Author Topic: Xbox as a MD  (Read 15435 times)

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Xbox as a MD
« on: March 27, 2005, 08:17:59 pm »
Hey,

Ive been modding Xboxes for a couple years.  Alot of fun, and a useful addition to my home entertainment center.  Ive used one of them as a frontend for MythTV.  I used the Xebian distro (customized debian for the xbox) and then installed some pkgs a mythtv user made.  Worked great.  Now heres the cool thing...if the Xbox has been modded with a mod chip and flashed with the legal alternative BIOS Cromwell/Xromwell (info at newbielink:http://xbox-linux.org [nonactive]) or the TSOP on the xbox has been flashed with the same BIOS (meaning no mod chip is needed, but you still have a small bit of modding to do to get it flashed onto the TSOP), then you can use etherboot to boot the Xbox.  Looks like all the tools exist to make the Xbox a cheaper(er) alternative as a MD.  Is anyone else besides me interested in this?  I plan on looking into what all would be required to get this going, but from a cursory review of all the parts, it looks like I could do it.  If so, could this also be make its way into the pluto home distro, so that if a modded Xbox is plugged into a plug-n-play plutohome system, it would automatically boot as well?  If your worried about any legalities associated with this, the Xbox-linux group is dedicated to making a legal alternative for BIOS and software to run on the Xbox, and as such the BIOS mentioned, Cromwell/Xromwell is completely 100% legal in the USA.

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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2005, 09:11:06 pm »
Actually that would be a great solution to get a whole-house solution for a much lower price.  We don't have any XBox specialists in-house, but will support and add stuff to our distro whenever we legally can.  Our network boot is pretty much a standard Debian net boot.  Let us know what we can do to help.

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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2005, 09:17:48 pm »
Yeah, you can get Xboxes for $120 USD for a refurb, $140 for a brand new one.  To do a TSOP flash takes about 5 mins of modding time (solder one wire to 2 points on the Xbox mobo, not that difficult) and flash Cromwell. Im going to get used to playing with my pluto setup and play with the guts of it to better understand it....and another cool thing is the Xbox controller ports are really just USB ports, so the USB BT dongles will work with the Xbox as well.

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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2005, 09:16:12 pm »
The main thing I see here is that the XBox is powered by a PowerPC chip (if I remember right). So the main issue would be porting everything over. That wouldn't be a huge issue with the Debian core of Pluto as I'm pretty sure Debian already has a PowerPC port. As always, it's the small things that would have to be worked out (and any stuff specific to Pluto, of course).

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« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2005, 09:22:37 pm »
From the xbox-linux.org site mentioned above

Quote
The Xbox is a legacy-free PC by Microsoft that consists of an Intel Celeron 733 MHz CPU, an nVidia GeForce 3MX, 64 MB of RAM, a 8/10 GB hard disk, a DVD drive and 10/100 Ethernet. As on every PC, you can run Linux on it.

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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2005, 09:57:21 pm »
Ah, whoops. I remember now. It's the GameCube that's a PowerPC. Of course there will still be issues with some of the proprietary hardware.

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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2005, 05:09:43 pm »
Well, i for one definetly want to get this working, as i run mythtv on my xbox as a frontend in a couple of rooms, so in order to make this package xbox friendly, and of course legal ive decided to take this project on myself. With a little help from the devs. as i am not that linux friendly of a person, im going to need some help. The best part about the xbox, is that cromwell (xbox's legal linux bios) already has the ability to do a network boot. The only problem i can see is getting the hardware to be reconized. But since the xbox is a legacy free pc, it shouldnt be to difficult getting pluto to setup the xbox as a frontend (sorry since mythtv, i always call things frontends and backends) Tonight i am going to be converting my existing mythtb setup over to Pluto, and will start getting pluto working on the xbox. The only forseeable (is that a word?) problem i see is that the xbox has only 64 mb of ram, 4 of which are dedicated to the frame buffer.  This of course could be resolved by doing a ram upgrade (soldering new memory chips to the motherboard) or a ram drive (256mb or 512mb should be fine). So... ill keep you all posted on my progress, and would love the pluto team to read over this article, on making a release xbox ready.


newbielink:http://www.xbox-linux.org/wiki/Making_a_Linux_distribution_Xbox_compatible_HOWTO [nonactive]

Tons of info, and of course it would be nice to have the live cd be able to boot right off the xbox, or at least add the needed drivers for the remote (xbox remote) and Controller.

installing xebian (xbox debian) is rather easy to do, and i have already written a tutorial for doing it, and getting mythtv working on the xbox ( newbielink:http://www.controlaltdeleted.com/xbox/content/view/53/27/ [nonactive])

Now if we could adapt this to work with pluto, all is good!

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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2005, 10:35:29 pm »
I am really interested in this setup as well. It would be great if you could post an update on your successes and failures when you find out more info.

Thanks,
Garron

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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2005, 10:39:53 pm »
definetly will do, as i find this is a very inexpensive solution, i have not yet started the project (to much work to do, no time for play :( )  but will as soon as i can, look forward to something late next week!

- Scott

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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2005, 05:05:53 pm »
I am too really interested in this setup. Xbox is now quite inexpensive and have fast CPU et good quality video ! (One little issue : the noise is quite loud).
Thks

FXMX86

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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2005, 05:40:37 pm »
well, the xbox already can do good video, so the processor is not that bad (733) as for the noise, you could always open and replace the fans ! with much quieter ones!

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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2005, 10:13:18 am »
Excellent! I was only thinking yesterday when considering setting up a
pluto system to replace my seperate, Asterisk, Zoneminder and Tivo setups, wouldn't it be great if I could still use the 3 xboxes we have in the house for the clients!
I really dont want to have an aditional PC in each of these rooms if I can make do with the xbox.
Bring it on....
Mike

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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2005, 01:38:28 am »
Quick question, following on from my post yesterday.

Is there anything stopping me using the Xboxes with the presently
available mythtv front end on them and just have it talk back
to the pluto mythtv backend?

Should that work for now? I realise I wont get all the orbiter functions but the TV side of things would be a good start?

thanks
Mike

p.s. are there any reasonable TV capture cards I should be looking at to cause me least hassle for a backend?

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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2005, 06:52:21 am »
nothing should stand in your way, it should connect just fine to the backend, as well, the most supported backend cards (in my experience) seem to be the PVR-250's and 350's ... right now i have 2 pvr 250s in my backend, and 2 150s in the front... im having some issues with the 150's, but its just audio volumes pulled from the cards... i have yet to adjust them through the ivtv settings however, and now that its my weekend, im going to be building my Pluto system.

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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2005, 11:25:34 am »
Thanks for your reply j0ly. Looks like a pvr250 will be on order soon then.

I must say I can't believe how I've not managed to stumble upon
pluto before now!

Another question I'm afraid.  If you have a tuner/capture card in both your
front and and back end, I assume its possible to capture two seperate
programmes at once? (aasuming your cpu's etc are up to it)

Oh one more, sorry  :)  I'm in the UK, how good is the program guide date that is available over here? I have Tivo at present and thats pretty good, so something similar would be excellent.

thanks
Mike