Your right to hack the Xbox

Monday, 28 April 2003, 3:08 AM EST

We may someday call it the shot heard 'round the world. On February 17th, the Xbox Linux Project wrote an open letter to Microsoft discussing its desire to run somebody else's software on the company's gaming console.

Microsoft hasn't been too friendly toward those efforts. Last fall, it shut down a maker of "mod chips" -- circuitry that can be soldered onto the motherboard of the Xbox to make the machine run Linux. The letter politely demanded that Microsoft stop "restricting choice" -- and rid itself of the mod market to boot -- by publishing the code required to run unapproved programs without modifications to the Xbox.

Imagine the nerve. There goes your tea right over the side.

Video game enthusiasts have overnight placed themselves at the heart of what is rapidly becoming the second most important security question after the Patriot Act: namely, your right as a consumer to do what you see fit with a product you've paid for. And on Saturday, March 29th, a lone coder, Habibi_xbox, showed that it is possible, if not advisable, to stick a knife in the toaster.

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