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Linux Comes One Step Closer to Liberating the Xbox

Linux Comes One Step Closer to Liberating the Xbox

On the theory that Microsoft's Xbox must be a Unix widget because it's got a "X" in its name, the so-called open source Xbox Linux Project has been laboring for months to displace the stripped-down Windows 2000 kernel that runs the thing with a 386version of Linux and turn it into a desktop, server or node rather than the gaming console the gods in Redmond have so far decreed it to be until they, of course, decide it's time to morph it into an Internet access device.

And, eureka, the project's got what it calls the first full Linux distribution for the thing, a version of the week-old Mandrake Linux 9 that includes a copy of Sun's free OpenOffice suite, the Mozilla browser and both the Gnome and KDE graphical environments.

Since the software is 100% compatible with Mandrake Linux 9, the project says, doubtless with some relish, the Xbox can now run any package from the Mandrake Linux 9 kit or it could if you take the Xbox apart and solder on a so-called security-disabling "mod" chip first from one of those outfits that Microsoft is starting to putout of business.

In the last few day a big Hong Kong gray market OpenXbox mod chip operation known as Lik Sang turned up among the missing, a result of legal action put in train by Microsoft, which has also reworked its EULA to read: "Any attempt to dissemble, decompile, create derivative works of, reverse engineer, modify, further sublicense, distribute or use for other purposes either the hardware or software of this system is strictly prohibited."

Mod chips, also available for the Sony PlayStation, let game consoles run unauthorized software.

The project's 350MB of code can be downloaded off the project's site at http://xbox-linux.sourceforge.net/, where there are also instructions for fitting the Xbox with that other essential, a USB adaptor so a keyboard and mouse can be attached. The project claims it "can be easily built by most users."

Maureen O'Gara's LinuxGram is published weekly by G2 Computer Intelligence Inc. and distributed by Linux Business Week Copyright 2002 G2 Computer Intelligence.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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