Hackers have been working to crack the Nintendo Switch for quite a while, and now it seems they’ve been successful at turning it into a Linux tablet. The fail0verflow team has tweeted a video which shows a Nintendo Switch running on Linux, which really opens the console up to a lot of new possibilities.
Earlier this month, the fail0verflow team tweeted a photo of their Nintendo Switch booting up on Linux, courtesy the console’s NVIDIA Tegra processor. Now they’ve gone all the way by tweeting a video of the Nintendo Switch operating like a Linux tablet.
Code execution is all the rage these days, but can your Switch do *this*? ;-) #switchnix pic.twitter.com/NMnBq61tOMThis Tiger grand-cub was flat during Q2 but is ready for the return of volatility
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— fail0verflow (@fail0verflow) February 17, 2018
You can see from the video that the hacked Nintendo Switch offers full touchscreen support and even runs a web browser. When they tweeted the image of Linux running on the Switch earlier this month, the fail0verflow team claimed that the exploit they uncovered isn’t something that Nintendo can patch in a future security update.
If this turns out to be accurate, it’s only a matter of time before more hackers figure out how to exploit the same vulnerability and force the Switch to do even more than run the Linux operating system and a web browser. The fail0verflow team didn’t offer the full details about their exploit, but they did offer enough information to verify that it could indeed be something that Nintendo can’t patch. Their exploit is a “bootrom bug” and also doesn’t need a “modchip,” which means you don’t need the expertise to actually take the Switch apart to do it.
The hack which turned the Nintendo Switch into a Linux tablet isn’t the only exploit console hacking fans have been working on lately. Last year, another group said it was working on a custom homebrew app launcher and that it would be available at some point. It’s unclear whether they were using the same exploit as the fail0verflow team, but it seems safe to say that their exploit could eventually result in some homebrew games and emulators for the console.
At this point, playing retro Nintendo games on the Switch is still a fantasy, but by running the console on Linux, it should be possible for players to run Linux-based emulators for classic games on the Switch.