Make Your Original Xbox Super! Part One: Intro

(These guides were originally written back in 2008 but never published. Until now...)
Introduction: What Can You Do?

So you’ve got an original Xbox. You probably quite liked it, maybe even loved it at one point. Note the past tense: the Xbox has been around for over 6 years, and things have moved on a lot since then. Taking one look at games on the PS3 and 360 says it all, but the classic Xbox still has life in it, and you can make it do things you didn’t even know possible. You do this by modifying it.

The first step you'll need to do before making any modifications is to 'unlock' the console. There are two main routes to this: hardware or software. Modding the hardware requires buying a piece of kit (known as a ‘chip’ or ‘modchip’), opening your Xbox and, in some cases, doing some soldering. This is beyond the scope of most casual gamers. The softmod route is open to all and requires no particular expertise.

You may already know that the Xbox is just a Pentium III based PC under its dark green skin. The advantage of this is that lots of people know how to program software for a PC and, as a result, it stands as perhaps the most modifiable consoles ever produced. The Sega Dreamcast had a similar advantage, as it was developed to run a version of Microsoft’s Windows CE operating system. One thing the Xbox definitely can’t do, ironically, is run Windows.

Here’s a run down of what you can do with your softmodded Xbox:
  • Run game backups from the hard disk (they load faster)
  • Upgrade the hard disk (more storage)
  • Install Linux (turn the Xbox into a PC)
  • Install media centre software (music, photo & video library)
  • Emulate other consoles (such as the SNES, Megadrive, N64, etc.)
Given that there are loads of guides on the web on how to mod your Xbox, you may question my motivation to write another one. Well, the aim of this one is to:
  • Keep guides for the most popular mods in one place
  • Keep the technical steps and language as simple as possible from start to finish
  • Provide links to all the software (as much as is possible)
  • Keep the cost as low as possible
Any feedback you’d like to offer would be greatly appreciated, so I can improve this guide for other people. So, without further ado, let’s softmod your Xbox!