, SUB, VOBsub, VPlayer

 

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).

 

From this link download Mplayer.dll . (click on the megaupload link, enter the code and wait 45s until you can download it).

You then ftp to your xbox, and nagivate to the directory you installed XBMC. You need to place the file in  "system/players/mplayer" directory within the xbmc directory.

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 that directory.

You should now have a working DVRMS player with XBMC

 

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

 

When is UDF not UDF ?
Keywords: Sonic, MCE, XBMC, Xbox, UDF

On my Media Centre 05 machine, I can easily record 4 gb of video footage. This comes out as a single DVR-MS file. If I burn this to a DVDR disk, I need to select UDF format to allow a file larger than 2 Gb to fit into the partition. If I do this, my PC and MCE05 PC can read back the file but my Xbox running XBMC can't. It can't work with UDF. The solution has been to use the Sonic encoders to encode the large file into a DVD PAL video and onto the DVDR disk. This takes ages (overnight) and sometimes glitches the video or Audio. If I tell sonic to just burn the file to the disk, it does. As one single file. It does not ask me if I want UDF. Then my Xbox can play the large file fine. So what's the deal? I need UDF to put a large file on a DVDR, I can't read UDF in my Xbox (Classic) but using Sonic I can ? Using Nero to read the properties of the disk provides no specific answer. Regardless, I am happy this works (If not slightly confused).

 

Webserver

 

Lets not forget that your Xbox can now serve media through a web browser.

 

 

Emulators

 

Get your Playstation, Gameboy and other emulators here

http://www.se7ensins.com/forums/xbox-applications/91-emulator-downloads.html

 

Things go wrong - Ok so the grass is not greener on the other side

 

With my initial installation ...

  • UnleashX: The link to the MS dashboard can not find c:\msdash.xbe

    • I don't need it so I removed it by editing the Config.xml file in C

  • UnleashX: The CD playing feature does not work (tries to run c:\msdash.xbe) can't find it, the tray suddenly says empty and the dashboard resets.

    • It was suggested to Try leaving the CD player software item blank (in settings) I tried editing the Config.xml to blank it out in the Root of C: but then I discovered how fantastic CD playing under MCE was.

  • XBMC: The region zone does not allow for Australia nor our weather (UK, USA etc)

  • UnleashX: The updates fail with a http error

    • Try using the server "209.225.8.65/unleashx", it looks like the xbox can't get to the internet?

  • DVDRegionX: How do you exit DVD movies with DVD RegionX version 2?

    • Who cares, now using XBMC. When you press stop or eject, it comes back to the interface.

  • DVDRegionX: The remote does not seem to work in DVD RegionX version 2?

    • I avoided this one by playing DVD's under the media center. The remote works. DVDRegionX was really designed to work with the Controller.

    • As an alternative, you can FTP to your Xbox, Locate your original MS dashboard (depending on bios this will probably be xboxdash.xbe or msxboxdash.xbe). Edit the Config.XML (Or Evox.ini depending on your release) and setup the DVD player to be the MS dashboard. If you are using Evox, scroll down to your [Misc] settings and add this in :
      AutoLaunchDVD = Yes
      DVDPlayer = "c:\msdashwhateverfilenameyoursis.xbe"
      msdashwhateverfilenameyoursis = name of the Xbox MS Dashboard on your Xbox. What we have done is set evox to launch the original MSdash (renamed)
      and it will go straight to the DVD bypassing the dashboard.

  • UnleashX: occasionally the UnleashX default menu comes up on boot (Allowing you to do backups and softmodding)

    • Simply reset the Xbox and all is good.

    • This appears to be a backup Dashboard (Started by keeping the DVD tray open when you turned the xbox on.

 

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>

with .....

<Item Action="E:\APPS\XBMC\default.xbe">MCE (DVD and Music)</Item>

 

I also changed the autolaunching to No for ...

<DVD AutoLaunch="No">C:\msdash.xbe</DVD>
                <AudioCD AutoLaunch="No">C:\msdash.xbe</AudioCD>

 

 

 

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.

Go to Start Game, click LINUX, and you wont see any check points, but still press A for the Check Points. Then the installer should load up.

 

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.

 

Username : XBOX
Password : xbox

(These are the default login credentials)

 

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).

 

Other Notes

 

  • I note the FTP connection times out if the Xbox is busy (Playing a DVD as an example).

  • If you make a mistake in Config.XML (Like leaving a parameter out etc) and the dashboard does not load, try booting with the tray open. The backup dashboard should load.

     

    An Unleashx User's Manual

http://forums.xbox-scene.com/index.php?showtopic=166306

 

 

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                                                             This page was written and designed by Michael Jenkin 2011 ©