Monday, June 30, 2008

The Region Free MacBook

I've posted these instructions elsewhere but wanted to bring them here. The topic is how to play DVDs from anywhere in the world on your MacBook. The reason you might want to perform this hack is that DVD players are manufactured to only be able to play DVDs manufactured for the local region. That sucks. I buy the MacBook and the DVD and they won't let me play the darn thing. I could download the video illegally but I like to collect DVDs (I know, I'm already in the 12-step program). I could rant about this for hours but Wikipedia does a good job of describing the issues.

This is how I performed the hack and links to the software I used. Special thanks to the guys at RPC1.org for making this possible, especially Ben11 who did all the hard work.

Copy this at your own risk but it worked for me.

1. Go to Apple -> About This Mac -> More Info -> Disk Burning to check what firmware version you're running.

2. Download the software you need. A list of the MATSHITA drives (the appropriately named company whose drives Apple uses in their MacBook and other lines) that can be currently upgraded by this method is available.

3. Apply the flash AT YOUR OWN RISK. Do not interrupt the installation. Restart the computer after the installation has been complted. FYI, my installation paused a couple of times; if yours does too, don't be tempted to restart the computer or stop the installation before the installation is complete.

4. Use DVDInfoX to confirm that you're flash worked.

When I did the check, this is what it showed:

DVD Info X v1.0.1, by xvi (xvi@rpc1.org)

WARNING --- DVD Info X will only list DVD drives that have some WRITE
capabilities, like combos, DVD-R, DVD-RW, etc...
DVD-ROM-only drives will NOT be listed.
WARNING --- You also must eject any inserted medium to list the drive.

Vendor: MATSHITA
Model: DVD-R UJ-857
Firmware: HBEA
RPC-1 (region free)

5. Set and change the region using (the Intel updated) Region X 1.3.

6. Use DVD Player to watch your region free movies and reset the region as need be (using Region X) or use VLC and don't worry about changing the region (as it doesn't set a region).

Edit: Read this post for an update on how to make the newer MacBook Pro region free.

33 comments:

Pageturners said...

This didn't work for me - the file I downloaded turned out to be a Windows executable, not a Mac file. Back to square one.

Mac Hacker said...

Which link, there's about half a dozen on the page. Let me know and I'll try to re-up or find a update.

Pageturners said...

My MacBook's drive is a HL-DT-ST DVDRW GSA-S10N with firmware revision BP10.

Darn, now I can't find what link I followed on the Firmware Page - the links aren't obvious and you have to float your cursor over the whole text to find it.

But the software I downloaded was called GSA-S10N_AP12_Apple.zip, if that's any help.

Only thing is, now that I look at it, I think that might be for the earlier firmware AP12 anyway. Hm.

Pageturners said...

Found it - not sure how I navigated from page to page, but this was the link that gave the zip file that opened to an .exe (Windows executable):

http://files.rpc1.org/index.php?act=view&id=5641

Mac Hacker said...

Pageturner - sorry, I don't control the content on http://files.rpc1.org/index.php?act=view&id=5641

That's not for a macbook drive. Good luck finding a solution.

Pageturners said...

Not for a MacBook drive? But that's the drive my MacBook lists!

Thanks for your help, though. I think I'll just buy a PC net time.

Mac Hacker said...

My error. It IS (as you know) a Mac drive but it was also a Dell drive. The software you downloaded was developed for windows users.

Steve said...

Dredging up a bit of an old one here, but I have the same drive and firmware revision as Pageturners and want some region-free goodness as well. Will any of the files here:

http://files.rpc1.org/index.php?act=category&id=1778

help me do that?

If so, any appropriate instructions would be most appreciated also. Your post on unlocking Matshita drives on newer Macbooks has obviously made a lot of people very happy, so hoping you can help me out too.

Thanks in advance.

Mac Hacker said...

This looks like the appropriate driver:

http://files.rpc1.org/index.php?act=view&id=5641

It is still an .exe file (windows). You could run an .exe upgrade by pulling the drive and pluging it into a PC. You might have luck if you have a Boot Camp partition and boot straight into that or maybe (less likely) using a Virtual Machine to run the program.

However, I don't have access to a mac with that drive to test these theories. Any upgrade I've performed has been using a .dat file so my experience using an .exe version is zero.

My strongest recommendation is to contact the Dangerous Brothers and request a firmware upgrade from them. Go to tdb.rpc1.org and you will see a link to their firmware requests page. Good luck.

sam said...

Hi there,
after a bit of searching I found the right file for my UJ-898 HC10, however it is a .dat file and I don't know which application to open it with. The default application is VLC but this doesn't seem to work.
Thanks.

Mac Hacker said...

Sam

You need to use the MatshitaFlasher (http://www.mediafire.com/?9ged9jdf747z0b7).

sam said...

Hi there,
Thanks for the tip, it works, But,
when the terminal window pops up and asks if I want to continue I type Y (upper case) and press enter. after a while the terminal window says:
finished
logout
with nothing in between.
when I try DVD info X it says:

DVD Info X v1.0.2, by xvi (xvi@rpc1.org)

WARNING --- DVD Info X will only list DVD drives that have some WRITE
capabilities, like combos, DVD-R, DVD-RW, etc...
DVD-ROM-only drives will NOT be listed.
WARNING --- You also must eject any inserted medium to list the drive.

What am I doing wrong?
thanks again for you help and patience,
Sam.

Mac Hacker said...

Sam - try using Region X to see if you can reset your count. In addition to the text you saw, you should have gotten something like:

Vendor: MATSHITA
Model: DVD-R UJ-898
Firmware: HC10
RPC-1 (region free)

Make sure you used the correct .dat file - there should be two and one is the resent version (to make it not region free).

sam said...

I used the RPC1 version of the .dat file, I think this is the right one.
The fact that DVD info X doesn't seem to register my disk drive is what mystifies me, before and after opening the .dat file. (I double checked that there is no CD in the drive). I am not keen to try risk using region x as when I open the application it has a warning that my drive will lock if it is not region free, but how can I tell if DVD info X does not tell me about the drive?
Thank you again for your help and sorry for my incompetence when it comes to computers,
Sam

Mac Hacker said...

Sam

Send me details. Macbook, OS version, drive details so I can make sure you've go the right stuff and we can go from there. I'm on the road the next couple of days so I may not get back to you immediately.

sam said...

MacBook Pro 7,1 , Mac OS X version 10.6.8,

MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-898:

Firmware Revision: HC10
Interconnect: ATAPI
Burn Support: Yes (Apple Shipping Drive)
Cache: 1024 KB
Reads DVD: Yes
CD-Write: -R, -RW
DVD-Write: -R, -R DL, -RW, +R, +R DL, +RW
Write Strategies: CD-TAO, CD-SAO, DVD-DAO

DVD Info X v1.0.2.
I hope this is enough information,
Thank you so much for helping me out!
Sam

sam said...

Partial success,
After I used the RPC-1 file and tried to play a dvd it came up with the change region window, my drive had been set to region 2 with 3 changes left, however this new window said the drive was region 1 with 5 changes left. then I used the non RPC-1 file and the drive was back to region 2 with 3 changes left. I used the RPC-1 again, and changed the drive to region 4 and I now have 4 changes left. my drive now finally appears to be region free, (horay!!) but I don't dare to use Region X as I'm not sure if the drive is actually RPC-1 as DVD info X still is not listing my drive. Sorry for the long rant.
thanks again,
Sam

Mac Hacker said...

Sam - if you are resetting the count then you have an RPC1 drive. Have fun with it.

Uri said...

Hi,

If I have a UJ-898, firmware revision: HE13, will the older (HD10/HC10) be applicable?

Thank you in advance :)

Gigi said...

Hello Mac Hacker!

I have a 2008 Macbook and I'm trying to make the drive region-free. Here is my drive's info:

MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-857E:

Firmware Revision: ZF1E
Interconnect: ATAPI
Burn Support: Yes (Apple Shipping Drive)
Cache: 2048 KB
Reads DVD: Yes
CD-Write: -R, -RW
DVD-Write: -R, -R DL, -RW, +R, +R DL, +RW
Write Strategies: CD-TAO, CD-SAO, DVD-DAO
Media: Insert media and refresh to show available burn speeds


I downloaded the proper firmware for my MacBook but the Firmware Revision code on my Mac and the one on the README mentions are different.

What do I do?

Thanks for posting this! Really helpful!

Gigi said...

Hello Mac Hacker! I have a 2008 MacBook and I'm trying to make my drive region free. Here's my drive info:

MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-857E:

Firmware Revision: ZF1E
Interconnect: ATAPI
Burn Support: Yes (Apple Shipping Drive)
Cache: 2048 KB
Reads DVD: Yes
CD-Write: -R, -RW
DVD-Write: -R, -R DL, -RW, +R, +R DL, +RW
Write Strategies: CD-TAO, CD-SAO, DVD-DAO
Media: Insert media and refresh to show available burn speeds

I downloaded the proper firmware from the link you posted, but the thing is the Firmware Revision code is different on my MacBook from the code that Ben11's README mentions.

What should I do?

Thanks for posting this! Really helpful!

M. said...

What about not "MATSHITA" but some "HL-DT-ST DVDRW GSA-S10N:" / "BP08" - thing...??? Any chance...?

Mac Hacker said...

Not that I know of. I've looked in the usual places and couldn't find anything.

Anonymous said...

I tried to run Ben11's update and received an error stating "You can't use this version of the application Update KCVB to region free with this version of Mac OS X. You have Update KCVB to region free 2.1.0"

I'm new to this stuff, but I believe the problem is my upgrade to 10.6.8, as all the other numbers match up. I've got MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-857D (KCVB) and that's exactly what I've downloaded.

Any idea what I can do to get around this? Thanks for any help you can give me.

Mac Hacker said...

Anonymous, try the links in the updated post at http://hackthemac.blogspot.com/2010/02/while-back-i-recorded-how-to-make.html to get the newer flashers. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post! It worked great for me. I'm not sure if this comment has already been made but the link to DVDInfo X goes to an older version of the app that won't read a 15" macbook pro i5 running Snow Leopard. I got the latest version here: http://download.cnet.com/DVD-Info-X/3000-7970_4-75363151.html
The above works. - jor

Nimas said...

Hello,

Would you mind help me, I'm using MBP 13" (2.4) 10.7.2 version, i found my firmware type is different from yours, mine is SB07 and the details as follow:

HL-DT-ST DVDRW GS23N:

Firmware Revision: SB07
Interconnect: ATAPI
Burn Support: Yes (Apple Shipping Drive)
Cache: 2048 KB
Reads DVD: Yes
CD-Write: -R, -RW
DVD-Write: -R, -R DL, -RW, +R, +R DL, +RW
Write Strategies: CD-TAO, CD-SAO, CD-Raw, DVD-DAO

I have downloaded the firmware SB07 from rpc1.org, but still I'm lost, what should I do after that?

Really looking forward for your guide

Many thanks,
Nimas

Mac Hacker said...

Nimas

Make sure that you have the mac softwre and not the one for windows and you should just be able to follow the instructions in the first post. If the file are labelled significantly different to those mentioned in the original post then you likely have the PC version.

Nimas said...

Thank you for the respond.

Well, I got the firmware from this link:
http://files.rpc1.org/index.php?act=view&id=5778

I followed your previous post "MacBook Pro now Region Free (Matshita DVD-R UJ-868)", and I read the instructions which you gave to Sara, thought that she/he is so new about this and so am I.
I need details instruction such as that but still confuse with the 1st step (bellow), Mine is LG and yours is Matshita. My question is what flasher app should I have to download and run?

1. Get simple_flash binary from MatshitaFlasher.app/Contents/Resources. Do this by going to the application called "MatshitaFlasher" that you downloaded, control-click (or right click if you have a two button mouse) on the file and select "Show Contents". Dig down in that folder until you find the simple_flash binary.
2. Get the firmware KB19_rpc1.dat file you want from rpc1.org (see main post for the correct page).
3. Put both on your desktop.
4. Start the Terminal program located in your Utilities folder which is in your Applications folder (\Applications\Utilities\Terminal)
5. Type "run
cd Desktop". Hit enter.
6. Start the flasher by typing "./simple_flash 0 KB19_rpc1". Hit enter.

So sorry I'm not a real geek as you are and that's why I really need your help.

Looking forward to hear for you

Rgrds,
Nimas

Mac Hacker said...

Nimas

The file you downloaded is a .exe file which is for windows only. To use it, you would need to pull the drive and put it in a windows PC. Every attempt I've seen just using Boot Camp has failed. I looked around and did not find a mac set of files available yet. Post a request on rpc1.org and someone may be able to create one for you there.

Anonymous said...

this is what shows in mine

MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-8A8:

Firmware Revision: HB14
Interconnect: ATAPI
Burn Support: Yes (Apple Shipping Drive)
Cache: 1024 KB
Reads DVD: Yes
CD-Write: -R, -RW
DVD-Write: -R, -R DL, -RW, +R, +R DL, +RW
Write Strategies: CD-TAO, CD-SAO, CD-Raw, DVD-DAO
Media: To show the available burn speeds, insert a disc and choose View > Refresh

Anonymous said...

this is what shows in mine

MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-8A8:

Firmware Revision: HB14
Interconnect: ATAPI
Burn Support: Yes (Apple Shipping Drive)
Cache: 1024 KB
Reads DVD: Yes
CD-Write: -R, -RW
DVD-Write: -R, -R DL, -RW, +R, +R DL, +RW
Write Strategies: CD-TAO, CD-SAO, CD-Raw, DVD-DAO
Media: To show the available burn speeds, insert a disc and choose View > Refresh

Grendel Khan said...

This page might help you get started:

http://thetechjoiner.com/tech/mac/how-to-make-macbookpro-2012-dvd-drive-region-free/