It’s not easy to hack modern consoles but it’s not impossible either, as one hacking collective recently proved by managing to turn the Nintendo Switch gaming console into a functional tablet that runs Linux. The group called fail0verflow is among the few attempting to exploit the Nvidia Tegra processor powering the Switch, and just recently it showed an image of the console booting Linux. It now seems that the hackers managed to take things to the next level, as their latest video shows the Switch fully hacked and running a Linux distro, complete with a web browser and touch input, as well as a demo application powered by the console’s GPU.
Gaming companies strive to make their consoles as hard to hack as possible, mainly to avoid piracy issues. While some try to hack gaming consoles to play illegally obtained copies of games, others want a different software altogether and the fact that fail0verflow somehow managed to change the operating system is no minor feat, albeit it remains unclear just how the team did it. The hacking collective previously touted that its Switch exploit does not require a modded chip to function, though it did not reveal how it hacked the device and likely won't release instructions that would enable others to replicate the hack going forward, as suggested by its track record. If Nintendo discovers how fail0verflow managed to hack the Switch to run Linux, it would likely patch the exploit promptly and the hack wouldn’t work anymore.
With this in mind, the group may share its tricks only with select hackers and not the general public. Nevertheless, with Linux now running on the Nintendo Switch, it may be just a matter of time before an operational emulator becomes available. Additional tweaking is dangerous in the sense that it could enable piracy but Nintendo is expected to release updates designed to block such unauthorized software and make the Switch harder to crack. In the past, the Nintendo Wii has been successfully hacked to let users download and run unauthorized software. For now, it remains unclear what fail0verflow plans to do with its successful Switch hack.