Show me a successful console, and I’ll show you nonstop attempts at circumventing security measures, cracking codes, and introducing the means for home-brewed games and ultimately piracy. Look no further than the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable as somewhat recent examples of hacking portable consoles. The latest success comes from hacker group fail0verflow, who’ve not only found an exploit in the Nintendo Switch’s boot code, but are now running Debian Linux on the system.
The group posted a tweet showing the system running a boot sequence and user login, along with a device that was connected to one of the Joy-Con docks.
This follows fail0verflow’s earlier success at bypassing boot security, using an exploit found within the boot ROM process of the Nvidia Tegra X1 chip that powers the Switch. The key word here is ROM: Read-Only Memory. What this allegedly means is that their exploit, should they release it publicly, cannot be patched with software or firmware updates, can’t be fixed at all without literally manufacturing new Nintendo Switch consoles with an updated version of the Nvidia Tegra X1.
The icing on the cake for home-brew enthusiasts? The exploit won’t require a mod chip.
The Switch OS is based on Linux, by the way, but running a full-fat version with root user privileges could have serious implications for piracy and emulation. Perhaps they’re tired of waiting for the Virtual Console to make its appearance? All kidding aside, it will be fascinating to see how this develops.
I’ve reached out to both Nintendo and fail0verflow for comments on this situation, and will update this post immediately if they reply.