Hackers turn the Nintendo Switch into a Linux machine

Thanks to the Tegra X1 flaw After it demonstrated Linux booting on the Nintendo Switch earlier this month, hacking group fail0verflow has...

Thanks to the Tegra X1 flaw

After it demonstrated Linux booting on the Nintendo Switch earlier this month, hacking group fail0verflow has taken things to the next step and turned the hybrid console into a tiny Linux tablet.

On February 6, fail0verflow posted a photo on Twitter that appeared to show Linux running on the Switch, though it only displayed the bootup screen. Now, the group has posted a video of the console running Linux-based desktop environment KDE Plasma.

In the video, we see touch controls including pinch-to-zoom being used. Brightness controls, touch to wake, and a full web browser are also working, and we even see an Open GL demo running at 60 fps.

Fail0verflow didn’t spell out how it achieved this feat, but it involves exploiting a flaw in the boot ROM of the Switch’s Nvidia Tegra X1 chip. The group says the flaw is hard-coded into current Tegra X1 chips, therefore can’t be fixed by a future firmware update from Nintendo, but the exploit could be addressed in future Switch production.

Messing with your Switch is never advisable unless you really know what you’re doing, of course, but the exploit could allow tinkerers to run non-Nintendo approved software on the console. In reality, running Linux on Switch is unlikely to become a popular pastime, but it’s good to know that it is possible. Much like running Doom on anything with a display, hackers usually do these things just because they can.

Last year, another Switch hack gave the machine a virtual reality mode via a Durovis Dive 7 VR tablet holder. Check out the video below to see more.


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