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How-To: Hack Your Nokia N97 In 16 Steps [HelloOX2]

Today's How-To: Hack your N97 to run unsigned apps, among other things.

Today's How-To: Hack your N97 to run unsigned apps, among other things.

The latest version of HelloOX has been released, and it’s easier than ever to get unsigned software working on your N97. But let’s step back a bit: unsigned software is simply any kind of application that hasn’t gone through the Symbian Foundation’s rigorous signing process. Most freeware is unsigned, mainly due to the costs involved (around ~$525 for the bare minimum of one signing, with extra $$$ or euroseuroseuros for additional signing). With the included ROMPatcher utility, you can also apply unofficial patches to the firmware to fix bugs, modify current functionality, or adding new features. Pretty cool, right?

Unfortunately, by default your N97 (or any other recent S60 phone) will not allow you to install unsigned applications. We’re going to change that.

The Setup

You’re going to need a signed HelloOX2 sis file. Technically, that’s all you need, but a little out of reach for most people. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll also need a .cer file, a .key file, and the SISContents application. Note that the HelloOX2 site claims that you can get a signed version of the app by donating $5. This may or may not be preferable, as it does avoid the steps (and the waiting) found here.

Remember, if you get confused anywhere in the tutorial, click on the screenshot above each step. You might find it easier to just click on the pictures and use the onboard Prev/Next buttons to go through each step (every image has the instructions underneath).

Let’s begin.

Developer Certificate and Key File

Skip this section if you already have a Dev. Cert and a key file. Otherwise, read on.

The easiest way to get the two files you need is to register an account on OPDA. By registering and filling out some forms (directions below), you can get your cert within a couple of days.

Click the Register button on the OPDA forum page.

1. Go to the OPDA web site. Click on the Register button.

Scroll down, wait for the counter to reach zero, and then click the leftmost button.

2. You should something that sort of resembles a Disclaimer page. Scroll down to the bottom, and there will be a countdown timer. Wait for it to reach zero, then click the leftmost button that appears.

Fill out the fields according to this picture.

3. Next up, you’ll have to fill out the registration form. Click anywhere inside the first box, and you’ll see a Captcha box pop up. Enter the characters that appear. After that is some kind of random math problem, answer it and go on to the next box. This is your username. The following two boxes are your password and your password confirmation (enter your password twice). I hope the Email box is self-explanatory. You can ignore that last checkbox – it shows you some advanced user options that are completely and utterly useless in this tutorial. Finally, click the yellow submit button on the bottom.

You should be automatically logged in. Click on the Apply Cer. button.

4. You should see a message pop up, wait a few seconds for it to redirect you to the forum page. Congratulations, you registered an account! Too bad we’re only a third of the way through. Click on the Apply Cer. in the top right corner of the page.

Click the English button in the top right corner. It makes the page a lot more manageable.

5. You should be at a page that looks similar to the picture here. Click on the English button (top right corner) to see what that important-looking green box says. Now click on the Login button and enter your credentials into the following form. (no picture for this step)

Click the Apply cer button.

6. This is the My Certificates page. Click on the Apply cer button (in orange, see picture if necessary).

Fill out the fields in the certificate application. Enter the correct model and IMEI. For phone number, enter an 11-digit number starting with 13, 15, or 18.

7. Finally, a form that’s completely in English. Make sure you put the correct model and IMEI as this is critical to generating a valid certificate for your phone. For Phone Number, enter an 11-digit number starting with either 13, 15, or 18. Example: 15134567890. If you’ve filled out the form correctly, you’ll see the message: Operation Success! Now you’ll have to wait until your certificate and key files are generated. Generally it takes anywhere from 1-3 days.

Step 8: Click and save the .cer and .key files.

8. Assuming that your screen looks like mine, and your certificates/keys were generated, click and save the .cer and .key files. Pat yourself on the back, you got through Part 1 of this walkthrough.

