Rany Battikh

FreeDVDBoot: Burn and run PS2 homebrew on an unmodified console

Software Engineer CTurt has successfully exploited the PS2 DVD drive through its DVD-video playback functionality, making it possible for homebrew applications to run on burned discs without the need for any hardware modification(s) or even starting up the system with Free Mcboot.

With FreeDVDBoot as he calls it, CTurt basically reverse-engineered the initial IFO (a file type that contains the metadata that links the .VOB and .VRO files together) parsing so that the PS2 could natively read and run .ELF files off of a burned DVD disc, while completely bypassing the console’s security system in the process.

The developer uploaded a pre-built .ISO file containing uLaunchELF, that would run .ELF files copied to a USB drive (inserted into the one of the PS2 USB ports). But if the user wishes to boot any other homebrew file directly from a disc like demonstrated in the video above, the provided modified VIDEO_TS folder must be sorted in conjunction with the desired software and then compiled using a software like genisoimage (Linux-only).

Note that is possible to run backups of original games (shown in the video below) after being individually patched with ESR.

While CTurt has confirmed that the exploit is region free, he only tested on his PS2 DVD that has firmware 3.10E on. He’s asking other developers to chime in and test, or potentially modify the exploit for it to work properly on other drive versions.

CTurt has included the full technical details of his development process on his github page alongside the needed files and instructions to easily perform the exploit.

FreeDVDBoot could open up so many doors for future development on the PS2. This method already makes the whole running unsigned code operation on the system much more accessible for all levels of users.

UPDATE: PlayStation Developer Wiki is now hosting a compatibility list/page dedicated to FreeDVDBoot and it seems like, at the time of this writing, most “slim” models are supported. Just make sure to check your DVD drive version (boot the console with no disc inserted and press Triangle) and then download the appropriate .ISO file from CTrut‘s github repository.


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