Today I am going to ramble at you about CFW's, why? Because there needs to be a thread addressing all concerns about CFW's and comparing/contrasting them, thus allowing you to determine which CFW will suit your 3DS gaming needs! First let's start out by determining what you are running and your options Active projects Luma3DS Corbenik Stable SaltFW Dormant CakesFW ReiNAND Inactive Old RxTools Yet another rxTools? Puma33DS CFW Additional Information! What CFW should I run? But what if I still don't know what CFW I should run? Why shouldn't you use other Entrypoints? Why you should stop using MenuHAX! But is it safe to change my CFW? FAQ Being researched! Credits! Active! These CFWs are highly active, either through regular updates or regular nightly updates. They tend to be be a bit more cutting-edge, but still very stable. Luma3DS Luma3DS Luma3DS started out as a fork of ReiNAND created by Aurora Wright, but has since branched out to become its own entity. Luma3DS is currently one of the most widely used CFW's for the 3DS, mostly because of its extremely user-friendly approach and large community support for this project. But what does it offer and why should you use it? What can it do? User friendly menu: Upon first boot this menu gives you a basic set up for the install as well can be accessed later for some basic configuration options. A9LH, MenuHax, MSET support: Meaning no matter what auto-boot entry point you are using, you will have support for it. It also supports the older MSET exploit. Running Luma3DS from CTRNAND: Luma3DS's arm9loaderhax can be copied to the CTRNAND. This allows booting the CFW directly from the CTRNAND. This also includes all the patches found in Luma3DS such as Reboot patches, FIRM protection, ect. Follow this guide to setting up Luma3DS onto your CTRNAND EmuNAND and SysNAND support: Luma3DS can run CFW on your sysNAND (using A9LH) and still supports emuNAND (all entrypoints) Multi-EmuNAND support: Allowing you to run multi-EmuNANDs on the SD card, because it can do that. FIRM0/1 protection for A9LH: This layer of protection allows you to always have your SysNAND up to date, without the risk of losing your CFW support and A9LH install. This feature is on by default. Reboot patches for old3DS built into the launcher: These patches allow you to run games that require a lot of RAM like Smash Bros. and Monster Hunter 4. As well allows you to run GBA custom games, older DS(i) flashcarts with header, and launch custom DSi apps. Region Free: You can play both physical games and CIA's from other regions. Silent updates are disabled: Updates will not download while in sleep mode (The next few are going to be quoted from the wiki because I don't know how to word them. They are the more technical stuff.) Payload Chainloading: This A9LH feature allows you to launch A9LH applications through Luma3DS's built-in boot loader. To quote the official wiki Session persistency: Show current NAND in System Settings: Quoted to better explain New3DS CPU speed adjustments: Which allows you to control your New3DS’ CPU clock speed Boot splashes: Allowing you to add a boot splash upon start up Region/language emulation: Just what is sounds like, you can spoof your system's region and language Dev mode: You can use Luma3DS to turn your system into a Dev 3DS (requires Dev build) RO patching: "RO is a service that loads .CRO files (CTR Relocatable Objects, maybe.) CRO files are like .DLLs (Windows) or Linux shared objects (.so). They have a separate signature check routine with RO - without a patch to RO to disable the signature check, RO will refuse to load unsigned or invalidly signed code from CROs. A large amount of code in some games (like Pokémon) is stored not in the ExeFS, but the CRO files." quoted from this post Security Pin: Luma3DS provides the option to set up a button-combination before boot. This allows you to set up a PIN to protect your 3DS from unwanted tampering. These are just the features I covered: The rest are in the wiki Now why should you use Luma3DS? Luma3DS has a large community around it, with a very active dev behind it. Almost all errors are addressed as soon as they are brought up. This has created an extremely beginner friendly CFW, that is extremely stable. You can expect regular updates and regular feedback, not only from the community, but also the dev herself. All the features mentioned above are built directly into the launcher, meaning there's very little clutter on your SD card and next to no space taken up. Just download, place on your SD card, and you are good to go, everything you need is in one spot. This makes setting up a breeze and so easy, anyone can do it! As well, all features you could ever need are just there. No patching this or downloading that, they are just there. You want to use A9LH with an EmuNAND? You can! You want to run it through