(Yes, post is also under construction.)
Most Recent Sticky Update (08/12/2013): Fixed some details about Data Codes.
Q1: What is CFW?
CFW allows you to run unsigned package files, 3.55 and lower signed packages, play music and video files, install emulators, rip your PS3 games and play them from internal HDD, USB HDD, burned CD/DVD, (MS on the oldest models) or USB flash drive, and play ripped BluRay Movies/PS1 games (and PS2 games for the few still on the oldest PS3 models.) This will NOT allow you to play any unmodified PS3 game requiring 3.60 or higher OFW, as 3.60 and 4.00 each use a new encryption on PS3 games/DLC/etc that 3.55 cannot use normally. Running these games will require them to be decrypted, then resigned into 3.55 keys. CFW for 3.55 does NOT allow PSN/SEN access.
Q2: Is my PS3 able to install CFW?
This is a good question. Some can and some cannot, and we need to check if yours can. Here is what you do:
1st: On your PS3, we need to check what OFW is installed on it. Go to Settings/System Settings/System Information and see what number it says next to System Software (Version 3.15)
2nd: If that number is 3.55 or lower, you can install CFW on you PS3, go to Q3.
-------If that number is 3.56 or higher, we need to check your PS3 model type to know if it can be downgraded to 3.55, so go to Q4.
Q3: How do I install CFW?
We now know your PS3 can install CFW, so, we need to update your system to OFW 3.55.
1st: Unplug your PS3's ethernet cable, and/or disconnect it from wifi. This is mostly a precaution incase of accidentally updating to the current OFW.
2nd: (If already on 3.55, skip this step) Download the 3.55 OFW update [link fix pending], extract it, rename the file to PS3UPDAT.PUP and put it on a USB drive (or an MS if you've got those ports) in (Drive Letter):/PS3/UPDATE/, and plug it into your PS3. Then go to System->System Update, and choose Update from Local Storage. It will show the update for 3.55, select it, and from there, the updater will tell you what to do. You should then be on OFW 3.55
3rd: We need to get the Rebug 3.55.4 REX CFW. Rebug 3.55.4 REX can be downloaded from here.
4th: Rename the Rebug pup as PS3UPDAT.PUP, and place it on your USB drive (or MS) in (Drive Letter):/PS3/UPDATE/ (backup your OFW 3.55 update elsewhere, if you want to.)rebug.me wrote:** Please Do Not Hotlink Our Files **
This includes posting links of our links, we rely on visitors to our site to help offset server costs.
5th: Once plugged in, again go to System->System Update and choose "Update from Local Device," and follow the instructions to install Rebug 3.55.4 REX
(if for any reason the Update option doesn't work, try doing a System Update via recovery mode instead.)
- recovery mode
7th: Now, head over to the installed Rebug Toolbox, and run it. It looks like the XMB, and can be moved around in the pretty much the same manner. The Rebug Toolbox is for swapping between Rebug and Normal Mode, and numerous other advanced features (so be careful.) For now, go to the second column (Selector,) and choose the System Mode option. Toggle it to Rebug. Then go to the left-most column (System) and choose Quit. Your system will reboot automatically, and you'll be up and running with Rebug 3.55.4 REX Edition.
While in Rebug Mode, your system is spoofed (Currently, Rebug 3.55.4 is spoofed to 4.31) and allows access to many features only Rebug Mode allows.
NOTE: Do NOT install another OFW/CFW/MFW/etc with Rebug Mode enabled. DISABLE it first, by using the Rebug Toolbox and going to the second column called Selector, choosing the System Mode option, and toggling it to Normal Mode. Then Quit the Toolbox from the left-most System Menu. It will reboot back into Normal Mode.
NOTE 2: The version spoofs Rebug uses are different than other OFW/CFW/MFWs, and are included inside Rebug 3.55.4 REX by default. Some unofficial spoofs are compatible with Rebug, but most are not. Be sure to read any spoof very carefully to ensure it is Rebug-compatible. (When it doubt, its not compatible.)
Q4: Can my PS3 be downgraded?
Again, some can, some cannot, so we need to know your PS3's model type to see if it can be.
1st: Downgrading requires opening up your PS3's frame, and soldering wires onto various points on the motherboard. Be sure you feel comfortable with this, and understand the risks associated with doing so.
2nd: On the back of your PS3 (or bottom for 2k Slims,) there should be a sticker, with serial codes, a barcode, etc on it. One of them is the PS3 model type. It will look like CECHXXXXX, and this is your PS3 model (ex, CECHK01, which is my 80Gb PS3 NOR Phat model, or CECH-2001A, which is a first-gen US PS3 Slim model.)
Another piece of information to look for is the date your unit was manufactured. This varies by region, and will appear as either a Month and Year, (my CECHK01 lists Sept 2008), while other models list a Data Code, which appears as a number indicating the year, followed by a letter of A to D indicating which quarter of the year) (example, 9B, which would mean April-June 2009, or 1C, which would mean July-Sept 2011.)
------If its a CECHA to CECHG, its a NAND Phat, and which means only Progskeet can downgrade it. Move to Q5.
------If its a CECHH to CECHQ its a NOR Phat, which is the most easily downgraded, with Progskeet, a Teensy++ 2.0, or an E3 Flasher. Move to Q5.
------If its a CECH-20XXX to CECH21XXX its a 2k Slim, and can be downgraded as a NOR Phat can. Progskeet, Teensy++ 2.0, or E3 Flasher. Move to Q5.
------If its a CECH-25XXX with Jan-March 2011 or a 1A Data Code, download the MiniVersionChecker (here), and place in on a Flash drive (or MS) in (Drive Letter):/PS3/UPDATE and plug it into your PS3, and go to System->System Update and choose "Update from Local Device," and attempt to install it. This will tell you the minimum OFW you can downgrade to. If this tells you 3.55 or less, Progskeet, Teensy++ 2.0, or E3 Flasher can work, and move to Q5. If this tells you 3.56, you're out of luck. Sorry.
------If its a CECH-25XXX with April 2011, a 1B Data Code, or anything later than those, then this model uses metldr2, and cannot be downgraded to 3.55. Unless something comes out later for 3.60+, you're out of luck. Sorry.
------If is a CECH-3XXXX and later, then its a post 3.60 Slim, and cannot be downgraded to 3.55. Unless something comes out later for 3.60+, you're out of luck. Sorry.
Ok, so, since I don't have a flasher (and am unlikely to anytime soon,) I won't be able to provide much first-hand assistance in regards to flashing or CEX-to-DEX. Thought I'd give a heads-up on that. Apologies.
Links to Downgrading with Hardware Flasher Tutorials
Ultimate Fool Proof Guide: PS3 Hardware Downgrading at ps3hax.net