If you’ve been itching to crack into your Switch, there are some things you can already do and others that are on the horizon.
Jailbreaking a device is a very bad idea if you don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s also a terrible idea if it’s the only device you own. That being said, if you’re willing to experiment, take the risk, and have a second device you can mess around with, jailbreaking could give you the ability to do some really fun and interesting things on your Nintendo Switch.
Since the Switch is a new console, so is the jailbreaking community for it. As time goes by, though, more and more talented people will unlock the Switch’s operating system and share with us everything we can do with the new tools.
If you’re interested in jailbreaking your Switch, here’s everything we know about it so far.
What’s the latest news on jailbreaking Nintendo Switch?
February 1, 2019: Nintendo releases new firmware, crack follows almost immediately.
Nintendo recently released a firmware update for the Nintendo Switch. Many users complained that there were not enough enhancements in the new update. While at surface level it seemed as if there wasn’t a whole lot going on, a lot of the changes involved tactics designed to discourage hacking communities from doing things like implementing custom firmwares. Unfortunately for Nintendo, within hours it was announced that the new firmware had been hacked.
Twitter user motezazer announced the defeat with a Tweet that included hash code proving that Nintendo’s update was no match for the community.
Here are some SHA256 hashes in celebration 🙂
Master key: 4EC96B8CB01B8DCE382149443430B2B6EBCB2983348AFA04A25E53609DABEDF6
— motezazer (@elmirorac) January 29, 2019
In seems as if the hacking community surrounding the Switch has grown to be incredibly robust and it seems highly unlikely that this particular genie will be getting put back in the bottle any time soon.
December 26, 2018: PC on your Switch!?
There is pretty exciting news leaking out from the homebrew community these days. There are all sorts of incredibly talented folks out there pushing the boundaries of what the Nintendo Switch can do. Quite possibly one of the most interesting recent developments is the release of something called In-Home-Switching. With this awesome application designed by D-VAmpire, you can stream your Windows desktop directly to your Switch!
The possibilities of what can be done with this application are pretty staggering. However, one of the most obvious is playing PC games and emulators directly from your desktop to your Switch. As of now, there is no sound output to your Switch but we can hope that will change in the not too distant future. There is a bit of input lag which is to be expected and largely dependent on your network and PC. However, videos show that the framerate is pretty darned impressive.
As homebrew developers continue to explore what can be done with the Switch, we are bound to see all sorts of amazing things like In-Home-Switching.
November 6, 2018: Custom firmware galore!
There is great news for Switch users who have an interest in customizing their systems in ways which Nintendo had never planned. There is now a whole host of various custom firmware available for the Nintendo Switch. It seems as if each firmware does things a little differently and offers different features and focuses. In the coming weeks, I am going to dive in and try out all the different custom firmware options available and give you a full round-up which may help you decide which one is right for your needs.
October 4, 2018: New version of the Switch to arrive in 2019
A report from The Wall Street Journal has revealed that Nintendo plans to release a refreshed version of the Switch hardware sometime in the following year. While there have been no specific details released about what this update would entail, sources suggested that the display could stand to see an upgrade.
There was no specific mention made of an update to the Nvidia SOC which powers the Switch. However, considering the fact that this chip is the source of the Fusée Gelée exploit, I would not be surprised to find Nintendo updating the SOC as well. While it would not retroactively stop the jailbreak on older systems, a hardware update could throw up a roadblock for jailbreaking on all systems released after the SOC refresh.
July 10, 2018: N64 and GameCube games seen running on Nintendo Switch
A wide-open world of forced flexibility on the Nintendo Switch is getting tantalizingly close. Switch modder _Mizumi recently posted some videos of his Switch running games from various legacy Nintendo consoles. We saw Pokemon Snap from N64 running relatively smoothly. Pheonix Wright: Ace Attorney from the Gameboy Advance is seen running, albeit with no sound. To top it all off there was a video posted of Super Smash Bros.Melee for the GameCube running silently and a little choppy but running none the less. These are the sort of exciting little tidbits that whet the appetite of the community to push the boundaries of what can be done on this awesome little handheld console. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
June 19, 2018: Nintendo has cracked down on piracy on Nintendo Switch
Celebrity hacker and one of the developers of the custom firmware for jailbroken Nintendo Switch devices, SciresM recently went into great detail, explaining just how application authorization works on Nintendo Switch and how easy it will be for the game company to identify and ban users that play games that have been pirated. He notes in his research that Nintendo can « actually perfectly detect whether a digital copy of a game has been legitimately purchased. »
Basically, when you connect a game online (whether through online gameplay or updating a game’s software version), your console obtains an application authorization token. It’s here that Nintendo can track pirated content directly from your console. Client certificates are console-unique for the Switch.
