Xbox 360:Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
This is the FAQ page for /r/360hacks. Here you'll find most of the info you'll need to start using homebrew on your Xbox 360. A list of definitions can be found at the bottom of this post. If a question isn't here that you feel should be, please message one of the moderators.
What is the point of an RGH/JTAG?
The intent of an RGH/JTAG is to allow execution of homebrew software on the Xbox 360. Custom firmware will allow you to:
- Play backups of Xbox 360 / Xbox / DVDs natively while being region free.
- Emulate retro games with RetroArch or stand-alone emulators.
- Rip ANY Xbox 360 / Xbox / DVD discs to your hard drive, either as a Game on Demand container or extracted game files. Some games like Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 can't be installed with Microsoft's dashboard, but RGH/JTAG Xbox 360s can bypass this with a custom dashboard.
- Mod games offline or online.
- Convert your retail console into to a developer console. (XDK/devkit)
- Play games stored on an external drive, or even games stored on a SMB enabled device on your network.
- Xbox_360:Unbanning your Xbox 360.
- Change the boot up animation and sound.
- Use Linux.
- Create and use cheats for games
- Put a completely new DVD drive into your console with your motherboard without having to take the drive apart (if you have the DVD key).
- Install homebrew games and apps.
Does it matter what model of Xbox 360 I have, or can all models be exploited?
All models can be exploited in one way or another except the latest version (Winchester motherboards). You can find more information on the Getting Started page.
Does it matter what dashboard version I'm on?
No, you can hack an Xbox 360 with any dashboard. However, earlier dashboards may be able to use more hacks. You can find more information Getting Started page.
Can you hack a console without soldering?
JTAG/RGH require soldering. It is highly recommended to learn how to solder very well and practice on junk electronics before trying to hack an Xbox 360 as it has rather small and crowded solder points. Drive flashing to run backups of your games does not require soldering.
What equipment do you recommend for soldering?
The recommended soldering equipment can be found on this page. As for the minimum amount of equipment required for an Xbox 360, it can be found below:
- A soldering iron with adjustable temperature; the higher the wattage the faster it will heat up
- Leaded solder (not lead free)
- No-clean liquid flux
- A brass wool tip cleaner
- 30 AWG wire, preferably shielded solid core
- Wire strippers that can handle 30AWG wires
- Isopropyl alcohol (90% higher)
- Cotton swabs
What should I do if I ripped off a soldering pad?
Look online for an alternate point to solder onto. Practice more on junk electronics before attempting to continue.
Can you hack consoles without buying extra hardware?
Unless you pay someone else to do it for you, no.
What should I install on my RGH/JTAG?
See this list of recommended software to install.
Can I play online safely?
In short, no. RGH/JTAGs get banned within hours unless you use a stealth service such as Proto or xbOnline to keep you from getting banned. Xbox 360's with flashed drives or ODEs are susceptible to a ban when playing online with improperly patched ISOs, with ban waves occurring in the past. With Microsoft slowing the pace of updates, it may be safer to play online with flashed drives or ODEs at this point.
Can I dual boot an official NAND and a modded NAND to go online safely?
Yes. If you install a TX DemoN, Squirt Dual NAND, Matrix Trident, or "NAND Sandwich mod", you will have a second (or third with Trident) NAND to boot from. This allows you to have one unmodified NAND for safe online play, and a second modified NAND for offline play.
Can I update my games without going on XBL?
Yes. Aurora can download updates from XboxUnity, which hosts game updates. They can also be downloaded from other sources and applied manually.
Can I use the Internet or apps (such as Netflix) on my RGH/JTAG without connecting to XBL?
No. All apps, other than Netflix, require an Xbox Live connection.
Do I need my DVD drive connected to boot the Xbox?
No, it will boot up properly without a DVD drive, however, the power button LEDs will blink unless you bridge pins 4 and 6 on the motherboard connector or disable the DVD drive in a freeboot image.
What is the "Kronos" model Xbox 360?
The Kronos is the last GPU revision found in the fat Xbox 360 models which includes a shrunken 65nm eDRAM, and is found in the Tonasket motherboard revision. (The previous Zeus GPU on Jasper motherboards instead had an 80nm eDRAM.) The Tonasket motherboard revision is more commonly known as the "Jasper Kronos", "Kronos", or "Jasper V2". These motherboards are less likely to encounter an E74 error as a result, and will run slightly quieter since the eDRAM runs slightly cooler. They have a new RF module, small component changes, removed unused pads that were on Jasper, and no copper pipe on the GPU heatsink. They are treated the same as Jaspers all around, as modifications are generally the same between the two.
What are the directories on my Xbox 360?
See this page for information on what each directory contains.
What is an ODE (XK3Y / Wasabi360 / Boxzii / X360DOCK)?
