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Xenium OSv2 Pre-Release Review (part 2 of the ICE review)
>> (Sorry again for the delay in finishing this review.. my wife just gave birth to our first child.)
With the review of the Xenium ICE Chip Samples that shipped from OzXodus taking up so much space and time and the fact that the OS isn’t just for the new ICE chip, it was necessary to split the OS review from the hardware review.
Xenium Ice Solderless Kit Review Part 1
Xenium OS(info)v2.0 Pre-Release Features: (herein call OSv2-PR)
-Full microkernel OS, developed by OzXodus to be a complete and legal environment specifically tailored to the modder's needs
-Emergency Recovery System
-Fully compatible with Xbox versions 1.0 - 1.6
-Intuitive and clean user-interface
-Automated bank management
-Bank naming and LED color assignment
-Automatic detection of bios names
-Flash Bios from HDD, CD/DVD, USB PenDrive, USB Mass Storage Device, or Windows Fileshare
-Xbox Settings (EEPROM) Editor
-Emergency EEPROM backup/restore, from/to any version Xbox
-Networked access to HDD (Built in FTP and Windows Networking)
-DHCP/Static IP compatible
-USB Pen Drive support
-HardDrive Upgrade Wizard
-General HDD management (Copy/Format partitions)
-Installer One Step setup system
The Xenium OS has changed a lot from the 1.0 incarnation that first appeared months ago on the original batch of Xenium Chips. That one was Cromwell(info) based, and showed signs of it’s lineage. (some good, some bad) It was a functional OS, and showed us at the time what the future of modchips had in store for us. It was first to the market, and suffered alittle because of that.
OzXodus learned a lot since that initial release. OSv2 Pre-Release shows they’ve learned many of the lessons taught to them by their customers. First thing to go was Cromwell. Cromwell is no longer the basis for the OS, as the OS has been re-written from the bottom up and it shows. Even at this current stage, the Pre-Release already outperforms it’s Cromwell ancestors.
For the purpose of this review (and the linked Hardware review) 3 xbox units were used and 2 new Xenium ICE chips. At various times during the testing process.. I’ve had the following plugged in to see if the xbox would hang at the OS level, or if it would choke moving from OS to Hack Bios to Dashboard.
Hardware tested included:
- 7 Different Controllers (MS – Classic/”s”, Logitech, HipGear, MadMax, and no-names)
- 2 remotes (Stock and third party)
- 3 USB Keyboards (one Wireless Logitech, one Ms Office KB, one third party mini keyboard)
- 4 USB Mice (one wireless Logitech, 2 MS, 1 third party)
- 3 light guns (MadMax, and 2 asian models)
- 2 different retail xbox to USB cable adapters (www.lik-sang.com and www.spotted-horse.com plus one homebrew one.)
- 3 memory cards including MS Stock, and two 3rd party no-name ones)
- 1 Xbox Communicator (stock) (slightly used and abused.. long story – “420”)
At no point was there an undue pause or lock-up due to hardware being connected during the power-on cycle, or while migrating from OS to Hacked Bios to Dashbaord. OSv2-PR didn’t miss a step. Being a Pre-Release there are still features to be added, and a few missing. They should make for some pleasant surprises once it’s ready.
Right away we see this isn’t the same old interface. Bright colors, fancy backgrounds and a clean and clear font / text display greets use after a second from power-on. Navigation is simple enough, move up and down, and left and right as needed. Hit the A + B Buttons to commit to an action or to back out of menus.
This main menu is the nerve center of the OS and all of it’s functions. Becoming familiar with it came easily enough as it’s quite intuitive. I’ll gloss over the options:
- Launch Menu: Flash Banks, Add and delete bios from the banks.
- Disk Tools: Lock/Unlock HD, Upgrade HD, Copy Drives, and Format them.
- EEprom Tools: Notes Motherboard Version, Switch Video Standards and DVD and Game Regions, and Backup and Restore the Eeprom
- Settings – Submenues for the Xenium, Network, FTP, Telnet, and SMB options.
