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Games Entertainment

Anonymous Will Award $200,000 for Xbox Linux 530

Posted by timothy
from the that'll-keep-you-in-cereal dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "The X-box Linux Project at Sourceforge reports today that an anonymous donor will award nearly a quarter of a million dollars to the individuals responsible for the completion of a two-phased effort to run Linux on the Xbox. One can't help but wonder if this will help or hurt the community. On one hand, it is likely to generate additional interest in the project, on the other, some people may be less inclinded to share their discoveries with money on the line. Then again, getting both Money and Glory sounds pretty good."
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Anonymous Will Award $200,000 for Xbox Linux

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  • Linux (Score:5, Funny)

    by FigBugDeux (257259) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:32PM (#3804127) Homepage
    I pay you $50 to get Linux running on my TRS-80
  • M$ will love this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RealisticWeb.com (557454) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:32PM (#3804135) Homepage

    The basic goal of the project is to find a simple and completely legal way to run Linux on the Microsoft Xbox.

    Yes, and the basic goal of the MS XBox team will be to find any way possible to prevent it.

    • Yes this is true. My first Meta bet will be that the Linux hackers beat the MS people. Any takers?
    • by spongman (182339)
      yup, you can be sure that games released for the xbox in the future will not run on modded boxen.
      • by Fat Casper (260409) on Monday July 01, 2002 @08:11PM (#3804689) Homepage
        yup, you can be sure that games released for the xbox in the future will not run on modded boxen.

        If you mod the xbox to run Linux, you're doing it because MS loses money on the hardware. Buying the games that let them make their money back isn't really on your List of Things To Do Today.

        This sounds like a federal program; if MS subsidizes the purchase of your new (Linu)Xbox, then you'll subsidize their silly business plan?

        • Re:M$ will love this (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Afrosheen (42464)
          Yeah actually I think it's a good idea. I read about the modded Xboxen running mame. I have the whole 10cd set and was looking for something cheap and with decent performance to build an arcade cabinet mame box with...and this is perfect.

          As an added bonus if I buy an XBox and no games it causes MS to lose a few bucks. That justifies the purchase.
  • Wow (Score:2, Funny)

    by El Pollo Loco (562236)
    Two hundred g's??? if only i could afford the 200 hundred bucks for an xbox.....damn college. :)
  • Hmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ThorGod (456163)
    /me wonders why they're annonymous?
    • ...given Sun's dedication to making life hard for Microsoft at any price. $200k will be a lot cheaper than StarOffice was, and will be hit-for-hit value against MS when only about the 3000th Linuxified XBox hits the streets, given how much MS are losing on each one.

      They'd make Xcellent LTSP terminals, with splendid graphics and more than enough RAM. You'd need to pay for a mouse, keyboard and mod chip for each, but they'd still be cheap.

      And since `Linux is for people who hate Microsoft,' the value in unhelping MS with each sale can't be overlooked. (-:
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by rodgerd (402) on Monday July 01, 2002 @09:04PM (#3804964) Homepage
      I reckon it's Bill. He's actually a bit of a liberal at heart (look at Slate and all the money he donates to UN health programs), and now he's horrified by what Microsoft has become. Having lost control of the company to the brutal [stenstad.net] apelike [globnix.org] Steve Ballmer, he's looking for ways to subvert it.

      Bill is trapped, a prisoner in his own machine. His best chance for freedom is to destroy it. Won't you help Bill? Won't somebody think of Bill?
  • legal expenses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xavii (92017) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:34PM (#3804150)
    is $200,000 going to be enough for legal expenses when you accept the prize and Microsoft comes at you with all their legal guns ablazing?

    xavii aka bob
  • by PhysicsGenius (565228) <physics_seekerNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:36PM (#3804158)
    I can see a few bad outcomes. First, it will splinter the development community. There will be numerous sourceforge [sourceforge.net] projects started, only to be abandoned when no one is skilled enough with GIMP to create themselves an icon. This is development effort that could have been directed towards making KDE themes and Linux will only suffer as a result.

    Second, assuming someone succeeds, a large cash infusion has proved to be the downfall of many Linux companies. Roger Stallman was right, money is the "root" (ha!) of all evil, just look at companies like RedHat [redhat.com] and VA Linux Something [whoknows.com].

    Third, even if they succeed and no one is killed in the process, what possible use could Linux be on an XBox? I heard they use some kind of proprietary game format that Linux won't be able to read anyway. "DVD" or something.

