In the context of 3DS hacking, a CFW (custom firmware) is not a true custom firmware. It is a program that runs, patches things like signature checks (to allow for non-legit CIAs, for example), allows for region-free, etc., but doesn't actually write to the NAND. There are quite a few options for launching CFW, and multiple different CFWs available to the common user. This page aims to provide an up-to-date list of used CFWs.
An in-depth explanation of 3DS system flaws can be found here.
The most widely used ones are:
- ARM9LoaderHax - Boot-time exploit, most common and considered safe at the moment, as it also provides a way to unbrick without needing a hardmod (as long as A9LH itself isn't damaged)
- *hax - If MenuHax is used, it can be a boot-time entrypoint, but others can be used, like BrowserHax, SoundHax, OoTHax, etc. Considered obsolete.
|CFW||Latest Supported Firmware|
The most widely used CFW, and considered noob-proof, hence the reason why it is recommended to people new to the scene, and why Plailect's Guide shows how to set it up. It has very few customization options, and includes FIRM write protection (meaning a system update shouldn't remove A9LH). This protection cannot be disabled.
It started as a fork of ReiNAND but eventually grew into its own CFW, no longer being considered a fork of that CFW.
It has a user-friendly menu, support for ARM9LoaderHax, MSET and *hax (including MenuHax), so any setup capable of running a CFW can most likely launch it, even though A9LH is recommended.
It can also be launched from CTRNAND (assuming one has a recent build of A9LH that supports it, like Aurora Wright's ARM9LoaderHax) making it possible to boot without an SD card inserted.
It can patch SysNAND or EmuNAND/RedNAND, and it also supports up to 5 EmuNANDs/RedNANDs.
It also supports boot splash screens, so you can display an image when booting the system.
It includes reboot patches for the Old 3DS and 2DS (for games that need to reboot the system to free system RAM, like Super Smash Bros.), region-free, language emulation, dev mode (it can turn your 3DS into a devkit 3DS) and payload chainloading. A list of other features can be found at its official wiki page.
A CFW that isn't used nearly as much as Luma3DS, aimed at developers and power users who are experienced with 3DS hacking. It only supports ARM9LoaderHax as an entrypoint (officially). It allows its user to disable and enable any patches at will, making it dangerous for inexperienced users, but fitting for people interested in controlling their system the way they want to.
It also supports FIRM write protection (although it is not obligatory), SysNAND or EmuNAND patching (in addition to supporting up to 10 EmuNANDs), language emulation, region-free... Basically anything any other CFW offers, and people (with enough knowledge) can write their own patches. This CFW is also capable of enabling dev mode, RO patching, using splash screens, chainloading payloads (with a menu that just looks amazing), fixing the module that blocks online access for users of older firmwares, etc. It even has a patch to remove the outlines from the models in Pokémon Sun & Moon. It is certainly not for inexperienced users, however, as shown by the fact that FIRM protection can be disabled.