- Recovery – To be used to fix or replace the OS.
- Reboot and Power Off – self explanatory.
The “Launch Menu”, once you enter it looks empty except for the “Add A New Item” function. The New OS kind of treats the space virtually, and one of the things it does transparently is allow you to flash and organize your bios banks. When ADDing to the Launch Menu you’ll have the option of flashing a bank with the TSOP’s onboard Kernel from the Xbox, flashing from any of the Partitions on the Xbox, flashing from a Pen Drive (h:) and from an SMB share. There a third “option” to add a launch item from the Hard Disk but that is currently disabled in this Pre-Release. (003, 051)
One of the exciting new features of this OS is the ability to flash from USB Pen Drives. Frankly, no one I know has floppy disks anymore but everyone I know has a Pen Drive, whether it’s an 8MB one of a 1/2GB one. I used the supplied Xenium USB Adapter to plug in a 32MB Pen Drive that was FAT formatted, and had a number of files on it including my favourite colormod bioses into any one of the Xbox controller ports. I then fired up the Launch Menu, navigated to the ( H: ) drive and selected my Bios of choice. Flashed in a second, renamed it and booted the xbox to see my colormod bios boot and then boot the dash.(050, 051, 052, 053, 054, 055, 056, 057, 058, 059)
Backing up the TSOP to the Chip makes good sense in case something happens to the onboard TSOP. It doubles the chance that you’ll stay up and running. Many times.. a modchip has been the last chance for life for someone with a flaky tsop.
“Disk Tool Menu” is where you’ll get to play with some of the great functions of this chip and OS combo. If the HD in the unit is still the stock one.. you can unlock it (for migration into another Xbox perhaps.. or a PC). If you have already placed a larger replacement upgrade drive in it you can dynamically lock and unlock it at will.
Altertenatively, you can use the Drive Upgrade Wizard to copy one HD to Another. Copy single partitions from one drive to another with the “Copy Partition” option, and/or “Format Partition” on either a Master or Slave Drive. Keep in mind to do most of this you’ll need to have disconnected the IDE cable from the DVD rom and the power source from the Master HD will need to be connected to the Slave via a “Y” SplitterHD.
OSv2-PR makes it simple and painless. It also goes out of its way to prevent you from accidentally nuking drives and partitions giving you clear messages and plenty of chances to say no to potentially risky actions. I had some fun trying to get it to blow away my partitions and drives. No one will have a problem unless they IGNORE the messages.. and continue the process with each step.
OSv2-PR is Dummy Proof? Well.. it’s smart enough to know not to upgrade a non existent drive (004, 005, 006, 007) The OS is also smart enough to not allow overwriting of the same drive.(008, 009, 010, 011, 012) OS unsuccessful attempt to format the non-existant Slave Drive partition, and it’s successful attempts to format the Master’s Partitions (013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 018, 019)
Everytime an attempt was made by me to do something it shouldn’t be able to do, the Chip/OS combo did one of the 2 desireable actions… warned me like crazy.. or prevented or acknowledged it couldn’t be successfully done.
“EEprom Tools” is the area in which few will enter out of fear of messing up their chip. Most people may never need to enter this area of the interface. However, everyone should enter it once. You’ll be able to make critical changes to the EEProm here.. including chaging the Video Standard from NTSC to PAL. Important for people who love to play imports. Also of interest to them is the ability to switch DVD Rom Regions and Game Regions.(020, 021, 022, 023)
By far the most important part of the EEprom area is the Backup and Restore options. Backing up your EEprom just makes good sense, and is easy to do. You can also take the backed up EEprom and use the Xenium ICE Chip to transfer the EEprom to another Xbox. Imagine, you can backup an EEprom on a 1.1 and migrate to any version of Xbox including a 1.6 (if I had one. I would have tried that, instead I went from a 1.1 to a 1.3 and back with no issues) Alternatively it’s good to know that if something ever happens to the Xbox, you have a backup of the EEprom.
