PS3 system hacked; Backups, homebrew and emulation now possible

By Christian Ericssen
September 30, 2010

Before PS3 Jailbreak made its way on to the scene, famed iPhone hacker geohot or George Hotz in January 2010 announced that he had hacked the system through the console's OtherOS system. Following rumours and attempted usage of this exploit, Sony responded with a firmware update which effective closed off access to the OtherOS Linux system. The future of accessing the powerful Cell hardware, revered by some as a supercomputer, seemed unreachable.

In a surprising turn of events last month, Sony's Playstation 3 (PS3) console was effectively hacked through an exploit in its booting process. With the weeks following, a slew of Internet tutorials have bombarded PS3 communities across the Internet showing users how to take advantage of this exploit with Sony's 3.41 firmware. Since the security issue was cleared up in haste, nobody has figured out how to take advantage of running homebrew applications on newer firmware such as 3.42 or 3.5, both released within the past month.

It all started when a product known as PS3 Jailbreak made its way on to the market. As a first of its kind, the break out into the market made the product expensive, retailing anywhere from C$100 - C$200 from various online retailers across the world until a US district court judge made its ruling, banning the product from further distribution. Before the court stopped PS3 Jailbreak in its tracks, it was made open source, feeding the frenzy of users interested in exploring their powerful piece of hardware and perhaps even enabling piracy.

Following the ban of PS3 Jailbreak, several Playstation hacking communities from Los Angeles to Barcelona went to work taking the now open source project and modifying it to do things, which over one month ago were unimaginable for gamers across the world. Since then variants such as PSGroove have spread the Internet like wildfire enabling game backups, file managers, ftp servers and perhaps the most surprising, supposed development of custom firmware. Whether or not custom firmwares will turn the PS3 into an exclusive offline gaming experience has yet to be proven, but if Microsoft's Xbox system serves as an example, that's exactly what hacking your PS3 will turn your $400 gaming system into.

Hardware

If you're looking at getting into the market of modifying your Sony console, it's not difficult. Many popular products have been modified to allow the delivery of a payload to your console, or custom software. As of today, iPods, iPhones, Android phones, USB development boards and MP3 players have been configured to do the trick. Here's a short list:

  • Blackcat USB Boards
  • HTC Phones running Android
  • Nokia N900 and N810 cell phones
  • Older iPhone models and iPod Touch models
  • USB dev boards with Atmel chips
  • USB dev boards with ATMega chips
  • Texas Intruments TI-84 calculators

Atmel-based USB boards seem to currently be the most popular way of getting into the system, with hexadecimal or hex files complete with the compiled code available for download across the Internet, simply flashed to the board with free software known as Flip 3.4.2. Hex files are readily available with a simple Google search.

Authentic USB development boards produced by Atmel seem to be sold out at various outlets across the world, so many cheaper clone products 100% compatible are currently the only way to go for many. Do expect the price for these cheaper quality clones to come down in price and avoid ebay sellers from parts of Asia and as always, avoid purchasing anything from West Africa.

PSP Port no more

The development of a modified PSP hacking the PS3 seemed promising at the beginning, but in the end the team of Spanish hackers called it quits on the project. What could be more embarassing for Sony than to have their console's little brother assist in breaking into it? With the team conceding defeat, citing the hack as unfeasible, Sony can breath a sigh of relief.

It's not the end though, because while nobody has publically stepped up to the plate to continue development we're confident that the growing community of hackers and wannabes might just make it a priority to upset Sony's current legal battles against web sites, distributors and individual forum members advocating freedom for the console.

Homebrew

You can view a list of the Playstation Homebrew downloads here.

As mentioned earlier, development of custom software for the console is developing rapidly with new programs coming out each day. The most promising at the moment is the Super Nintendo emulator which allows you to play your favourite 16-bit games from an era long past. Here's a brief list on currently available homebrew we've put together:


And finally for those interested in a more graphical run down of how this works, please refer to the following video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSS0gXQFB10


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Comments (16)
totalwise's Avatar
totalwise    Sep 30th, 2010
I predict that sony ps3 unit sales will blow up right now , and I also reckon that sony enginners are busy doing a workaround.