Note that unlike the 3DS, this means that Nintendo can tell what console makes a given request. This means Nintendo can block misbehaving user’s certificates, leaving them permanently unable to use any of Nintendo’s network.
There are still some unknowns within this very detailed bit of information. For example, reddit users are wondering whether booting into the official Switch firmware to play games online will be affected if they’ve installed a custom firmware by jailbreaking their Switch via the Fusée Gelée launcher or Tegra X1 exploit. Some of the Switch jailbreak community are noting that they plan to buy a secondary Switch in order to keep one of them safe from possible banning (which I think is a very smart idea anyway). SciresM said it best at the bottom of his post on reddit’s SwitchHacks sub:
tl;dr: Don’t pirate games — it will lead to your console being banned from going online, and every banned early-hardware-revision switch is an enormous waste.
Read up on the details of how application authorization works on Nintendo Switch on the SwitchHacks sub.
April 24, 2018: Un-patchable bootrom jailbreak for Nintendo Switch is public!
Over the past 24-hours, the Nintendo Switch jailbreak community was thrown into chaos. It all started when an anonymous user posted the Tegra X1 Bootrom exploit chain publicly on PasteBin. Not long after, Kate Temkin on behalf of the ReSwitched team published a vulnerability disclosure, which includes an exploit execution and proof of concept, as well as the Fusée Gelée launcher. Then, Fail0verflow released their version of the Tegra X1 exploit, called ShofEL2, which includes a Linux port. Finally, hacker Plutoo, who was part of the team that discovered the 3.0.0 exploit that created the Homebrew Launcher released the source code. Plutoo followed this release with a tweet, leaving the Switch hacking scene.
To clarify, both Fusée Gelée and ShofEL2 are based on a bootrom bug that can’t be patched in any Nintendo Switch that has been sold so far (as of April 24, 2018). It does not require a modchip and appears to be somewhat simple and straightforward (I’ll be jailbreaking my Switch ASAP and have a guide for you soon).
Though these exploits are now publicly available and any person owning a Switch right now can jailbreak it, there isn’t a whole lot you can actually do once you’ve jailbroken your Switch. It’s really for the love of doing it and for developers looking to create custom firmware or other cool things on Switch.
As a reminder, don’t jailbreak your main Switch. Only do so on a secondary unit that you don’t have any important data stored in. There is no reason for you to potentially brick your device — and jailbreaking it will surely void its warranty. Right now, there isn’t much you can do with a jailbroken Switch, so don’t risk losing the only one you have.
After I’ve had some time to go through the information, I’ll publish a guide to jailbreaking your Nintendo Switch.
April 12, 2018: Coldboot Nintendo Switch jailbreak hack Fusée Gelée to release possibly as early as this summer
Engineer and self-proclaimed « low-level » hacker Kate Temkin has found a vulnerability in the NVIDIA Tegra X1 chip, which is the processor chip inside every Nintendo Switch on the market today. This vulnerability has made it possible for Temkin to build a jailbreak that supposedly won’t ever be patchable with a future update.
The hack, currently called Fusée Gelée, as described by Temkin, is « future-proof » because it exploits a coding mistake in the read-only bootrom. This bootrom can receive minor patches while still at the factory, but once it leaves the manufacturing facility, it’s unpatchable.
In a recently published FAQ, Temkin noted that Fusée Gelée will likely be made public « sometime this summer. »
So what does that mean for us? It means we’ll be able to jailbreak our Nintendo Switch devices, no matter what operating system they’re running, as long as they’re already on the market right now. If your Switch has that Tegra X1 chip, you’ll be able to update its firmware until the end of time and continue to enjoy the jailbreak features.
