GStreamer Conference 2011 videos

The videos of the presentations given at the GStreamer Conference from last month in Prague are finally available online! So if you missed the conference, you can still catch all the interesting talks on video. Thanks to the great work of Ubicast who used a GStreamer-based system for capturing the videos and slides, and it looks awesome!

I gave a presentation in which I introduced two libraries : GstFilters and FsUtils.

Both libraries are  convenience libraries that sit on top of Gstreamer and Farstream respectively, and they should make your lives much easier. I discussed them a bit before in a blog post, but now you can see the full talk with all the details and explanation.

Here’s a link to the conference talks : http://gstconf.ubicast.tv/channels/#conferences2011 

And a link to my presentation about GstFilters and FsUtils : http://gstconf.ubicast.tv/videos/gstreamer-and-farsight/ 

 

Eskiss for PS3 with PS Move support

Hi all,

I’m releasing Eskiss with Move support and I think the instructions on how  to use it require a bit more than what twitter allows (from my usual small updates).

You can download here the Eskiss package for PS3 3.55, and here the package for PS3 3.41.

The instructions are simple, you can still play with a normal mouse if you want, or use the controller to emulate the mouse, just like before. But, if you have a PS Eye camera plugged in, then it will also be ready to handle the Move.

If it detects a move controller, the ball on the controller will be white, at that point, you must press the Action button while pointing the controller to the camera (there’s no image feedback on the screen, so just point and press the action button). This will calibrate the controller and the ball will change color. At this point, moving the controller will also move the cursor on screen.

You can press the Action button at any time to recalibrate the controller (useful if the tracking stops working correctly, or camera falls off), and you can press the Start button at anytime to center the cursor on screen. Pressing the T button trigger will emulate a click.

You have the choice between two tracking modes, the first one (the one selected by default) is the 3D coordinate system, which means the cursor appears on screen with 1 to 1 precision (kind of) with where the controller is located in the room, so you have to move the whole controller to move the cursor (and even maybe stretch your arms to get to the corners), the second tracking mode is using the internal gyroscope of the controller, in other words, you can move the cursor just by pointing or rotating the controller without moving the whole controller in 3D space.

You can switch from one tracking mode to another at any time by pressing the Select button. Try them both and see which one you like best.

P.s:  When you press the Action button to calibrate, the ball will change colors a few times, you must not move the controller while it’s doing that, do not move until it becomes a solid, stable color. If the ball becomes white again, it means you moved and the calibration failed… in that case, try again.

P.p.s: In this release, I have also fixed the crash that you might have had in the previous version, so the game should be a lot more stable. While it still might crash, it is now very rare and shouldn’t break the gameplay like it did before.

And here’s a video demo of the game running with the Move controller, courtesy of fungos :

Enjoy,

KaKaRoTo

Network emulator tool for Linux

I have finally decided to blog about my netem tool that I wrote a couple of months ago.
First, the introductions, netem is a kernel component for controlling QoS, rate control and various network properties that allows you to emulate a network by modifying the kernel’s IP stack’s queue disciplines. You can read more about it here : http://www.linuxfoundation.org/collaborate/workgroups/networking/netem

The issue I had with the netem queue was that it was hard/complicated to use and required a fair bit of reading and understanding of how the Linux IP stack worked in order to even use it properly. I needed an easy to use tool in order to test multiple network properties quickly. I looked around for a tool that would help me with that and only found phpnetemgui which is a very old piece of code, not even compatible with the latest php versions and which requires you to run a server on localhost and give sudo access to the web server… I didn’t like that, so I wrote my own tool for easy netem configuration (thanks to the phpnetemgui code, it was helpful in providing some of the commands).

You can find my netem tool here : http://cgit.collabora.com/git/user/kakaroto/netem.git/

The README has all the information you need in order to use it, so make sure you read it, but let me summarize a bit how it works.
Netem uses a CSV file in which you can set multiple rules, each with its own set of properties (10% packet loss, 5% duplicated packets, 100ms delay with 25ms of jitter, limit bandwidth to 256Kbps, etc..). Each rule has a name and you can have multiple rules with the same name (limit bandwidth to 256Kbps for IP 1.2.3.4, and 512Kbps to IP 1.2.3.5). All these sub-rules with the same name will be considered as being a single rule. You can run netem on an interface, giving it the CSV filename and the name of the rule that you want to activate and it will output all the commands you need to execute in order to emulate the network as specified in the rules from the CSV file.

To actually run the network emulation, just pipe the output to ‘sh’, for example : ./netem eth0 my_rules.csv 256kbps | sudo sh

The reason I did this was to help my colleague Olivier Crete who was working on TFRC (Tcp-Friendly Rate Control) for RTP in Farsight. He needed to be able to emulate various network configurations, change the bandwidth limitations, introduce packet drop, etc.. and see how TFRC would react to make sure that the video/audio stream’s quality stays acceptable and the bitrate calculation adapts correctly to changing network conditions. I’ve also been recently working on HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) support in GStreamer and I’ve used the tool to make sure that the HLS stream correctly adapts to the network bandwidth and switches the bitrate/resolution correctly. This tool has been a great help in doing all these tests, so it’s time now to share it with whoever it might interest.

I’ll conclude with these example outputs for three different rules (taken from the provided test.csv in git) :

  • Limit inbound and outbound bandwidth to 1024Kbps (2 sub-rules)

kakaroto@kakaroto:~/coding/netem$ ./netem wlan0 test.csv 1024kbps
modprobe ifb
ip link set dev ifb0 up
tc qdisc del dev wlan0 ingress
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 ingress
tc filter add dev wlan0 parent ffff: protocol ip u32 match u32 0 0 flowid 1:1 action mirred egress redirect dev ifb0
tc qdisc del dev ifb0 root
tc qdisc add dev ifb0 root handle 1: prio bands 10
tc qdisc del dev wlan0 root
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 root handle 1: prio bands 10
tc qdisc add dev ifb0 parent 1:1 handle 10: htb default 1
tc class add dev ifb0 parent 10: classid 0:1 htb rate 1024kbit ceil 1024kbit burst 0 cburst 0
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 parent 1:1 handle 10: htb default 1
tc class add dev wlan0 parent 10: classid 0:1 htb rate 1024kbit ceil 1024kbit burst 0 cburst 0
tc filter add dev wlan0 protocol ip parent 1:0 prio 1 u32 match ip src 0.0.0.0/0 match ip dst 0.0.0.0/0 flowid 10:1
tc filter add dev ifb0 protocol ip parent 1:0 prio 1 u32 match ip src 0.0.0.0/0 match ip dst 0.0.0.0/0 flowid 10:1

  • A rule to add 100ms of delay with 25ms of jitter using a normal distribution with 25% of correlation

kakaroto@kakaroto:~/coding/netem$ ./netem wlan0 test.csv delay
tc qdisc del dev wlan0 root
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 root handle 1: prio bands 10
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 parent 1:1 handle 10: netem delay 100ms 25ms 25% distribution normal
tc filter add dev wlan0 protocol ip parent 1:0 prio 1 u32 match ip src 0.0.0.0/0 match ip dst 0.0.0.0/0 flowid 10:1

