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PS Vita Half Byte Loader (HBL) Development FAQ by Wololo


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138w ago - Today PS Vita hacker wololo has made available a Half Byte Loader (HBL) development FAQ for those interested in progress thus far on Sony's PlayStation Vita handheld console.

Also below he [Register or Login to view links] that he has ported HBL for Teck4's exploit successfully and updated to EU/US versions.

To quote: I managed to port HBL to the US version of Teck4′s exploit in exactly 45 minutes (including writing the savedata exploit and the binary loader), which is a new personal record, thanks to the scripts included in HBL's repository, and also to the fact that the different versions of the game are internally fairly similar (which is to be expected because technically the game is supposed to be the same, just translated, but I seem to recall it wasn't that easy for the Hotshots golf exploit)

I also updated the EU/US versions of this HBL port to get the tweaks I worked on for the past weeks in order to get a fair amount of homebrews to work.

The next step for me is to write a bit of documentation on how to use all this, and then patiently wait. As far as a release is concerned... well check the FAQ I wrote yesterday.

I could spend time polishing this port of HBL for the Vita, improve compatibility, and I might do it, but since there's a high risk this gets used by only a small amount of people before it gets patched, I'll probably leave it in its current state for now. It's probably not worth working too much on the details if nobody ends up using it. Of course if by some sort of miracle this doesn't get patched immediately by Sony, I'll update it accordingly.

Now let's all wait (I'm probably more excited than anybody else about this release, really...)

A FAQ for HBL on the Vita

We've seen through Teck4′s exploit that PSP exploits run flawlessly on the PSP emulator of the Vita. I've spent the past 3 weeks working on leveraging Teck4′s exploit and port HBL to it. I've been receiving lots of questions (probably from people who haven't used HBL back when it was the only possible way to play homebrews on the PSP Go) and will try to answer them here.

What is HBL?

HBL stands for "Half Byte Loader". This is a homebrew loader for the PSP, which was written initially by m0skit0, then improved and maintained by a bunch of devs including myself (those two links are good old memories, when HBL wasn't loading a single homebrew properly). It basically allows to run fanmade games, emulators, etc on the PSP. We've found that it can run on the PS Vita through the PSP emulator.

Will this allow to run PSP backups (isos)?

Although in theory that would be possible, HBL only has access to the PSP "user mode" which is fairly limited. Practically, all teams who have tried to create an iso loader in user mode on the PSP have failed so far.

Will this allow to run PS Vita game backups?

No

Does this give us access to the Vita hardware (touch screen, etc)?

No. HBL accesses the hardware through the PSP emulator, and therefore only has access to what is mapped to the PSP controls. It also only has access to 32MB of ram, etc

Does this give us possibilities to hack the vita further?

Most likely, not. HBL is stuck in user mode, in a sandboxed emulator. To get access to Vita information, we would need first to get kernel access in the emulator (through a psp kernel exploit), and then find other exploits in the emulator/OS itself to break away from the sandbox (which, if the Vita OS is as secure as I think it is, is close to impossible)

But will it give us more horsepower than the psp? Can we expect emulators to run faster, etc?

This still needs to be investigated deeper, but from what I've seen, not really. Memory stick access is definitely faster on the vita (Wagic loads between 5 and 10 times faster on the vita than on a psp go), but the rest seems to follow the psp limitations (as one would expect from an emulator)

Will this be made public?

Yes. Teck4 (who found the exploit) and I agreed to making this public at some point.

When will this be made public?

Some time after the Vita is released worldwide.

I heard Sony can patch this very easily as soon as it's made public?

Yes. Since this uses a vulnerability in a PSP game, as soon as they know which game it is, Sony can remove the game from the PS Store. Once they do that, they can patch the Vita firmware to reject the "malicious" files (either by preventing them from being copied through the content manager assistant, or by patching the PSP emulator, or by patching the PSP game, etc). At that point, people who don't already have the game on their console won't be able to use HBL. Also, people who do have HBL will need to never upgrade their firmware, will have to use some tools such as OpenCMA in order to copy files to the vita, and will be locked out of the PS Store as long as they want to use homebrews.

So shouldn't you keep this under wraps instead?

Meh, it's not like anything is really secret here besides the name of the game. It's already pretty sure this is not useful for hacking the vita further, so even if it gets patched I don't think we will lose "too much".

No iso, no access to the vita internals, and Sony will patch it as soon as it's out, so basically it's useless?

