Less than two weeks after demonstrating an exploit that allows Linux to be loaded unto a Nintendo Switch game console, fail0verflow is back with a new video showing what appears to be a full-fledged GNU/Linux-based operating system running on Nintendo’s tablet.

The video shows a Switch running the KDE Plasma desktop environment, complete with support for touchscreen input, internet connectivity, and 3D graphics.

An on-screen keyboard makes it possible to enter text, and multitouch support enables features like pinch-to-zoom to work in a web browser.

Screen brightness can be adjusted, and it looks like the screen can wake from sleep with a simple touch.

While fail0verflow’s video shows that it’s possible to run a touch-friendly, Linux-based operating system on the Nintendo Switch, this still isn’t something that’s easy to do at home. Nintendo doesn’t provide an easy way to load custom firmware on its latest game console, and fail0verflow hasn’t released instructions or many details about the exploit that was used to install Linux.

That said, we do know that the vulnerability exploited by this hack is said to be something that Nintendo can’t fix with a simple software update. Even if the company eventually releases new hardware that’s not vulnerable, Nintendo has sold millions of Switch consoles to date, so there may be an awful lot of (kind of) Linux-friendly Switches in the wild already.

Of course, most people interested in picking up the $399 game console are probably most interested in using it to play games developed for the Switch. There are substantially cheaper options if you want a general-purpose tablet.

But it’s still always fun to see hardware run software it was never designed to run.

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14 replies on “fail0verflow turns a Nintendo Switch into a full-fledged Linux PC”

  1. Not to be pedantic, but I believe the Switch is $299, not $399.

      1. The bundles are usually priced around that, but the stores I’ve been to have just the console at $299.

        1. In Canada it is $399.99 the real exchange rate would make it 355 or something…

    1. if that is the desktop version isn’t that an even bigger feat? My understanding is mobile operating systems are lighter and easier for low powered computers (like a Switch) to run than the desktop version of a similar OS. Maybe Plasma is different in that regard but for example Ubuntu’s mobile distro, Windows mobile OSes and Apple’s iPad OS are (or in the case of Ubuntu was) lighter and less resource intensive than their desktop versions.

  2. Cool. I’m guessing most people interested in hacking the Switch is for playing pirated games.

    1. I don’t care so much about that than I do about being able to do the most with my hardware. I’d buy a Switch if this was guaranteed to not be patched or hampered in any way.

  3. What general purpose tablet runs Linux though? (Not saying the switch is the solution there, but I haven’t seen many out in the wild.

    1. I’ve made quite positive experiences with the Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 (with cherry trail SOC). Antergos works almost perfect with the kernel modifications designed for the Surface 3 (linux-surface3-git on AUR).
      Sound and auto-rotation don’t work, but insofar as Bluetooth works, if you need audio, you can even use Bluetooth speakers (although I haven’t tried how reliably that works).
      Not the fastest CPU, but quite decent for typing stuff down with a Bluetooth keyboard, reading pdfs etc. Nice bonus: the stylus works fine as well, so annotations with xournal are in the table as well.
      Just putting this out there for anyone who is on the lookout for something like that as I used to be (well, admittedly I keep on looking, but this is very adequate already, and 8 inch devices aren’t that common any more).

    2. Running Linux on the device is just a step to show progress on unlocking the device hardware/software capabilities. Eventually leading to emulators and other homebrew running inside the regular Switch OS

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