  • A rule that emulates various packet loss, delay, duplication, packet reordering, rate control, for both inbound and outbound connection with IP and port matching (3 sub-rules)

kakaroto@kakaroto:~/coding/netem$ ./netem wlan0 test.csv test1
modprobe ifb
ip link set dev ifb0 up
tc qdisc del dev wlan0 ingress
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 ingress
tc filter add dev wlan0 parent ffff: protocol ip u32 match u32 0 0 flowid 1:1 action mirred egress redirect dev ifb0
tc qdisc del dev ifb0 root
tc qdisc add dev ifb0 root handle 1: prio bands 10
tc qdisc del dev wlan0 root
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 root handle 1: prio bands 10
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 parent 1:1 handle 10: htb default 1
tc class add dev wlan0 parent 10: classid 0:1 htb rate 256kbit ceil 256kbit burst 0 cburst 0
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 parent 10:1 handle 11: netem loss 0.5% 25% duplicate 5% delay 100ms 50ms 25% distribution pareto reorder 1% limit 1000
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 parent 1:2 handle 20: netem loss 0.5% 50% limit 1000
tc qdisc add dev ifb0 parent 1:1 handle 10: netem loss 5% reorder 5% limit 1000
tc filter add dev wlan0 protocol ip parent 1:0 prio 1 u32 match ip dst 1.2.3.4/32 match ip dport 1234 0xffff flowid 10:1
tc filter add dev wlan0 protocol ip parent 1:0 prio 2 u32 match ip sport 4321 0xffff flowid 10:1
tc qdisc add dev wlan0 parent 1:3 handle 30: pfifo
tc filter add dev wlan0 protocol ip parent 1:0 prio 3 u32 match ip src 0.0.0.0/0 match ip dst 0.0.0.0/0 flowid 30:3
tc filter add dev ifb0 protocol ip parent 1:0 prio 1 u32 match ip src 1.2.3.4/32 match ip sport 1234 0xffff flowid 10:1
tc qdisc add dev ifb0 parent 1:2 handle 20: pfifo
tc filter add dev ifb0 protocol ip parent 1:0 prio 2 u32 match ip src 0.0.0.0/0 match ip dst 0.0.0.0/0 flowid 20:2

Programming, Open Source, Hacking and Greedy Corporations

I’m a programmer, a developer, a hacker. I’m mostly involved with the Open Source community and I try to promote open source development as much as I can. Unfortunately, most of the time when I tell someone that I’m a “developer”, they don’t understand the concept, and when I start talking about open source, they understand me even less.

The world is full of people with different backgrounds, with different references and we don’t always understand each other. As most of you who read my blog would probably know, I’m involved in the PS3 hacking scene, and I see a lot of misinformed people, and I read a lot of things that don’t make any sense to me. This is because most people don’t understand the world that we (developers/hackers) come from and things tend to be misinterpreted.

This message is for everybody, it’s intent is to open a window into our world so people can understand us better. I don’t have the audacity to explain everything about programming in this text, but I will try to formulate in terms easy to understand the general idea behind it. While most of this post will be generic and intended to anyone, there will be a paragraph that will address some of the recent issues surrounding the PS3 and Sony. This post will probably be very long and I’m sorry, I don’t think I have a shorter version for those who get bored easily.

1 – Programming

If you’re familiar with or understand programming, you may skip this section, as it might be a bit boring, otherwise, read on, it should explain what you need to know to understand the rest of this blog post.

What is a “program”? Let’s put it simply : “It’s a set of instructions that produce a result”. A program is what you run on your computer, phone, gaming console, or even your alarm clock. It tells the computer to do something, for example “if the user pressed the ‘up’ button, advance the minutes by one. If the time reaches this specific value, sound the alarm” (alarm clock programming) or “Draw a red circle. If the user clicks inside the circle, change the color to blue”. With many simple instructions, you end up with a complex program that can achieve a multitude of tasks, like for example Microsoft Office, or Skype. But the basic definition is that a program is “a set of instruction that produce a result”.

Now what is a “source code”? This mystical thing you keep hearing about is nothing more than “a set of instructions that produce a result”.. sounds familiar? Basically, a “source code” is the text that the programmer writes in order to tell the computer the instructions it wants the program to achieve. The source code is in itself, the program, but it’s in a readable and understandable format : a text file using a language that the programmer understands. The computer however doesn’t understand the source code, it only understand mathematics, numbers. A program’s instructions are written with “numbers” that the computer understands, for example 1 might mean “copy this” and 2 might mean “write that” and 3 might mean “show this”, etc.. (very simplistic view, but you get the idea). So the difference between a program that you run and a source code is that they are both the exact same thing, but the program you run is made up of numbers representing instructions to the computer (this is what we call the “Assembly” language or “machine code”) while the source code is the same instructions written in a more readable format, text, using a language that is easy to understand.. so instead of “1 4 185 353 532” (machine code) you would see “if the user clicks on the circle, change the color to blue” (source code).

What is a “programming language”? The source code can be written in different languages, just like spoken language, we have english, french, italian, russian, etc.. in the programming world, there are multiple different languages to define the instructions for the computer. These programming languages differ in the vocabulary (commands/functions) and in grammar (syntax). Explanation more than that is not relevant to the current topic so I’ll leave it at that.

How do you get an application (a program) from source code? It’s simple, there is a program called a “compiler” which reads this source code (the text), understands it, and rewrites it into machine code (the numbers). When you download an application, you only get these ‘numbers’ that the computer understands because that’s all you need to run your application.

2 – Open Source

So.. what is this “open source” everyone keeps talking about? Well now that you know the basics about programming, let me put it simply : a program (all those numbers) is open source, when the source code used to generate the program is publicly available.

And here is the juicy part of this blog post. Remember when I said that a program is “a set of instructions that produce a result”? Well, here’s an absolutely superb analogy: A program is like a recipe. What is a recipe? Well, isn’t it a set of instructions that you must follow in order to produce something? This analogy comes from Richard Stallman in the documentary The code (this one, not the 2011 movie) and I think it’s absolutely brilliant.

You can listen to it in his own words here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20ClL3mL8Gc

 

I’d like to remind people to not make the confusion, thinking that the source code is the recipe and the program is the final meal, you have to think of the programs themselves as being recipes, the ingredient is the electricity used and the result is whatever appears on your screen. The language of the recipe is what changes (from the various programming languages or to the ‘machine language’).

So now, with this analogy in mind (which I’ll keep referring to throughout this blog post), back to the question at hand. A closed source (or “proprietary”) program is like going to a restaurant where they serve this dish that you like, but when you ask the waiter/waitress what’s in it, they refuse to tell you the recipe for it. And open source is when you go to your friend’s house, you eat something that you like, and when you ask what’s in it, your friend tells you “oh, let me give you the recipe”.

Now imagine a world where no one could ever get a recipe for anything, you want to cook something, you have to relearn from scratch, experiment yourself with everything and see if the result is satisfactory, without having any references. Unfortunately, you’ll end up mixing two things together that you never should have done, and you’d be thinking how sad it is that every person in the world has to reinvent something that should be ‘common knowledge’. Thankfully, this isn’t the world we live in, and in the same way as you might enjoy cooking and exchanging recipes with your friends and family, we, programmers, enjoy sharing source code with each other, making our ‘recipes’ publicly available to everyone.

