Tuesday, April 12, 2005 8:46 AM

In the wings: Homebrew firmware updates

Darkfader has traced the Nintendo DS' firmware write-protection (for crucial first 512 bytes) to a location on the hardware: the SL1 contacts.

This means that with some fancy iron work your DS and mine can be totally open for running homebrew code - the end goal.

"I'm not sure yet how to protect the firmware from malicious code, since only first 512 bytes are protected. Perhaps we can exploit the firmware loader so that only first 512 bytes can hold some recovery code. Nintendo might not have planned any firmware updates. So we have to do it ourselves. Loopy is making the first patch to original firmware to allow execution from GBA cartridge. Any more suggestions of what to put into the new firmware?"

What do we want in our own firmware? This is the time to speak up. Post suggests to comments, or follow the link to the original thread to immerse yourself in the frey.




At 11:17 AM, Anonymous said...

um i'd have to say that id love to see possibly a web browser (so i can access modgods any friggin time/place i want!!!) or mabye even see ds linux put in, but im not good with understanding the specifics involved (can only count to 3) but somehow my gut says i should be pessimistic (still hurtin from ds linkup) but the mass of good news lately is certainly making me feel cheery again

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous said...

A browser and linux would not be in the firmware I don't think... Maybe linux might be, I don't know how much space there is in the firmware, but I doubt you would really do anything except have code to boot from a flash cartidge... The browser would be on the flash cartridge as well.

At 12:32 PM, Anonymous said...

The biggest thing that I'd like to see, if it's possible, is the ability to use X and Y for GBA games. Perhaps a toggle in the system set up, to use one set or the other so there is only one set working at a time.

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous said...

actually just outta curiosity i think id like to see how many working NES games you could stick in that space, just to see how many different games you could theoretically play without actually putting in any kinda hadware...hmm i wonder...but id also like to know whether or not it is possible to replace firmware you have already placed in that space, so you could mabye one day have all those nes games, then another day replace it with a web browser (if possible) or mabye use it to carry around those important incriminating CIA documents, all in an innoccent little DS...ooh and if possible get it all done before the engadget hack showdown competition, ooh the possibilities are endless.

At 2:08 PM, Arson said...

Well you do realize that web browsers, emulators, and the like would be accessed from a flash card. Putting that stuff in the firmware is not very smart, because you'd have to re-flash it for every update of whatever programs in there. Personally, booting DS code from the GBA slot is all I need.

At 2:22 PM, Leif902 said...

Wow what a great day for DS Dev! I personally would like to see a pop3 server protocal... Email on my ds... sigh... as well it would be nice if a runner program for GameMaker Games (www.gamemaker.nl) could be imported so that .gm6 files could be played, for information on the format (well i've only got about a paragraph of info right now but I do have it pretty much hacked) visit http://www.greenmangames.vze.com (oh yah, and we need an update file, for instance the firmware would search your gba flash card when the power comes on for a update.uXX so that if you had the 13'th update to the ds and you stuck update.u14 onto your card it would automaticly update (or just auto update off the internet...) Expect more GameMaker hacking efforts this weekend.

At 2:57 PM, Anonymous said...

I would like a Arm7 and Arm9 processor tweaker,so we can run more memory demanding applications on the Ds.

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous said...

Awesome, I would do this. But my question is, how do we flash the new firmware (once it is finished)? Can't wait to see this.

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous said...

People, this is the FIRMWARE, not some magical DS program request. Things like automated DS from GBA Port hacks, allowable unsigned wireless transfers, lockable interface -- These are the things they're looking for.

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous said...

I remember a post on this site a while ago about certain updates that people wanted... some of which included changing the time from military to the standard am-pm format, and getting rid of the health and safety warning when you turn on the system.

Other than that, all I can think of besides running homebrew code is possibly some basic pda application, or browser, but as stated above, it would be better to just run it from a flash cart.

At 3:12 PM, wholewheattoast said...

these may or may not be firmware type issues but ill post anyway.

user mapping for buttons (x,y, or whatever, for more comfortable gba playing)

get rid of that intro screen

able to switch between sys config, pictochat etc without a restart.

always on pictochat.

sleep on close for gba games

At 3:15 PM, Anonymous said...

Yeah what a good new !
What I'd like to see new on my DS ?
Perhaps an application to acces to the internet throught a wifi connection. Should be a program like on PSP to set ESSID, IP, MASK, GW...... Of course we should also be able to play online by connecting to a 'magic' server (like MSN do with chat). Pictochat should be able to do so too ;)
I think it's feasible, hard but feasible :D
Booting DS prog on GBA flash interst me too ;)

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous said...

I like the suggestions wholewheattoast made. Those would be handy things, and some of them are probably doable.

As some people have been saying, any fundamentally new software would have to be on a flash cart. The main reason for this is:

the firmware is only 256 kb.

At 3:56 PM, Angry_Monk said...

one thing i'd really like to see is a hack that makes the DS go back to the main menu when you exit a game, picochat, etc. i really hate how whenever you go to something and quit, it turns off your DS!!!

At 4:46 PM, Will said...

A sketchpad on the touchscreen while playing a GBA game. So that reminders for gameplay can be set ('don't forget to go back and get that special item', or 'level goal: 100 coins'), or just plain old scribbling. Surely that'sd be fairly easy to do... maybe even using the bottom screen of Pictochat as a guide?

