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Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
Posted by Michael on 24 July 2009, 20:54 GMT

Members of the certificate liberation army, rejoice! Brandon Wilson has released a set of tools to enable anyone to easily load their own operating systems on 83+/84+ calculators!

Free83P backs up your existing calculator certificate and then adds a new signing key: the "0005" key. The installation of this cryptographic key permits for the first time the signing of OS files, just like the official OS upgrades. Because this key is in the certificate section of the flash, it persists across all resets and even OS upgrades. This stunning achievement marks a significant milestone of a reverse engineering effort that has been ongoing since the release of the 83+ a decade ago.

Brandon's companion OS2Tools program will process your ZDS hex output, sign it with the 0005 key and properly build a .8xu file for transferring to your newly-liberated calculator!

But wait, there's more! Brandon has additionally announced that he is beginning work on a new 83+ OS, OS2.

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Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
graphmastur Account Info

I must say, this is simply amazing! I mean, can you believe that we will be able to make our own OS! What's next, BasicBuilder, but with aps!?!

Reply to this comment    24 July 2009, 21:11 GMT

Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
Nikky Southerland  Account Info
(Web Page)

It appears I bugged him so much about an OS that he finally gave in and started making one!

Reply to this comment    24 July 2009, 21:48 GMT

Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
_DigiTan  Account Info
(Web Page)

Will this mean scum lawyers will be on our backsides?

Reply to this comment    25 July 2009, 06:45 GMT


Re: Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
Brandon Wilson  Account Info
(Web Page)

I'm really doubting that they care anymore.

They've stopped releasing OS updates for the 83+/84+ series and there is a slew of information out there regarding writing to Flash, messing with the certificate, and writing, installing, and using your own OS. This simply makes it easy for anyone to do it with any platform or cable type without having to worry about the battery trick or any other scary magic like that.

I'm seeing more and more people throughout the community writing OS patches to fix TI-OS bugs and are otherwise severely hampered by TI's bugs/problems/restrictions. I believe we're at a point where we need to ditch it and consider other alternatives, and this makes that possible.

Reply to this comment    25 July 2009, 07:31 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
Daniel Weisz  Account Info

I've tried posting on your website's forum, Brandon, but my posts don't seem to show up :-/

Anyway, I'm curious what direction you're going with this OS2. I see preliminary work in your source code on hooks and bcalls that resemble TI-OS ones. Do you plan on making this OS capable of running TI-OS BASIC/assembly programs? It would be pretty interesting to have an open source alternative to TI-OS. If not, what plans have you made? And is there room for anyone else on the development team? :P

Reply to this comment    26 July 2009, 00:46 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
Brandon Wilson  Account Info
(Web Page)

That "forum" is (to quote somebody from the community, I can't remember who) "just a piece of piss written in PHP." I'm not at all surprised it doesn't work right, it needs help.

My motto for this OS is "the TI-OS done right." I don't intend to apply wacky Linux-style ideas to this OS; it's essentially going to function the same way that the TI-OS does. Backwards compatibility is of utmost importance; if we can't apply the hundreds (thousands?) of programs and games we've written over the past decade, what point is there to it? I think that's the main reason why most third-party OS projects fail.

A new OS is a massive undertaking that one person simply cannot plan out and implement in any reasonable amount of time, even for a relatively simple device like a graphing calculator. I think we should rapidly produce a functional OS using techniques and models proven to work (read: TI-OS), and if we find we don't like things about it, we'll criticize and rework from there.

It's always easier to criticize something that already exists than to plan out the ultimate OS.

So yes, I intend for it to support and include literally as much as possible.

Reply to this comment    26 July 2009, 00:56 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
graphmastur Account Info

I hope that you write a tutorial on it.

Reply to this comment    26 July 2009, 01:12 GMT

Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
Duncan Smith Account Info
(Web Page)

Brandon, you are a genius and I am very glad that I know you.

Reply to this comment    26 July 2009, 07:28 GMT


Re: Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
Brandon Wilson  Account Info
(Web Page)

It's not just me that should be recognized for this; this is the end-result of many years of reverse-engineering and research into how the OS, boot code, and certificate work by a lot of people.

There have been (at least to my knowledge) at least a couple of people with the know-how to produce a program like this, but haven't. I'm not sure if it's fear of TI's wrath, laziness, time constraints, uneasiness about writing such a potentially scary program (usually you stay far, far away from the certificate) or what, but I thought it was important that people have a universal way to send an OS to their calculator. I think part of the reason it hasn't gotten more attention is because people don't really know how to install them. Until now I don't think there has ever been a public method of installing them on an 84+/84+SE, let alone with a direct USB cable.

So in short...get excited, people! We all have our own ideas about what an OS should have, and I hope this sparks some more interest in it in whatever form it may take for you.

Reply to this comment    26 July 2009, 16:06 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
AJLitzau13  Account Info

I have read before that the only reason TI-83/84 SE's only have 24k of RAM available to the user is because of the restrictions of the TI-OS. If this is true, is your OS going to allow the user to use all 128k of RAM on the Silver Edition calculators?

Reply to this comment    27 July 2009, 04:12 GMT


Re: Re: Re: Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
Brandon Wilson  Account Info
(Web Page)

I do intend for it to use more, but I doubt it'll use all 128KB. We've come to depend on the extra RAM pages for temporary storage for various reasons (some games/emulators, USB stuff, etc.), so it's still up in the air how much it'll use (maybe it'll even be configurable, who knows).

Reply to this comment    27 July 2009, 05:17 GMT

Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
Lionel Debroux Account Info
(Web Page)

Congratulations to all those involved in the long reverse-engineering process which led to unofficial TI-Z80 OS :)

What I see in this event, is that the TI-Z80 series (well, some of its members at least) joins the TI-68k series in the long list of platforms that were abandoned by their manufacturer, but can keep living for a little while longer, with the community at the helm.

Reply to this comment    27 July 2009, 12:13 GMT

Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
DWedit  Account Info
(Web Page)

Any way to hack the thing to get more archive?

Reply to this comment    31 July 2009, 14:57 GMT


Re: Re: Brandon Wilson Enables Third-Party 83+ OSes
Brandon Wilson  Account Info
(Web Page)

The TI-OS is hard-coded with the start and end of the archive many times over, so there's no changing it.

If we create a new OS, yes, absolutely, there are plenty of Flash pages that the OS isn't using or is being wasteful with.

By the way, with the leak of the 0004 signing key yesterday, Free83P is now obsolete and we can sign our own OSes just as valid as the official TI-OS, no program required.

Reply to this comment    31 July 2009, 15:29 GMT

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