If you eat a delicious cheesecake at your friend’s house, and he/she gives you the recipe, then you try it, but then you realize it’s too sweet and you decide to decrease the amount of sugar, you have just “modified the code”, then you realize that adding a bit of lemon juice will make it better, and it does. You tell your friend about your changes, and he/she likes it and says “I’ve always wondered what it was missing”. You have just “contributed” to the program and now all your friends and family can enjoy this improved cheesecake (I love cheesecake by the way).

This is what Open Source is all about, it’s about sharing your recipes, anyone being able to improve on them and contribute his changes and slowly, thanks to the original recipe, new recipes will be born and people will enjoy more great products. It’s all thanks to this simple idea of sharing. This applies to the programming world in the same way, we write programs, we share the source code, others can improve them (add features, fix bugs, add translations, make a better/easier user interface, etc..) and everyone benefits from it.

My journey into this wonderful world started more than 10 years ago, I was using a program that I liked but I wanted something that it didn’t do. Thankfully, it was open source, so I added the feature that I wanted, gave my changes back to the project, the other users loved it which made the program more popular and some new users decided to do the same thing and improve the program, and in the end (I’ll say it again) everyone benefits from it.

3 – Hacking

What is “hacking”? Again, let’s put it simply: hacking basically means “working around a problem”. In a broader definition, it could also be viewed as “modifying something to make it do a task it wasn’t intended to do”. I have headphones and one of the wires got cut.. so I taped it and it worked.. in my definition, that counts as “hacking” because I worked around the problem. The term “hacking” has been publicized as being ‘evil’ or a bad thing, but people confuse it too much with what it really means. I hack everyday and you probably do without knowing it. Back to the food/recipe analogy. Did you ever go to someone’s home and were served a meal, then you took the salt from the table and added some to your plate? You have just “worked around a problem” (not salty enough) and you just modified something (the meal) from its intended purpose (the ‘view/taste’ of the one who cooked it). In my definition, you “hacked” the meal to make it fit more to your taste.

This is the reality of things, when you modify something that you own to make it more to your taste (everyone has different tastes after all), you are “hacking” it. When you decide that 200g of sugar is better than 250g of sugar in your cupcake recipe, you are “hacking” the recipe. But in the terms of the computer world, the term has been used widely to describe pretty much anything we do, but mostly things we do in a hurry. My friend programmed his computer to play a sound (an alarm) when his girlfriend connects on MSN so it wakes him up, but he would say “I hacked it” because he did it in 5 minutes and didn’t spend months setting up a whole infrastructure behind this “wake me up when my girlfriend is online” system. Nowadays, the simple fact of “programming” is called “hacking”, it’s nothing illegal, it’s nothing harmful, but most of the time we say “I’m hacking” rather than “I’m programming” simply because the act of programming is all about finding solutions and working around problems. You should read the definition of the term as explained in wikipedia.

The problem is that there are those who use their talent for criminal behavior and when it’s related to anything “computer-y”, people decide to call it “hacking”. It’s like saying that “cooking” is evil and anyone who “cooks” is a criminal because someone, somewhere put a drop of poison in someone else’s food. Isn’t that ridiculous? I very often see people saying “death to the hackers” or “those hackers are criminals and should rot in jail forever” without knowing what they are talking about. It’s funny how people get emotional and suddenly they become judge, jury and executioner. To all these people, let me tell you something : The next time that you add some salt to your meal, watch your back because the FBI just might lock you up for your crime!

Now here’s another thing that we, programmers and hackers, often do, it’s called “reverse engineering”, it’s basically about understanding how something works without being told by the original maker. Whenever you try to understand how something works, you are ‘reverse engineering’ it. In the recipes analogy, this would mean that when you taste something and you start wondering if there’s garlic in it, or say “is that cinnamon?”, you are basically reverse engineering the meal by trying to recreate the recipe (or part of it) by looking at the final product.

Yes, that is what reverse engineering is, you receive a finished product and you try to understand how it was made. This is equivalent to going to a restaurant and trying to make the same dish that they served without them giving you the recipe. If you ever did that, then you definitely know what a reverse engineer is.

 

4  – The Greedy Corporations

Now,  this is the interesting part, the ‘greedy corporations’. I’m saying it like this because I didn’t want to say “Sony” because they are clearly not the only ones playing this game. Why are they greedy? because they want to have total control over you and your freedom, thus allowing them to generate more profit. I’ll go back to the recipe analogy: What Sony/Microsoft/Apple/etc.. are doing is basically the equivalent of LG selling you a kitchen appliance and saying you can only use it with their products! Imagine buying a kitchen stove that only allowed you to cook using ‘LG and Tefal” pans… or imagine a pan or a pot that only allowed you to cook food from some specific brands. No, you can’t buy the cheap, equivalent (and sometimes better) “no name” brand or buy your fresh vegetables at the market.. no, those vegetables have to have been processed by those giant corporations that put some sort of label on it allowing the pan to cook them. This is my analogy, it may sound stupid, but I believe this is what it is.

Did you ever wonder what “DRM” (Digital Rights Management) is?  well to put it simply, it’s like having a microchip inside your Tefal pan, and it continuously detects what’s in it.. if you ever dare to put in the pan an ingredient (a tomato!) that wasn’t pre-selected and pre-accepted by Tefal, then the pan would automatically and instantly cool down and stop absording heat. Hell, it could even send a signal to the stove which will simply shut it down. That’s what DRM is.. and why is it there? Well, they would tell you that it’s “For your own good”, it’s because they want to deter people from stealing food from the supermarket or using products that aren’t “fresh” or up to their standards. But what it really does is that it prevents you from using your fresh vegetables that you proudly grew yourself in your backyard, so that you have to buy their product. Even worse, DRM means that you can only use ‘pre made’ cookie dough in your oven.. if you get a better cookie recipe from your friend and try to make those cookies yourself, the oven will not turn on. And for those “super awesome, elite, we are the nice guys” oven brands that tell you “wow, you can bake your own cookies! Here is the recipe!”, you have to read the fine print, the recipe says 250g of flour, and it’s unfortunate, but the oven will not turn on if you made the mistake of puttin 255g of flour in your dough. And I’m not even talking about the LG microwave that will only heat meals that were cooked on an LG appliance, or the fridge that will not cool anything without the “Kraft” label on it…

The irony is that when you buy your pan, you’re buying it for 100$, because do you think that these greedy corporations will pay the fee for the DRM? no, YOU are! The pan should cost 20$, but they are charging you 100$ because you have to pay for that microchip in your pan, you don’t want it, but you are paying for it.. you have no choice! And if someone comes along and creates a new, DRM-free pan and wants to sell it, they’ll label him a “pirate” (ouh, that’s a scary word) and pay millions in propaganda and in advertisement (that conveniently appear at the bottom of your pan and on the front glass of your oven) to tell you how this DRM-free oven/pan is ‘evil’, will eat your babies at night and will kill your dog. The funny thing is, the first time you hear it, you’re thinking “wtf?”, then after hearing it 1000 times a day, you believe in it as being the absolute truth. You will eventually get used to verifying the “compatibility list” of your new oven before you buy it.. make sure that you can borrow plates from your neighbor because they are “authorized/licensed accessories” to the oven. You will get used to checking the label on your vegetables when you go to the supermarket to make sure that they are compatible with your pan, and you will get used to not buying a specific brand because your fridge’s manufacturer never made a deal with that brand so you can’t put it in your fridge…

