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Nintendo Linux

Enthusiasts have Turned the Nintendo Switch into a Functional Linux Tablet (theverge.com) 96

An anonymous reader shares a report: A couple of weeks ago, the fail0verflow hacking collective showed a still image on Twitter of a Nintendo Switch booting Linux. They're one of a small handful of hacker teams who are teasing exploits of the Nvidia Tegra hardware inside the Switch. But now fail0verflow has video of a full-on Linux distro running on the hacked Switch, complete with touchscreen support, a fully operational web browser, and even a GPU-powered demo application. On Twitter, fail0verflow claims the bug they're exploiting to sidestep the Switch's security can't be patched on currently released hardware, and doesn't require a modchip. But as for now there aren't any details on how to do this yourself at home.
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Enthusiasts have Turned the Nintendo Switch into a Functional Linux Tablet

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  • The new Wii (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Juju ( 1688 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @10:55AM (#56157058)

    This is going to be the new Wii in terms of homebrew and cracked games.
    Remember the Homebrew channel? The way you could plug a hard disk and have the graphical interface to play all your "backup" games?

    I am sure Nintendo are currently very worried about this and will try to get the hardware patched ASAP.

    • Re:The new Wii (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @11:03AM (#56157096)

      According to earlier reports, they can’t patch it. The problem is in the SoC itself, meaning they’d need to a new hardware revision in order to issue a “patch”. Any existing Switches are, and will forever be, exploitable by this tactic.

    • I am sure Nintendo are currently very worried about this and will try to get the hardware patched ASAP.

      Well, they could tell current owners they must exchange their old Switch for a new hardware-patched version and after some amount of time push a 'bricking' update out to the older vulnerable Switch versions to disable them.

      Strat

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "after some amount of time push a 'bricking' update out to the older vulnerable Switch versions to disable them"

        That would be quite illegal and definitely actionable in court. Intentional destruction of property.

        • They don't need to "brick" it, simply make new games incompatible with it. Or, you can trade it in for a brand new one which supports all games.

        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          "after some amount of time push a 'bricking' update out to the older vulnerable Switch versions to disable them"

          That would be quite illegal and definitely actionable in court. Intentional destruction of property.

          Unless your corporation's name is Sony.

          Rootkit (made it impossible to access CD-R)
          PS-3 Firmware Update (you can't boot linux any more)

      • Re:The new Wii (Score:5, Informative)

        by Scoth ( 879800 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @12:20PM (#56157540)

        Laws are pretty picky about destroying property. That would be a bad thing.

        The main options would be:
        1. Release a "New Switch" that all future games require. This would shut out a huge number of legitimate existing purchasers who have no interest in the hacking though, and Nintendo probably wouldn't want to institute a voluntary recall program. That'd be a mess.
        2. Release firmwares and games that don't necessarily prevent this, but detect/undo/refuse to run on modified systems. This would be a cat and mouse game, much as it was on the Wii with various attempts to remove Homebrew channel.
        3. Do little to nothing, knowing that the number of people who actually do this are going to be small.

        It'll mostly depend on the difficulty and danger of doing it. The 3DS mods are pretty tricky for a lot of the average users, and while it's easier and safer now for most of the system's life it took very specific firmware versions and a lot of tricky steps to do to enable piracy. Wii was fairly easy on the whole bit still took a few steps. On the other hand, Dreamcast piracy just took a cheap burned disc and was a much bigger problem. We'll just have to see how it goes.

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          1. Release a "New Switch" that all future games require. This would shut out a huge number of legitimate existing purchasers who have no interest in the hacking though, and Nintendo probably wouldn't want to institute a voluntary recall program. That'd be a mess.

          No, you go and fix the SoC, and update the switch to use it for now. You leave the original 10M or whatever they sold alone - 90% of the users will be blissfully unaware, and the 5% you just leave it as the cost of doing business.

          It's too early for

    • I wonder why Nintendo doesn't embrace this functionality. It possibly will sell more tablets, and it doesn't aid piracy. I wish they had this built in from the get-go.

      • by mamono ( 706685 )
        Because they make no money on the consoles, they are loss leaders. So if a bunch of people just ran out and bought the consoles with no intention of purchasing any games, Nintendo loses money. If they really wanted to monetize it they would have to do something similar to the Linksys WRT54G. Release a slightly higher-priced version with the ability to "hack" the OS.
    • Personally I hope piracy does not ruin the platform, and cause developers to hesitate when they want to release unique games that are tuned well to the Switch. With pervasive piracy we may end up with just shovelware.

  • by SmaryJerry ( 2759091 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @11:11AM (#56157160)
    Switch hardware is extremely overpriced. You could get or make similar tablet for under $100 easily. The only purpose of this would be to play the games also but it canâ(TM)t do that.
  • true hacking (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ra66itman ( 670759 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @11:25AM (#56157212)
    this is what true hacking is, taking something and getting it to do something better or that it was not designed to do,Most likely, they will claim it is exploiting and do a hardware mod to stop this,I remember when someone found a way to put Linux on a Playstation. I know of at least one person/company who bought a dozen Play stations and used them as a array processor.
    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      I remember when someone found a way to put Linux on a Playstation

      You mean the US Air Force? https://phys.org/news/2010-12-air-playstation-3s-supercomputer.html [phys.org]

  • Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these.
  • OH YES (Score:4, Funny)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @11:40AM (#56157296) Journal

    I might actually buy a Nintendo Switch now. If they get it to run "homebrew" games, that'll just be icing on the cake. I do want to try that new Zelda game.

  • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @11:44AM (#56157338)

    This is nice, I have a Switch and would like to experiment with this, it has a powerful chipset.

    I am looking for a good Linux tablet that is reasonably repairable and has a battery that isn't too hard to replace, but unfortunately a lot of common ARM Android tablets can't install Linux natively and seem to require a VM with VNC. There are also not many reviews of x86 tablets from a Linux perspective.

    Maybe this will be with a look, it seems to perform well and support hardware features.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I want to own the HW that I buy. It's not about pirating; it's about accessing third-party SW and maybe even writing my own programs. Just checking your weight on a Wii Balance Board is a lot faster with Homebrew than with Wii Sports.

    Homebrew just did Nintendo a favor.

  • The next million system seller.
    If they can install a Linux distro in it with everything working, they probably can install Android on it too, which means replacing cheap-o Android tablets that a whole ton of kids want/have.
    I was kinda hoping Nintendo would release a revised hardware soon-ish, but I don't think it'll happen... they are selling it enough already the way it is now.

  • One is something people are using and buying.

    The other is not.

    Reminds me of the study where children were shown to have reached for organic food when it was inside McDonalds packaging and the media proclaimed, "Oh we just need to change the packaging!"

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!

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