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Hardware Hacking Wii Build

World's First Custom Firmware For Wii Released 165

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-quantify-spare-time dept.
Croakyvoice writes "Waninkoko has released the world's first custom firmware for the Nintendo Wii, which is installed using the twilight hack; among its features is the ability to allow writeable DVDs to be read in emulators. From the readme: 'The Custom Firmware installs as IOS249 and it does not modify any other IOS so it is secure to install and has been made to be used ONLY with homebrew software. This is a custom IOS, an IOS modified to add some new features not available in the official IOS.'"
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World's First Custom Firmware For Wii Released

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  • But can it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by corychristison (951993) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @02:45PM (#24232649)

    ... play DVD's?

    That's the only feature missing on the Wii, in my opinion, anyway.

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @03:36PM (#24233491) Homepage Journal

    The "features" that this firmware enables that were not present in the official firmware..

    These are not features. If your hardware can read the disc, then the manufacturer specifically disabled the ability to read from writable media. This firmware disables a form of DRM.

    That said, I agree wholeheartedly with the intent of this firmware!

  • Really now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath (553296) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @03:39PM (#24233537)

    Let's see:

    - The Wii has a nifty built-in remote that can do all sorts of things... and homebrew offers learning coders the chance to play with it and come up with innovative ideas and neat tricks.

    - A codebase set up to allow you to run burned discs with homebrew will hopefully be expanded to allow using the old (and quite solid) emulators that ran on the Gamecube. Being able to run my SNES/NES/Genesis/etc libraries from a burned CD rather than wasting space in the Wii's highly-limited 512MB of internal RAM would be a major benefit.

    In fact, word behind closed doors indicates that Nintendo is going to HAVE to open up something to allow games to read the external SD card reader as normal storage shortly. Anyone who's spent any amount of money in the Wii online store is getting pretty close to the limitation as-is even without the ever-expanding savegame files eating it up. It's one of the Wii's few major mis-design problems (the other being the incredible dead-zone that prevents the wii from detecting small motion, like trying to putt a short put in Wii Sports Golf, reliably).

    - The Wii has more than enough power to become a pretty nice streaming media player (say, a MythTV frontend) if you can build it properly. The original Xbox is nearing the end of its usable lifespan (unable to handle 720p or higher content and a few of the newest and most processor-hungry video codecs with its processor) and both the Xbox360 and PS3 are locked in ways that opening them up for homebrew code is far more difficult than rewriting something (though rumors have it that PS3 custom firmware is being worked on). While it's true the Wii couldn't put out a true 720p signal, it could very likely process high-def content and display it in extremely pretty 480p, which would put it a step above the aging Xbox.

    And before you say "but the PS3 allows you to run linux natively"... no. It doesn't. It allows you to run a very stripped-down Linux, and segregates hardware control to prevent Linux from being able to do most of the things that you'd want Linux and associated programs to be able to do. For example, the XBMC team (who are porting to both Windows and Linux right now) have already said that the PS3 will not allow them enough direct access (processor, video, RAM writes) to do what the software needs to do.

    - The Wii is in more homes. That means that more people are able to enjoy the fruits of their work when they get the nifty home-brewed programs running.

  • Re:But can it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gmai ... m minus language> on Thursday July 17, 2008 @03:39PM (#24233539) Homepage Journal

    Take this with a grain of salt, as it may just be made up crap I read on the internet:

    It's made up crap you read on the Internet. Like most made up crap, though, there's a grain of unrelated truth. The Wii's firmware drives the disc at a constant velocity, no matter what track is being read. This is different from regular DVD drives that spin the disc faster or slower depending on the track. The latter puts more strain on the motor, which often causes the drives to fail faster. Thus the Wii's design is for reliability purposes.

    Remember all the drive failures in PS2 models? Well, we'd definitely see a higher rate of drive failures if Nintendo supported DVD playback. In addition, Nintendo would need to add MPEG decoder hardware or software. At a minimum that would be additional licensing fees that would drive up the cost of each unit. At a maximum, that would mean licensing PLUS extra decoder chips.

    So in effect, no DVD support is a practical measure. With DVD drives being plentiful, there's no realistic reason why anyone actually needs their Wii to support such a feature.

  • Re:But can it... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by merreborn (853723) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @03:44PM (#24233609) Journal

    But can it... play DVD's?

    That's the only feature missing on the Wii, in my opinion, anyway.

    Really? At home, I've got two laptops, a desktop, a PlayStation 2, and a DVD/VCR combo -- all of which play DVDs. The fact that my Wii does not also play DVDs has not been an issue.

