Hacker group manages to run Linux on a Nintendo Switch

Romain Dillet
Hacker group manages to run Linux on a Nintendo Switch

Hacker group fail0verflow shared a photo of a Nintendo Switch running Debian, a distribution of Linux (via Nintendo Life). The group claims that Nintendo can’t fix the vulnerability with future firmware patches.


According to fail0verflow, there’s a flaw in the boot ROM in Nvidia’s Tegra X1 system-on-a-chip. when your console starts, it reads and executes a piece of code stored in a read-only memory (hence the name ROM). This code contains instructions about the booting process.

It means that the boot ROM is stored on the chip when Nvidia manufactures it and it can’t be altered in any way after that. Even if Nintendo issues a software update, this software update won’t affect the boot ROM. And as the console loads the boot ROM immediately after pressing the power button, there’s no way to bypass it.

The only way to fix it would be to manufacture new Nvidia Tegra X1 chips. So it’s possible that Nintendo asks Nvidia to fix the issue so that new consoles don’t have this vulnerability.

fail0verflow also says that you don’t need to install a modification chip to bypass the boot ROM. On the photo, it looks like they plugged something on the right side of the device, where the right Joy-Con is supposed to be.

If fail0verflow decides to share the exploit, it could open up many possibilities when it comes to homebrew software and, yes, pirated games. It could have some financial implications for Nintendo.

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