I know what you’re thinking : “what the hell?”. Yes, what I just said sounds absolutely absurd, it sounds crazy and it doesn’t make any sense. After all, who would accept that? Who would even think of doing some crazy things like that? Well here’s the thing, the reason I love this analogy between programming and recipes is simply because not only is it quite accurate, but it’s also something that everyone can relate to. I think pretty much everyone knows how to cook, if even just an omelette. And if you don’t, you probably saw or know someone who can. If not, then at least cooking isn’t a concept that is so “obscure” that you can’t comprehend it. If the kitchen appliances tried to force all those restrictions, or if people tried to outlaw exchanging recipes, then pretty much 99.99% of the population will say “this is bullshit, we refuse!”. But in the computer world, this is exactly what is happening, only nobody cares because nobody can understand it… all this “computer-y” stuff is not something that interests most people, so they don’t try to understand it and they don’t care about it, and for those who do, well, unfortunately, they prefer to program rather than go on trial against all the corporations.

Here’s a real life example, here is a ‘hack’ that I’ve done a couple of days ago :

This is indeed a ‘hack’, I used two tools that weren’t made to be used together in order to work around a problem that I had at that time. There’s nothing wrong with it! Both the whisk and the drill are mine, they are my property and I should be able to do what I want with them. However, if a similar situation was happening in the computer world, then I’d already be getting a lawsuit, because for some reason I don’t own the drill, I only paid to be “authorized to use it the way they allow it”. They would call me a “pirate” because I’m “killing the industry”, because by doing that hack, Black&Decker are losing money. They would be right, because since I did that hack, I didn’t have to spend another 100$ to buy an electric mixer. The funny thing is that I’d probably lose in court because there are no real laws to protect me as a consumer into using my tools any way I want, at least not in the programming world.

I read this last paragraph again and I’m thinking “I’m a lunatic” and I perfectly understand if you’re thinking the same thing. At least now we have something in common, we both think that the current situation in the programming world is completely crazy, and I’m glad you are able to see it.

5 – My angry rant

Yes, I’m angry! I am angry because I see the world evolving at an alarming rate but the laws (and people’s common sense) isn’t. I will dedicate this paragraph to rant about all the things that I recently saw and that got me angry. If you don’t want to see some angry dude raging, then skip it 🙂

First of all, there are many people who are associating us, the jailbreakers, the programmers, the hackers, with what recently happened to the PSN data leak. Because they couldn’t play their games online for a few weeks, they decide to throw their anger at us, put us all in the same boat, and label us criminals. Every time we speak, I see comments saying “ah, these criminals are now trying to justify their crime”. But.. what crime? What crime did we do that you should label us criminals? Don’t throw words like that without understanding their meaning! Or at least, use your common sense before thinking that anything deemed ‘illegal’ is a ‘crime’! Do you know that in France, a woman must wear a dress, and that, by law, she’s a criminal if she wears pants/jeans? It’s an old law when only men wore pants and a women who did was considered a ‘transvestite’… this is a stupid example, but I’m using it to show you that common sense should overcome stupid laws.
If you think we’re criminals for jailbreaking the PS3, then how is it a crime to want to use your backyard-grown tomatoes to cook your meals? If it’s because of the PSN hack, then here’s another analogy for you: when you go to a restaurant and someone orders food, eats it and runs without paying the bill, how would you feel if the restaurant’s owner puts all the blame on you, you, who were sitting all the way to the other side of the restaurant, who didn’t even see or notice the thief, but you had the audacity of adding a bit of ketchup to your burger. As you know.. you “modified the vision of the chef” and that is a huge criminal offense and you should rot in jail you filthy criminal. No need to answer me, but just think about it.. how would you feel? (and yes, I believe that this analogy is very representative of the situation).

Now here’s another thing that makes us criminals: reverse engineering. We are ‘criminals’ because we reverse engineer products? Back to the recipe analogy: the next time you taste a meal and say or even think “humm, I think they put garlic in it”, then consider yourself a criminal and you should rot in jail.

If one million PS3 users (I’m being generous) told Sony that they don’t agree with them, that would still only be 1% or 2% of their user base, so they keep doing what they’re doing because 1 million people is an “insignificant number”.  What happened last year when Sony removed OtherOS support from the PS3 is the equivalent of Frigidaire selling you a fridge then a couple of months later, tell you that “On the 1st of april, your freezer will stop working, we suggest you remove any food from the freezer and stop using it. You have a choice though, if you don’t want your freezer to automatically stop working, then empty the top 2 shelves of your fridge because those sections in the fridge will be at room temperature now. If you ever put something back into the top shelves of your fridge, then the freezer will be disabled permanently”… sure we have a choice, thank you for your generosity!!! The worst thing, the most heartbreaking thing is that going to Frigidaire’s website to complain about their unlawful practice, you find those thousands of people cheering and saying “who cares? it’s A FRIDGE, it’s not a freezer!! who uses the freezer anyway? just buy a dedicated freezer instead!” or “I wasn’t using the freezer, after all it does say “refrigirator” on the machine, so that freezer was a BONUS, be happy you got to use it for free all this time”, etc.. Let me ask you a question… if you accept that Sony removes OtherOS from your PS3, then you will have absolutely no problem in Frigidaire disabling your freezer right? even if you don’t use it, I might but who cares right? you’re not egotistical after all, if you don’t use it then no one in the world is? And again “DEATH TO THOSE DAMN HACKERS”.. how dare they put a cheesecake in the fridge when Frigidaire specifically said “no pastries”!! After all, they clearly wrote it in page 258 of their user manual!!!! After all, it’s Frigidaire’s fridge (no you didn’t buy it, you only ‘rented’ it for 2000$, it’s clearly written on page 531 of the manual!) and they have all the rights to it, they have all the rights to defend their interests… I mean, they never made any sort of deal with the bakeries!!! You know what this “deal” means? it means that the bakeries had to accept paying Frigidaire to allow their pastries in the freezer, so every time you buy something from them, you are paying 50% to the bakery and 50% to Frigidaire, and this allows you to put your cheesecake in the fridge and you’ve always been wondering why the prices doubled recently..

Anyways, you get the idea… but what pisses me off the most is how all these people think that their mission on earth is to defend Sony… like they say where I come from “is it your father’s company?”… seriously, why do you feel the need to go all over the internet, in every forum that you find and yell hate messages against ‘us’? why do you feel like you need to repeat Sony’s propaganda everywhere and why do you hope that we die and/or spend our life in jail? What do YOU gain from that? Why do you think that this multi-billion dollar company needs you to defend it? It’s like walking in the street at night and seeing a mob of 10+ huge guys beating an innocent child in an alley and you’re rooting for the mob… where is your common sense?

6 – Conclusion

I wrote this post because I wanted to make people understand our world a bit better. I know that some people might disagree with some of the things I said, but remember, this  is not meant to be an exhaustive explanation of how computers work but rather simply a glimpse into it, in terms that non-initiated people can, hopefully, understand.

I hope that I have achieved my goal: make a few people understand us and most importantly, make a few more people think about these issues. I know that I will continue to see misinformed posts everywhere, and nothing can change that, but to those who are willing to listen to others and accept differing views, then I’m glad I could help you with that (if I did). If you have questions or want to start a debate on something I said, feel free to comment.

And for your information, I am not saying that closed source is evil, I believe in freedom, and if you want to keep your code closed, then you are free to do so. I also do understand the need for closed source sometimes, in order to stay competitive for example, but I think that if everything was open source, then competition would become different. I simply believe that the world would be a better place if everything was always shared. Knowledge is for everyone, and I just can’t imagine where the world would be today if people shared all their ideas/code/recipes/etc.. with each other. It would certainly be a wonderful world. I find it truly pathetic to know that every company is recreating the same thing that others did before them.

Finally, I’d like to point people to the EFF, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It’s a group that protects us and defends our digital rights every day.  Right now, we are still under the mercy of the giant greedy corporations, but thanks to the EFF’s efforts, I hope that some day soon, we will be free to code the way we want, just like we are free to cook the way we want.

Thank you for reading!

KaKaRoTo

 

Update: After reading a few comments about this post, I thought I should clarify a few things.

First of all, this post isn’t about Sony or the PS3, which is why my title and fourth paragraph says “Greedy corporations”. While I do address the PS3 subject in my rant, it is only because it’s a subject that is dear to me and for which I have a lot to say. But what I outline is and should be considered generic and the main purpose remains to “open a window into our world” for those who are not computer savvy and who may not understand the issues at hand. I want people to understand that, from our point of view, the world is a crazy place, and you can draw parallels with many things, not just with the recent issues with Sony.

Also, like I’ve found myself saying a few times in the comments, there’s a saying that should govern us all : “One’s freedom stops where someone else’s freedom starts”. I believe that you are free to do whatever you want. As a consumer, you should be free to use your legally bought devices any way you wish (as long as you don’t infringe on other’s freedom, whether it is other’s freedom to gain money from their work or freedom of a fellow customer to enjoy their product (online cheating as an example)), but also, as a product manufacturer or a company, you are free to put the restrictions you want and you are entitled to use anything you feel is needed to protect your investment, but again, as long as it doesn’t infringe on other’s freedom.

I’ve had a few comments about DRM, but I never said that DRM is bad and this post isn’t at all about DRM. I have personally no issues with DRM as long as it’s reasonable but when you think that your own needs are more important than the needs of others, that’s where I see a problem. If I ever got an idea for something that could potentially make me rich, I would pursue it and I probably would try to protect my investment and intellectual property as much as I can, but there is a moral barrier that remains and I will never allow myself to be controlled by greed in such a way that I would sacrifice other’s freedom to further my goals.

In the same way, you are free to do whatever you want with your work, I have absolutely no problem with closed source applications, I simply prefer open source and I believe that the world would be a much better place and our civilization would be much more advanced if everything was open source.

One example of the above is the fact that advertisement exist as a sort of ‘payment’ for things you watch. When I watch a movie on public TV, I see ads and that’s what’s paying for the movies I’m watching “for free”, but then, why is it that when I buy a DVD, I am forced to watch ads before accessing its content? Didn’t I already pay for the DVD so why are you forcing me to watch ads? And even if you put ads in there, and it’s ok, then why can’t I skip them? If I watched the movie 10 times, do I still need to see the same ads? And why would I be forced to watch a trailer for a movie that I might have already bought (or which I already saw and hated)? Why is it that if a friend comes over and I want to show him a 30 second scene from a movie, do I need to wait 10 minutes until all your trailers finish just to show him that? This “you cannot skip the trailers in a DVD” is something unrelated to DRM but is still something caused by companies’ greed (get more money from each sale) which is infringing on my freedom of using the DVD I legally bought the way I want (in this case, watch it without having to suffer through all those trailers).

Finally, this post contains information, it contains knowledge, and my belief is that knowledge should be free and available to all. I am not trying to generate any page views (my poor server would hate me) and I don’t have any ads on my blog, so if anyone wants to publish this whole article somewhere else, where others could benefit from its content, then you are permitted and encouraged to do so. I’d be quite happy to see this published in its entirety on sites such as Arstechnica, Kotaku, Joystiq, the New York Times, or whatever other media that would reach more people than this humble blog.

Don’t forget, share, and everyone benefits from it 🙂

Thank you (and congratulations :p) for reading!

 

The Humble Homebrew Collection

Finally, after almost 2 months of hard work, I’m proud and happy to announce the release of the Homebrew game I’ve been working on : SGT Puzzles. It’s a collection of portable puzzle games for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, PocketPC, Android, etc.. and I’ve ported it to the PS3 too!

The release of this homebrew game comes with the  release of The Humble Homebrew Collection which is inspired by the Humble Indie Bundle Initiative (but not endorsed by it). The difference here is that you don’t have to pay anything in order to enjoy the games, they are free to download by anyone, but you are also able to donate any amount to the developer of the puzzle games (Simon Tatham) as well as the PS3 port developer (me!) and the EFF. You decide who to send the money to just like with the Humble Bundle. I’ve also linked to the game’s Windows, Mac and Android ports if you want them (they are already available in most Linux distributions).

The addition here and probably the most important part is a petition where yo get to sign and send a message to Sony asking for a legitimate way of having homebrew games on the PS3. Every signature will send an email to SCEE, SCEA, SCE Australia, SCE New Zealand and Kazuo Hirai, the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment.  This is done in the hopes that Sony will finally see the light, learn from the mistakes they’ve been doing these past few years, and finally give us a legitimate and officially supported way of developing homebrew applications for our PS3 Systems.

Sony would be stupid not to answer to that, considering that Apple complied, Microsoft complied and Google complied, and they are all generating huge revenues thanks to homebrewers, with zero investment from their part. I know that the Sony execs only understand when you talk about money, so I hope this is a good enough incentive for them. Clearly, they do not care about their customers, so I don’t think they’ll change anything only to do what is right.

The SGT Puzzles game includes 33 puzzles, which are excellent for the most part. My favorite is and always will be Pattern, as I’ve spent countless hours playing it. I’ve recently also discovered Rectangles and Net which are also very good (in higher difficulties). I suggest you give those puzzles a try. Above all, I hope everyone can enjoy these games.

This all started about 2 months ago when I found a copy of Pattern on my PC and started playing it again. I tweeted about it and asked if someone wanted to port it to the PS3. Clement Bouvet (@TeToNN) quickly made a proof of concept using cairo. That got me excited and I decided to help him. We ended up writing a PS3 application over Simon Tatham’s Portable Puzzle Collection which, I must say, is very well written and made porting it to the PS3 very easy. It took maybe a day or two and the first game was playable on the PS3. At that point, I discovered the Cairo Drawing API which I loved and and I decided to invest myself entirely in this. It took 3 more weeks of hard work to get the whole system working (choose your puzzle game, change difficulty (Select) and writing the whole menu system for the game). I’ve received various help, Surenix made the designs for the menu graphics and buttons, and BeGamer helped design the HHC website.