Using SISContents

SISContents is the software application that uses your .cer/.key files to digitally sign a Symbian application. It’s fairly easy to use, but I’ll write out all of the steps involved regardless.

Open SISContents and click the Open File icon. Browse to the directory where you placed the HelloOX2.unsigned.sis file and double click it.

1. If you haven’t already, download and run SISContents. Click on the large folder icon in the top left corner (Open file), and browse to the directory where you put the HelloOX2.unsigned.sis file. Double-click to open it.

2. Now go to Tools -> Sign package.

Fill out the fields according to this picture.

3. Another box should pop up. You’ll notice that there’s two tabs on the top of the box, Package and Key pairs. Click on the Key pairs tab to switch.

You should be automatically logged in. Click on the Apply Cer. button.

4. Here you’ll create a profile with your new files. A key pair is made up of a .cer file, and a .key file. Make sure you add both of these files using the Browse… button. For Private Key Passphrase, enter 12345. You can name the profile anything you want, but I find that a simple, description name like “N97 Certificate” works well. When you’ve finished, click the Add profile button.

You should see the new profile appear in the box called "Available Signing Profiles". If not, repeat the previous step.

5. Note the change once you click the Add profile button: a new profile should appear in the box labeled “Available signing profiles”.

Switch back to the "Package" tab. Click the box under Signing Profiles, and select the profile you just created.

6. Remember those two tabs on top? Click on the Package tab to switch back to the package view. On the right side, you should see “Signing profiles:”, with an empty drop-down box underneath. Click on this box, and select your newly created profile.

Click the "Add signature" button. You should your newly created signature in the box on the right side, labeled "Signatures of selected component." Congratulations! Now close this box by clicking the X in the top right corner. Don't forget to save the file.

7. Click on the Add signature button. You should see a new entry in the “Signatures of selected component box” (right side) that reads something like “SHA1 with RSA” and some certificate validity period dates. If you see those, you’re almost there! All that’s left now is to close this box (use the X in the top right corner), and save the file that you just modified (File -> Save as…). Congratulations! You’re even closer than before!

Installing and Running HelloOX2

And now the step we’ve been waiting for. HelloOX2 should be signed with your own developer certificate and key file. Now copy it to your phone, and run it in File Manager. The installation is very straightforward, and the only prompt that might give you pause is the “Install Modo?” one. Modo is a freeware File Manager that you may want to use instead of Nokia’s crappy stock one.

Once HelloOX2 is installed, you need to enable the correct patches to allow you to run unsigned applications. Go to your Applications folder, and run the ROMPatcher utility. You should see two entries: Installserver_FP2 and open4all. For each entry, go to Options -> Patch -> Apply, and then Options -> Patch -> Add to auto. Add to auto autoloads the patches on each reboot.

And now…wait for it…you’re done! Go out and have a beer or something. You successfully navigated through this nightmare of a tutorial!

If you’d like to test out your new unsigned application installation functionality, grab VirtualKey (it’s unsigned by default) and try to install it.

Final Notes

You can also use this method on the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, or pretty much any other S60 Third Edition and up phone – it’s not limited to the N97.


This procedure isn’t anything new, although some of the steps have changed slightly due to OPDA’s redesign and the new HelloOX2 application. The original post that I used for my 5800 XpressMusic can be found at My Geeky Encounters.




damian thorn
12:32 pm

nothing doing on v20. gets stuck on ‘unpacking files’.

Nokia Fan
4:09 pm

Great Tutorial. I have just done everything as told and can see my certificate. But when I try to install it is saying “Uable to install constrained by certificate”. Please help.
Thanks & Regards

5:24 pm

still no hack for n97 v20?

4:53 am

Hello, I am really interested in getting this program, but will I have any problems with it when I have hacked my phone and does the warranty on the phone expirer because Ive hacked it? Im just a little worried about getting it.
Thanks hope you can help

5:18 pm

Hacking the phone just means that you can run unsigned applications – basically, applications that haven’t been tested by a third-party company to work on S60 devices. So by itself hacking will not break anything on your phone. However, the freedom to install any application means that you may accidentally install a malicious application, so you’ll have to use some vigilance when installing stuff.