An Optical Drive Emulator is a device that allows you to run Xbox and Xbox 360 game backups on an Xbox 360, without requiring an RGH/JTAG. Like with drive flashing, all phat consoles support ODEs, and all but the latest model (Winchester) slim consoles can have an ODE. See the Getting Started page for more details on model compatibility.
Where can I find information about XGD3 games?
This page lists all of the XGD3 games and compatible DVD burners.
Can RGH/JTAG exploited consoles play games burned to a DVD?
No. This would require a flashed disc drive.
How do I play games from external USB storage?
Add a path to your external hard drive for FSD/Aurora to scan games from. If it is a Game on Demand title, it will automatically be shown in the Microsoft dasboard if put in the correct folder.
What is the difference between JTAG and RGH?
In summery, the original SMC hack (JTAG) modified the System Management Controller found in the southbridge to read a modified NAND and also utilized one of the GPU JTAG ports to perform a timing attack on the GPU and boot an exploitable bootloader to boot a modified kernel (hence its common nickname).
The Reset Glitch Hack uses an external glitch chip (or the SMC itself with RGH 3) to exploit the Xbox 360's CPU. It involves slowing down the XCPU's clock speed as much as possible, send a reset signal, return the CPU's clock speed to normal, and hopefully booting into a modified bootloader, which would then boot a modified kernel.
In the early days, the Reset Glitch Hack required very precise wiring and needed a significant amount of tuning with their glitch chips especially with Slim consoles. This caused JTAGs to be far more desirable, as JTAG wiring was much simpler and quicker to do compared to a glitch chip and had a flawless consistant boot every time. However, the modern methods of RGH 1.2, EXT_CLK, and RGH 3 tend to be very reliable without much issue, and both will ultimately perform the end goal of booting a modified kernel. RGH 3 also eliminates the wiring issue of glitch chips, as it's just two wires with a resistor (and a diode if done on a Phat).
What is the AUD_CLAMP hack for JTAG installs?
The JTAG hack requires an I/O line during bootup. On non-Xenon consoles, there are no unused I/O lines. Originally, a line on the ROL board (ARGON_DATA) was used, but this would cause issues with a spastic ROL and E79 issues for Zephyr motherboards. On the HANA chip, DB1F1 was later used, but this sometimes would result in boot failures and resetting video settings. Finally, two data lines — AUD_CLAMP (mutes analog audio) and TRAY_OPEN (controls DVD ejection) — were decided to be the de facto lines to use for JTAG installs. Using AUD_CLAMP can cause 5.1 audio output to be disabled, while TRAY_OPEN can cause the DVD tray to eject on boot.
Why is there no RGH1/RGH2/R-JTAG option for Xenon?
RGH1/R-JTAG/R-JTOP does work, but is unreliable due to the CPU having issues with deassertion of
CPU_PLL_BYPASS. Because of this, an R-JTAG board was never created for Xenon.
RGH2 relies on the HANA chip for operation, which isn't present on Xenon motherboards.
If they are not JTAG compatible, Xenon consoles can use the EXT_CLK method, which is reliable and avoids the aformentioned issues in other RGH methods.
What is RROD?
The Red Ring of Death (or on S and E models, Red Dot of Death) is when an Xbox 360 encounteres a fatal error, either in hardware or software, that prevents it from successfully booting. The console will show 1 light for a Universal Error Message (Exx error code on the video output, e.g. E74), 2 lights for an overheating error (blinking red dot on S & E), 3 lights for a general hardware failure (Most common, general hardware failure) and 4 lights (AV disconnected, only on Xenon consoles).
General hardware failures on a Slim or E will show a solid red dot, either if it's a UEM error or a general hardware error.
In general, the Red Ring of Death (RROD) is caused by a defective GPU, especially in early Xenon and Zephyr phat consoles that weren't refurbished by Microsoft. There are many myths circulated about the high failure rate on the Xbox 360, but most of them are untrue. More info about this problem can be found on this article at Badcaps.net. There can be many different causes of a RROD, as documented on our error codes page, and the part in question may need complete replacement.
Should I do the towel trick / bolt mod to fix RROD?
NO. The towel trick works by suffocating your console to heat it up enough to restore the faulting part. This can cause damage to other components on the board and is bad for your console in general, and is almost always a temporary fix. The bolt mod is a fix that was commonly done by GameStop and people early on which basically replaces the X-clamps with bolts to tighten the heatsinks down more. However, this gives uneven pressure and will end up warping your board and making the problem worse.
What is a reball/reflow?
Reballing and reflowing are remedies for fixing a RROD. Reflowing is considered a temporary fix, which involves heating up the affected component to re-melt all of the solder balls at once so each one flows back into place. Reballing, on the other hand, is a less temporary fix which replaces all of the solder balls of a compoent with leaded solder. This can fix consoles with damaged solder balls, which can often occur if the console was dropped. Reballing requires a professional rework station to melt all of the solder balls, remove the affected component, place new solder balls down, and reattach the component. However, it's more likely the component itself (Such as a Southbridge, GPU, or RAM) is faulty and a reball will not permanently fix it, thus requiring a replacement component.