  • Alan Cox has got to be pondering this...
  • If it wasn't anonymous, I would say it was Larry Ellison. He's known for stunts like this, but usually he does everything he can to pull his name into it. Of course, if it wasn't anonymous, we'd know who it was anyway.

    I bet's it's just some geek who got lucky and sold his stock before everything went bust.

    Although, consider the option of someone looking to take advantage of MS's deep loss on each of these things and build a giant cluster at a fraction of the market price.

    -Pete
  • the anonymous donor, obviously Bill Gates. Now who is least likely to buy X-Boxes? Linux users/MS haters.... and now who will be snatching them up? Linux users who want 200 thousand dollars. And at the next meeting with game companies, they have a much larger apparent user base.... And it's all pointless, the 'legal' makes it impossible, I'm sure somewhere in the EULA for the X-Box it says 'by purchasing this product you agree to never ever run linux on it or else you will forfeit all your money and your first born child.
    • by kwishot (453761) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:43PM (#3804214)
      Microsoft takes a monetary hit on each Xbox sold ($150+ I believe ?), so that would be a really bad idea, because people would be buying them without the intention of using them for games, but rather for porting linux. If people don't buy the games, Microsoft doesn't make back the money it lost on the unit.
      I would guess that it's not Bill Gates (at least not for the reasons you gave)
      -kwishot
      • Yes, but the loss per unit is not $150 apiece, either. More like $45 to $50

        Interesting, though: this might hurt MS in 2 ways: people who just want to port Linux to the Xbox will not be buying the games, and... likewise, people who just want to RUN Linux on the Xbox, won't be buying much games, either....
  • by zulux (112259) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:38PM (#3804181) Homepage Journal
    ... if he/she purchased 1000 XBoxes and used them for something that would normally require a $400 Intel based computer.

    Xboxes are are priced at $200, but really contain the guts of a typical $450 PC.

    A cluster of 1000 Xboxes would be mighty cheap computing power.

    • by MyHair (589485) on Monday July 01, 2002 @07:50PM (#3804565) Journal
      A cluster of 1000 Xboxes would be mighty cheap computing power.

      I'm too lazy to actually calculate this, but I have to wonder about the $$ feasibility of an XBox cluster. Okay, I could believe it's a better value to hack an XBox than to buy a PC for gaming, if you don't take future upgrades into account. (GeForce 6's and Radeon 12000's probably won't have a USB or ethernet interface; just a guess.)

      But if you want to make the ubiquitous Beowulf cluster of XBoxen to crunch numbers, is it really more cost effective? Even if someone figures out how to put Linux on there without a hardware mod, you need to consider that the graphics and sound capabilities built-in won't be used in the cluster.

      Don't compare an XBox cluster to a cluster of Linux gaming machines but to a cluster of bare-bones dual-cpu boxen or rackmount servers with no or minimal video, sound and i/o capability. Plus compare the power consumption, cooling and space requrements of the two since this becomes nontrivial with a cluster.

      Plus, who with such high number-crunching needs would put up with the dearth of hardware support for Linux on XBox. You can't just swap out a motherboard, power supply or ethernet card on those puppies, at least not as easily as a desktop, tower or rack PC.

      I don't think an XBox cluster is reasonably feasible beyond the geek in me saying "that's so cool that someone did that!" However for us Linux geeks and gamers I'd love to have Linux on XBoxes. (Not necessarily to own one, before you Linux Dreamcasters jump on me.)
    • Not likely (Score:2, Informative)

      by kinnunen (197981)
      I didn't actually do much checking on the prices but they should be reasonably close.

      Athlon XP 2000 - 150$
      Cheap mobo with etherent 100$
      128MB DDR SDRAM - 25$
      Case and PSU - 50$
      8GB HDD - 75$
      ----------
      Total 400$

      Yep, it's twice as expensive. But in a clusternode it's usually the the CPU that counts and XP2000 is 2-3 times faster than what is in an X-Box. A cluster node doesn't need a DVD drive or a top of the line Gforce4. You may not even need the harddistk. With 200,000$ you can get 500 nodes like this, or a linux distribution that boots on X-Box - but you still need to buy the 1000 X-Boxen to run that distro for another 200,000$. And of course 6 months from now the the Athlon config will be ~50$ cheaper, while the X-Box is steady at 200$.