These days since games are becoming more interactive and frequrntly played online with other users, it's plugged the hole in piracy somewhat as developers can shut down accounts and block your console from being able to play online if they detect that the console has be hacked
Praxius's Avatar
Praxius    Oct 1st, 2010
All Nintendo does is send out periodical updates to the system which comes with a warning that it will also wipe any modified games or code on the system it doesn't deem legit..... so you have the option of remaining hacked, or getting the update and have to start all over again.... if you can. (in other words, if the update wasn't directly made to wipe/block the hacks you were using)

Hackers didn't use the DS or DSi to hack the Wii...... from what I heard, there was a vulnerability to the Wii when you used the Zelda: Twilight Princess Wii Disk, which through some process I never bothered to look too far into (because I only had the Gamecube version) it would open your system to be hackable by downloading and copying modified saved games and hacks from the internet by using a standard SD Card which fits nicely in the front of the Wii for additional storage space.

No matter how hard some company tries to restrict their systems or games or whatever.... there will always be people out there to hack & crack them so you can do what you want with them.

At least with the Wii you can save yourself an extra $200+ and it's a lot more flexible without requiring it to be hacked.
Andem's Avatar
Andem    Oct 1st, 2010
Well the graphics on the Wii are pretty pathetic when you've used a ps3. So is the raw processing power versus the PS3. Nah, I'll stick to my ps3 and forget about the Wii. The only good Nintendo games are Megaman 1-6 and the ps3 can emulate them. Come to think of it, Wii games will probably be emulated on the Playstation before long
mentalfloss's Avatar
mentalfloss    Oct 1st, 2010
Quote: Originally Posted by Andem --

Well the graphics on the Wii are pretty pathetic when you've used a PS3. So is the raw processing power versus the PS3. Nah, I'll stick to my ps3 and forget about the Wii. The only good Nintendo games are Megaman 1-6 and the PS3 can emulate them. Come to think of it, Wii games will probably be emulated on the Playstation before long

Opinions, I guess, but I'll take the Wii library over 360/PS3 library any day. The games are more funner for me.
Praxius's Avatar
Praxius    Oct 1st, 2010
Quote: Originally Posted by Andem --

Well the graphics on the Wii are pretty pathetic when you've used a ps3. So is the raw processing power versus the PS3. Nah, I'll stick to my ps3 and forget about the Wii. The only good Nintendo games are Megaman 1-6 and the ps3 can emulate them. Come to think of it, Wii games will probably be emulated on the Playstation before long

Well if I want graphics, I'll use my PC, which is still far better then the PS3, but all in all, depending on the game you get for the Wii, the graphics can and are pretty impressive...... technically speaking, yes, they Wii doesn't have as powerful junk in its trunk then the PS3, but it makes up for that in its versatility, game selection and other unique abilities that the PS3 simply doesn't have, let alone can compete with. (since it doesn't even have those unique abilities to compete with in the first place)

And considering the PS3's price range?

Naw.... I'm certainly not sorry that I got a Wii instead of a PS3.... my brother has a PS3, played a number of games on it..... graphics are nice, but load times are still slow like the PS2 was (which the Gamecube had superior graphics to the PS2) and the archaic controller the PS3 clung to just bugs me.... especially when trying to play a FPS.

For me, the PS3 is like the IPhone, IPad and IPod..... over-glorified, overly restrictive and over-priced eye candy...... as mentioned before.... why spend that much on a PS3 (or XBox for that matter) for graphics and performance when you can pay about the same amount for a new PC or an upgrade to your PC to something with even more superior graphics, performance and controls and still get most of the same games?

5 years down the road when new games come out, your PC can update along with them.... meanwhile you're still stuck with the old, 5 year old PS3 and those same games having to be optimized down to be ported in a way that the system can handle?

As an example, I played Far Cry 2 on my brother's PS3..... I was impressed with the graphics and sounds except for the horrible controls..... so I bought the game for my PC, where the controls are customizable and perfect for me, the sound is just as good and the graphics can be increased to something far greater.

Not to mention, but on a PC, you don't have to go through all the hassle or bother to hack your system or pay someone to put in a simple chip..... since most times all you need to do is modify a few .cfg files or enter something in the console for PC games.

And Emulators and Roms existed on PC's long before they existing on the PS3 or XB.

I just think people who are that hard core about PS3's and XBox's enjoy wasting their time & money for little gain..... it's like some image thing.

And to admit, I bought the Wii not just because of its price being half that of the other systems, not just because it has more capabilities and features then either console, not just because it had many of the games I like and enjoyed over the years or while growing up...... The graphics for the games I was interested in were and still are perfectly fine for me...... I'd rather put my money into a decent sports car that I can drive around as I please, then to put even more money into some flashy hot rod that goes nowhere..... but that's just me.

