Updated 15 July 2005: Fixed link to Cromwell Manual
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General linux questions
What is this linux thing?
Linux is a complete operating system built on top of the Linux kernel. It is sometimes refered to as GNU/Linux since a large number utilities used in the operating system are provided by the GNU Project. It is free software meaning not only is it available at no cost, but you are free to make you own modifications and resdistribute them as long as you make the source code for your modifications available. Linux has been ported to work on a number of different architectures/machines including (most importantly to us) the Xbox.
Whats the deal with the various Linux distributions?
GNU/Linux isn't a single unified operating system but rather a number of independant software packages bundled together into a Linux distribution. There are a number of different Linux distributions, all with a different choice of packages and their own strengths and weaknesses.
Can I watch DVDs, play music, run emulators, run a web server, etc?
Yes, yes and yes! GNU/Linux is a complete operating system and whatever task your looking to acomplish it's likely that there'll be a linux application out there to help you.
I'm a linux newbie, where can I find out more about linux?
The Linux documentation project is a good place to start. They maintain a number of guides about both the Linux basics and various advanced topics.
Linux on the Xbox
Do I need to mod my Xbox to run Linux?
Yes. You must either use a softmod, use a modified BIOS on your Xbox Modchip, or flash your TSOP.
Do I need to format my Xbox to use Linux?
Not if you don't want to. You can install Linux so it's filesystem is contained within a single file on one of your Xbox's partitons. This won't interfere with any existing files and you will continue to be able to play games as before. There are even a number of 'Live' Distributions available which let you run Linux from a CD without copying anything to the Hard Disk.
Is Linux on the Xbox legal?
All of the work carried out on the Xbox-Linux project is done without the use of the Xbox SDK and for the sole purpose of writing interoperable software. Xbox Linux has been freely available over the internet for a number of years now with no legal challenge from MS or anyone else.
I don't need to run any Xbox games, I just want to install Linux to the entire Hard Disk. Can I do this?
Yes. You'll need to use Cromwell as your BIOS so you can boot straight into Linux.
Can I use a keyboard/mouse with Xbox-Linux?
Yes. You'll need a usb adapter.
Can I control Xbox-Linux with my Xbox Controller?
It is possible to control the mouse pointer in Linux with a Xbox controller. Most distributions also come with a Virtual Keyboard onscreen to allow for text entry. Therefore although a keyboard and mouse are recommended, they are not required.
Can I use my Xbox DVD Remote?
Yes. There are drivers available from www.xbox-linux.org which allow you to use the Xbox DVD Remote with any programs which support the LIRC interface.
Can I use <insert random USB device here>?
The general rule is that any USB device supported under Linux on a standard PC should be supported on the Xbox. This doesn't mean it will run out of the box, it may be necessary to add various programs/recompile the kernel to make use of your device.
Can I access my Xbox Hard Disk from inside Linux?
Yes. There is support for both the fatx filesytem and the Xbox partitoning system.
Can I read Xbox game discs from inside Linux?
No, there is no support for the XDVDFS filesystem in Linux. You can however read standard CDs/DVD.
The Xbox Linux bootloader
Do I need to reflash my BIOS?
Not if you don't want to. The standard Xbox Linux bootloader comes in both BIOS form (Cromwell) and Xbox executable form (Xromwell). Therefore if you already have the means to run unsigned .xbes you can run Linux using Xromwell without reflashing your BIOS.
Can I run Linux as an application?
Kind of. Xromwell (Xbox Linux bootloader) is a .xbe executable so you can run this like any other Xbox application and link to it from your dashboard. However once linux is loaded the Xbox kernel is replaced in memory by the linux kernel, so in order to get back to your dashboard you will need to reboot your Xbox.
Where to I findout more about Cromwell/Xromwell?
Check out the Cromwell Manual
Distribution specific questions
What is the password for...
The default passwords (in the form user/pass) are as follows:
How do I install Xebian to the hard disk?
Read the README!. You need to boot the cd, open a X Terminal and type su to become root. When it asks for a password enter xebian. Finally type in XBOXLinuxInstall. These commands are case sensitive.
How do I install programs in Xebian?
You can install new programs using the apt package management tool (this requires a working network connection). Open a X Terminal, become root with su and type in apt-get update to update the database of available packages. Then use apt-get install package_name to install a particular package. apt-get upgrade will update all the installed programs if new versions are available. For more info check out the APT HOWTO for Debian
How do I install programs in Gentoo/Gentoox?
Login as root then type: emerge package_name. For more info check out the Portage Introduction section of the Gentoo handbook.
How do I change the video settings in Gentoox?
Login as root and run xbvset.