PS Vita 2.10: Sony’s ‘stability improvements’

April 14, 2013

PS Vita’s Firmware 2.10 was recently released, and we already know that Sony blocked the Apache Overkill VHBL, but this update comes with quite a few hidden surprises called “stability improvements” :o

Sony has made what appears to be some strange attempts at slowing hackers down and trying to make PSP emu hacking harder in 2.10. Many changes have apparently been made to make our job harder. So far, we have discovered two big changes. But, as often, there is a way around them! :D

So, what are these changes? Lets see.

TN-V

Some of the changes were discovered by Total_Noob, and appear to be attempts at preventing eCFW (and in this case, TN-V) from running, or, at least, make it more difficult.
You can see details in Total_Noob’s post here, where, according to his post, Sony has made yet another attempt to stop homebrew on the Vita.
It seems some critical parts of the memory have been made readonly, and the location of the flash files in RAM has been changed as well, but TN has managed to bypass all these measures. Note however that some of TN’s statements seem to have been contradicted by the fact that The Z was able to run VHBL on 2.10 on day 1, as stated by wololo here.

But one thing that is good for kexploits is that it apparently has become much easier to free up the extra 64 MB RAM that is available to the PSP emulator. This means potentially better homebrew support (in particular for very demanding homebrews such as DaedalusX64) in future eCFW releases.

VHBL and user-mode exploits in general

In addition to the ram changes stated above, it seems Sony has blocked write access to the ms0:/PSP/GAME folder on user mode exploits.

This means that none of the VHBL menus will be able to install homebrew without modifications on 2.10. Devs are currently discussing a new convention to see where VHBL should install its games moving forward.

This might also affect psp kernel exploits but that needs to be confirmed.

At the moment because it seems that the only VHBL menu that is still actively under development is pyMenu (and the soon to be released XMBM), the pyMenu team is busy at work adjusting the menu for the new path and a fix should be made available soon. (note from wololo: actually, wMenu was not being maintained because it did what it had to do, I might get back to work if it needs to be updated, don’t put me in the coffin yet ;) )

Overall these changes all look like half-assed efforts to slow VHBL and CEF down, but no real “anti-hack” measures in the PSP emu. It feels strange Sony would still put any huge effort in the PSP emulator, especially when they already have a reasonable way to stop most psp emu hacks today (by pulling the exploited games). It is however possible these are actually changes to increase psp games compatibility in the psp emu (and increase their selection on the PSN), with some side effects impacting our hacks.

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