That’s an excellent question. I don’t know for sure if installing HelloOX would void the warranty on your phone.

9:09 am

I think i am big time screwed, the cert and key file are in my possession, but it doesnt work, im doing everything according this tut. but it cannot be installed due to “no valid cert.”

highly frustrating!

12:49 am

Not sure about screwed, but you should be able to remove the IMEI of the phone you added to your account and resubmit it once (I think). I believe I had to do that but you only get enough credits for one extra set of key/certs. Keep in mind that you can always create multiple accounts if you need to.

9:26 pm

When installing HelloOx to phone, when it is at the installing root cert stage, how long does this take as mine seems to be taking quite a while?

12:54 am

I don’t remember this taking a long time for me. I’m pretty sure the entire installation took less than a minute.

8:48 pm

I bought hello0X2 and they sent me the link with in 24 hours.. i installed it and everything works great. I wish i had done it from days before.

5:34 am

dude where can i find rompatcher utility in my N97?

9:22 pm

Rompatcher is installed with HelloOX2. It’s in the Applications folder.

12:29 pm

great tutorial, but when i got my want to save my cer and key files they appear to have the same name without .cer or .key or anything. both files are named “opda.cn_N97_Rob’s”. Do i need to change the filename in some way?

Thanks in advance!

10:52 am

It’s not necessary, but I’d recommend renaming them so you don’t get confused. Siscontents will take the cer/key files whether they’re named correctly or not.

12:53 am

i want to thank you so much
for more than a year i’ve been try to install irremote but coudnt but now
thanks very much

10:31 pm

How will I get HelloOx??

12:54 am


4:32 pm

thanks so much guys this site as so helped me out, been trying to sign sis for days thanks again

4:51 pm

Thank you man. i have installed all apps to my n96 with your support

1:34 pm

Thanks for the tutorial. Was very easy to follow.
1 thing, when I copied the Hello sis file to my phone after the completion of the cer. key. files etc, It gave me a prompt warning, saying it can be seriously harmful to my device. Is this a safety precaution from nokia? or is it something i should take into consideration prior to loading this?
thanks for the help.

3:55 pm

This is normal – basically it’s warning you that if you run unsigned or self-signed development software it *could* be hazardous to your phone.

7:05 pm

hi…im now signing in the opda….in putting the IMEE should i put those “/” bars like ex. xxxxxx/xxxxxxx/x or will i put only [removed]…and when i put my phone no. it is invalid…i put xxxxxxxxxx…becuase that is my sim card no..please reply..thx

[sorry, had to edit this comment so your IMEI isn't visible to the entire world]

12:27 am

Ignore any of the other characters, the IMEI should just be the numbers. DO NOT PUT YOUR ACTUAL PHONE NUMBER IN THE PHONE NUMBER BOX! Reread that part, you need to put in a random 11-digit number that starts with 13, 15 or 18!

7:43 am

Awesome tutorial. Easy to follow (although the OPDA site has changed abit in appereance since the creating of this tutorial it wasn’t hard to figure it out). Unsigned apps here I come :D
Thanks a trillion!

4:44 am

Brilliant app, it might be a great help. I googled and download the HelloOX2, but found it really complicated to follow it, there are 16 steps! So finally i gave up, with the hope that Nokia will provdes another mobile phone that comes with more support for the third party app.

The Nokia Phone Blog » Blog Archive » How-To: Change Your S60 Phone Key Mappings With VirtualKey
2:53 pm

[...] First, as mentioned before, you’ll need to have some way to run unsigned applications. The easiest way is to obtain a developer’s certificate, and this can be done from the OPDA site. Check out my instructions here. [...]

Reply to ang

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