Coldbird and VF, The Big Interview, Part 1
Unless you’ve been living under a Nintendo rock for the past 6 months, you already know these two hackers who have been relentlessly working on a Homebrew Enabler / Custom Firmware for the latest PSP models, including the PSP Go. Known as CFW Pro, this tool is progressively becoming the most used Custom Firmware solution on all PSPs.
Today I had the privilege to discuss with both Coldbird and Virtuous Flame and talk about their ongoing work. In this interview, we talked a bit about their history in the PSP scene, upcoming features in CFW Pro, and their insight on various technical subjects such as the hack of firmware 6.37, or permanent CFW possibilities on unhackable motherboards… sounds interesting? Well, the tasty bits are in the interview, follow me 🙂
Hi guys, thanks a lot for your time today, can you both quickly introduce yourself?
coldbird: Hm.. I’m 20 years old, as of writing this I’m in the 12th grade and studying IT-Sciences… something I really regret nowadays cause it really isn’t what I was expecting it to be when I first started it. With 8 years I got really obsessed with computers after a aquaintance gave me his old broken DOS computer which I patched up… and started hacking DOS-adventure games…
I’ve learned different assembly languages and am now moving onto the database programming / network security sector. Most of my time I spend coding on private things or coding for money / school projects. If I do find some spare time next to that I usually deal with reallife affairs like family problems or I just go take a walk to get some fresh air. As a IT specialist its kinda difficult to get some spare time you can actually spend without computers.
Virtuous Flame: I am a Chinese student. Months ago I came to the PSP scene by chance and got acquainted with Coldbird. It’s some kind of fate I think.
When did you guys get your first PSPs?
coldbird: I still remember when the NDS / PSP first launched and I couldn’t really enjoy playing NDS even though I got one as a present from my sister. I was fascinated with the PSP from the very start and saved a lot of cash myself to get my first 1000 unit. As I was hacking all kind of computers before that, I was of course interested in hacking the PSP too… and kinda got into the whole “how the heck do you get this down to 1.5 hackable fw“-affair.
Eventually I’ve found myself following people like Fanjita back then, up to the first Grand Theft Auto exploit based downgrader… after that I got a lot more involved, and several PSPs followed (different generation models) – which later on died a martyr death while working on my own developments.
So a long story short – I was there from the european launch onwards.
Wololo: Damn, I remember walking the streets of Akihabara like a zombie, looking for an unpatched copy of GTA 🙂
coldbird: Haha. Poor you, I bought one immediately when I heard of the first Fanjita Eloader.
Virtuous Flame: On 2007-10-4 I bought myself a PSP-2K, just shipped with 3.71-M33. That was the golden time of PSP CFW. Since then I became curious on how PSP OFW/CFW works.
So, you guys basically started right away with the goal of using CFW/Hen, etc… when exactly did you start getting “actively” involved in the scene? I mean, as devs ?
coldbird: Hm… as for me it was when the whole Fastloader ISO Loading occured, later on Devhook. I analyzed PRX modules from ISO dumps checking for incompatiblities with Fastloader and tried to resolve them somehow, for some games I succeeded, for some I failed. With Devhook rising, I was one of the first guys to start the whole “Plugin Hype” we see today. I created the first working cheat device for Devhook – one for Breath of Fire 3 in fact, later on one for Valkyria Profile – Parts of my codes and suggestions were then included in CWCheat by Weltall.
Virtuous Flame: I started my “career” by pointing out and temporarily fixing a bug in TN-A. [Note by wololo? you can still find this version in the “older releases” section of our TN Hen page]
Is there an event in the PSP scene that impressed/shocked you when you were a newbie? An impressive hack, for example? Hackers you like?
coldbird: Definitely. Snes9xTYL by YoyoFR. I’m a big SNES fan, and fullspeed SNES emulation on PSP, especially on advanced titles like Starfox or Chrono Trigger / Super Mario RPG were a big surprise for me.
Even today I find myself using that Homebrew a lot, to replay my old classics. 😀
Virtuous Flame: For me, it’s M33 CFW from Dark_Alex. I still remember, when NP9660 iso driver lauched I was wondering how an OFW module turned out to be a hacked ISO driver…
coldbird: Haha, yeah. I remember that… DA discovered the module and how to use it way before Sony launched PSN.
