There’s good news for folks who’ve looked at the Nintendo Switch game console and thought “that’s a neat tablet, but I wish it could run Linux… or Android… or anything other than the software it comes with.”

A group of hackers called fail0verflow have found a boot ROM bug that allows them to load custom firmware on a Nintendo Switch.

The first thing they showed off was a custom boot screen. This week they showed a Linux-based OS running on the game console.

The team says that there’s no easy way for Nintendo to patch the vulnerability used to load Linux without shipping new hardware. That means the exploit should work for all Nintendo Switch devices that are already in the wild.

That’s the good news. The less good news is that fail0verflow has a reputation for being slow to release their findings to the public. So it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to load custom firmware on your Switch anytime soon.

It’s also possible that if Nintendo discovers the vulnerability used by  fail0verflow, the company could ship Switch v2 hardware that makes it harder to load Linux or other software.

There’s already a pretty active community of Nintendo Switch hackers, but up until now the most impressive stuff I’d seen involved loading homebrew games on Nintendo’s latest game console.

via NintendoLife and HypeBeast

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4 replies on “Nintendo Switch can run Linux (thanks to a boot ROM exploit)”

  1. I’m guessing most people interested in this are just wanting to pirate games.

    1. not realy, i mean im interested in it, just because i like to use my devices to the max (old laptop of mine runs windows,linux,mac os) so if i can do this to the switch it be fun to play with

  2. Looks like every console this generation has been hacked/jailbroken now except for the Xbox One. I wonder what Microsoft is doing that makes the Xbox One so much more difficult to hack than the Switch or PS4? Even on the last generation of consoles, the PS3 is still so much easier to jailbreak than the Xbox 360.

    1. Eh, actually last gen the Wii and Wii U were hacked the quickest/earliest. Then followed by the Xbox 360. The PS3 was resilient for most of its lifetime despite offering Puppy Linux boot. In fact it was the same team, failoverflow, who hacked the PS3 and it was a mere fluke because of a non-secure encryption lock.

      The PS4 is a real console built using x86 parts, it is not a Typical x86 Computer. And vulnerabilities have been found recently. The Xbox One is a Typical x86 Windows Computer, however, it has a proprietary UEFI so its a little more resilient…. or should I say “security through obscurity”.

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