Linux on the Xbox: Part I: Reasoning

by Devanshu Mehta

HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?
So a few days ago, I finally decided to sell my Xbox. Purchased in a frenzy of going-to-grad-school shopping, knowing fully well that you can’t get through a degree in computer science without putting in your hours behind the controls of a powerful gaming machine, this black and green monster has served its purpose.

But since then, I’ve graduated. I work full time. The few games I owned started finding their way to “Half.com”:http://www.half.com and pretty soon it had become clear.

The Xbox had to go.

WHY WOULD ANYONE DO SUCH A THING?
“If it wasn’t this, it would be something else.”:http://www.widescreenglory.com/2005/06/22/if-it-wasnt-this-itd-be-something-else/ I would either still keep it around on the off chance that I’ll still play (unlikely), or keep it around as a slightly flaky DVD player or (most likely) offer it to the gods of eBay and see what I can get in return.

And it may still come to that. But this is our last hurray, one last fling, our we’ll-always-have-paris moment before we part.

NO REALLY, WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO DO SUCH A THING?
Ok, here’s the geek reason. Because it’s geeky cool. It’s like opening up your radio just-for-kicks, or installing new linux distros every week, or.. you know what I mean. But that still isn’t a reason for most people- it only proves that I am “genetically predisposed to attempt projects”:http://www.geek.com/news/geeknews/2002Oct/bga20021023016942.htm of this nature.

The real reasons could be some, all or none of the following:

  • It’s a cheap linux computer
  • It’s a cheap linux computer with TV out
  • It’s a cheap linux computer with a 8-10 gig hard drive
  • It’s a cheap linux computer with a a 700-ish MHz Celeron and 64MB RAM
  • Oh, and a DVD drive and an NVidia GeForce 3 graphics card
  • And a 10/100 ethernet port
  • And each controller port is actually a USB port
  • You can still use it for your XBox games
  • Use it as a:
    • Desktop– just like your favorite linux desktop with Gnome or KDE and all the other fun stuff you’re used to.
    • Server– since it has an ethernet port (and can be extended to add wireless) you can use it as a file server, HTTP, FTP or all of the above.
    • Combination– As a desktop, small file server, and when you want, a regular Xbox. And all connected to your living room TV (though you can connect it to a regular monitor as well).

Are those enough reasons? Because I can come up with more.

Next, I will write about how to get started. Keep in mind I am writing this as I go along, so any questions about the future will be answered solely with the help of a magic 8-ball. That is, until I actually move along in the process myself.

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