MenuHax with EmuNAND? Go right ahead! CFW SysNAND through A9LH? Luma3DS was the first to do that! There are nightly builds for those who want the latest in the Luma3DS builds. Luma3DS also has pre-compiled nighties! http://astronautlevel2.github.io/Luma3DS/ Pre-compiled Nightly builds to make things easier for you There is even an app you can install directly onto your 3DS that will download the latest (nightly and stable) releases, directly onto your 3DS! Luma Updater Like I said, huge community support for this project. Which I say is a huge reason to use this CFW. You are almost never left in the dark when you have a problem. If you find a problem, it was most likely already found before you did and already fixed. Luma3DS is both cutting edge and stable and earned its spot as the top CFW for the 3DS. Corbenik Corbenik Corbenik CFW is a CakesFW-inspired CFW, but not a fork of said CFW. It is a lot like CakesFW, being highly customisable through external patches. Though unlike CakesFW it uses bytecode-based patches and a VM to run them (both in the CFW and Loader.) This CFW has quickly matured an extremely stable state since being released and is highly recommended for devs and power users alike. Corbenik does share some code with Luma3DS and CakesFW (and credits them too) but it is still based on its own completely independent code. What can it do? Advanced Menu to customise your CFW: Much like CakesFW, you have an advanced menu to choose what options/loaders you want to use. Giving complete control over your CFW's functions. A9LH support: This CFW can both auto-boot from A9LH as well boot from a Boot Manager. Corbenik does not support MenuHax. Firm0/1 Protection: You have the option to turn off and on FIRM0/1 protection. Supports SysNAND and EmuNAND: You can boot into either a SysNAND CFW or EmuNAND CFW. Multiple EmuNAND support: You run up to 10 EmuNAND's on the same system! Reboot/GBA/DS(i) patches: You can use reboot patches to allow high memory/GBA/DS(i) games to boot on your old3DS. As well supports TWL patches, so you can launch DS(i) flashcarts with a header. Region-Free patches: You can launch games (both CIA and carts) from different regions. Language emulation patches: Allow you to emulate different languages on your system. Blocks eShop, Cart, and NIM updates: Basically protects your system from unwanted updates from Nintendo. Friend code fix for older FWs: Allows you to use older FW's and still access your Friend codes. Dev mode support: Turn your 3DS into a Dev 3DS! New3DS CPU speed adjustments: CPU speed hack is supported on N3DS. It gets automatically hidden on O3DS because it does nothing. Payload Chainloading: Corbenik supports A9LH payload chainloading, basically using its own menu to allow you to boot into A9LH apps. It's pretty easy to set up, just place the apps into the folder "/corbenik/boot" or /skeith/boot. The apps will then appear under “Chainloader” in the menu. Nightly builds: Corbenik provides nightly builds called "skeith" which can be downloaded directly from this link: here Skeith can be install alongside your stable build allowing both Stable and Nightly to coexist without hassle. So you can test all of the new features without losing you stable build. RO patching: "RO is a service that loads .CRO files (CTR Relocatable Objects, maybe.) CRO files are like .DLLs (Windows) or Linux shared objects (.so). They have a separate signature check routine with RO - without a patch to RO to disable the signature check, RO will refuse to load unsigned or invalidly signed code from CROs. A large amount of code in some games (like Pokémon) is stored not in the ExeFS, but the CRO files." quoted from this post Bootloader themes: You can install themes directly to your bootloader. Which both acts as a background for your bootloader and as a boot splash. Bootloader screenshots: By pressing "L+R+Start" you can take screenshots of your bootloader. They are saved under "/corbenik/var/cache/screenshot.ppm" or "/skeith/var/cache/screenshot.ppm" Example screenshot Option to remove Outlines on Pokemon in Sun/Moon: Corbenik has an option to remove the heavy outline around the Pokemon in battle in Pokemon Sun/Moon. This option works with both New3DS and Old3DS, as well works with both physical cart and CIA/Digital versions of the game. (ported by @Gray_Jack and @Kitlith) With outline Without outline And other features I may have missed: here Now why should you use Corbenik? Corbenik is a lot like CakesFW, but where CakesFW is the Arch-Linux of CFW's, Corbenik is the Gentoo of CFW's. Corbenik is not for the faint of heart, it's a hardcore Dev/Power user oriented CFW. Corbenik is made for CFW users who want complete control over their system, giving them complete power to decide what patches they want to run and even give Dev power to the user. Corbenik is maybe a dev/power user