Here is a little tutorial I wrote for softmodding an Xbox. I don't do hard drive upgrades because I don't like console gaming and I would not use an Xbox to store any files that were not backed up as if the Xbox ever crashes the hard drive will not be accessable. Feel free to comment on this tutorial and advise changes if needed. Thanks
As far as being able to stream music, videos, photos, and movie trailers (and lots of other stuff using the built in download plug-in installer) a soft-modded Xbox is ideal. If you want to add a large hard drive to play games (including just about every emulated console game ever made) then you would have to either go to more extremes or buy a chip. Playing games is really the only reason to use a mod chip to hack an Xbox as a softmod is identical in nearly every way to a chipped Xbox mod. This tutorial is for the installation of the softmod only and does not cover adding a bigger hard drive. Actually, there is enough room on the original Xbox's hard drive so that once the soft modding is complete you can load one Xbox game at a time and when you tire of that game you can delete it and load another.
The softmod we will be using is Krayzie's nDure Installer. This is a small software package that is in the form of a game save. The Xbox has, on it's game pad controller, a place to put in a memory card for game saves. This is how we get the Xbox to run our little modding package.
Tools Needed for a Softmod
1. An exploitable game. Mech Assault works great. Buy a used one so there is less chance of getting one that may have been fixed, I do not think that they ever bothered to fix it. Alternately you could just rent it as you only need it for an hour.
2. An Xbox memory card with a USB cable. Despite the rumours, the Action Replay cheat memory card available at Wal Mart and Circuit City plus many other retailers will work fine, you just have to "fix" it in the middle of the procedure. The Action Replay does corrupt the file but there is an easy workaround for that.
3. An FTP program. FlashFXP is the perfect FTP program for Xbox use. Just Google it to download a trial version or pay $25 for it, it is worth it.
-If you want to know "What is FTP?", it is simply a way to see the files on your hard drive in a list on one side of the screen and see the files on your Xbox on the other side. Then you just click on any file you wish to transfer from your computer to your Xbox and click the transfer button. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol.
4. A computer with a network. You don't have to have a home network. You can buy a network cable that says "Crossover" on the package. Then just connect the crossover cable to the computer and the Xbox. There may be more to it but really, a home network is easy to set up and very useful so I won't go into it any further here.
5. A copy of Krayzie's nDure Installer. This is not a legal product so it could be a little hard to find it. However, if you bought the Action Replay memory card and installed the software CD-ROM that came with it, you can use that software to see a list of downloadable gamesaves from other users. The Krayzie's nDure Installer can be found in that list of downloadable cheat game saves. However it may be called "Run Linux". There will be many copies of "Run Linux" under the Mech Assault game saves, try to find the one that is the biggest. But you still might get a bad copy, just be prepared to download another in case the first one doesn't work.
A note about UnleashX: UnleashX is a Xbox Dashboard. (A Dashboard is what you see when you turn on the Xbox. The Xbox's original dashboard shows up when you turn on an unmodded Xbox with no game in the CD drive. There are several dashboards for modded Xboxes) a modified version of UnleashX is contained within the Installer and is used automatically at one point for backing up certain vital files that are on the Xbox. UnleashX happily includes an FTP server so once it loads you have the wonderful ability to access the Xbox via FlashFXP FTP even though the Installer has not completed the modding process yet and in fact has made no changes to the Xbox yet at all.
Once you have assembled the tools and have an hour to spare you are ready to go. I am going to assume you are using a home network. Find out the "IP" addresses your network uses. This will be a string of numbers. Usually it is 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1. The last number (the 1) usually is the address of the router itself. Every device (computer, Xbox, or anything else that connects to your network) is assigned a number (usually starting at 2 then 3 etc.) automatically by the router The first three numbers (the 192.168.0) will stay the same. Only the last number will be different for every attached device. The router will keep up with these numbers for you and if you type the routers numbers into your web browser's address bar you can go to a little web site looking page that belongs to your router. There are many options there but don't mess with any settings unless you know what you are doing. There should be an option to see all the devices connected to the router with their corrisponding IP address listed. This is very useful information.
Ok, if you have read all the above info and are now prepared to start here are the steps.
1. Get the Krayzie's nDure Installer (also known as "Run Linux") copied to the memory card by using the cable that came with it to transfer it to the card from your computer.
2. Before inserting the memory card into the Xbox's game pad, first start your Xbox with no game in the CD drive. Then go to the Memory section and delete any and all Mech Assault game saves. You do not want any there when we start or the installer may not load. Turn off the Xbox.
3. Put the Action Replay memory card into the Xbox's game pad. Turn on the Xbox (still with no game in the CD drive) and go to the Memory section. Now figure out how to copy the "Run Linux" game save (which is really our copy of Krayzie's nDure Installer) from the memory card to the Xbox's internal hard drive. Once it is done copying open the CD drive and insert the Mech Assault game. Then turn off the Xbox and remove the memory card. Keep it handy in case you downloaded a bad copy of the Krayzie's nDure Installer and need to get a different one.
4. Now turn on the Xbox with the Mech Assault game inside. Wait for the game to start and take you to the selection screen. Here you will click on "Campaign" Now select "Run Linux". This will load the Krayzie's nDure Installer. The first thing it will have you do is make a back up. IMPORTANT: this will be the part where we "fix" the Installer itself that was corrupted by the action Replay memory card. Even though the AR memory card corrupts Krayzie's nDure Installer, the installer will still start up and get us where we need to go.
5. Select the first option to back up the "eeprom" this is where we fix the corrupted file. At this point the installer program will actually exit and load a program called UnleashX. See above for info about UnleashX. When UnleashX is running open FlashFXP on your computer and find the Xbox on one side of the program. On the other side, on your computer, find your saved copy (uncorrupted by Action Replay) of the Krayzie's nDure Installer for Mech Assault. It will be in the folder heirarchy MA Save->UDATA->4d530017. It is the 4d530017 folder that we want. Go to the Xboxes side of the screen and go to the E drive. Look in the UDATA for the 4d530017 folder and delete it. Now transfer the 4d530017 folder from your compurter over to the UDATA folder on your Xbox. Now you have an uncorrupted copy of the nDure installer on your Xbox. On the Xbox, after backing up, select the Return to Main Menu or some such that takes you back to the Krayzie's Installer. Now turn off and restart the Xbox. Do the Back Up step again, this time omitting the copying of the Installer over to the Xbox.
6. After that it is easy to just follow the steps as they are listed in the installer. When complete you have a modded Xbox.
Ready to install Xbox Media Center? That will have to be another tutorial.