The game still lacks a few things, and I will continue to work on it and improve it so everyone can enjoy a quality homebrew game, that, I hope, will make the anti-homebrew purists jealous.

The funny thing is that since day one, the source code for this game was available on my github account, but no one noticed it. Only a few people who accidently ended up on my github page found it, but no news website author found it or reported on it. I’m glad, because it allowed me to make this happen the way I wanted it to and launch this HHC initiative when it became ready. I’d like to ask the various websites out there not to link directly to the games (even if you are allowed to) and instead link to humblehomebrew.com so people can sign the petition while downloading.

Most of the code is licensed under the MIT license. Parts of the code (the cairo menu system) is licensed under the LGPL license and I plan on extracting that into its own library for other developers to use in their applications.

The website took about 3 weeks to code. I learned two valuable lessons.. first, HTML coding is crap… secondly, it’s much more complicated than it looks. I hope people will appreciate this effort and I hope the Humble Homebrew Collection will make a difference.

In the future, I hope to enhance it by adding new homebrew games whenever I find something of quality, and keep the website and this whole initiative going for a long time, for as long as necessary.

 

So.. go ahead, download the games, sign the petition, maybe donate if you’re feeling generous, and most importantly, have fun!

Thank you!

 

A bit of politics…

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are my own. If you wish to comment, you are free to do so, but please make sure you read the whole post before commenting.

I will not tolerate a single comment that contains any kind of insult, racism or hate against any religion or ethnicity.

 

If you’ve been following me on twitter, then you probably noticed a bit of political “debate” happening lately over there. If not, let me summarize it :

I retweeted a tweet by @LowKeyMusic1 where he says that “burrying” the body at sea does not constitute “respectful of muslim traditions” while talking about the recent death of Osama Bin Laden (OBL), I received some answers from people angry at me for retweeting that, and some people saying that OBL does not deserve respect, to which I replied that any human being deserves respect regardless of what they’ve done, and even if that person had lost all of its humanity (isn’t it true anyways that there are “animal rights” associations and you’re supposed to respect even animals?). Saying something like that was enough to warrant me being branded a terrorist or “supporting and defending terrorism” and people even saying that if Bush or Obama would have been killed, I wouldn’t have said anything about respect, and that I would have been happy. It even went as far as people deducing from what I said that I was “happy that people died on 9/11”.

What also happens was that, in answer to that, @PSXScene told me that OBL didn’t deserve any respect for what he did, to which I answered that nobody knows what he did, he was trained by the CIA and he may have been hired by the CIA for all we know, so we shouldn’t be so quick to judge people without knowing the absolute full truth. That gave me a response from @PSXScene, and I quote “Nice tin-foiled turban you’re wearing”. That remark got me pretty  upset because it was a clearly racist and offensive comment that crossed the line. Other reason was that I didn’t understand the “tin foiled” comment as I didn’t know what the “tin foiled hat” expression meant. I later realized the meaning of it and it did calm me down a little to be honest, but the turban comment was still an offensive, racist and over the line comment that many other people also felt was racist (although they were american and fully understood the meaning of it). When I got into the argument about this racist comment, other people started sending me even more racist comments, like “I pee on the quran and spit on mohamed” or “All you dirty arabs should die”, and other stuff like that.

I have since continued tweeting my opinion and I’ve seen many people agreeing with me, as well as a few others who disagreed. Some of those decided to simply unfollow me (no harm done), others decided to go on an insult rampage (blocked, bye bye) while a few decided to reply and start an intelligent exchange of ideas which usually ended up with either “I understand what you meant now, sorry for being pissed earlier, I agree with you now” (from them), or “sorry, that’s not how I intended to say it, and I’m sorry if I offended you” (from me), or “I disagree with you, but I understand your position and respect it” (from either).

This whole mess is why I decided to write this blog post, because I want to make sure people understand what I’m saying, and also to point out some of my political views so others can think about them too.

First things first, I believe in free speech, and I believe that everyone is entitled to their thoughts and no one should be  silenced for whatever reason. The backlash I got, people insulting me, people threatening me, and people telling me to “stop posting garbage” is in my opinion a way to prevent me from having an opinion. It is not a government going after me to prevent me from speaking, it is a community of people trying to pressure me into shutting up (through insults or through accusations of supporting terrorism, etc..). As you probably know, I will not be silenced, if Sony couldn’t get me to hide behind a rock, then I don’t believe that some twitter ‘friends’ would be enough to make me shut up. On the contrary, I will continue to post or retweet anything that I personally feel is an intelligent comment, worthy of everyone’s attention, regardless on whether or not it’s “pro-american policies”. If you disagree, feel free to discuss it with me, as long as you stay respectful, it will be my pleasure to debate anything with you. If you disagree, you are also free to unfollow me, or to simply ignore me.

 

Now onto the issues at hand. First, about Osama’s death, I couldn’t care less. I do deplore any loss of life, and I did want to see him being brought to justice rather than executed (assuming it was an execution). I was asked by someone how they should have handled his burial,  and my answer still stands : “I don’t care, dump him in the sea, freeze him in a morgue, whatever. The only issue I have here is that Obama said “respectful of Islamic traditions” which is bullshit”. So, yeah, I’m not pro-ben laden, I’m not sad that he got killed or whatever, my original retweet wasn’t about OBL himself, it was rather about Obama’s statement about “respecting Islamic traditions” and I wanted to point out that that statement was not entirely true.

There was also the issue about the celebration of OBL’s death, and my opinion does not change, and I’m far from being the only one to believe that : People should NOT be celebrating someone’s death, no matter who it is. It’s a simple matter of being human or not. As a human being, I don’t think that we should celebrate, yell and chant because some guy, even our enemy, got killed. Now everyone who says that yes they should celebrate and that if I don’t go out and celebrate with them, then I’m “supporting terrorism” are just trying to use fear to assert their opinion. There was this quote that was largely retweeted on twitter which said “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.” which sums up exactly the message that I was trying to get across. The quote was originally attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. but was later revealed to be a misquote (and the original author is actually Jessica Dovey) and I even saw people turn down that argument because it’s a “fake quote”.. but, regardless of who said it, does it make it any less truthful ?

I understand people feeling relief, and being glad that OBL is dead, I can even understand people being happy that he’s dead, it makes sense somehow. But what I’m criticizing here is that people are *celebrating* as if their soccer team just won the world cup. And if you say that people were celebrating because they “won the war against terrorism”, that’s bullshit because people were celebrating the death of Bin Laden, as simple as that, and everybody knows that the death of OBL was nothing more than revenge (not even justice since he didn’t get to face a jury) and that although OBL was the figure representing Al Quaeda, his death will be practically (possibly not entirely) meaningless in the running of their operations (it might even anger them and make them want to get their own revenge). Even Obama did say it in his speech, the war on terrorism is not finished and Al Quaeda is still running without OBL, so really, that wasn’t a “victory on the war against terrorism”.