orientated CFW, but that does mean it's unstable. Each release is heavily tested before it hits the public. The community is still small, but mostly made up of highly dedicated devs and power users who are willing to ensure each update is stable. Bugs are fixed almost as soon as they are found and patches are regularly added to improve the overall experience. Much like CakesFW, this one does not build its patches into the launcher. Which again means the same thing. Easier to set up for Bootloaders, but a little bit of clutter on the SD card. Of course the payoff is that you can see all the patches involved and have control over what patches you want to use. Corbenik actually does have its own updater to download the latest version directly to your 3DS Corbenik CFW Updater: RE Nightly build: skeith Corbenik is not for newbies just getting into the CFW's, it's for the devs/power users. Users who know what they are doing and know what they looking for. This is not a CFW that was made to hold your hand, it was made for those who want complete control over their system. Stable! These CFW's aren't as active as the Active CFWs listed on this CFW, but they are highly stable and usable. They tend to go long periods of time without much activity, but that doesn't mean the projects are dead, they just don't have any major bugs to fix. Major updates are added when they are needed for these CFW's, but they are the best CFW's for people who don't want overly frequent updates. SaltFW SaltFW SaltFW is an A9LH/SysNAND and an extremely stripped down version of Luma3DS. Featuring all the patches of Luma3DS, but stripping away features like MenuHax support and EmuNAND/RedNAND support. What can it do? No configuration: Much like ReiNAND, all patches are built directly in and on by default Automatic Firmware patching: Nothing to download or patch, all the files you need are part of the launcher Arm9loaderhax only: No support for MenuHax SysNAND only: There is no support for EmuNAND/RedNAND. Firm0/1 protection: Firm0/1 protection is built directly into the launcher and is turned on by default. No payload chainloading: So you will need a bootloader for external applications like Decrypt9. GBA/DS(i) support: Custom GBA games, as well DS(i) flashcarts with headers, and custom DSi apps work. Reboot patches: Reboot patches for MH4/SB work on old3DS by default. Region-Free: Region-free for both CIA's and Game Carts. Region/language patching: Works like Luma3DS. Boot splashes: Allowing you to add a boot splash upon start up RO patching: "RO is a service that loads .CRO files (CTR Relocatable Objects, maybe.) CRO files are like .DLLs (Windows) or Linux shared objects (.so). They have a separate signature check routine with RO - without a patch to RO to disable the signature check, RO will refuse to load unsigned or invalidly signed code from CROs. A large amount of code in some games (like Pokémon) is stored not in the ExeFS, but the CRO files." quoted from this post Now why should you use SaltFW? SaltFW is made for those who only want to install a CFW once and forget it's there. It basically has all the patches you need and nothing else. It's not for MenuHax users, people who want to use EmuNANDs/RedNANDs, it's not for people who want tons of updates. It's for people who just want to install it once on their SysNAND and rarely look at it. It's also for those who want an extremely clean set up. Unlike the other communities, SaltFW is mostly made up of a small group of highly dedicated users. This doesn't mean troubleshooting is hindered, as the dev and users are still friendly enough to ensure bugs are ironed out as soon as they are posted. Patches are built into the launcher. Which means renaming it would require you to change the payloads. Luckily, the main package comes with both an A9LH file and a bootloader friendly file. Who would I say this is made for? It's made for those who just want a simple and basic CFW that just works. Something close to stock FW, with only the must-have patches. This is not a power user CFW because it doesn't offer any power user features. This is a pure minimalist CFW for people who want a CFW, but don't want to deal with a CFW. There is also no app to download the latest version like Luma3DS or any nightly builds. Dormant These are projects that the devs haven't officially declared dead and or the devs still show some activity. They still aren't quite dead enough to call "Inactive." CakesFW CakesFW CakesFW can be best described as the "Arch Linux" of CFW's. It has all the features of other CFW's, but they aren't built into a single launcher or loader. It uses its own plugins called "Cakes" as its patches. Making it a bit more advanced, but highly customizable, meaning each install is unique to who's installing it and what features they want. What can it do? Well this is subjective because it