99w 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 states 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?
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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Following up on his previous update, today PS Vita homebrew developer wololo has announced that the PS Vita Half Byte Loader (VHBL) will arrive shortly after March 1, 2012 with details below.
To quote: "This has been a tough week for lots of you, coming to my blog everyday to see that no new information was available about the release of VHBL. Trust me, it's been a much tougher week for me, making sure things go according to my humble plan, coping with a few more issues than expected, and overall, taking all the insults about "being a faker" or "trying to boost my ego" without being able to say anything else than "please trust me".
Ok, let's reveal a few essential things here, starting with the bad news: The game used by Teck4′s exploit is not available on the US vita store. Blame Sony and their "275 out of 900 PSP games available for your vita" scheme for this, not us. Part of the waiting time was to see if Sony would add this game to the US store at some point. It is obviously compatible since it is available in other continents, so my guess is that this is a marketing or a legal decision.
Long story short, people in the US who want to enjoy HBL on their vita, for now, will have to create a European (or HK, or JP,...) PSN account, buy a PSN card for that specific store (google for online shops that can sell you those and email you the code within a few minutes), and buy the game from there. A 20 euros card will cover for the price of the game as far as I know (Update: a 20 pounds card will be enough on the UK store).
This also means you'll have to "link" your vita to a European store every time you want to use HBL. Yes, it's super impractical, yes, it makes HBL even less likely to be interesting for you if you're in the US, but no, that clearly was not part of the plan. The game is, after all, available on the US PSN Store, just not for the vita.
I do not plan to wait even more until Sony adds the game to the US Vita store, since that could pretty well never happen, and is wasting everybody's time (people waiting for HBL in Asia have been waiting for this release for almost 3 months now, keep that in mind if you are one of the few who complained that you had to wait for a week). We waited a week for good measure, and saw that Sony is not adding PSP titles on a daily basis.
Waiting in hope for the game to be added to the US store is not the only reason that I "waited" for the release, but that's one of the reasons. Another reason is that there is a maintenance of the PSN, inconveniently scheduled on march 1st, that is, basically 2 days after I initially planned to publicly reveal the name of the game.
After discussing with a bunch of people, I've decided to wait until after the PSN maintenance to reveal the name of the game. Best case scenario, the game magically appears on the store and everybody's happy (I wouldn't dream about that), worst case scenario, the PSN update patches some of the vulnerabilities used for VHBL, and we're screwed. So we'll see...
I'm using the opportunity to remind everybody that HBL is only a PSP homebrew loader. The exploit and HBL do not give you any access to PSP isos, or vita isos, or the vita system, or anything like that. Even compatibility with PSP homebrews is limited, so basically you're better off getting a hacked PSP if playing homebrews is really what you want, and you're better off going elsewhere if piracy or pure vita hacking is what you're looking for. Basically, this hack is for those of us who want to be part of the "first step", however insignificant that step might be. Other people should not buy the game and then blame me for spending their money foolishly, the choice is entirely yours.
I'm just trying to cover my #ss here: don't go and buy a PSN PSP game for your vita if you're deeply expecting something useful out of this. You should buy the game first to play it, second, as a bonus, to get HBL to (maybe) work with it. Again, HBL has been confirmed to work by a few people already, but I cannot predict if Sony will do a magical trick to patch the game under our feet.
Unless something goes wrong, the name of the game will be publicly announced here on March 2nd, after the March 1st PSN maintenance (give me up to 24 hours, I'm not necessarily in the same timezone as you and I also have a real life). The files for VHBL itself will be available shortly after that."
Below is another update on how the PS Vita HBL release will happen from wololo via: wololo.net/wagic/2012/02/03/vita-hbl-how-the-release-will-happen/
To quote: As the release of the PS Vita in the US and the EU gets closer, I’m getting an increasing amount of requests from people about HBL on the vita. I did post a FAQ a few weeks ago, but people still seem to have questions. When will it be released? Will it allow to run PSP isos? Will it work with a demo like for the patapon 2 exploit? Does it support this or that homebrew? etc…
Let me try to answer some of these questions, with more up-to-date answers.
First of all, the easy ones: VHBL (that’s the super new cool name of HBL on the Vita, I’ll let you guess what the V means, I know, I’m super original) will not support loading PSP isos. Basically VHBL will have the same limitations and features as HBL on the PSP, and, last time I checked, running psp isos was not possible through HBL.
The same HBL limitations apply to compatible homebrews. In a general way, user mode homebrews should work for the most part, while homebrews that require kernel access will not work. For now (but that could change), homebrews requiring network access might not work (or at least, the network part of them will not work).
Like in the patapon exploit era, it is possible, depending on the success of VHBL, that we progressively increase compatibility if we (as a community) keep improving the HBL code in the weeks following the release. Oh, and I am talking about PSP homebrews, running in HBL within the PSP emulator. So, for now, don’t dream about a full speed N64 or psp2 emulator. What we’ll get are the PSP homebrews that you already know.
Second, the vulnerability we rely on to run VHBL is a vulnerability in a PSP full Game, not a Demo. This means you will have to buy that game on the PSN in order to run VHBL (just like in the good old days of GTA:LCS for the first eLoader on the PSP). This also means that as soon as we reveal the name of that game, Sony can probably remove it from the PSN and/or patch it.
This leads to the most asked question: when and how will this be released? Well, I have a basic idea on how the release will happen. Nothing spectacular but it should hopefully be enough to guarantee that people who are really motivated in getting their hands on HBL on their Vita will get it. I’m hoping that constantly reminding people that this doesn’t allow the to run any pirated content will attract the right people to this exploit, and not the 95% of pirates that define any console hacking scene these days
In the past weeks I’ve been polishing the release process, and I can’t predict the future, but hopefully it will go well.
Nevertheless, getting access to this exploit for you guys will be a matter of being at the right place, at the right time.
For now I’m thinking Sony’s reaction wil be to remove the game from the PSN within 24h of the public announcement. Worst case scenario, Sony is already aware of the vulnerability and have already patched the game. This is unfortunately not something I can test without getting any more guinea pigs... these guinea pigs will basically be you when the release happens, I can’t really do any better than that.
Obviously, the release will not happen like your typical hack release (a dramatic article on every news site of the planet copying the hacker’s initial blog post). It will be, I expect, a bit more subtle than that.
Anyways, I added a page (wololo.net/wagic/vhbl/) on this blog where the VHBL downloads will be available, so if you’re waiting for HBL on your Vita, just check that page (and our /talk forums - wololo.net/talk/) regularly for updates.
Meh, it's going to be a game of cat and mouse as usual. They're going to constantly tighten their draconian grip around the throats of their customers while more exploits to free the hardware keep getting released, an endless cycle like always.
As I said before I'm not even considering buying one until it's cracked wide open and until there are Micro SD to whatever-it's-proprietary-nonsense-is-called adapters. There will be for sure, just as there were 2 Micro SD to Pro Duo adapters.