Virtuous Flame: …until I reversed galaxy and finally understood 🙂
Wololo: Ok, I have a few other questions about your background, but I’ll come to them later, I want to talk a bit about the present and the future 🙂
so let’s move on to your current work… why did you guys decide to start working on a Hen/CFW ?
coldbird: I can’t talk for my mate here but I did it because 5.XX CFWs were getting old. Not in the “oh its boring way” but “oh its a pain to work on it” way. Also, Sony keeps pumping out new hardware revisions of its console. Old OFW modules weren’t compatible with new models, so we required something that made the newer models exploitable…
The biggest plus for PRO cfw / hen is it’s hardware compatiblity: OFW is not compatible to the new 9g models, while 6.35 is, making ours the most compatible CFW. Also, for ISO playback… it started to become a big pain on older Firmwares due to driver problems (mostly ME-related). Also PSN dealt a lot of trouble, because sony coded a new psn downloader.
Basically – a new OFW moduleset was required, to keep compatiblity up for OFW components / newer models.
Virtuous Flame: Initially, we were just curious to know how the kxploit worked on 6.20.
As soon as we completed a HEN-like prototype, we felt it could be upgraded to (L)CFW, to meet everyone’s needs.
Was the 6.35 Hen your first work together, or did you guys already work together in the past?
coldbird: our first major work together was 6.31 HEN actually. We later – when Sony updated ofw – found out that 6.31 and 6.35 posed absolutely no difference, so we upgraded our code.
Wololo: Ah, true. You guys started on 6.31, and moved on to 6.35 later on
Virtuous Flame: Yes. We even have a 6.36HEN for those guys who upgraded their FW just for MHP3
The main purpose of this HEN is to downgrade
coldbird: Yeah… for downgrading purposes. 😀
Actually, some people keep asking me about 6.36… so your advice for them would be, run this Hen to downgrade to 6.35, right ?
coldbird: Yup. 6.35 + version.txt fake + 6.35 update file. I didn’t test it myself, as the 6.36 hen was a quick recode from my mate here, but this should work. At least it did for him. 😀
Virtuous Flame: Yes. Since 6.3x removed old decrypt support. It couldn’t go down to 5.xx kernel until Davee released his downgrader.
coldbird: Actually 6.20 was even blocked…But Davee added the missing decrypt keys. So up to 6.36 you can change between 6.20, 6.35 and 6.36 freely.
On 9g models however, you can only go down to 6.30, because of driver issues… So you see the downgrade to 6.20 is not possible on those units.
So, back to CFW Pro, many hackers work alone, why did you two decide to work together on this project?
Virtuous Flame: basically we were introduced by a common friend a while ago, and discovered we were working on similar projects. That friend got us to cooperate and we came to like each other and trust each other…
ok, give us a few hints, what’s coming in the next release of CFW PRO? (I’ve seen the blog post with a list of changes, can you give more details ?)
coldbird: Well… all the things mentioned in the changelog plus PSP Go Hibernation Fix for High Memory Applications. And… you wanna mention it VF? 😉
Virtuous Flame: Not to the public 🙂
coldbird: Well. Atleast get our mate Wololo ***. lol
[…] <– [I promised I wouldn’t reveal this bit… let’s say that it will be a very nice addition to CFW Pro :)]
So Let’s sum this up, CFW Pro B4 will have the following new features:
- New ISO Driver “Inferno” (boosting game compatiblity by a lot)
- Version.txt Display
- Improved Plugin Compatiblity (NID resolver changes + other fixes)
- Custom PSX Manual Compatiblity
- Parental Level Check for ISOs
- Anti NBGI Fixes (fixes a bunch of “broken” games)
- PSP Go Hibernation Fix for High Memory Applications
- A nice additional surprise…
That’s it for the first part of this interview. In the next parts we will discuss FW Pro-C and its online features, permanent CFW on new PSP models, and hacking the firmware 6.37, Stay tuned 🙂
Enjoyed the read so far? Head over to part 2 of the interview.