Frequently Asked Questions

The world of PSP homebrew is pretty complex, and full of jargon. These FAQ pages are our attempt to demystify things, and to get you quickly on the road to enjoying your PSP at its fullest.

The FAQs are divided into the following sections:

More entries are planned in the near future. If you have any suggestions or requests for FAQ topics or questions, please let us know.

The Basics

What is Homebrew?

Simply, homebrew is software that is produced by unofficial software developers, as compared with official software produced by developers licensed by the console manufacturer.

Usually, homebrew developers are driven by the desire to make the console do things that the official developers haven't thought of, or got around to yet. Sometimes it's done because the homebrew developer thinks they can do better than the official software. Perhaps the developer just had a need for some software that wasn't yet available, or that they thought would be cool. Or maybe they just like to tinker with making hardware do stuff that it isn't supposed to be able to do. Whatever the reason for its creation, the developer decided to share their software with the public, and we should be thankful to them for that.

Does it cost anything?

Generally, no. Most developers release homebrew free of charge, but this isn't actually a requirement for something to be considered legitimate homebrew. The majority of developers release for free, either because they're just really generous (even the simplest homebrew takes a lot of effort and learning to produce), or because they're afraid of legal implications for charging for unofficial software, or just because it's traditional and they want to give something back to a community that has already given them some great free software.

But there's no reason why a developer shouldn't charge for their homebrew if that's what they want to do. They just need to be prepared for the increased expectations of quality and support that will occur, and for inevitable flaming from those small-minded people who demand that everything they want should be given to them for zero effort or cost on their behalf.

Is it legal?

It's really a slightly grey area as to whether the production of homebrew software is completely legal in all countries. Some countries have strict laws on reverse engineering, and bypass of software protection schemes, that could in theory be considered to outlaw the production of unofficial software. I am not a lawyer, if in doubt you should consult a qualified legal professional for your particular jurisdiction. The developers of the unofficial PSP homebrew development kit have taken great pains to maintain as much legality as possible, including a refusal to taint the development tools with information obtained from restricted materials or sources.

Actually running homebrew is a much simpler case. To my knowledge, running homebrew is entirely legal in every jurisdiction that I'm aware of. Technically, your Sony warranty is voided if you run any homebrew on your PSP, but it is hard to see how they would know, and I am unaware of any homebrewer having been refused support under warranty.

Can my PSP run homebrew?

To answer this question, you need to know what firmware version your PSP is running (see next question). Once you know that, the rule of thumb is that almost any PSP with firmware version 3.50 or lower is capable of running most homebrew. PSPs with later firmware versions are generally capable only of running some Macromedia Flash homebrew, which is somewhat restricted in its potential.

A more detailed answer is given by the following table, which describes the capabilities of the various firmware versions. See the Jargon Buster for more information about what the columns actually mean.

Firmware Version Flash Homebrew? User mode EBOOTs? Kernel mode EBOOTs? Required software Notes
1.51NNNFor homebrew, it's best to simply upgrade to 2.0, or down to 1.50
2.00 - 2.60NYNeLoaderKernel mode is possible, but limited support so far
2.70YYNeLoaderKernel mode is possible, but limited support so far
2.71YYYeLoader or HEN-D
2.80YYYeLoader / xLoader / 280 HEN
2.81-3.02YNNThere is currently no way to run non-flash homebrew on these firmwares. Upgrading to v3.03 (and buying GTA) or v3.50 (and buying Lumines) is recommended.
3.03YYYGTA HENSoftware support via HEN is limited - downgrading is recommended
3.10-3.40YNNThere is currently no way to run non-flash homebrew on these firmwares. Upgrading to v3.50 and buying Lumines is recommended.
3.50YYYLumines HENSoftware support via HEN is limited - downgrading is recommended
3.51+YNNThere is currently no way to run non-flash homebrew on these firmwares

How do I figure out what version firmware my PSP is running?

Easy! Go to the "System Settings" menu item in your PSP's system menu, then select "System Information". The number listed by "System Software" is your PSP's firmware version.

How do I figure out what version of motherboard my PSP has?

You may need to know which version of motherboard you have, to check for whether you can downgrade your PSP. Generally speaking, you will only care whether you have TA-082 or later, which is easy to check: just open your UMD drive, and look at the green circuit board visible in the top-right, as viewed from the back:

TA-082 and later motherboards have the text "IC1003" clearly visible, as shown.

If you need to find out in more detail which motherboard you have, the surest way is to dismantle your PSP - the motherboard number is clearly printed on the board. Note that this will void your Sony warranty.

Note that with the latest generation of downgraders, motherboard version is less important than it once was - all currently-known motherboards can be downgraded, so long as the firmware version is low enough.

How do I find a homebrew-compatible PSP?

With current downgraders PSPs up to firmware version 3.50 can be downgraded to v1.5, or use a loader such as HEN or eLoader to run Homebrew code.

You can often buy PSPs with specific firmware versions from sellers on eBay and similar auction sites.

One of the surest ways to obtain a PSP with the right version is to ask the seller to let you turn it on and check the version number in the XMB, via the "System Information" menu item. Also, if you're buying a new PSP in person (in a shop, for example) you can check the firmware version by checking the box code. This is a code letter found directly under the voltage rating on the serial number label:

box code location

Each code describes what firmware is preloaded on the PSP, as in the following table:

Letter Firmware installed in factory
No letter1.0 or 1.5
J2.70 unconfirmed
Q3.30 unconfirmed

What do I do if my PSP can't run homebrew?

One simple answer : be patient and do not upgrade it! History has shown time and again that the most likely date for the release of a downgrader or homebrew loader for your firmware will be the day after you decide to upgrade to the next firmware. At which point, you'll kick yourself. The exploit developers can't do anything for you without your patience.

Where do I get homebrew from?

Well, this site aims to be a definitive database, but we're still collecting information. In the meantime, the following major news sites are pretty good for keeping track of the world of homebrew:

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