Okay, I feel like a retard, but after reading these (and other ps2 hdd) forums for over 4 hours and using the search countless times, I still have questions unanswered about HD Loader.
First, I've come to several conclusions:
1) MC exploit seems to be a popular way to load HD Loader; I gather that it's mostly because many people don't have mod chips...
2) The instructions for patching HD Loader are aimed at the MC exploit crowd as it involves patching the ELF file
3) There is no way of direct-booting to the HD (with no disc in the drive!!) unless you have a newer mod chip that supports DEV1/DEV2 (some sort of diagnostic mode?)
Currently, my setup is:
PS2 - Version 4
Magic 3.x modchip (I have absoutely no idea if its 3.0 or 3.1 and don't know how to determine this without opening the box up and taking pics... anyone have an idea?)
60 gig Maxtor HDD
HD Loader (i think unpatched, totally orig ISO)
I run HDloader off of a cdr burn (dont ask dont tell etc...) and that's been working fine for me so far for most games.
I use winhiips to load games onto the drive and have no desire or patience to use FTP/the PS2 dvd drive
Problem is that the chip/my laser(?) is a little tricky and sometimes requires me to reboot (go into standby, boot up again...) multiple times before the HD Loader disc is read, this is probably not good for the laser, nor my HDD...
Secondly, the thing that got me into this whole mess is that I couldn't get God of War to work (the dvd5 confusion rip, again dont ask dont tell...) with HD Loader. I tried using the different modes etc, but still no dice, I get the SCEA screen and it freezes.
So I dig around and find that there's this "patch" that supposedly adds support for a slew of games... (surprisingly, Star Wars 3 PAL version worked fine without any mode changes etc.) So I went looking for a patch for the ISO, considering this was my normal boot method and I had no reason not to use a cdr (magic 3 and all...). But couldn't find one... so...
my questions are:
1) is there such an entity? Alternatively, can I patch the ELF, and reintegrate it into the ISO?
2) My understanding is that the MC exploit will require a PSX disc to be in the drive on boot regardless, is there any way around this? (Short of getting a new chip)
3) Would using the MC exploit and loading all my games from HDD render my Magic 3 redundant?
4) What switches should I be using when updating HD Loader to 0.7c? (I'm currently thinking /N /C)
5) Should I bother with the MC exploit, keeping in mind that getting God of War to work is what's driving all of this...
and most importantly:
6) Is there any way I can avoid having any disc in my PS2 to boot to HDD, with my current configuration?
Sorry for the long post, and thanks in advance for some answers. I've tried to look for the answers but they really are scattered quite widely, not to mention the tutorial section of this place seems to be broken for the time...
I'm sure I've forgotten something but I guess I can post a follow-up.
Once again TIA.