      • wha? (Score:3, Informative)

        by jon_c (100593)
        No, no, the XBOX looks nothing like that, it's more like:

        P-III 750 - $60
        N-force mobo - $70
        GForce3 Ti 500 - $250
        64mb SDRAM - $10
        8GB HDD - $75

        the prices are made up, but thats pretty much the xbox, also one should concider the possibility that the gforce could also be used to crunch some numbers, sort of like a really fast MMX.

        -Jon
  • by mattbee (17533) <matthew@bytemark.co.uk> on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:39PM (#3804182) Homepage
    Okay $200k is a hell of a lot; and we all know that MS loses money on every X-Box sale. A viable alternative development platform would hurt MS. This means it's somebody well-established (rich!) in the industry with a score to settle with Microsoft? Or a games company that wants to open up development for what I understand is a cheap PC platform without paying MS tax? Maybe even a potential coup by Sony or Nintendo? Completely intriguing; maybe we could have a sweepstake on who we think this anonymous donor is...
    • by Wanker (17907) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:45PM (#3804228)
      I'd like to see that cash in escrow before I believed anything this "anonymous" donor said.
    • Big money to be made (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hendridm (302246) on Monday July 01, 2002 @07:37PM (#3804488) Homepage
      And as soon as you submit your code, you see it on KaZaa the next day with the file description, "The check is in the mail"...
    • Don't rule out the possibility that it's Microsoft. The X-Box is a very new sort of project from MS, and I wouldn't be surprised if they want to iron out any possible "security holes" (that's what they like to call these things nowadays, ala Palladium "security enhancements" that only protect the entertainment industry) in their hardware before they hack out the next revision. You might suppose that they could figure this sort of thing out themselves, but perhaps they've decided that it's cheaper this way.

      The alternative is that this is so difficult that it never gets done.

      Either way, Microsoft stands to benefit. Do you really think that having people buy the X-Box as a cheap Linux machine is that bad for them? It would be a mild slap in the face, in exchange for rolling out more X-Boxen. Establishing a presence is their goal.
      • Do you really think that having people buy the X-Box as a cheap Linux machine is that bad for them?

        Now, when I think of Linux on XBox (LinuXBox?), I immediately think server-farm and data center apps. Snap up 100 XBoxen for 20,000, put linux on them all, roll out a web service cluster. Plans on the internet means that at least 1 other person does the same thing...and Microsoft loses 20,000USD every time. I can't see how they'd like this aspect much.

    • I bet the prize money is from Billy G. himself. $200,000 to have some of the smartest minds in the industry TRYING to break your unit's security so you can do it better next time? Positively cheap...
  • maybe this is a firmware competitor? maybe next year sony releases an x-box OS based on linux with lots of whiz-bang features to try to get people to switch.

    sure, i might be reaching but it's still possible...
    • Actually, Sony sells a 200 dollar add-on kit for the Playstation2 to have it run Linux. It includes a 40GB HDD, Ethernet, Mouse, Keyboard, and a custom Linux Distro.
  • by YahoKa (577942) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:40PM (#3804185)
    $200,000 from him if you can run linux on it, but them MS will probably pay you $400,000 to keep it hush.
    • but them MS will probably pay you $400,000 to keep it hush.

      I love that idea. Just like a lot of farmers are paid to not grow corn, we can be paid to not write software! I can just picture it now...

      (picks up phone and hits speedial #3)
      Hello, Bill? Yeah, I was thinking since I'm low on cash and not a lot of good games are out right now, perhaps I might do some work. Like maybe I'll try to get Linux running on the XBox or something. Folks would like that.

      What? Well, yeah I guess I could use $400,000. Oh, a copy of Warcraft III is on the way too? Why, thank you, but you really don't have...oh? A prerelease for Age of Mythology too? Well, that's most generous of you. No, I don't suppose I will have time to code anything after all. It was a pleasure talking to you too...
  • by kirkb (158552) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:42PM (#3804207) Homepage
    Right now, "underground" work on consoles is fairly open. Whenever "closed" hardware and firmware gets reverse-engineered, the results are typically documented and shared among like-minded developers. Won't the $200K reward encourage greedy developers to hide their work and end up reducing the amount of sharing that goes on? In the end, this would hinder efforts to open up the Xbox. I wouldn't be suprised if MS was behind this "reward" :)
    • Won't the $200K reward encourage greedy developers to hide their work and end up reducing the amount of sharing that goes on?

