Hackers Exploite Tegra Chipset Flaw to Run Linux OS on Nintendo Switch

The exploit is unpatched putting Nintendo Switch devices at risk.

Usually, hackers compromise a gaming console to be able to play pirated versions or cracked copies of their favorite games, which has become quite difficult now, or they want to run the software of their choice. Perhaps this is the reason Nintendo Switch has been hacked to run Linux OS.

Reportedly, hackers using the Twitter handle fail0verflow managed to boot Linux on Nintendo Switch and got the hybrid console to act like a Linux based computer. Fail0verflow is a team of hackers and their claim to fame is the various exploits of the Nvidia Tegra hardware, which is installed inside the Switch.

After fulfilling this seemingly great feat, fail0verflow took to Twitter to brag about this achievement and embedded a video in the tweet in which it was demonstrated how Nintendo Switch run like a Linux PC. A few weeks back the same hacker collective posted an image on Twitter showing the hybrid console Nintendo Switch booting Linux and now they have proven their claim by posting a video. The video shows that Linux OS is running immaculately on the tablet like a console to such an extent that it provides touchscreen support, browsing capabilities and a GPU-powered demo app too.

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This was made possible, as per fail0verflow, through exploiting a bug in the Switch, which doesn’t need a modchip and hasn’t been patched in the recently released hardware and the Linux OS was successfully run on the console using code execution method. The flaw is present in the boot ROM of Nvidia’s Tegra X1 Chipset. This chip is so important for the device that it can easily be termed as the nucleus of Nintendo Switch.

The flaw is hard-coded into the Tegra X1 chips due to which it is almost impossible to patch it and it might need recalling of Switch consoles and equip them with new batch of Tegra X1 chips that have flawless ROMs but since it is a time-consuming, expensive and complicated task so the Japanese gaming giant Nintendo might not want to adopt this strategy.

But why would one need to run Linux on Switch? Well, the catch is that you can easily enable the Switch to open up to emulators, homebrew software, and games, etc. Such as there is no Virtual Console available for Nintendo Switch that could allow running retro Nintendo games but through illegal emulators, users can play classic Nintendo games on the Switch as well as run the well-known gaming platforms Steam on the console as it is compatible with Linux. Users might also be able to play PC games provided if these are compatible with the Tegra X1 chipset.

Related: Nintendo Switch Hacked to Run Pirated Games


Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.