depends on the build you are running and what patches you want to use. All versions (Stable and Nightly): Offers a Menu to customise from: Much like Luma3DS, your first boot will be greet you with a Menu to choose your patches and options you want to use. From there you can choose to either always see it or boot into it by holding a button. A9LH and MenuHax support: CakesFW supports launching from all entry points, this including MenuHax and A9LH. SysNAND and EmuNAND support: CakesFW support launching CFW through both EmuNAND (MenuHax/A9LH) and SysNAND (A9LH). Firm0/1 protection: If you are running A9LH, Firm0/1 protection is built-in, but needs to be turned on via the configuration menu. Supports multiple EmuNANDs/RedNANDs: Because reasons? I guess if you have a large enough SD card, this would be useful or you need more than 300 games. Supports multiple NATIVE_FIRMs: Reboot patches: These patches allow you to run games that require a lot of RAM like Smash Bros. and Monster Hunter 4. Yifan Lu's loader: "This implies the usual bits like region free, blocking updates, killing ASLR and the Cubic Ninja/OoTHax fix, etc." quoted from this post. Download from here, credited to @Wolfvak Nightly Builds GBA/DS(i) patches: Custom GBA games can be launcher. As well DS(i) flashcarts with headers and custom DSi apps can be launched. Region-Free: Region-free game launching for both CIA's and Game Carts. RO patching: "RO is a service that loads .CRO files (CTR Relocatable Objects, maybe.) CRO files are like .DLLs (Windows) or Linux shared objects (.so). They have a separate signature check routine with RO - without a patch to RO to disable the signature check, RO will refuse to load unsigned or invalidly signed code from CROs. A large amount of code in some games (like Pokémon) is stored not in the ExeFS, but the CRO files." quoted from this post Now why should you use CakesFW? Like I said at the start, CakesFW is the Arch Linux of CFW's. Yes, it has all the same features as any other CFW, but you get to choose what features you want to run, what patches you want to have, and how it all works. All patches are out in the open, meaning you can add and remove them at your own choosing. Now of course, this also means there's a bit more clutter on your SD, but that's the price you pay for extreme customisation. It is also a little more complicated to set up features like GBA/DS(i) in CakesFW, but it is actively being worked on to make it easier. Which is one thing CakesFW shares with ReiNAND, conservative updates. Every update is tested completely through until it is either made more user friendly or simply more stable for the public. But the developer also offers nightly builds which have their own site http://ny1.hashbang.sh:8834/nightly/ So you can test these features out and give feedback. Much like any other CFW, there's both a large community and Dev feedback. So you tend to get answers pretty quickly and bug fixes are pretty timely. Like ReiNAND, conservative does not always mean out of date, just major updates tend to take longer and small one for new features as still pushed out (often through nightlies.) CakesFW is for those who want complete control over their CFW. I would say, it's more for the power users, the tinkers, or someone who really wants to see the inner workings of a CFW. It's not completely impossible and with a little research, a beginner could figure it out. CakesFW does not offer boot splashes, but does have this cool little text that shows up on the bottom screen and I am nerdy enough to love that. There is also no app to download the latest version like Luma3DS. ReiNAND ReiNand ReiNAND started its life as a minimalist custom firmware for the New3DS, but then later added old3DS support. ReiNAND tends to keep only basic features, often only including extremely essential features to the launcher. What can it do? ReiNAND does not have a configuration menu to it: All features included into ReiNAND are on by default. Basically making setting it up extremely fast because you don't have to worry about configuring anything. A9LH and MenuHax support: ReiNAND supports launching from all entry points, this including MenuHax and A9LH. SysNAND and EmuNAND support: ReiNAND supports launching CFW through both EmuNAND (MenuHax/A9LH) and SysNAND (A9LH). Firm0/1 protection: If you are running A9LH, Firm0/1 protection is built-in and on by default. Region Free: Launches game carts and CIA's from other regions without hassle. Silent updates are disabled: Updates will not download in sleep mode. GBA/DS(i) mode: Custom GBA games can be launcher. As well DS(i) flashcarts with headers and custom DSi apps can be launched. But ReiNAND does not support reboot patches for old3DS, so large memory games nor GBA/DS(i) games can not be launcher on your old3DS Boot splashes: Boot splashes for when your system boots