      Read the rules. Results have to be submitted to the sourceforge project, and licensed under GPL . This would be pretty pointless otherwise...
    • Won't the $200K reward encourage greedy developers to hide their work and end up reducing the amount of sharing that goes on?

      I'm not so sure about that. It's been my experience that the majority of open source projects are actually coded by a very small number of developers. Projects with widely dispersed development such as Linux or Samba seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

      I think $200K could certainly inspire a dozen or so individuals to do what they are already day-dreaming about doing.
  • marketing lesson (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lingqi (577227) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:42PM (#3804210) Journal
    nearly a quarter of a million dollars

    sigh... i guess 1/5 of a million dollars just don't have that "zing" or "cha-chin!" to it...
    hell... this is why we have enron scandals... 50 grand short and we are calling it "nearly"

    • by Laplace (143876)
      Yeah, last time I looked under the couch cushions I found about $50 grand.

      What I really wanted was a peanut. But then I remembered that $50 grand could buy lots of peanuts. (thanks to H. Simpson)
    • It's worse than that. Technically, "nearly a quarter of a million dollars" is about two dimes and four pennies, not $200,000.
  • With an Xbox at $199 [amazon.com], a bewolf Linux cluster of a truckload of these could be a huge slap in the face to Microsoft. Forget the cluster, the XBox with custom software I am sure could make some rockin broadcast quality graphics for next to nothing.

    This anonymous thing could just be a big ploy to get even more publicity when the generous person or company is revealed. I was posting earier this might be Larry Ellison, if it were not anonymous...it's his style, but I would expect the money to be more. It could be him, and want the more publicity angle.

    It could also be to shield the person from legal attack until after the goose is already cooked, so to speak.

    -Pete
    (above amazon link is an affiliate link...for full discloseure)
  • Wow (Score:2, Funny)

    by pr0t3uS (586517)
    And someone wanted to convince me that there is no money to be made with free software.
  • by seanadams.com (463190) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:54PM (#3804288) Homepage
    Note that the reward isn't all-or-nothing - it's partitioned into five distinct tasks, in two separate porjects. That also means that different people can claim the prize money for each task. If two groups solve the same problem, the "better" solution gets all the money.

    Project A:
    Task 1: Replacement BIOS - $55,000
    Task 2: Kernel and XFree drivers
    - 25,000
    Task 3: Kernel logic: FATX and miscellaneous - 10,000
    Task 4: XBE bootloader $10,000

    Project B:
    Run unsigned code on an Xbox without any hardware modification - $100,000
    • by roesti (531884) on Monday July 01, 2002 @07:17PM (#3804405)
      Task 1: Replacement BIOS - $55,000
      Task 2: Kernel and XFree drivers - 25,000
      Task 3: Kernel logic: FATX and miscellaneous - 10,000
      Task 4: XBE bootloader $10,000
      Run unsigned code on an Xbox without any hardware modification - $100,000
      Making Microsoft sell streamlined Linux boxes below cost, and making the Xbox developers see their own horrified looks reflected in the surface of the Xbox-Linux CD you made: priceless.
    • Replacement BIOS -
      $55,000
      Kernel and XFree drivers - $25,000
      FATX and miscellaneous - $10,000
      XBE bootloader $10,000
      Run unsigned code on an Xbox without any hardware modification - $100,000

      Turning Microsoft's business against them - Priceless
  • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:56PM (#3804304) Homepage
    So far I've seen comments suggesting Larry Ellison and such, but what about this: could M$ themselves be behind this? Here's my theory:

    • Item: xbox sales have been falling and M$ is losing something like $125 per box (ouch).
    • Significance: There are alot of people out there who would like to help with this and now with this prize, they are probably more likely. This could spurr xbox sales (a little bit). Even if they don't succede, they may now buy games.

    • Item: It's not in the interest of MS to have modchipped xboxes become popular, because that would allow piracy easier. And the people who would want to run Linux on their xbox are some of the most likely to have many of the tools they'd need (DVD-R drive, broadband, etc).
    • Significance: Note that to get the full money, you have to make a copy of Linux that will run on an UNMODIFIED BOX. This would spurr sales, and give them a bigger installed base, but would still MAKR PIRACY HARD because there is no modchip. If Linux was put on the xbox, this would probably be the ideal case for MS.