That makes me think about something else I said which seems to have rubbed people the wrong way, I quoted something from Naruto (a Japanese anime that I like watching) where he said that the only way to end the circle of hate is for people to learn forgiveness, that revenge only generates revenge and it becomes an endless cycle of war… (I just checked the exact text I tweeted and it was “The circle of hate must end, vengeance must stop, or there will always be war…”). I’ve received various hate responses of people thinking that what I meant by that was that OBL shouldn’t have been killed. I honestly was not thinking about OBL, it did not cross my mind, and whether or not he should have been killed is not for me to decide, like I said, I do not care about him, all I care about is that humans shouldn’t die by the hand of other humans. I simply remembered that sentence and decided to tweet it because when I heard it (a few months ago), I thought it made sense and something reminded me of it. It is also true, in the sense that the US government did ‘something’ to piss off these terrorists, they got their revenge by the 9/11 attack, to which the US took revenge by invading Afghanistan and Iraq, killing thousands of people over there, who will leave behind families that will be fueled by revenge, thus possibly joining terrorist groups, now they killed OBL for revenge, and some Al Quaeda group might want to take revenge for this, etc.. So I’m not saying that you should forgive and move on with your life, I’m just saying that as long as there is revenge, there will be war, it’s an endless cycle, and I do not believe that the human nature will allow that cycle to be broken.

About the “tin foiled” comment and the “conspiracy theory” stuff, I never said I believed in that stuff, but what I did say is that I don’t believe in what the media says. I do however believe in some of the conspiracy theories, some others I think they are far fetched, and some I don’t know if I should believe in them.  My main point is to tell you : Stop being blinded by what the media tells you, they can and they will lie, think for yourselves for once. And it’s true, the government lies on many things, if not the government then the media will lie simply because the more sensational it is, the more they get to sell! Just like when George Hotz went to South America for vacation and came back to see all the news talking about how he fled the country, etc.. and so many people believed that, simply because they didn’t take 5 seconds to think “does that even make sense???”. The same applies with the mainstream US (and international) media, so if someone tells me “they said on CNN that..”, that’s enough for me to question what he’s about to say. If you don’t believe me then think about the Iraq war. It was proven that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that the government knew it and lied to the US citizens and defied the UN and invaded Iraq anyways. Go read the book “Fair game”, or better yet (for most of you, me included) watch the movie of the same title “Fair game”. I watched that movie recently, and at the end, I was shocked to see that it was all a true story, then I started searching about Valerie Palme Wilson and her story. What shocked me is not the fact that the US Government lied publicly, knowing that it was lying to its citizens only in order to justify a war that never should have happened, or that it then tried to crush and destroy its own citizens, trying to censor them and deny them their right to exercise free speech. What shocked me is that this story was known, shown on TV with a public hearing and the American people should know all about it, and yet, I had never heard of it until I saw the movie. It’s clear that when you see the same things over and over again on TV, you end up believing them, you end up forgetting all the other things that the media doesn’t want to show you more than once (just enough to say that they are fair since they ‘reported’ on the news). Same goes about how some colonel or something lied about the event where the US Army killed journalists in Iraq and until wikileaks showed the video of what really happened, nobody could have proven that the military lied about the events that took place that day. And another rather sad example of the media lying, do you remember right after 9/11 when all medias and newspapers were showing a video/pictures of Palestinians “celebrating the tragedy”? Until it was later revealed that the footage was dated from 1995 during a national holiday? This is a clear example of why you shouldn’t always trust what you see on TV, and that was my point.

And while we’re at it, you probably all heard the news of how Bin Laden was killed in a firefight, then later that he was unarmed but struggling, then later that he was shot after he was in their custody… that’s simple proof that everything you hear on TV isn’t necessarily 100% true. Whether he was killed in a firefight, or when struggling, or was simply executed, it doesn’t matter, we’ll probably never really know what happened in there, what I want people to understand is just that : Don’t state something as a fact if you don’t really know what happened.

One important thing to note.. when I say “Don’t trust the media”, it applies to all medias, not just american ones.

 

The last subject I want to talk about, considering this post is already quite huge, is about the whole “you are anti-american”. Because I’m stating my opinion which happens not to be “Death to all those dirty arabs”, I’m suddenly anti-american? People automatically say that I’m defending terrorism and that I was probably happy that people died on the 9/11 attacks. Seriously? What do you guys don’t understand about “all life is sacred”? Where did I ever say “all non-american life is sacred” ? Human beings should not die by the hand of other human beings, it’s as simple as that. And you know what, I can see all over the internet tons of americans saying the exact same thing as me, are they anti-american too? I simply hate this idea of “you’re either with us or with them”. if I don’t end my sentence with “God Bless America”, it almost looks like I’m anti-american, or that I don’t care about those who died on that fateful day. You keep saying “God Bless America” while I say “God Bless the World” and yes, America IS included in the World. Like I said to @xPreatorianx on twitter : “There are way too many innocents who died, I deplore the loss of life, whether it’s an iraqi child bombed and killed for no reason or whether it’s a US soldier sent there to die while doing the deeds of the rich bastards profiting from the war”.

This whole thing seems to make people see things black or white, where in reality, life is full of shades of gray. When I express my opinion, and if people disagree with it, I get labeled a terrorist for some reason.

I would suggest people listen to what Glenn Greenwald thinks about the subject. He is an american, and yet, everything he says seems to be exactly what I’ve been saying too. The difference between me and him is that he probably knows how to communicate his ideas a bit better than me. You can view an interview with him on the subject at the following URL : http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/35971

 

I believe that’s enough politics for today. I’m not gonna go too deep in that territory for this post as I just wanted to clarify some of the things that people might have misunderstood and make my opinion clear. Also, above all, I wanted to make people open their eyes and think about what’s happening around them instead of following blindly. I hope I achieved (at least partially) this goal.

 

KaKaRoTo

PS3IDA Released!

It’s been a while since my last post! A lot has been happening lately, I’ve mostly kept my followers updated on what’s new through my Twitter account, but I think that this deserves a post of its own!

I’ve  been reversing some PPC code in IDA and unfortunately, it doesn’t handle the PS3 files very well, so I wrote a lot of scripts in order to make  it parse the files properly! There was one thing missing though that I couldn’t do with an .idc script : handling of jump tables.

Yesterday, I took on the task of writing an IDA plugin in order to parse the ppc code and find jump tables and define them in IDA’s kernel so the analysis is done properly! It was a very fun and exciting challenge that I enjoyed doing, and I’m happy to say that I succeeded and it works very well (on the files I tried anyways).

The IDA API is extensive and easy to use, and allows you to do pretty much anything! I also found the IDA Pro Book to be extremely well written and very useful! I would suggest to anyone who likes tinkering to try and write an IDA plugin, because it was a challenging but fun experience!

