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Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 068-9145702910
ISBN-10: 1593270291
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Andrew “bunnie” Huang is a hacker, maker, and open hardware activist. He holds a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from MIT, is the author of Hacking the Xbox (No Starch Press) and The Essential Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen, and has served as a technical advisor for various hardware startups and MAKE Magazine.


"A piece of simple, succint eloquence, this has fast become one of the most treasured books we own." -- PopularMechanics.com

"Although it's a technical book, it unfolds like a spy novel." -- Peter Wayner, Slashdot.org, June 26, 2003

"If you are interested in programming or even hacking, you’re going to love this book." -- Cosmos Gaming, December 19, 2004 http://www.cosmosgaming.com/reviewother.php?subaction=showfull&id=1103512869&archive=&start_from=&ucat=9&

"an elegant, smart, and accessible introduction to hacking that happens to use the Xbox as a learning tool" -- San Francisco Bay Guardian, September 17, 2003

An introduction to copyright law in the digital age -- The New York Times, July 10, 2003

I recommend this book even to those who don't want to hack an Xbox...an interesting and informative read. -- About.com

If you are interested in hardware, software hacking and reverse engineering - this book should be on your shelf. -- E. Jonathan Hardy, Host, TechWeek TV!, August 2003

Teaches readers to think like hardware hackers, using the game console the way a med school teacher uses Gray's Anatomy -- SecurityFocus, July 2003

[Huang's] account of how he cracked the Xbox is fascinating and his perseverance is awesome. -- Personal Computer World, UK, August 21, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; 1 edition (July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593270291
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593270292
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this book, probably as most people do, out of an interest in getting into my Xbox from a software viewpoint. I wound up enjoying it from an entirely different viewpoint - the insights into the obscure process of hardware hacking that people like Andrew Huang love to do. In the process I gained considerable respect for Microsoft's ability to protect their investment in what has become the number two console in the game world.
To put this in context, the Xbox is really a full fledged PC, repackaged and sealed up with security to prevent game copying and to stop buyers from turning in into the ultimate cheap computer. Microsoft sells the Xbox considerably below manufacturing cost, using it as a loss leader to sell games. The last thing they want is for everyone to turn the Xbox into $150 computers. Hackers like Huang saw the opportunity to do exactly that and began the ultimate adventure a trip into the devious mind of Microsoft's engineers. Every bit as exciting as the latest game disk.
This is both the story of that effort - the creation of a fully functional Linux computer and a fascinating training manual on what actually goes into the hardware hacking process. Huang understands full well the danger that he might go over the heads of his readers and makes every effort to explain exactly what is going on. He has a lucid, self-effacing style that is like a geek chat session. For someone like me, who started out with a pile of 'chips' and a breadboard, and then graduated to 16 Kilobyte memory boards it is pure fun to see what has happened in the past 40 years.
I also was astonished at the ingenious subterfuges Microsoft used to hide the Xbox's innards from casual observers. For those who always are critical of Microsoft's capabilities, this is a lesson in hubris.
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Format: Paperback
I got this book mainly out of curiousity. I don't have much background in computers, especially not when it come to how they work, other than a firm belief that it's all done with magic.
The great thing about this book is that it reads like a buddy explaining something to you. It's not a sterile textbook about AD-SRAM 511 chips or whatever, it's a book about a guy who tinkered with something he bought, and kept a log about it. Even when it gets technical, it's easy to skim over those parts and still know what he was doing. A great mix of extremely informative but at the same time not overwhelming. Reading what he thought and the struggles he and others have gone through just for the *right to talk* (or 'Freedom of Speech', as I've heard it called somewhere...) about what they want is as interesting as the xbox motherboard itself.
If you're looking for instructions about modchips and playing copied games, this *isn't* the book for you. On the other hand, if you've ever wondered how these systems work, and how people are ever able to figure this stuff out in the first place, then you'll never find a better book.
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Format: Paperback
Hacking The Xbox: An Introduction To Reverse Engineering is, quite literally, the book that Microsoft (makers of the popular Xbox video game console) does not want you to read. Individual chapters comprehensively addresses in depth how to modify this gaming console for one's own ends, from physically opening it (and voiding the Microsoft warranty) to installing a blue LED, replacing a broken power supply, reverse engineering Xbox security, developing software for the Xbox on Xbox-Linux, soldering techniques, debugging tips, and much, much more. A knowledgeable and technically detailed instructional, Hacking The Xbox offers specific, authoritative, accessible information about reverse engineering a specific device, as well as basic principles that can be generalized to other reverse engineering hardware projects.
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Format: Paperback
I have an xbox that has been fully modded out to allow me to run some truely intresting applications on it. I can watch region free DVDs, watch divx movies, play mp3s, listen to shoutcast servers and play any game in my library all thanks to the work described in this book.
Andrew 'Bunnie' Huang embodies all that is great about the computers and hacking. He lays out not only the technical details of how to overcome the xbox security model, but also discusses his failures and the philosophy behind the hack.
This book welcomes the newbie hardware hacker with open arms and guides then through the fundimentals. It quickly moves into cryptography and much more complex material. While not a be all end all of hardware engineering, it is enough to get any young mind excited for the field and points them to where they can learn more. Hopefully it will inspire a few more MIT grads like Bunnie.
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Format: Paperback
I do not own an XBox, but as I was interested in the architecture Microsoft put into their own console, I bought the book. I also wanted to get a picture of what the XBox scene was without having to read tons of forums posts on various sites.
The book fulfilled all my expectations! It is clearly written, targeted at non-familiar users and explain everything in detail.
Some chapters are really passionating, especially the ones explaining how the security was defeated. You follow the story almost hour by hour, holding your breath as the author runs at 5:00 AM the program that will finally extract the cipher key from the console bus data.
You are explained the various processes of electronics and are introduced about building hardware to help you in the hacking process.
You are presented with the pitfalls and caveats of hacking, the possible risks and what you are allowed and are not.
But even more important, this writing is a fight : a fight for someone to be able to share his knowledge with everyone under a restrictive law as the DMCA (the possible consequences of this law are really frightening)
There is also a constant willing to explain the philosophy of hacking, something people should know about and which is mistakenly related to piracy and other criminal acts.
This book is a must. Even for non-techies. Buy it. You will not regret it.
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