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Since there seems to be little to none documentation about this so I've decided to write up a guide to help all the up-and-coming hackers in the scene.


  • IDA Pro (This costs money, it's recommended you buy a license)
  • PPC Altivec plugin (ver. 1.8 is recommended)
  • Decrypted loader (1BL/CB(_A)/CB_B/CD/CF)
  • Kernel with symbols, find this at usual places (Also, match these up by the date modified and put the pdb in same folder as exe)


Finding the entrypoint

The entrypoint of the loader is located at offset 0x8-0xC in the loader header, once you've found the entrypoint the reversing can begin.

Analyzing the loader

Open the loader in IDA Pro and make sure it's loading as a binary file with the processor type set to PowerPC: ppc. Once you've done that a dialog should appear asking if you want it to be mapped to ROM or RAM, leave this screen as it is and just press OK. IDA will then notify you that since it's a binary file the entrypoint is unknown, so press G to show the go to address screen and put in the entrypoint you found earlier. Press C to turn this entrypoint into code and start IDA's analysis. This should only take a few seconds and then the entire bootloader should be fully analyzed.

Finding functions

I wasn't going to post this publicly for fear of MS updating their bootloaders to use different code, but I realized that keeping info back is for kids. Thankfully Microsoft use the same code for the most of the functions in the bootloaders as they do in the kernel, if you have a copy of the kernel and symbols (available in certain private SDKs..) you can just find the functions in the kernel, copy the hex code for them (make sure none of the branch instructions are in the code, as these use static offsets) and search for that hex in the bootloader. If you've done it correctly you should come across code in the bootloader which looks near identical to the code in the kernel. Just rename the sub to what it's called in the kernel and you've successfully "reversed" a section of the bootloader :D

(also, before anyone complains to me about this I know this is the "noob" way of doing it, but its much easier then having to trawl through code)

Functions used by the bootloaders

Note, this list is incomplete, I've only included functions used for authentication/decompression here, also some loaders don't include all these functions.

  • LDICreateDecompression
  • LDIDecompress
  • LZX_Decode
  • LZX_DecodeInit
  • LZX_DecodeNewGroup
  • XeCryptBnDw_Copy
  • XeCryptBnQwBeSigDifference
  • XeCryptBnQwBeSigFormat
  • XeCryptBnQwNeCompare
  • XeCryptBnQwNeModInv
  • XeCryptBnQwNeModMul
  • XeCryptBnQw_Copy
  • XeCryptHmacSha
  • XeCryptHmacShaFinal
  • XeCryptHmacShaInit
  • XeCryptMemDiff
  • XeCryptRc4Ecb
  • XeCryptRc4Key
  • XeCryptRotSum
  • XeCryptRotSumSha
  • XeCryptShaFinal
  • XeCryptShaInit
  • XeCryptShaTransform
  • XeCryptShaUpdate

Finding authentication procedures

Almost all the authentication subs in the bootloaders use XeCryptRotSumSha, once you've managed to find that function you can just do "Jump to xref to operand..." to find them. The bootloader decryption routines all use XeCryptRc4Ecb, if you find that you can find the decryption routines quite easily.


  • If you see the value 0x3C0030 in the function, this is used during CF decryption/authentication. You've just found the function used to decrypt/auth CF.
  • li r3, 0 is used to return that the decryption/auth failed, if theres any branches to code which has this then that means the branch is only used if a check fails, if you want to make it so you can run the next bootloader unauthenticated you could just nop (60 00 00 00) out all the branches to this code.
  • Patching the call to XeCryptRc4Ecb with nop will disable encryption for the next loader, this is what the glitch hack does to the CB_B of slims, along with patching out the branch to the panic function.
  • All of the bootloaders have a function to handle post output during boot. If you find that function, you can follow its references and use the post codes from POST to step through each bootloader and figure out what each one is doing.
  • Please keep in mind that the newest versions of the bootloaders had their post codes removed due to the RGH hack relying on them.

Code Snippets


     li    r0, 0         # Load Immediate
     mtspr CTRL, r0      # Move to sprg,
     b     panic         # Branch

post output

#Sends the lowest byte of r4 to the post buffer
    sldi    r4, r4, 56
    std r4, 0(r3)

Reversed Bootloaders

The following bootloaders have already been reversed and posted: