On the Way to Ndless 3.2

Many of you have got a brand new TI-Nspire CX with the latest OS 3.2.4 for this back to school, and are coming here to get Ndless for a richer experience with the TI-Nspire. As you may have noticed Ndless is at the moment not compatible with OS 3.2.4, and this OS includes the usual anti-downgrade protection that prevent any Ndless 3.1 installation.

This post should give a bit of context and answer the frequent questions about Ndless compatibility.

Why is Ndless regularly blocked by OS updates?

Ndless and its SDK are the unofficial way to build and run advanced programs for the TI-Nspire in assembly ARM, C and C++, with full access to the hardware and OS services.

Ndless and some of the programs built for it have the side effect of breaking the trust model between TI and the standardized tests’ regulation bodies and the teachers community about the press-to-test feature and the physical distinction between CAS and non-CAS TI-Nspire (although it is actually purely software-based and circumvented by tools such as nLaunch/nLaunchy).
Note that the ability to run games on the TI-Nspire is not really the point as games written with the official Lua API and SDK do exist.

TI chose to protect these features by locking the entire device (instead of protecting specifically the aforementioned features) against any extension and low-level access that Ndless can provide. As a result Ndless (unwillingly) poses itself as an immediate threat to TI’s business model for the TI-Nspire.

TI has for this reason been actively chasing each major version of Ndless since 2009 with anti-Ndless updates, anti-downgrade protections (all defeated except the one in OS 3.2.4) and features against third-party code execution.

We (the Ndless community) believe that any device can ultimately be hacked, and that this is also true for the TI-Nspire. TI’s business model is flawed, the compatibility of Ndless with a new OS version is just a matter of time. TI’s competitors have understood this, but TI stubbornly forces the Ndless community and itself to play a cat-and-mouse game at each OS update.

When will Ndless 3.2 be available?

OS 3.2.0 fortunately didn’t include an anti-downgrade to OS 3.1 and let Ndless 3.1 live its life for a while. We (the contributors to Ndless and its SDK) have been able during this time to focus on useful features instead of playing the wasteful cat-and-mouse game, such as the nSDL library, the bFLT loader (that makes program porting easier), C++ compatibility, the string and Graphic Context API, host and device USB, GDB debugging and other Ndless Editor development tools.

OS 3.2.4 and its anti-downgrade feature now deprives many users who acquired a new TI-Nspire of the many third-party native programs available. The TI-Nspire community is now actively working on the update of Ndless, but this is not an easy task nor a deterministic engineering effort. Unfortunately no release date can be given (and obviously no date should be given that could be taken into account by TI for its OS release management).

How can I help?

If you are a regular user, send us a report of any reproducible reboot while using the standard functions and languages of the TI-Nspire. the Ndless installer indeed relies on unexpected behaviors for the installation of Ndless.

If you are familiar with ARM assembly, join the community, have a closer look to Ndless and let’s work together. Ndless is open source since 2009 for this reason.

Donating is also a good way to help. Donations help to cover hardware costs and can be redistributed to contributing members of the community.

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61 thoughts on “On the Way to Ndless 3.2

  1. Hi, I just recently purchased my first nspire and I would like to produce reports to aid in the process of building Ndless 3.2, however, I am unfamiliar with how I can capture and send the boot report?

  2. i have 3.2.4 impossible to downgrade
    i hope your job is doing good
    i wish you the best luck of all
    i will wait to see the results
    i would love to see ndless back on action on the new calculators

  3. Hey ExtendeD, when you update to whatever new OS is out at that time, will you make some way so that we can keep that certain OS and resist force updates? Thank’s man, keep up the good work :)

    Oh yeah, and will there be compatibility with LUA games and Nover overclocking?

    1. You are actually not forced to update. The real issue is for calculators sold with pre-built OS 3.2 that can’t be downgraded.

      Lua/Nover should indeed work without any problem.

  4. i can’t wait for the release! I just got the TI nspire cx cas a couple of days ago, and ndless wasnt able to be installed on the calc and i was like NOoOOOooOOoOOooOoOOoO

    Ughh i wish this can come out before the year ends :x

  5. Im wondering, how’s progress going for Ndless 3.2?
    I asked TI why they really don’t like us doing 3rd party C/Asm programming on the Ti Nspires. The guy told me because they have to “test” them?

  6. Hi ndless team, Everyone wants (including me) the ndless 3.6 hardware revision J, and I know that it is a work of all of us, so I was wondering how i can help cos I dont came here only to order, Thousands of people will be grateful and the new handhelds will be more powerfull and usefull, I hope I and everyone can help.

  7. have you guys made that much progress on ndless 3.2 because it’s been a long time since you said it would be worked on. Just wondering and its ok if you haven’t made that much progress i just want to know where you guys are at in the development process

  8. Just a random idea (might not work, but just throwing it out there): As a temporary measure, is it possible to downgrade from 3.2.4 to 3.1 by modifying the 3.1 OS version number? i.e. go into the OS file and change the version number to 3.3 in order to trick the calculator into thinking that it’s a newer version than 3.2? Sorry if that’s difficult to understand; I suck at explaining things.

    1. That kinda stuff is prolly hardcoded into the hardware or something, in the same place as the OS itself and it would be easier to just change the OS if you can access that part of the calculator I believe.

  9. Thank you all for your interest in Ndless.

    Max Zhu, Yoyostupid: once upgraded the OS minimum version mark that prevents downgrade is stored in a page of the NAND (persistent) memory of the TI-Nspire: http://hackspire.unsads.com/wiki/index.php/NAND_Memory_Layout . Modifying this page obviously requires Ndless, and will be possible with the Ndless-based nsNandMgr: http://www.omnimaga.org/index.php?topic=15408.0
    In any case porting Ndless is a prerequisite for the latest TI-Nspire hardware to… be able to use Ndless.

    Great progress has been made the last weeks thanks to invaluable work of several members of the community, please subscribe to new posts bellow to get notified, and keep posting to show your interest. Once again sorry for the delay, things are unfortunately more difficult than in the early days in 2009 ( http://hackaday.com/2009/12/31/ti-nspire-hacked/ ).

    1. As far as I know, there are no hardware differences between a CAS and a non-CAS that restricts the programs you can run. I can’t confirm this personally, but I’ve heard that you can copy the CAS library from a CAS calculator into a non-CAS calculator, and it’ll work fine. I’ve only heard that though; I have a CX CAS so I never had the opportunity to see if that’s true.

      Actually, I’ve read somewhere that the “keyboard” thing for the CAS and non-CAS versions have chips that prevent swapping face-plates to camouflage a CAS calculator into a CAS prohibited exam, though that probably doesn’t have any effect at all on ndless.
      Here’s the article I found about the “keyboard” switching…
      http://www.omnimaga.org/index.php?topic=14444.0

      In short, almost anything that works for CX CAS will work for CX non-CAS, and vice versa. If I’m wrong, correct me fast, but otherwise, that’s what my previous research showed when I was looking for a new calculator last year.

      1. I just want to know will i be able to run CAS functions when Ndless 3.2 comes out and with Ndless 3.2 work on my OS 3.2.4.

  10. I was an idiot and when trying to reflash 3.1 onto my CX, I accidentally flashed 3.6. Now I’m stuck, but my boot2 is still 3.1.0.16 supposedly. Is there any way I can downgrade? I know I can with hardware, but I haven’t been able to find a guide on how to. I wish you the best of luck with this.

    1. I deleted my OS when the downgrade protection version was set to 3.6, but still had the 3.1 boot2. I was still able to install nlaunchy, so you could try the same.

  11. Ndless is actually the only reason i purchased my NSpire CAS, mostly because of the ability to run Linux.

    At that time i didn’t know about TI’s effort to ban Ndless from their calcs, and unluckily it got one with Version 3.2.4 on it. So I have been stuck with it for quite a few months now, waiting for Ndless >=3.2

    So please keep up the good work!

    Hoping for a release in eyesight
    Simon

    PS: I’m very keen on electronics on a hardware basis. So if any help is needed on these bits just leave a reply

  12. Hello Guys,

    Thank you for your work ! It is unvaluable !!

    Do you have any ETA about Ndless 3.2 or 3.6 ?

    Best Regards,

    A french Nspire user

    1. Unfortunately no ETA can be given for any update. Please subscribe to the blog to get notified as soon as an up-to-date version will be available.
      We are really sorry for the delay, many thanks for your patience.

  13. I know you guys are working really hard at this, and through all the requests for release dates I am sure it can be somewhat stressful at times. But I would hope that you guys never give up or lose hope, since you are truly doing a GREAT service to everyone who owns a TI Nspire; anyone who knows the pains of hacking must unequivocally thank you with the utmost sincerity. Cheers, and code on!

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