Update 20/02/18: After months of teasing, hacker group fail0verflow managed to successfully boot Linux onto the Nintendo Switch. Now, it seems that the hybrid console can be seen running Linux in full, utilising the Switch’s touchscreen and browsing the web.
It seems that fail0verflow is able to use the KDE desktop environment thanks to the Linux Nouveau driver helping the operating system see the Nvidia Tegra X1 as its graphical driver. This already makes it more preferable than the Linux solution on the Wii U, which was able to run LXDE but the more graphically intensive desktop solutions would fail due to lack of hardware acceleration.
— fail0verflow (@fail0verflow) February 17, 2018
Of course, fail0verflow is still remaining tight-lipped on its process to run Linux on the Nintendo Switch as many are clamouring to get their hands on a homebrew.
For the time being, however, Linux is looking particularly snappy on the device. There are small graphical glitches here and there but these are relatively minor and they don’t detract from how far modifying the Nintendo Switch has come in such a short time.
Hackers have been hard at work on the Nintendo Switch during its first year in circulation, successfully exploiting its browser and paving the way for homebrew software. The latest development sees hackers run Linux on the hybrid console, thanks to a flaw in the processor.
The workaround was discovered by hacker group fail0verflow, which explained was only possible thanks to a “bootrom” flaw in the Nvidia Tegra X1 SoC. While the group hasn’t gone into detail on how it managed to pull off the crack, Nintendo’s latest console doesn’t require a ‘modchip’ to implement Linux. Previously, most consoles required ‘jailbreaking’ to get as far as fail0verflow has with the Switch.
— fail0verflow (@fail0verflow) February 6, 2018
With the exploit being baked directly into Nvidia’s Tegra chip, fail0verflow has gone on record to say that it can’t be patched out via software updates for any currently released Switch console. Nintendo could perhaps opt for an updated chip on future consoles, but the company has yet to strike up such a deal with Nvidia.
Nintendo isn’t particularly fond of emulation and the jailbreaking of its consoles, often remaining vigilant against any attempt, even if the reasoning is to preserve aging games that could soon be lost entirely. The company’s concern is understandable, when taking into consideration that once this workaround becomes available to the larger hacking community, homebrew software will be flowing to the brim simply because the Switch is hugely popular.
KitGuru Says: Personally, I’d never want to give up or impede my ability to play classics like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’ve almost justified the cost of an entire console simply with the playtime on that one title, and I can imagine there will be many more with the release of the announced Pokémon RPG and Metroid Prime 4. Does hacking your Switch interest you? What would you use it for?