What Is Homebrew?

Underground Programming for the PSP

A rooted PSP running a Hello World! script
銀糸/Wikimedia Commons

"Homebrew" refers to programs, such as games and utility software, that are made at home by individual people (as opposed to development companies).

Homebrew programs have been made for many systems, including PC (a lot of shareware and freeware falls in this category), iPod, Gameboy Advance, XBox, cell phones, and more. PSP homebrew has a growing and thriving community producing all kinds of interesting applications that can be run on a PlayStation Portable.

How Is Homebrew Possible?

The first Japanese PSPs were sold with firmware version 1.00, which could run unsigned code (that is, programming code that was not "signed" or approved by Sony or a Sony-authorized developer). People soon discovered this fact, and PSP homebrew was born.

When the firmware was updated to version 1.50 (the version that the earliest North American machines were released with), homebrew was slightly more difficult, but thanks to an exploit it is also possible to run unsigned code on PSPs with this version. In fact, version 1.50 is considered to be the best firmware for running homebrew, as it can run all homebrews without major problems. (Unfortunately, many newer games require the latest firmware to run, but exploits have been found for most firmware versions except the most recent.)

Homebrew Countermeasures

Most new firmware updates include measures to render homebrew inoperable, but new homebrew exploits are discovered all the time, often on the same day the official firmware is released.

Why Bother With Homebrew?

Many PSP users will be happy using their handheld to play commercially-released games and movies, but there are always people who want more. There have been some interesting games developed by homebrew programmers, as well as useful utilities such as a calculator and an instant messenger program.

More than that, homebrew can be fun, and it represents the ultimate challenge to an amateur programmer.

More on Firmware

The specific way that homebrew can be run on a PSP depends on the firmware version installed on the machine. If you're going to try out homebrew, the first thing you'll need to know is what firmware version your PSP has.

To learn what version of firmware you have, consult our guide How to Find Out Which Firmware Version Your PSP Has.

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