up eShop update checks disabled: Self-explanatory Ability to modify process patches: You can modify the current patches for ReiNAND. RO patching: "RO is a service that loads .CRO files (CTR Relocatable Objects, maybe.) CRO files are like .DLLs (Windows) or Linux shared objects (.so). They have a separate signature check routine with RO - without a patch to RO to disable the signature check, RO will refuse to load unsigned or invalidly signed code from CROs. A large amount of code in some games (like Pokémon) is stored not in the ExeFS, but the CRO files." quoted from this post Other features not listed as listed on the GitHub repository: here Why you might want to use ReiNAND? Well if you are running on New3DS, ReiNAND is the perfect minimalist CFW. Being that Luma3DS started as a fork of ReiNAND, you will find the same there as you will here. But unlike Luma3DS, they really aren't completely built in. Basically, the firmware.bin is a separate file, loader.cxi (gba, region-free, etc) is a separate file as well, etc. Now this is both a strong and a weak point. Strong point, because it makes dealing with payloads a lot easier. You can simply move and rename the launcher and you won't have to patch the payload launcher to keep it functioning. They are also a lot easier to modify for power users. The downfall? Makes a bit more clutter on the SD card. There is also one downfall for old3DS users and that is that there are no reboot patches. Which means MH4 and Smash nor GBA/DS(i) don't work on old3DS, though they work on new3DS, since the new3DS doesn't require these patches. I really won't recommend ReiNAND for old3DS users because of these missing patches. There is a large community around ReiNAND, but Reisyukaku tends to be a bit more conservative in their updates. Often testing features out and making their own replacements for current features on the market. Meaning that you won't see extremely frequent updates and the updates you do see tend to change a lot from previous builds. Which if you are aiming for a CFW that you don't have to tend to very often, that would a plus for you. But that doesn't mean ReiNAND lags behind in features, major features like A9LH were added almost as soon as CFW's figured out how to add support for it. So you can always expect once something major happens, Reisyukaku will be on top of that feature. ReiNAND sadly does not have a site for pre-compiled nightlies or any apps to download the latest version. ReiNAND was put into Private Development, so there is no guarantee for future updates. Inactive These CFWs though usable no longer have active dev support. This meaning they will no longer get updates, bug fixes, features added, etc. They can be used, but it's not recommended. Old RXTools! Old RXtools Old Rxtools refers to RXTools created by roxas75 and later taken over by Pasta. It wasn't the first CFW on the scene, but it was the first one to gain massive popularity. Unfortunately, after the release of A9LH, it went quiet and is believed to be dead. I am going to copy over the content from the new RXTools section because there's no difference between them and I am going to copy the information from the official thread. RXTools is a bit more complicated and I am still researching it. What can it do? CFW SysNAND/EmuNAND: RXMode can run on the SysNAND to allow SysNAND CFW, but also supports EmuNAND. Pasta mode: Pasta mode is supported on SysNAND *NAND dump/inject: You can use RXTools to extract both your SysNAND and EmuNAND, as well as injecting them. This also supports decrypted *NAND partition dump/inject. Selected files copy from/to/between CTRNAND partition and/or SD SDinfo.bin/ncchinfo.bin formats XORpad generation NAND partitions XORpad generation NAND FAT16 Xorpad Generation NAND Partitions Decryption/Injection CTR Titles Decryption Title Keys Decryption Xorpad Generation System Titles Dumping Why shouldn't you use Old RXTools? Old RXtools used to offer tons of features and used to be the most cutting-edge CFW out there. But after the release A9LH, RXtools went quiet and it became obvious that it's no longer supported. Yes it works, but every day it becomes more and more out of date. There is currently a project that I already mentioned to that is working to bring RXTools back from the grave. So go support that project instead. Please refer to my other thread covering other reasons to make the switch away from RXTools. As well, I suggest checking out Lima3DS for the soon to be released RXTools inspired CFW! Yet another rxTools? Yet another RxTools? The title is silly, but that's because it's a reboot of the RXTools CFW that lost support around the time A9LH was released. This project's goal is to bring support back to RXTools and hopefully start making it as up to date as other CFW's on the market. What can it do? CFW SysNAND/EmuNAND: RXMode can run on the