I initially wrote the plugin thinking that the jump table instruction patterns was always the same, but when I started testing, I found out that some instructions could have a different order, there might be inserted instructions in the middle of the pattern, or different registers being used, etc.. so I eventually had to rewrite my plugin and ended up using a class that comes from IDA’s SDK which takes care of “instruction rescheduling” and “intermingling of the jump sequence with other instructions”, at least I learned from my first try and it made my second try a lot easier. I also realized that I haven’t done any C++ in maybe 5 or 6 years, and I really forgot all about how to write C++ code. It was a bit embarassing to google “how to derive from a class in C++”, lol!

Anyways, I am now releasing my scripts and my PPCJT plugin for IDA under a new project : PS3IDA.

I’ve created the ps3ida repository on git-hacks.com (Thanks again to @dashhacks for providing us with this safe haven for all our legal tools). The repository contains many files, I suggest you read the README file for a description of each, but the most important ones are analyze_self.idc and analyze_sprx.idc. I’ve also ported my lv2_dump_analyzer.idc script to work with IDA 6.0.

There are two plugins in ps3ida, the first one is the well known PPCAltivec released by xorloser, I’ve decided to add it to the project so the source code stays available for anyone who needs it. I also slightly modified the source code so it compiles correctly on Linux using gcc 4.x. The second plugin is PPCJT that I wrote yesterday, it will find jump tables and define them in IDA’s kernel so the functions get properly analyzed. Just install it, and when you see a switch/case in the code, put the cursor on the ‘bctr’ instruction and press ‘C’ so it can parse the jump sequence and fix it, or just go to  “Options->General->Analysis->Reanalyze program” and it will fix them for all the file.

I have built the PPCJT plugin for Windows and Linux for IDA v6.0, you can download it here.

My personal suggestion, since IDA could screw up the analysis in its initial run, would be to completely undefine the file (Ctrl-PageUp + Alt-L + Ctrl-PageDown + U), then run the analyze_self.idc or analyze_sprx.idc.. it will take some time, but then you’ll get a beautiful file loaded 🙂 Especially with the correctly named imports, this should help a lot any reverse engineer out there!

 

p.s: If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then this is not for you, this does not lead to any ‘CFW’ or jailbreaking of 3.60 or whatever else you might hope for… so don’t come here and post stupid and/or irrelevant questions of that kind… please do not comment if you’re not a user of IDA or if you don’t know what IDA is or if you don’t have anything constructive to say.

 

PPCJT v0.1 for IDA v6.0.

Enjoy!

KaKaRoTo

Libnice 0.1.0 released!

Yesterday, I released a new version of Libnice, This is a new major version that has a small API/ABI break from previous versions.

Here are the main changes :

  • Added nice_candidate_copy to the public API
  • Make stun_timer timeouts configurable (Breaks API and ABI)
  • Add compatibility support for MSOC 2007 and MSOC 2007 R2
  • Add MS-TURN support for MSOC
  • Added and completed TURN RFC 5766 support
  • Add a nice_agent_set_port_range API to force a component to use a specific port range
  • Fix various bugs and memory leaks
  • Improved documentation

The API and ABI break is with the StunTimer usage, so if you use it, you’ll need to do a small change to your code. Because the library version changed, you’ll also need to recompile your applications that link with libnice.

The biggest change in this version is the full support for the recently published RFC 5766 TURN standard (UDP and TCP) as well as the addition of MS Office Communicator compatibility. The API/ABI break introduced in the StunTimer usage is to allow specifying the timeout of STUN retransmissions. The timeout for the STUN and TURN discovery during the candidate gathering phase has also been lowered to 3 seconds now instead of the 9 second timeout that we had before, which should make for a quicker candidate gathering phase and a more responsive UI.

Another interesting change is the addition of the nice_agent_set_port_range API that allows you to specify a range of ports that you want a component to listen to for host candidates. This should help those who use port forwarding with symmetric NATs.

The stun_usage_timer configurable timeout as well as the nice_agent_set_port_range addition were suggested by Tom Kaminski.
The MSOC support was added by Jakub Adam.
The RFC 5766 TURN support was added by Marcus Lundblad and myself.
Other small fixes that were reported on the libnice mailing list were also fixed and included in this version.
Thanks to everyone who contributed in this release and thanks to Collabora and Nokia for sponsoring that work!

A new version of Farsight2 has also been released today (0.0.23) which should work with the new API of this Libnice release.

You can download this new version of Libnice from the usual place.

Enjoy!

Youness.

PS3: First ‘Custom Firmware’ now working!

Update: I’ve now fixed the issue about the missing game data icons. PS3-Hacks.com has a nice step-by-step tutorials and they posted the PUP files.

Update 2: DO NOT try to install this from the service mode, it might brick your console, install it normally from the normal menu or the recovery menu.

Great news!

Thanks to the tools made by the fail0verflow team (and thanks to sven in particular for his work on the pkg/unpkg tools), the first “Custom Firmware” is now available for the PS3!

I see a lot of questions coming up really fast on my Twitter account, so here are the basic things you need to know :

Because of legal/copyright issues, I will not provide the custom firmware to anyone, however, I’ve made available all the tools necessary to transform an Official firmware update, into a custom one, just grab my ps3utils repository from github, compile, then run :

./create_cfw.sh PS3UPDATE.PUP CFW.PUP

This will take the official firmware, unpack it, modify it, then repack it correctly (requires you to install ps3tools).

This should work on Linux and Mac for now, but I’m sure others will do it for the masses and illegally release those files somewhere.

The advantage here is that you can do it for any firmware, if you want to keep version 3.41, then give it the 3.41 update, if you are on 3.55 already and can’t downgrade, then run the script on the official 3.55 firmware and it will create a modified 3.55 firmware.

You can put the file in a USB drive under the filename “PS3/UPDATE/PS3UPDAT.PUP” and then go to system update in the XMB, and it will allow you to install the update (even if you’re already on 3.55).

People are asking what are the features of this firmware, it’s simple, all it does is to add those “Install Package Files” options to the Game section of the XMB. It doesn’t do anything else!

This firmware will not allow you to run the currently available homebrew application. Once the homebrew developers re-package their files in a ‘retail’ .pkg format with signed executable, then it will work (this should be coming soon thanks to the work of the fail0verflow team).

Since the kernel is left unmodified, this means that this custom firmware is really meant for future homebrew installation, and it will not allow piracy. I plan on keeping it that way.

This is just the first attempt at custom firmware, and it only contains a minor modification to allow you to install pkg files directly, eventually we’ll get some more options added to it in the future. This is just starting to get interesting!

p.s: Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible!

Enjoy! 🙂
KaKaRoTo

The aMSN team donates to the EFF

Thanks to the ads that we have displayed on the aMSN website, the aMSN Team was able to gain a bit of money and we decided to donate part of that revenue to the EFF.

The EFF is a donation-funded nonprofit organization that defends our digital rights, helps promote net neutrality and raises questions about our privacy and our rights as consumers of the Internet. It fights for us in court and helps protect the digital world from big corporations who do not care about their consumers. The EFF also has a “Coder’s Rights project”  that defend developers like us.

The aMSN Team has  just donated 2500$ to the EFF and we are glad to help them in their fight. We encourage everyone to help this cause, since we are all benefiting from their hard work and maybe it’s time for us, as Internet consumers, to give back to them.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The aMSN Team.