    • Item: Now with a prize, this likely won't take terribly long, it will definatly speed things up. That's free press for MS if it get's hacked (and they don't act like idiots about this which they wouldn't if they are posting the prize $$$).
    • Significance: While chalenging hackers to port Linux to the PS/2 would have been very hard because of it's architecture, the xbox is made of mostly PC innards. Compilers and such are easily available. Hackers would already know about the CPU, hard drive, etc. inside out, and the grpahics chip/etc couldn't be too far from an nForce, etc.

    • Item: Even if many xboxes get sold to put Linux on, it's still a good thing for MS.
    • Significance: Not only would MS be able to claim a more significant install base to potential developers, but it would also allow them to buy the parts for the xbox cheaper and therefor lower their cost, improving their profitability (or as things are now, CREATING profitability).

    This is just some speculation on my part. But let's face it, it does make a little sense.

    • "Even if many xboxes get sold to put Linux on, it's still a good thing for MS. Significance: Not only would MS be able to claim a more significant install base to potential developers, but it would also allow them to buy the parts for the xbox cheaper..."

      Wrong. First, X-Box Software Developers are slightly interested in the number of consoles sold, but they are a lot more interested in the number of X-Box software titles sold. X-box crackers are not going to be helping that number. Second, Microsoft already has all their supplier contracts worked out with fixed prices, so more units sold isn't goint to lower their price for parts. In fact, Microsoft is buying so few parts, that they are a long way from having leverage with their suppliers. I think there are already disputes with suppliers because Microsoft has locked themselves into contracts that they would like to get out of now.

      All things considered, I think it is paranoia to think that Microsoft is offering this reward.

      On the other hand, I fail to see much significance to users in the X-box being hacked, other than businesses losing faith in Palladium. IIRC, the Dreamcast was hacked and yet they still sat on shelves at $100, because people would rather just buy a real computer. When the X-Box gets broken, I doubt there will be much impact on sales. Lets face the facts, Microsoft will make darn sure that it is very difficult for anyone to buy 100 of these for any kind of cluster, unless retail stores are already sitting on large inventories.
      • You're dreamcast point is well taken, but that was a custom hardware design. The xbox is just a version of a PC, and a decently powerfull one at that. If I remember correctly, the controller ports are just USB ports with some extra power for rumbling controllers, so you wouldn't have to pay $50 for a keyboard or such.
    • by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Monday July 01, 2002 @09:01PM (#3804953)
      "Note that to get the full money, you have to make a copy of Linux that will run on an UNMODIFIED BOX. This would spurr sales, and give them a bigger installed base, but would still MAKR PIRACY HARD because there is no modchip."

      Harder? I think it would make piracy easier, as the same techniques used to run Linux on an unchipped box could be used to make games run on an unchipped box. Yes, individual games may have copy protection, but that can be bypassed on a game-by-game basis, which is still easier than chipping Xboxes on a box-by-box basis (and still potentially dealing with copy protection).

      We saw this scenario with the Dreamcast. As soon as people were able to get away with just burning games to disc (without risking performing tricky modifications to their system), piracy took off.

  • The fine folks at Indrema [newbreedsoftware.com] pooled all the VC money they hid in the closet. A set-top Linux-based game console will come at last!

    Or somthing. Maby I'm still bitter 'cause I bought an Atari Jaguar.

  • Seems like a hoax (Score:2, Interesting)

    by presearch (214913)
    In light of the slick ps2linux kit (which for me, works great) where's the huge market in Xbox Linux?

    There's a lot more ps2's out there and I don't see Sony going after what would have to be a $5mil market to make paying $200K worth it.
    With the Sony kit, you drop 200 bucks and Akio's your uncle. And it's even without the obvious market delays that the M$ lawyers would bring.
    But it's not exactly a hot item for Sony. Very, very niche sales numbers.

    Maybe back a few years ago when money didn't care where it went, $200k was no big thing, but today?
    Why the fuss? Because it's a x86?

    I smell a fish.

  • Instead of Microsoft preventing this, they may want to quietly encourage this. If you look at it from the marketing standpoint, once this gets developed, it will most certainly boost Xbox (or as I call it, suXbox) sales to us nerds who want to install Linux on it.

    Although if the rumors are true and they lose a buttload of money on it, maybe they'll get extra game sales or even get some new game developers

    I can just picture everybody racing to get the first "Web server run from Xbox!" headline on /.

