How to Softmod an Xbox With XBMC

Written by marshal m. rosenthal
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The success of the Xbox has led to many gamers wanting the game console to do more things that are allowed by the operating system. Enthusiasts have created their own games and programs to run on the Xbox, provided that its operating system has first been modified (or “modded”). You can mod the Xbox’s main screen (the “Dashboard”) without altering any of its electronic parts using a free download variation of the XBMC Media Center software. You will have to open the Xbox as well as the Windows-based computer that will be used for the soft mod, but once you are done the Xbox will be opened up to a whole new range of gaming possibilities.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Windows-based computer
  • Web browser
  • Wireless home network
  • Internet access
  • Torx screwdriver
  • Music CD
  • DVD drive
  • Blank recordable CD

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  1. 1

    Turn on the Xbox. Wait for the Home screen to appear. Insert a music CD into the disc slot at the front. Wait for the Xbox’s music player to automatically launch and present you with a list of tracks from the music CD to play. Highlight a music track from the list. Select the “Copy” icon on the screen. Wait for the music track to be copied to the Xbox’s hard drive. Eject the music CD.

  2. 2

    Turn on the Windows-based computer. Download the xboxhdm software to the desktop (see the link in Resources). Double-click on the program when it has downloaded to decompress it to a folder on the desktop.

  3. 3

    Run the ndure-3.1.exe program inside of the folder. Select all of the options presented except for “Kernel Selection.” Select the folder on the desktop when prompted to choose a folder to save. Follow the prompts to finish running the program and click “Quit” when done.

  4. 4

    Double-click on the folder on the desktop to open it. Drag the ndure file that was copied into the folder into the ndure folder that is inside of the Linux folder. Double-click on the iso-win.bat file that is inside of the folder on the desktop. Wait as the iso-win.bat file creates a linux.iso file inside of the folder and then quits itself.

  5. 5

    Download a CD/DVD burning program to the desktop--for example, the free ImgBurnx (see link in Resources). Double-click on the program when it has downloaded. Follow the installation commands to install the program onto the computer's hard drive. Restart the computer once the installation is done.

  6. 6

    Run the CD/DVD burning program. Select "CD" from the Disc drop-down menu. Select “Data” from the Format drop-down menu. Select the name of the DVD drive from the Devices drop-down menu.

  7. 7

    Drag the linux.iso file from inside of the folder on the desktop onto the CD/DVD burning program’s main screen.

  8. 8

    Eject the disc tray of the DVD drive. Put a blank recordable CD onto the disc tray. Close the disc tray.

  9. 9

    Press the “Burn” button on the CD/DVD burning program’s main screen. Wait as the CD is burnt. Quit the program when the burning is completed.

  10. 10

    Put a soft cloth down on a table. Turn off the Xbox. Disconnect all cables and put it face down on the soft cloth. Lift up on the rubber feet on the bottom and remove the screws from underneath using the Torx screwdriver.

    Turn the Xbox back face up. Wiggle the outer shell loose from the bottom of the Xbox. Lift the outer shell up and off the Xbox’s bottom shell. Use the Torx screwdriver to remove the silver screw between the hard drive and the DVD drive. Lift up on the plastic shell holding the hard drive.

  11. 11

    Turn off the computer. Open the computer’s case using the Torx screwdriver. Remove the case to reveal the inner components. Disconnect the main IDE cable from the text-labelled connection on the motherboard. Move the jumper pin to from “Slave” to “Master” using the tweezers.

  12. 12

    Turn on the computer. Wait as the computer boots itself to a presentation screen using the CD in the DVD drive.

  13. 13

    Reattach the cables to the Xbox and turn it on. Go to the “Music Player” icon and select a music track. Press the "A" button on the controller to play the music track.

  14. 14

    Carefully pull off the grey cable connected to the back of the hard drive using your fingers. Replace it with the IDE drive from the computer.

  15. 15

    Press “1” on the computer’s keyboard. Enter “xbrowser” in the command line when prompted. Press the “Enter” key.

  16. 16

    Select the ndure folder from the list presented on the screen and press “Enter.” Repeat this process on the next screen. Choose option “1” on the next screen. Press “Enter.” Press “Q” to quit the program when prompted.

  17. 17

    Turn off the computer. Turn off the Xbox. Disconnect the IDE cable from the Xbox and reconnect it to the computer. Reset the DVD drive and reassemble the computer.

  18. 18

    Reattach the grey cable to the Xbox’s hard drive. Reassemble the Xbox. Turn the Xbox on and wait for the installation screen to appear. Select the “XBMC” program from the list presented. Press the “X” button on the controller to install the program onto the Xbox’s hard drive.

  19. 19

    Select the “Network” option on the screen. Enter ”Xbox” into the “Username” field and “Xbox” into the “Password” field. Enter “21” into the “Port” field. Press the “X” button.

  20. 20

    Select the XMBC folder from the left column in the window that appears on the screen. Select to copy the XMBC folder to the dash folder on the right column in the window. Press “X” and follow the prompts. Reboot the Xbox when the program tells you to do so. Wait as the new XMBC Home screen appears on your soft-modded Xbox.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear an anti-static strap to keep static electricity from damaging the internal components of the Xbox or the computer.
  • Opening the Xbox and modding it violates the Microsoft warranty.
  • The cables inside the Xbox and computer can lead to an electrical shock if mishandled.

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