102w ago - Following up on his previous confirmation, today Sony PlayStation Vita hacker wololo has made available a video below demonstrating the Half Byte Loader (HBL) running the Picodrive Sega Megadrive emulator with Sonic & Knuckles on PS Vita.
To quote: Update: One important clarification: This video shows HBL running on the latest firmware 1.510. The firmware update that happened today does not patch the exploit, unlike what some sites are saying.
A few days ago Japanese developer Teck4 posted a picture of a “hello world” running on the PS Vita through the PSP emulator. I contacted him immediately with some help from Mamosuke, and I soon got enough information to start working on porting Half Byte Loader to this exploit (note that Teck4 is also working on exploiting this vulnerability further, but I don’t know how far he’s been).
What you see in the video below is the game “Sonic & Knuckles” running in picodrive, a Megadrive emulator for the PSP.
Yes, I’m running an emulator inside a hacked emulator on the Vita, that’s kind of cool. There’s lots to say about this ongoing work, but first let me state that, for once, this HBL port is entirely my work, except for the underlying PSP exploit which is initially from Teck4. I’ve been testing other people’s work for a while, so it was about time I got back to coding myself
Now that my ego is satisfied, let’s move on to the details of the video below. I have good news, bad news, and ugly news. But first check the video below, the first usable hack on the PS vita, 10 days after the console is released
1. THE GOOD
This is technically HBL rising from the deads, running on the PS Vita, and loading the picodrive emulator. Usually I would show you the entire loading process, but you’ll understand that some of the things I do (in particular the exploit used) need to be kept under wraps until the whole thing is made public (if it is ever made public, read more below).
I hope however that given my reputation on the PSP scene this won’t be categorized as a fake, please understand that I can’t show much this time. Picodrive is one of the easiest homebrews to run on HBL for some reason, that’s why I’m using it in my test. People who’ve used HBL a lot in its early days will recognize the sound glitch, this is some 22kHz sound being played at 44kHz, or the other way around, I can never remember.
That’s because the PSP emulator is using PSP’s firmware 6.60, for which HBL’s syscall estimation code seems to be a bit useless. (I am still pending some reply from Teck4 to see if it would make sense to “officially” involve more hackers on this port, and see if we can fix those syscalls problems. For now, as far as I know I’m the only one who made it that far on the Vita, and I feel kind of lonely on this new hacking scene ^^).
Another good piece of news for me is that before HBL could run Homebrews so “smoothly” on the PSP, it took us several months (I can’t remember exactly, 3 month maybe before we got it running “ok-ish” ?), while here it took me 3 days to get it to a usable state. Clearly, we didn’t lie when we said HBL would be portable to new game exploits
So, that’s the good, I’ve proven to myself that it is possible to run HBL and actual homebrews on the Vita. With little effort, HBL could probably be improved to some extent on that exploit, and run a few useful homebrews.
2. The bad
There are slightly bad news too. One is the syscall estimation algorithm being busted, as I explained above. I discussed a bit with JJS, and it is probable that if a function is not imported by the game itself, we might not be able to use it at all. I’ll have a closer look (if I decide to dig further on this) to see if this can be improved, but that could greatly limit the amount of homebrews that can be played on this.
Another issue is that the time currently needed to load/run homebrews for the “end user” is a bit too long to my taste. In its current state, for now I don’t think this is (or will be, even if improved) very useful for the end user. Basically, if I want to run PSP homebrews for now, it’s way easier and cheaper to do so on a PSP, even on an unhacked one, through HBL.
So, the overall uselessness of this makes me wonder if it should be kept secret in order for other hackers to do some research on it, or if it should really be released. I wouldn’t like people to point fingers at me if Sony patches some security flaws after this exploit goes public… I won’t take that decision alone (since I’m not the only one knowing the exploit), obviously, and there’s still time until the US/EU release, but I’m seriously considering the options here.
I have also yet to find a “good” way to install and run homebrews. I thought I had found a convenient way, but it didn’t work as expected. I’ll dig more on that, but it seems the PSP filesystem, as seen through the emulator on the vita, is a bit tricky and sneaky...
There is, however, far worse than the little concerns above. What concerns me to a great extent is that I realized today that Sony can potentially spy everything we do with the content manager. Today I was forced to update my PS Vita to the new firmware. The content manager refuses to run if its PC client is not connected to the internet, and it refuses to run if the console doesn’t have the latest firmware.
This means not only that Sony can force you to update your Vita firmware whenever they feel like it (something they never dared to do on the PSP or the PS3), but also that every time you copy a file from or to your Vita, some information is possibly sent to Sony’s servers. I half joked about me copying my adult movies to the Vita and Sony knowing about it, but it really concerns me that Sony is spying on the files I have on my hard drive just because I bought one of there gadgets.
I’m thinking here that the upcoming hacks for the PS Vita will involve lots of legal fights. It seems to me that unless Sony can prove they are not spying on their users, it is potentially illegal to require the tool to be connected while the content manager is running. Something as big as CarrierIQ could happen to them if their customers are willing to take it to court at some point (that’s an official call to network engineers would would like to analyze what’s going on when the content manager is connected to the Intern...).
Incidentally, this is also means that Sony could be already aware of the hack and the techniques we’ve been using to trigger it, assuming they take a close look at the interactions between users’ PC and the Vita.
Anyways, despite these massive concerns, I’m proud to announce that I got some homebrew to run on the Vita 10 days after its release… as said before by BlackFire, it’s like “posting a sticker on a fortress”. Not very useful, but a message to Sony that we’re around
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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.