  • I know i know, far fetched consipracy theory -- but at least hear me out here:

    first of all -- why did SONY release a linux kit? I mean, people might say "oh yeah there is a community for it" or "there is a demand for it." i disagree. we know that SONY makes no money on the kits -- they don't expect to sell that many, definitely not enough to recover the man-hours poured into it; so even if the kit itself, hardware wise, makes them a few bux, overall it's a losing proposition. especially considering it's a custom chip, so that's a LOT of coding and debugging to get the thing working.

    however, what it DOES do is on all fronts kill any reason you might have to own a mod chip. i mean, every argument you throw their way withers away when there is a linux kit. you want to do home-brew software? sure -- get a linux kit. you want to learn how PS2 works b/c you are a enthusiest (sp?) ? -- get a linux kit. etc etc. From now on, whenever they crack down on mod chip suppliers, we as consumers will have no argument toward them, morally or in court, because all the legitimate uses of the mod chip has been covered already.

    now back to M$. we know M$ loses more money per box than sony on the consoles. and when the mod chip business REALLY opens up (like for the PS1), oh boy will we see some profit figures bleed. They are already starting to legally crack down on mod-chip teams, and before they go-to court, it would be really nice for them to have some arguments (like sony above) lined up.

    to do this "contest" thing would cost them chump change (200k max) -- versus getting their highly compensated programmers on this -- most probabbly knows little in the ways of LINUX anyhow. note the last part said "no hardware mods"... hmmmm....

    again, just conspiracy theory here; but you have to admit -- there might be some very valid reason M$ would want to do this.
    • chump change (200k max) -- versus getting their highly compensated programmers on this

      MSFT could run Linux on the XBox any time they want -- they control the system, and know exactly how it works. Doing it themselves -- just turning off the various cripples -- would certainly be cheaper.

    • If PI remember correctly, the first demos of the PS2 were made on Linux, and the PS2 was made to run Linux for some development/testing. Therefor, many of the man hours were there, they just had to box the thing and polish it.
  • He's still pissed about the whole GUI thing... Is that funny to everyone, or just me?
  • i wonder WHO would give someone $200,000 to crack the MICROSOFT xbox that has MONEY, and an INTEREST IN THE XBOX... maybe HE wants to build a better xbox2 ?
  • But then my buddy Steve put in another 100k.

    Good luck,
    Larry E.
  • The goal... (Score:2, Informative)

    by zeno_2 (518291)
    The basic goal of the project is to find a simple and completely legal way to run Linux on the Microsoft Xbox.

    The whole project is divided into two sub-projects, the first one consisting of four tasks.

    Project A: Porting Linux to a modified Xbox:
    Task 1: Replacement BIOS (software/hardware)
    Task 2: Kernel and XFree drivers
    Task 3: Kernel logic: FATX and miscellaneous
    Task 4: XBE bootloader
    Project B: Xbox hack without any hardware modification

    A total of US$ 100,000 will be awarded for the completion of each of the two projects.

    Well, I hope someone can do this, it would be very interesting to see, but I don't get how they can do all of this 'legally' as the anonymous donor wishes. To complete project b, are going to need to find out how the Digital Rights Management (tm) system works on the Xbox, and that would violate the DMCA as far as I know, but im no lawyer. I hope they clear that up soon, unless they expect this person to deal with microsoft lawyers to license DRM somehow, but i doubt they can if they have to disclose the reason why they want to license the technology.

    Best of luck to all those capable of doing this though.

  • I'm sure there are people at MS who know enough about the device to do this. And since they probably make $45k a year plus stock options (which are in the toilet right now), there's probably a high probability that an MS developer is going to claim some of that cash, especially if he's able to remain anonymous.

  • Noooooooooo (Score:2, Funny)

    by sinserve (455889)
    This person hasn't heard of RentACoder.com [rentacoder.com]. Ex silicon valley
    hackers have relocated to Bangalore India and are now taking massive devlopment projects for 65 cents.

    I have been monitoring the site for quite a while, I want someone to port my
    classic DOOMs to the PDA and no one showed up to take the job except for some
    newbie called jcarmack. I will probably pay him the 70 cents he is asking for
    just to give him a shot, no one else shows up.

    And yes, my fur carpet is 100% coder skin, we hunted that from Java-ONE.

    • I totally agree re: RentACoder... when I first heard about the site I got all excited... so I started looking for cool projects. Every once in a while I'd find one and put in a bid... only to find out that some person in India was willing to do the same thing for ( (0.00x0.40)*{my price} ).