SysNAND to allow SysNAND CFW, but also supports EmuNAND. Pasta mode: Pasta mode is supported on SysNAND. *NAND dump/inject: You can use RXTools to extract both your SysNAND and EmuNAND. As well inject them. This also supports decrypted *NAND partition dump/inject. Selected files copy from/to/between CTRNAND partition and/or SD SDinfo.bin/ncchinfo.bin formats XORpad generation NAND partitions XORpad generation Why shouldn't you use Yet another rxTools? Because this project has not seen any actual commit nor any comment from the dev in months. Thus it's been deemed inactive. Old post: If you are an extreme power user and want to help push this project forward, then you should use this. It's still in the early alpha stages and not all features work and everything is still being tweaked. Hell, I know so little about it, I straight up copied the rest of my information from the thread. Because honestly, it's hard to describe a problem like this. RXTools was originally made to be an all-in-one project, but some bad management really damaged the project. Currently, one major problem is the lack of A9LH support and also lacks any form of projection for A9LH. If you really want to get that nostalgic RXtools feel, this still won't be the project for you, if you aren't willing to tinker. But this is still an early project and things change every day. There is also no app to download the latest version like Luma3DS. This build is basically completely nightly. Puma33DS CFW Puma33DS CFW Puma33DS CFW is loosely based on the nightly builds of Luma3DS and was made to give a little more control back the user, well keeping the ease of use of Luma3DS. What can it do? Being that Puma33DS CFW is based on Luma3DS, you will find the same basic features will find in Luma3DS. So I am going to focus on what makes Puma33DS CFW different from Luma3DS instead of repeating the same features over and over again. So what sets Puma33DS CFW apart from Luma3DS? Loosely based on Luma3DS Nightly, non-dev, but with some dev features: Puma33DS CFW is loosely based on the Luma3DS nightly builds, mostly being made when major changes happen to the nightly builds. It's not based on the Dev version of Luma3DS, but does borrow some of features from the Dev version. A9LH only: Puma33DS CFW does not support any other entry point and is A9LH only. So no MenuHax support or other entrypoints are supported officially. You may be able to compile the source as a .dat file, but it's not officially supported. Region free is optional: Puma33DS CFW allows the user to control the region free option instead of having on by default. So if you don't need this option, you don't have to have it on by default and can just turn it off. Anti-Update patches are optional: Puma33DS CFW allows the user to control the anti-update patches. An interesting call, but since FIRM0/1 are protected by default, updating shouldn't be a risk. (Features quoted from main thread as I don't know how to really break them down) SecureInfo patches are optional: "Very easily switch between signed SecureInfo_A and un/signed SecureInfo_C" Verbose ErrDisp patch from Luma-Dev: "Enhances "an error has occurred" while running in 3DS mode" Select between Home and Test Menu if you have it installed: "Without the need to enable UNITINFO or use Config/MenuSelector," Thanks to @Reisyukaku Now why shouldn't you use Puma33DS CFW? This project was made to add a little Poweruser to Luma3DS, but the Dev has since moved away from this project. It's still usable, but is based on an older build of Luma3DS, so it will become out of date very quickly. Old post: Puma33DS CFW was made for those who enjoy Luma3DS, but feel like having more control over their system. It's a bit of a middle ground between Corbenik and Luma3DS, giving several of the patch controls back to the user, well still keeping noob-friendly. Puma33DS CFW is basically a power user friendly version of Luma3DS. Puma33DS CFW still keeps many of the basic patches on by default, like reboot patches, GBA/DSi patches, and FIRM0/1 protection. Puma33DS CFW still keeps the patches build into the launcher, which means you still need to change the payload patches if you intend on launching Puma33DS CFW from an external bootloader. Luckily it's still compatible with all of the tools used by Luma3DS. Puma33DS CFW can be installed alongside Luma3DS as it uses its own folder to store its config files. There are currently no updaters or nightly builds for Puma33DS CFW. Puma33DS CFW is still extremely new, so more will likely change in future updates. Right now there isn't much to say about it. But I would highly recommend Puma33DS CFW for those who want a more "power user" version of Luma3DS. It's still new, but worth looking at if you interested in the features it has added/changed. What CFW should I run? Tell me! Well, the point of this thread isn't