And speaking of Wii Graphics, I don't suppose you even saw "Metroid other M"


There's plenty of games on the Wii that have great graphics though there are still a good number of games that just have horrible or shoddy ported graphics...... but anything that isn't on the Wii or I'm not interested in getting for the Wii because of some limitation or another, I get on the PC.

Anyways, I suppose this thread isn't supposed to be a pissing match between the PS3 and Wii...... but then again, I didn't start the pissing.... I just noted what I know about the Wii.


Oh and just for giggles:

New Super Mario Bros Wii Outsells Modern Warfare 2
--

Quote:

Activision has bragged about Modern Warfare 2 selling 10 million units, solidifying that franchises always rule.

However, while MW2 was riding a high wave of publicity and PR, another franchise was released around the same time; New Super Mario Bros. Wii. And it instantly became the fastest selling game in Japan, and has to date sold 3 million copies there, according to Famitsu. Count in the sales from North America, 4 million, and Europe, 3 million, you get 10 million games sold + at least half a million in Australia and the rest of the world (like Korea and China), sales pass on the other side of 10 million, and surpass Modern Warfare 2, which was always thought to be the best selling game at this time.

It’s not.

The best selling game is New Super Mario Bros Wii.

Regardless of the Wii's limitations.... obviously Nintendo is doing something right..... and let's not forget that the Wii outsold the XBox 360, PS2 and PS3 in 2007 and depending on where you look online for your sources, the Wii sold twice as many consoles in its home country then the PS3 did in the same country...... and other reports claim the Wii outsold the PS3 6 to 1.

Wii outselling PlayStation 3 'six to one'
--
DurkaDurka's Avatar
DurkaDurka    Oct 1st, 2010
I have a PS3 and rarely use it for games. For me, it's an ultimate media centre. Blu-Ray & UpNP media streaming are awesome. I have PS3 media server installed on my PC which streams my video library to the PS3, allowing playback of pretty much any video type thinkable. My current video library has approx 600 movies, available on demand to the PS3 at anytime.

Quote: Originally Posted by Praxius --

Well if I want graphics, I'll use my PC, which is still far better then the PS3, but all in all, depending on the game you get for the Wii, the graphics can and are pretty impressive...... technically speaking, yes, they Wii doesn't have as powerful junk in its trunk then the PS3, but it makes up for that in its versatility, game selection and other unique abilities that the PS3 simply doesn't have, let alone can compete with. (since it doesn't even have those unique abilities to compete with in the first place)

You should also mention that 75% of the Wii's library is crap and are glorified adobe flash ports. Also, the PS3 has the motion add-on available now which does the same sort of thing as the Wii's, not saying it is any good but it's available.

Quote:

And considering the PS3's price range?

The PS3 is currently available for $279.00. which is not expensive by any stretch f the imagination. The Wii has been able to offer low prices from the start due to them using hardware that is near a decade old... ie. modified Gamecube cpu/gpu.

Quote:

Naw.... I'm certainly not sorry that I got a Wii instead of a PS3.... my brother has a PS3, played a number of games on it..... graphics are nice, but load times are still slow like the PS2 was (which the Gamecube had superior graphics to the PS2) and the archaic controller the PS3 clung to just bugs me.... especially when trying to play a FPS.

Only nublets play first person shooters on a console.

Quote:

For me, the PS3 is like the IPhone, IPad and IPod..... over-glorified, overly restrictive and over-priced eye candy...... as mentioned before.... why spend that much on a PS3 (or XBox for that matter) for graphics and performance when you can pay about the same amount for a new PC or an upgrade to your PC to something with even more superior graphics, performance and controls and still get most of the same games?

How is the PS3 any different then the Wii in regards to being a closed system? You are going on about price again, $279.00 is noty expensive for what you are getting. Most Blu-Ray players will cost you in the range of $200.00. $279.00 is not going to turn a 5 year old PC into a gaming machine.

Quote:

5 years down the road when new games come out, your PC can update along with them.... meanwhile you're still stuck with the old, 5 year old PS3 and those same games having to be optimized down to be ported in a way that the system can handle?

Please, Praxius. One cannot just shove a high end video card into a 5 year old PC for a myriad of reasons.

Quote:

As an example, I played Far Cry 2 on my brother's PS3..... I was impressed with the graphics and sounds except for the horrible controls..... so I bought the game for my PC, where the controls are customizable and perfect for me, the sound is just as good and the graphics can be increased to something far greater.

It's a fairly well known fact that the PC has superior controls for First Person Shooters, I doubt you could find someone trying to say otherwise.

Quote:

Not to mention, but on a PC, you don't have to go through all the hassle or bother to hack your system or pay someone to put in a simple chip..... since most times all you need to do is modify a few .cfg files or enter something in the console for PC games.