Temkin’s FAQ is a fantastic read if you’re wondering about the details of Fusée Gelée.
Homebrew Launcher available on Switch running firmware 3.0.0
Back in December of 2017, a group of hackers revealed at the Chaos Communication Congress in Germany that they successfully hacked the Switch’s version 3.0.0 firmware. The team also noted that a Homebrew platform was in the works.
Just a few days later, another hacker team announced a jailbreak coming soon that supposedly will work on any Nintendo Switch, no matter the running operating system (likely using a hardware mod). This group has not yet publicly released their exploit, but in mid-February noted, « We’re sure all Switch owners will be delighted by our product. It is worth the wait! »
Earlier in February, Fail0verflow posted on Twitter a video running Linux on Nintendo Switch, which means yet another group has successfully found a way into the Switch operating system. This one is supposedly a bootrom bug.
On February 18, one of the members of the team that spoke the Chaos Community Congress (3C), Plutoo, posted a link on Twitter to a Homebrew Launcher for Switch 3.0.0 on Github, making the Switch officially available for a public jailbreak if the firmware is version 3.0.0 or older.
Just about a week later, a notable Switch Homebrew developer updated the launcher with a better user interface and a few fixes to the way things are handled. Switch’s HomeBrew Launcher Menu is now officially at version 2.0.
What does jailbreaking a Switch mean?
If you’re new to the jailbreaking concept entirely, it basically means that the device’s operating system is accessible in a way that was never intended by the creators and developers of the operating system.
Accessing an operating system gives people the ability to add new features, like installing Linux, downloading modifications to the Home screen, custom firmware, and other such things.
Currently, specific to the Switch, there isn’t much that you can do with a jailbroken device unless you’re handy with coding. If you go the route of installing the Homebrew Launcher using a Switch running software version 3.0.0 on the Switch, you can start using SwitchBrew.
It also means that any warranty you have on your Nintendo Switch will be null and void because you’ll be breaking the user contract you agreed to when using the Switch.
What do I need to get started with jailbreaking my Nintendo Switch?
If you want to use the HomeBrew launcher. your Switch has to be running firmware 3.0.0.
If your Switch’s firmware is below 3.0.0, you can update to 3.0.0 by using a physical copy of the game Pokkén Tournament DX with the cartridge identification number 000. Some versions of Pokkén Tournament DX are numbered 001 or 002 and will update your Switch’s firmware to 3.0.1. The ID number is imprinted on the back side of the game cartridge itself, so you have to open the game’s box before you’ll know if you have the right print run of Pokkén Tournament DX.
You’ll also need a microSD card with about 32GB of storage. It’s not recommended to go with a higher storage count because it might not work well with the Switch’s older firmware 3.0.0.
If you want to jailbreak your Switch using Fusée Gelée or SofEL2, you’ll need a computer with a USB 3.0 port (with some exceptions) and a USB-C to USB-A cable to connect your Switch to your computer. The Fusée Gelée instructions note that you’ll have to short out two pins on your right Joy-Con controller in order to trigger recovery mode on your Switch.
How do I jailbreak my Switch?
I’ll have a dedicated guide to jailbreaking your Switch as soon as I do so myself and understand the process well enough to explain it to you.
To be clear, you should never jailbreak your « daily driver » Nintendo Switch. What I mean by that is, you should have a second Switch that is dedicated solely to jailbreaking. If you don’t have a dedicated Switch for jailbreaking, don’t do it at all. It’s just not worth it right now.
Can you un-jailbreak a Switch?
At this time, I haven’t seen any information about how to uninstall the Homebrew Launcher, but it appears that the Fusée Gelée and SofEL2 exploits happen during the device boot and have to be rebooted every time you turn on your Switch. When I have a little more clarity on this, I’ll explain it in detail.
Remember, jailbreaking of Nintendo Switch is still in its infancy and there isn’t much information available. I can answer questions about it to the best of my ability if you put them in the comments section.