At 5:50 PM, Anonymous said...

It would be good if you had a battery indicator to know how much time left for you playing ...

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous said...

as a way around the encryption, once you flash it couldnt u "un"solder the bridge and have the updated firmware be protected?

At 6:43 PM, Anonymous said...

I would have to say put the IP/TCP crap into the Pictochat program so we can finally start getting this thing online. Maybe somehow you could make it so all wi-fi games can go online?

At 6:47 PM, Anonymous said...

its been said, ill say it again. WEB BROWSER. i dont know any techie info but for real: online play (even if its just for pictochat) has to be opened up.

also, i am wondering how our DS's will recieve this firmware? from what ive read and understand only certain chipsets on certain wifi cards can be used? will everyone be able to flash their firmware with this?

and yeah, totally remove the need for a reboot everytime i leave something. maybe even allow me to leave a game without rebooting (unless there is a very good reason for this)

At 7:25 PM, s00pcan said...

Who said they are taking requests?

At 8:14 PM, mrEkli said...

But... Without the mod, could Nintendo update their own firmware? I mean official not homebrew. Just curious.

At 2:55 AM, kichigai-han said...

yeah, but nintendo's quite a way's away from doing any kind of firmware updates, if they'd ever get around to doing it at all. you never know with them ;)

as for me, if this all goes down and a firmware update becomes available, ill just make a plug that fits into the sL1 hole. one side will be metal so it'll short out the sides. when i'm done updating, turn the plug over, so the rubber side of the plug is touching the SL1. firmware protected.
though, it would almost be humorous to add an 'alternately switch screen lights on and off every .5 seconds' option.
some kind of simple file transfer device would be nice. i dunno, but i wonder if gba flash carts can hold .mp3, jpegs or anything but .gba and such. or the software that uploads it doesn't support it. never owned one.
and how about a screen light brightness adjuster? do those things have just one setting, or can they be set?
okay: one more: touch screen controls for gba games. if done right, it would make controlling some games so much simpler (like a joystick).

At 7:10 AM, Anonymous said...

have you ever used the crontrol stick wityh the gameboy player? it sucks. touch screen control emulating a joystick would not be fun - just more frustrating.

At 7:45 AM, Anonymous said...

could you have suport for a cf gba card and maybe a filebrowser?

At 3:17 PM, s00pcan said...

Oh, they actually are taking suggestions for firmware hacks, but I didn't mean that. I meant people are posting things that would be better off as standalone homebrew apps, when we should only be discussing things to do to the firmware.

As for my suggestions: autoskip the warning screen, 12 hour clock, hacks for gba buttons (unless that is in the bios or something), no shutdown every time you exit an app (like pictochat or the settings menu).. and of course, homebrew from the gba slot and download play!

At 4:24 PM, Anonymous said...

I want a Reuben sandwhich, hold the sourkraut, and a small order of onion rings.

At 5:12 PM, Leif902 said...

lol, Oh yah... I suppose it would be possible to add an mp3/uncompressed wave decoder directly into the firmware that would play mp3's off of a standard gba flash?... that would be very nice, also it should be internet upgradable... don't know if that's possible though

At 9:30 PM, Anonymous said...

Would it be possible to add full 802.11b support via firmware?

At 10:57 PM, Anonymous said...

Not sure if PictoChat would be included in this, but it DEFINITELY needs a mode where you can change the keyboard to fit to the entire screen, so the buttons are big enough to type with your fingers, instead of hunt'n'pecking with the stylus.

At 10:57 PM, Anonymous said...

Not sure if PictoChat would be included in this, but it DEFINITELY needs a mode where you can change the keyboard to fit to the entire screen, so the buttons are big enough to type with your fingers, instead of hunt'n'pecking with the stylus.

At 12:25 AM, Anonymous said...

JPG and DivX or Xvid support, texture filtering support.

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous said...

I don't kow if the Auto-power-down can be fixed. I think that the DS saves the settings that way. If you turn it off while it has the "System will now shut down" message displayed, notice that the settings are not saved.

I'd like to see GBA-Link-over-WiFi support and Pictochat updates similar to Yoshi Touch and Go.

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous said...

I'd like to see the promised feature where the DS makes a sound whenever someone with a DS is nearby.

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous said...

I would like to see my DS dance an irish jig.

At 2:45 AM, Anonymous said...


At 10:07 AM, Anonymous said...

Split that botom GBA option button in the munu into "GBA" and "PassMe"

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous said...

24 hours clock is perfect, don't touch!

At 6:55 AM, Anonymous said...

There are some realy funny guys here ... there is something they missed: Make the screen larger.

I'ld realy like to see anyone change hardware features by upgrading the firmware, that would be awsome ;)
God like. Incredible. And for those that don't knoa sacrasm when it hits them right in the mouth: IMPOSSIBLE!

And firmware support of TCP/IP would only make sense if there was also some firmeware tools to use it. If memory allows a Telnet/SSH client would make this a realy great hacking tool. Though, that would need some handwriting recognition, so that's just too much again.

The obvious things have been stated before, bust just to second that:

- direct execution from GBA Flash module
- removal of intro screen

And if you want to get fancy, a little full(touch)screen scrap pad would be nice ... just for fun ...


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