to tell you what CFW you should run, it's to help explain all the CFW's out there and let you decide from there. This basically just shows the most important features. Basically breaking it down so you know what you are getting into before creating a thread to ask what CFW you should run. With the exception of Old RXtools. It's old, out of date and I think this thread shows that there are better options to it. But what if I still don't know what CFW I should run? Yeah, now what? Why not just try them out? All CFW's can run without affecting your current installation. You can running Luma3DS alongside ReiNAND on the same SysNAND/EmuNAND. You can change out your CFW on the fly without effect your set up. Your CFW can be changed, you don't have to keep with the same CFW. And if you really don't which one to run, try running CtrBootManager/CtrBootManager9 BootCTR9 These bootloaders run before your CFW and have a lovely/easy-to-use GUI. They will allow you to pick the CFW you want to run, change your main, etc. They are also customisable and can launch applications like Decrypt9, EmuNAND9… So you can just bounce between CFW's on the fly. Why you should stop using MenuHAX! Stop using MenuHAX MenuHAX used to be the main source of auto-booting into your CFW and for the longest time was the only source. But in recent months a newcomer came to the scene known as "Arm9loaderhax" or "A9LH" for short. A9LH claim to fame was the fast boot, that booted seconds after pressing the power button, booting before sysNAND, and of course allowing CFW sysNAND. Now for the longest time A9LH was rather complicated to set up and came with the risks of bricking your 3DS. It also took over 4 hours to set up due to all of the downgrading, NAND backing up/restoring, ect. With this came some hesitation to update from MenuHAX to A9LH. As the months went on, the process started becoming safer and faster, until we got to where we are now. The current A9LH setup no longer requires the large amount of downgrading and is almost impossible to brick with. The current method for old3DS(XL)/2DS now only requires a 2.1.0 ctrtransfer, which is a lot safer and a lot faster. Where the New3DS method doesn't require the 2.1.0 ctrtransfer to install A9LH. Basically no matter what 3DS you are running, the process of installing A9LH is a lot faster and a lot safer. Now why should people stop using MenuHAX? Because there's no reason to keep using it. Considering how much faster A9LH is to install and the benefits of having CFW on your sysNAND. This means you save space not having to use an emuNAND and more space not having to install your DSi/GBA games twice. You also get to launch payloads such as hourglass9, decrypt9, ect. all before the sysNAND even loads. This means that you can completely trash your sysNAND and still be able to restore it without the need for a hardmod. Adding to that, Nintendo can't do a targeted update to remove A9LH. The files needed to install A9LH are console specific, which means Nintendo would end up bricking the system and even unhacked systems if they tried to remove it. This is proven when when updating your system with a CFW without FIRM0/1 protection (Gateway,) which results in the system bricking. Of course all active CFWs currently support FIRM0/1 protection, thus bricking from an update shouldn't be a worry for any user. MenuHAX was a good entrypoint, but it's become grossly out of date when compared to A9LH. Currently the process of installing A9LH is fast, safe, stable, and more importantly up to date. If you follow the guide, you have nothing to loose and everything to gain. https://3ds.guide/ Why shouldn't you use other Entrypoints? Why only A9LH/MenuHax? So why did I only cover 2 entrypoints in this thread? Well because others just aren't reliable nor really recommended for everyday use. Booting into your unprotected 9.0/9.2 SysNAND, then use it to force boot into your CFW through other entrypoints leaves your system unprotected and at risk of being accidentally updated and removing your hacks. It's also more time consuming to boot into your SysNAND, then boot up your entrypoint, then boot into your CFW. Compared to using MenuHax/A9LH, which autoboot into your EmuNAND (or protected SysNAND with A9LH,) leaving any vulnerable parts protected from accidental updates. It also takes up a lot less time, since it's just turn on and your CFW boots. Of course you obviously need other entrypoints for the initial CFW set up. But once you have your CFW set up, just set up an auto-boot using either A9LH/MenuHax, don't use any other entrypoints for daily CFW booting. But is it safe to change my CFW? I won't lose my games/saves/dlc will I? This odd fear seems to be the biggest reason people continue to cling to CFWs like RXTools, despite knowing RXTools is dead. The simple truth is, your NANDs are safe when changing