What is a Lamprey? Can they make devkits?
A Lamprey is an official Microsoft device that is used as a jig for a SPI. Essentially, it can do what a hardware flasher like Nand-X or JR Programmer can do. It cannot create devkits.
How can I play multi-disc games?
For most games that have one installation disc and one "play" disc, such as Grand Theft Auto V, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Halo 4, or Battlefield 4; you can manually install the installation disc by extracting the ISO and copying the "content" folder onto the root of your Xbox 360 HDD, which will merge it into the existing content folder. You can also install discs as a GoD either with ISO2GOD, the default Microsoft Dashboard, or an Aurora script. If the entire installation disc is installed on the console as a GoD, you will need to run the installer at least once to extract the disc's content folder to the console's content folder.
For games that have two "play" discs, such as Rage, Dead Space 2, Dead Space 3, or Max Payne 3; it will ask you to swap discs mid-game, FreeStyle Dash and Aurora can handle the disc swapping if you place the extracted games into folders as follows:
Wolfenstein: The New Order is a special case which needs Disc 1 ran as a GOD game for a content installation, but discs 2, 3, and 4 can be ran in extracted disc folders or GOD.
Watch Dogs is a special case in which you need to extract the contents of Disc 2 into a folder, then extract the contents of the
installation2 folders from Disc 1 into the folder and rename
default.xex. You can also install disc 2 as a GoD or use the disc itself and run the installer normally.
A video covering the different methods can be found on MrMario's channel.
|AntiPiracy 2.5/2.6 (AP25 / AP26)||A protection built into Xbox 360 games to prevent flashed DVD drives from running newer games.|
|eFuse||A once-writable bit embedded in the CPU. Microsoft used them to control the system firmware version, making it impossible to normally downgrade.|
|Phat||A first generation Xbox is known as a "phat" or "fat" console, as opposed to a "slim" console.|
|RGH Exploit||Reset Glitch Hack. The successor to the JTAG hack, it allows for maximum control over your console and the ability to run homebrew.|
|JTAG Exploit||An exploit that allows maximum control over your console and the ability to run homebrew. JTAG is an electronics standard, standing for Joint Test Action Group.|
|ODE||Optical Drive Emulator. It's a device that acts as a disc drive and can run Xbox and Xbox 360 game backups.|
|ODDE||Optical Disc Drive Emulator. Another name for an ODE.|
|Programmer||Programmer devices are used to read/write NAND dumps on your Xbox 360 and to program modchips with timing files to better glitch your console in a RGH install. They are essential in both RGH and JTAG installs, unless you use a LPT cable.|
|QSB||Quick Solder Board. It's a small circuit board that makes it easier to solder items together.|
|NAND||An Xbox 360's NAND chip, which the OS resides on.|
|GOD||Games on Demand. Digital games downloaded from the Xbox Live Marketplace or game discs that were installed with the retail dashboard.|
|KV||Key Vault. It holds your console specific data such as your DVD key, CPU Key, and a unique identifier for your console on Xbox Live. If Microsoft bans you, your key vault is not allowed on Xbox Live. You can obtain a new key vault from another console and apply it to yours to unban it.|
|FSD||FreeStyle Dash. A replacement for the Microsoft NXE dashboard.|
|Proto/XbOnline||An XBLS service.|
|NXE||New Xbox Experience. The dashboard layout that followed the original "blades" dashboard.|
|PartnerNet (pNet)||The Xbox 360 developer network, similar to Xbox Live. At one time, JTAG exploited systems could connect, but it now it will brick your device if you do not have a legitimate XDK.|
|ROL||Ring of Light. The LED ring on the power button of your Xbox 360.|
|STFS||Secure Transacted File System. The file system that the Xbox 360 uses for packages created and downloaded by the system.|
|Unsigned Code||Unofficial code - such as community made apps or games - that can run on the Xbox 360. This can only be achieved through the JTAG/RGH exploits.|
|XBLS||Xbox Live Stealth. A service that takes large measures to spoof your XBL traffic to appear to come from an unmodified console.|
|XBLSE||Xbox Live Stealth Emulated. A version of XBLS released for people to run XBLS for free at home.|
|Xbox 360 Neighborhood||An official development tool used to allow developer kits to communicate with your PC.|
|FATX||File Allocation Table for Xbox. The format that the Xbox hard drive stores files in.|
|XDK||An Xbox Development Kit (also known as a devkit). This is an official console used to develop software for the Xbox 360.|
|XEX||Xenon Executable. The file type that the Xbox 360 can execute, similar to an EXE on Windows.|
|XGD3||Xbox Game Disk 3. A new format for disc games with added security over XGD2.|