Yes and No. Technically, a hacked PSP is way cheaper and will allow you to do more than that. But this is, as I write these lines, the only way to run unsigned code on the Vita, which in itself makes it a great achievement (and it's always cool to show your friends that your Vita can run Mario, and theirs can't). Also, it didn't take too much time to adapt since most of the code was already available from our past work in the psp scene. It would have been even more useless to say "oh yeah, interesting, we can run psp exploits on the vita" and not do anything with it.

How do you copy/install homebrews to the ps vita, since it cannot be mounted as a regular usb drive?

This will be explained when HBL is released.




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Comments 189 Comments - Go to Forum Thread »

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PS3 News's Avatar
#4 - PS3 News - 141w ago
Here are also some PlayStation Vita internal pics for those interested via Japanese site pocketnews.cocolog-nifty.com/pkns/2011/12/ps-vita-pch-110.html

PS3 News's Avatar
#3 - PS3 News - 141w ago
Thanks, if/when found it will be useful to grab the PS Vita updates from similar to the PSP and PS3 updater links.

Below are a few PS Vita links from zecoxao and SKFU and some pics from psx-sense.nl/75005/japanse-playstation-store-vol-met-ps-vita-content-de-fotos/:

[Register or Login to view links]

[Register or Login to view links]

Edit: Here are the PS Vita updater links for those interested:

Retail (JP) [Register or Login to view links]
Retail (EU) [Register or Login to view links]
Retail (US) [Register or Login to view links]
Shop (JP) [Register or Login to view links]

CJPC's Avatar
#2 - CJPC - 141w ago
Currently working on checking where the updates are coming from - it seems like Sony is doing what it can to not expose the update link. Kind of odd, eh?

PS3 News's Avatar
#1 - PS3 News - 141w ago
Update: Sony has now released [Register or Login to view links], and although no official changelog is available according to [Register or Login to view links] the update fixes an issue with Dynasty Warriors Next that prevented players from progressing further.

With the Japanese release of PlayStation Vita slated for tomorrow, Sony has now released a PS Vita 1.50 Firmware update which allows for PSN feature access including the PlayStation Store alongside a Content Manager Assistant application for updating via PC.

Download: [Register or Login to view links] / [Register or Login to view links] / [Register or Login to view links]

Some PS Vita Disassembled Pictures revealing the internal components are also available, and [Register or Login to view links] also reports that the PlayStation Vita games ship without instruction manuals as it appears Sony is ditching a paper manual in favor of an in-game digital manual.

The package includes a single sheet of paper showing warning messages and details on a firmware update that's included on the card.

To quote from Sony's official PS Vita site: PlayStation Vita System Software Update - System software version 1.50 for PlayStation Vita Update

From 17 December 2011 and began updating the system software version 1.50. To become available and some features of the PlayStation Network features, updates the system software of PS Vita (Update) is required.

PS Vita also system software, by updating, adding and security can be enhanced many features. Please use the update to the latest version.

For more information on the latest system software features of the [Register or Login to view links] please visit.

Interestingly, the guide reveals that users can now take screenshots during gameplay, which are saved as an image to their PlayStation Vita Memory Stick.

How to Update

By one of the following methods, you can update the system software on PS Vita:

  • Update using a Wi-Fi - Wi-updates with the PS Vita-Fi. ([Register or Login to view links])
  • Connected to the PS3 update - Using the network function of PS3, the latest update file download over the Internet. ([Register or Login to view links])
  • Connected to the PC and update - Using computer networking capabilities, download the latest updates via the Internet. ([Register or Login to view links])
  • PS Vita card to update - If the PS Vita card data includes updates to update using the PS Vita card. ([Register or Login to view links])

After updating, the home screen of PS Vita Setting (Settings)> [start]> [System]> [System Information and tap. [System Software] If the data is displayed and updated version, and has been updated correctly.

And update the system software update to connect to PlayStation Vita PC

Connected to the PC and update

Using computer networking capabilities, download the latest updates via the Internet. To update your system, you must keep the following states in advance the target computer.

  • Keep connected to the Internet
  • Administrative Assistant to the content you download / install the administrative assistant for PlayStation content can be downloaded from the Web site: [Register or Login to view links]

1. PC, to determine whether to launch a content management assistant. You can check the computer's system tray.
2. Connect the USB cable to PC and PS Vita.
3. In the PS Vita, Setting (Settings)> [start]> [System Update]> [to be updated by connecting to a PC] to tap. Using computer networking capabilities, download the latest updates via the Internet. Please follow the instructions on the screen then.

Content Manager Assistant

Content Manager Assistant for PlayStation is a computer application that enables data transfer between a PS Vita system and a computer. By installing it on your computer, you can do things like copy content from your computer to your PS Vita system and back up data from your PS Vita system to your computer.