CFWs. CFWs don't actually write to the NANDs, they are only a means of reading them and mostly disabling signatures for Homebrews and "game backups." This means that no matter what CFW you go with, it won't have any effect on your actual NANDs. So you can safely switch from RXTools to any other CFW and retain the same NAND information. In fact, you can even multi-boot your system and boot into different CFWs, all running on the same NAND(s) without negative side effects. You can use this guide to updating to Luma3DS (or really any other CFW) on menuHAX. Or even use this guide for switching to A9LH. Regardless of the path you go on, just stop using RXTools, it's safe to stop using it and use something better. FAQ! FAQ! Q: What's the point of this thread if you aren't going to tell me what the best CFW is? A: I made this thread to help you decide what CFW will serve you the best. It's made to be mostly unbiased and just stick to the facts. I am not trying to favour one CFW over the others, because I want you to decide what CFW works for your needs. Q:Why didn't you mention Signature patching or this basic feature? Because any basic feature like Signature patching is not worth mentioning. They all support it, so it's not worth mentioning with every single CFW. Q: But why did you leave out this feature? A: I am just trying to cover the most need to know features and select features that make each CFW stand out. Quite honestly if I listed every single detail for every single CFW, this page would turn into a wiki, which is not what this thread was intended for. I do include the links for you to research any feature I didn't include. Q: Why not just use Luma3DS? A: Luma3DS is amazing and more than deserving of its place as one of the most used CFW's. But it's not the only CFW out there, which is why I wanted to cover all CFW's fairly. I would heavily suggest using Luma3DS if your feel it fits your needs, but one glove does not fit all. Which is why I would heavily suggest trying out all CFW's to determine what works best for you. Q: Why did you include SaltFW?!? A: Because it's still a CFW. Yes, it's a stripped down version of Luma3DS and it isn't embarrassed to state it, which is why it's called a "Slim Alternative Firmware." It's not made to replace Luma3DS, but compliment it as a slimmed down version for people who just want a bare-bones basic CFW. A CFW that simply gives you all the patches you could ever need and nothing more. I included it because there's no reason for me not to include it. Q: Why didn't you include Supercard's "freegame" CFW? A: I won't be adding a Supercard's "freegame" CFW. Why? Because it's just a re-branded ReiNAND with several features stripped out of it (or it's based on an older version.) Which isn't the issue that I am upset with. I am not ok with them taking a GPL project and not even attempting to credit the original author nor release their source code. This also makes this CFW the second stolen CFW that they've pushed own on their card. So I won't be supporting them. Q: Why didn't you include the Gateway 3DS CFW? A: So I am not going to add the Gateway CFW. Now hear me out, I have been researching it for months now and just can't justify adding it. The only real benefit it seems to provide is cheats and .3DS support through an external flashcart. These are great features, but really don't equal out the other negative problems with the CFW. First, booting it on A9LH v2 is still a wonky mess, meaning you either need to use A9LH v1 or their own crappy A9LH install. Gateway 3DS still requires an EmuNAND, with no proper FIRM0/1 protection for the SysNAND. Gateway also doesn't have TWL patches, so you need install a whitelist. And it doesn't help that this CFW requires you to spend upwards to $77.99 to use it. This is just not worth the high price for two exclusive features, when free CFWs are far more up to date, provide far better features, and of course are free. I don't hate the Gateway 3DS cart, but it just seems out of date and the high price tag is just not worth it. Q: Why didn't you include mini-CFWs like ShadowNAND? A: Since Luma3DS can be copied directly onto the CTRNAND, there's no reason to include mini-CFWs. Q: WHY DID YOU JUST COPY AND PASTE THE RXTOOL SECTION?!?!? A: Because RXTools is an enigma. Q: Is there one CFW you would suggest over another? A: I am going to leave my personal preferences out of this thread. This thread is an attempt to stay as unbiased as possible and just stick to the facts. Being researched! Being researched Lima3DS By Billy Acuña Credits! Credits! Aurora Wright: Luma3DS Reisyukaku: ReiNand CFW CakesFW: mid-kid SaltFW: Shadowhand Corbenik: chaoskagami Puma33DS CFW by Ryccardo Yet another rxTools?: duke_srg Old RXtools: roxas75 & Pasta Team CtrBootManager/CtrBootManager9: cpasjuste Grammatical corrections done by gnmmarechal!