One doesn't have to crack their system unless they are cheapskates unwilling to pay for the games they play.

Quote:

And Emulators and Roms existed on PC's long before they existing on the PS3 or XB.

Boring....


Quote:

I just think people who are that hard core about PS3's and XBox's enjoy wasting their time & money for little gain..... it's like some image thing.

Not everyone is "hardcore" who owns a PS3 or XBOX. They serve a purpose, much like a PC or Wii.

Quote:

And to admit, I bought the Wii not just because of its price being half that of the other systems, not just because it has more capabilities and features then either console, not just because it had many of the games I like and enjoyed over the years or while growing up...... The graphics for the games I was interested in were and still are perfectly fine for me...... I'd rather put my money into a decent sports car that I can drive around as I please, then to put even more money into some flashy hot rod that goes nowhere..... but that's just me.

The Wii has more capability then the PS3? You have to be kidding me, you have said some bizarre things over the years but this one takes the cake.

Does the Wii have Blu-Ray?
Can the Wii stream media from a media server?
Does the Wii have HD resolution?
Can the Wii do 3D?
Has the US military built servers clusters from Wii's? lol
Does the Wii have a hard drive?



Quote:

And speaking of Wii Graphics, I don't suppose you even saw "Metroid other M"

By and far, the Wii's graphics are outdated and ancient... it's not about the graphics though, it's about the idiots wand so 90 year old grannies can play pokemon and fishing games.
mentalfloss's Avatar
mentalfloss    Oct 1st, 2010
Metroid: Other M is sooooo awesome.

I'm pretty impressed with PS3's new wand, but I will have to wait until price drops later in this gen's lifecycle before I decided to jump in. Kind of interested in Kinect, but will wait for a price drop on that too. 360 suits my 'next-gen' fix just fine and I have a samsung blu-ray player, so PS3 is really an afterthought. It didn't have enough as a game machine to differentiate itself from 360, so it's really a choice of what exclusives you prefer.

I wish I had them all, but my wallet hurts.
DurkaDurka's Avatar
DurkaDurka    Oct 1st, 2010
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss --

Metroid: Other M is sooooo awesome.

I'm pretty impressed with PS3's new wand, but I will have to wait until price drops later in this gen's lifecycle before I decided to jump in. Kind of interested in Kinect, but will wait for a price drop on that too. 360 suits my 'next-gen' fix just fine and I have a samsung blu-ray player, so PS3 is really an afterthought. It didn't have enough as a game machine to differentiate itself from 360, so it's really a choice of what exclusives you prefer.

I wish I had them all, but my wallet hurts.

I have owned 360's in the past and they are failure prone POS's.

I went through 3 of them in the matter of a year, each one succumbed to the "Red Ring of Death." Bought a PS3 2.5 years ago, not a single problem with it.
mentalfloss's Avatar
mentalfloss    Oct 1st, 2010
Quote: Originally Posted by DurkaDurka --

I have owned 360's in the past and they are failure prone POS's.

I went through 3 of them in the matter of a year, each one succumbed to the "Red Ring of Death." Bought a PS3 2.5 years ago, not a single problem with it.

That sucks. I'll probably buy another one if mine breaks down, but I've had it for 3 years so far and no real issues *knocks on wood*. My Wii broke down after 2 years though, and that pissed me off because I've never had a Nintendo console break on me before. I was able to get a replacement for $80 with one-year warrant though, so it wasn't as bad as buying a whole new console.

Getting back to PS3 hacking though - it was only a matter of time. Most people don't play online, so they won't care about the repercussions of modding. Until there is a massive trend towards downloadable distribution, piracy will continue to be an issue.
DurkaDurka's Avatar
DurkaDurka    Oct 1st, 2010
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss --

That sucks. I'll probably buy another one if mine breaks down, but I've had it for 3 years so far and no real issues *knocks on wood*. My Wii broke down after 2 years though, and that pissed me off because I've never had a Nintendo console break on me before. I was able to get a replacement for $80 with one-year warrant though, so it wasn't as bad as buying a whole new console.

Getting back to PS3 hacking though - it was only a matter of time. Most people don't play online, so they won't care about the repercussions of modding. Until there is a massive trend towards downloadable distribution, piracy will continue to be an issue.

There's a sizable number of people who do play online games these days and I think the possibility of their system being blacklisted would be deterrent not to hack the system. When I play PS3 games, 99% of the time it is online. NHL 10, racing games etc.