“Settings Menu” (026) All of your various sub-menus live here. Chances are good that if you are new to modding, and the OSv2-PR is going to be your first jump into the scene you’ll be playing in this section to get your modded box up and running in a jiffy.
“Xenium Settings” Menu. (027)
Not a lot to see here currently expec the option to turn on and off Instant boot. Once you are flashed and running the way you need to.. chances are good that you’ll not want to see the Xenium OS interface every boot so you’ll do as I have and turn on Instant Boot.(028, 029)
“Network Settings” Menu (030) Change various characteristics of the Xbox including IP, Gateway and DNS. (031, 032)
“FTP Settings” Menu (033) Turn on and off the OSv2-PR’s FTP Client dynamically, and change Username and Password to add extra protection to the box in case you have your xbox on the lan and in the wild. Setting these right will allow you to simply copy the Bios files from the PC to the XBOX hd of your choice.(034)
“Telnet Settings” Menu (035) Turn on and off the Telnet Server Dynamically.in this menu and change User Name and Password when you feel the need for security.
“SMB Settings” Menu (040) With this menu you can set the OSv2 Client Share Path, Username and Password. You can also set the Server Workgroup name and the server name of the unit. As is the case with the other networking settings.. the server can be turned on and off dynamically.
Being an SMB neophyte, this review and this section had me working for awhile. Once I did a littler reading.. and understood the sheer simplicity of SMB shares, I realized the potential. Drag and Drop across the network is great, but executing and flashing across the netwowk was another altogether. (I never should have put off learning about SMB shares, it’ll change the way I personally use my favourite dashboards and XBMC.)
I changed a few settings in the SMB section, set up a folder on the PC with share privileges, went to the Launch Menu and flashed a red colormod bios from the PC to the Xbox and then booted the xbox to the dashboard. (041, 042, 043)
Review Video Summary: Xenium OSv2 PR – Around the world in 12 minutes
Review Video WMV
- Fresh updated new look and interface, and even that will change shortly.
- Makes the Xenium Flashable via new methods like SMB and USB Pen Drives, on-top of the old standards like flashing from drives.
- EEprom Backup and Restore work without a hitch
- Plethora of EEprom tools for the import or overseas game junkies including Region changers and video mode switchers
- HD Wizards for upgrading, copying, and formatting simplify adding, upgrading, or duplicating Hd’s
- SMB Shares. Chuck your old FTP program. Once you try this you won’t need it anymore.
- Burning Bios disks with archaic programs, odd fats and dummy buffer files is now officially retired. (but still possible) Save your blank media for backups.
- OS is more or less dummy proof. (at least until a better?!? Dummy comes along)
- Cromwell is Dead (in this OS anyways)
- Red Backdrop in the interface. This will piss off the designer of it but’s it’s ugly as sin. (where is MomDad when you need him to produce a slick background)
- Now that I think of it, so is that Xenium Logo/banner at the top. (why’d they change it?
- The HD feature from the Launch/Add Item menu was disabled in this release. I would have love to seen it in action.
- Waiting for other features rumored to be in the final release but were disabled or removed form this Review Sample.
- Something not mentioned above in the review, keyboards currently do not function in the OS. They don’t lock up or prevent the OS from functioning, but at the same time it would be nice to connect and use my keyboards during all those settings screens in the Settings menus. For that matter, it would be nice to have mouse support in there as well.
Overall, OSv2-PR works well, runs fast, and is feature rich. It puts to bed many old and archaic methods of flashing chips and managing resources, and introduces some new tricks. Gone are the days of dummy files on media. OSv2-PR is a leap forward for Xenium owners, new and old.
Xenium-OS V2.0 User Manual: Xenium-OS_V20_User_Manual.pdf
1.6 Install Manual: V1.6_Install_Manual.pdf
Buy Xenium ICE: Extreme-Mods - Divineo.com - BMMods.com - XboxChips
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