    Hell, I didn't even find out that it doesn't play DVDs I read it on the 'net, months after having purchased my unit.

    Are there really that many people who would purchase Wiis that don't already have a DVD player set up? When you can pick one up at Wal Mart for $40 or less...

    IMO, the biggest thing working against the Wii is that it's being treated as a last-gen console by many developers. The Wii port of Guitar Hero 3 had graphics worse than the PS2 version of GH2. Rockband for Wii has no online capability whatsoever, even though GH3 had some, and GH4 is planned to have full online capability on Wii.

    It seems like the development process these days is:

    1. Develop original version for PS3/Xbox360
    2. Backport to PS2, cutting out features and reduce graphical complexity
    3. Port PS2 version to Wii

    Which really shortchanges Wii owners. Yes, the console is far less capable by the PS3/Xbox360... but it's far more capable than the PS2. Try to fully utilize the hardware. Please.

  • Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris&beau,org> on Thursday July 17, 2008 @04:42PM (#24234351)

    > actively supports the installation of alternate operating systems

    As long as you can live with a crippled virtual machine that only emulates a dumb framebuffer. No, I won't be buying a PS3 because they allow you to play in a sandbox. If I can't run accelerated 2D I wouldn't even ponder the notion. Notice that Xboxes make great MythTV frontends but the supposedly newer and 'Linux friendly' PS3 doesn't. And without full (3D) hardware access it isn't really an open platform.

  • Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Thursday July 17, 2008 @04:52PM (#24234489)

    Good question. That would be a tough argument for the prosecutor. You own the equipment out right, as in TOTALLY YOURS. Your property.

    I would say that completely overwriting the base software with your own is not "circumventing" anything and is not physically tampering with the hardware or software to *specifically* achieve the goal of bypassing copyright protection schemes. You would have to prove that the secondary effect of removing the copyright protection provided through factory firmware was in fact the primary goal that the person was trying to achieve. You would have to prove intent. A Modchip is a "blatant" attempt to circumvent copyright protection. You cannot interpret it any other way. Custom Firmware is not even in the same ballpark as a Modchip.

    What you also bring up is an underlying misconception that many people have, which is that homebrew and custom firmware's primary goal IS to circumvent copyright protection to facilitate and abet piracy (copyright infringment).

    The fundamental purpose of custom firmware is to use any given hardware *exactly* the way that you want to use it. It is not a criminally motivated behavior.

    Custom Firmware != Piracy. Custom Firmware != Copyright Protection Circumvention.

    In any case, if there was further legislation which provided punishments for you using the software of your choice with the hardware of your choice, I would say that the law itself is an unjust law. I would then wholeheartedly advocate civil disobediance with respect to that law. Yes, as you may already have guessed, I think the DMCA is unconstitutional and ethically bankrupt as far as laws go. However, I don't even think custom firmware for any game console is actually violating it in the first place.

  • Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Thursday July 17, 2008 @05:00PM (#24234571)


    I laugh myself silly anytime somebody says that Sony PS3 is an open platform. If THAT is an open platform than I can tell somebody that they can sleep over at my house.... in the backyard ... next to the trash cans, and still seem like a nice and hospitable guy.

    Sony is as much an open platform as a public kiosk is a home computer.

  • by satoshi1 (794000) <> on Thursday July 17, 2008 @05:32PM (#24234885) Homepage Journal
    Nintendo has cracked down on piracy, yes, but they have NEVER stopped homebrew projects (and things like OoT2D don't count). They don't seem to really give a shit about homebrew, it's just that both are often lumped together thanks to people like you, asshole.
  • Re:IT'S ABOUT TIME (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neokushan (932374) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @06:46PM (#24235543)

    To be fair, even if it is completely crippled, it's still a lot more open than any commercial console for the last 10 or 20 years has been.

    Saying the 360 is more open because it's been hacked is a little unfair, Microsoft in no way helped or guided anyone to hack it, it just so happens someone found a problem with the DVD-Rom's firmware that could be exploited fairly easily.
    Same for the wii, it's only open because someone found enough glitches to be able to open it. It'll soon happen to the PS3 (Although it must be said, Well done Sony for lasting THIS long, they apparently learned from their PSP botch up) and then we'll all be able to take full advantage of it.
    Personally, I can't wait for it to happen as the sheer raw power available in that console could make it the biggest hacker's dream for years to come.

There are never any bugs you haven't found yet.