Download: [Register or Login to view links] / [Register or Login to view links] / [Register or Login to view links]

Main Features

  • Backing up saved data and application data (game data) - You can back up the saved data for games played on your PS Vita system, and the application data (game data) for games purchased from PlayStation Store to your computer.
  • Copying music, image, and video files - You can display lists of music, image, and video files stored on your computer and transfer them to your PS Vita system. You can also transfer music, image, and video files in the opposite direction.
  • Backing up system files - You can back up system files saved on the PS Vita memory card or in system memory to your computer.
  • Performing a system update of the PS Vita system - When a Wi-Fi access point is not available, you can perform a system update of the PS Vita system using a computer that can connect to the Internet.

For detailed operating instructions for each feature, and for information about other features, see the [Register or Login to view links] for the PS Vita system.

Installation and Uninstallation

Installation

Download the installation file (above) and save the file on your desktop or in a convenient folder. When the downloaded file is launched, the installation screen for Content Manager Assistant for PlayStation will appear. Follow the on-screen instructions to perform the installation.

  • During the installation process, dialog boxes might appear that direct you to download components (additional software) needed to operate Content Manager Assistant for PlayStation. If this happens, follow the on-screen instructions to download the components.
  • After the installation is complete, a message for creating the database for the PS Vita system will appear when Content Manager Assistant for PlayStation is launched for the first time.
  • After the installation is complete, if a dialog box like the one shown below appears, click [x] in the upper right of the dialog box to close it.

Uninstallation

From the Windows control panel, select “Add or Remove Programs” (if using Windows XP) or “Programs and Features” (if using Windows Vista or Windows 7), and remove the program shown below.

Content Manager Assistant for PlayStation

Operating Environment

PS Vita system

  • PS Vita system (system software version 1.00 or later)
  • USB cable

Computer running a Microsoft Windows operating system

One of the following operating systems:

  • Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3 or later (32-bit version only)
  • Windows Vista Service Pack 2 or later (32-bit or 64-bit version)
  • Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (32-bit or 64-bit version) or later
  • 1 GHz processor or greater
  • At least 150 MB of free space on the hard disk
  • At least 512 MB of RAM
  • Internet Explorer 7.0 or later
  • Windows Media Format Runtime 11 or later (for Windows XP) (included in the installation)
  • Windows Media Player 11 (for Windows Vista)
  • Media Feature Pack (for Windows 7 N and Windows 7 KN)
  • A USB 2.0-compatible port (used for connecting the PS Vita system)
  • An Internet connection

Operations on custom-built computers are not guaranteed.

How to Access the PS Vita Recovery Menu

The PlayStation Vita Recovery Menu offers users several tools to fix corrupt system files, upgrade your firmware, format memory stick and more. It is a powerful tool and several features should be used with caution as they can remove all your settings, as well as all of your saved information.

  • Turn OFF your PS Vita (Press Power Button for 10 seconds)
  • Now press and hold “R” + Power + PS (PlayStation Button)
  • Wait...
  • Now you’re in Recovery Menu (Mode)

PS Vita Recovery Menu Options

1. Restart System
This option boots your system as normal without changing any settings or files.

2. Rebuild Database
This can be a useful feature if you have lost files on your system for no apparent reason. Try using this feature to see if it can restore those files. This will also rewrite corrupted files within the database, potentially eliminating future issues. This feature should not erase any of your saved data or settings.

Deletes messages, playlists, changes made on “Information” screens, trimming information for pictures in “Photo”, video thumbnails, video playback history and video resume information. This operation may take a long time depending on the type and number of data items.

3. Format the memory card
This will format the memorycard, effectively erasing all data currently on it.

4. Restore PS Vita System
This will restore your system to original including, formatting and erasing all of the data on internal flash and returning all system settings to default. This will not take your system back to a previous Firmware release. Use this option as a last resort, unless you have nothing on the console that you want or you want to erase everything on the console, do not use this option.

5. System Update
This can useful if your system has become corrupted to the point you can not boot. This will allow the user to update their console with new firmware via PS3, PC or PS Vita memorycard.

PS Vita Hidden System Menu

This PlayStation Vita hidden system menu is present on both PS3 and PSP, and includes the product code, release build, and other internal version strings. To access it, do the following via EmuOnPSP.net:

  • Go to Settings > System > System Information
  • Press simultaneously R1 + L1 + DPad Left + Square for a few seconds
  • Release those buttons then immediately press the start button (and keep it held)



















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