  • I bet that any Microsoft dev with knowledge of the BIOS would find these tasks trivial. Place $200K in front of one of the devs, and it'd be interesting whether they may "creatively" find ways to solve all these tasks.
  • Buy the developer's license to write Xbox games, then write a damn Xbox game that is a cut down linux distro. Write another "game" that'll work on a mod chip to get the other 100K.

    • To get the $100,000 prize for a fully legal way to run Linux on an unmodded Xbox it has to be FULLY LEGAL. The "developer's license" you refer to comes with SDK that embeds pieces of itself in any binaries you create. The binary won't be legal to distribute because Microsoft won't sign off on it....yes they get final approval of anything for wide distribution. The source is useless without the SDK to compile it against. Remember the whole MAME on an Xbox fiasco?
  • Xbox BSD (Score:3, Informative)

    by Above (100351) on Monday July 01, 2002 @08:35PM (#3804818)
    I'd rather see FreeBSD on it, I wonder if that
    would be worth any money.
  • Once yous tart moving $200k in money around, you're no longer anonymous.

    Since Linux for XBOX isn't going to run without defeating Microsoft's security one way or another, you're talking about a DMCA infraction for which the $200k donor becomes an an accomplice, at the very least...

    I predict some bumps in the road of this plan!

  • Y'know, it sounds a lot like something Larry Ellison would do. Not because he'd stand to benefit from any success, but more likely just because it would irritate Gates. After all, these people dig around in each others' garbage, for pete's sake. They're not in it for the money anymore, they're in it for the game.

    It's a game. It's just a game. And this stunt is not much more than the infield heckling the batter in a ball game.
  • Perfect, I can see the headlines now:

    1. Open Source community ports Linux to Xbox
    2. Gartner reports that actually over 10% of Xboxen sold are used by individuals and companies who install and run linux on them.
    3. Microsoft cries foul play, DMCA is brought down upon the porting team.
    4. The "Anonymous Donor" of the prize money is rumoured to be some terrorist organization......
    5. Microsoft then touts the importance of "Paladium" to root out all evil in the world.....

    We are doomed.....

  • Why does anyone care?

    Let alone care enough to spend $200,000 on it?

  • by Typingsux (65623) on Monday July 01, 2002 @09:31PM (#3805109)
    My bank won't cash a check made out by anonymous.

  • The State of the Art (Score:5, Informative)

    by warmcat (3545) on Monday July 01, 2002 @11:59PM (#3805647)
    I did not see anyone mention XBOXHACKER yet, which is at

    http://www.xboxhacker.net/ [xboxhacker.net]

    The BIOS hacking forums there is a focus of efforts to reverse-engineer the X-Box for the purpose of allowing Linux to run on it.

    In the last few weeks we have successfully recovered the RC4 key used to encrypt the second bootloader in the BIOS, this has led to discoveries about the PIC chip that have allowed a minimal clean BIOS to run for the first time.

    I also run a site at http://warmcat.com/milksop [warmcat.com] which has a variety of GPL hardware designs that are of use in getting the X-Box to run Linux (although they have many other applications).

    On the prize, I worry it will change the ethos of people working towards this goal, which until now has shown the best side of people with a common, righteous purpose working together.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) <jmorris@b[ ].org ['eau' in gap]> on Tuesday July 02, 2002 @03:49AM (#3806126)
    Think it through people. Independent game devs are reported to be paying $10 per shipped game in royalties for games developed with the the official XDK. There is plenty of settled case law saying you CAN release a title without paying up and that you can break any obstacles the console vendor throws up, including adding the trademarked Nintindo logo if it is required to get the machine to execute your code. Since it IS settled case law I can think of a few game shops who might be tempted to add that $10 to their bottom line instead of Microsoft. A $200K inventment goes into the black when unit #20,000 of the first title goes out the door, which will be in the initial production run.

    Wanna bet BioWare had a secret reason for doing a Linux port of Neverwinter Nights? Or if not them there are a dozen or so equally good suspects. It probably isn't a huge shop that does a lot of console biz though. Screwing M$ out of their royalties would scare Sony & Nintendo that they might be next so there is enough risk that I'd doubt it is somebody on the scale of EA and such.
    The big shops need the good relationship with the hardware vendors as new hardware comes down the pipe.

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