NES Classic Edition Console Already Hacked to Run Custom Linux Kernel

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NES Classic Edition Console Already Hacked to Run Custom Linux Kernel
  • The NES Classic has been hacked in just four days
  • This has been accomplished by a Japanese hacker with the handle urandom
  • We could see more games and emulators on the NES Classic soon

The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition, aside from being a mouthful of a name, is a one-time purchase with 30 games. It's got a few modern accoutrements such as HDMI as well as Wii/ Wii U controller support, and you can also use its classic controller with Virtual Console games on the Wii and Wii U. But you're saddled with its 30 games - no more and no less. Though this may change.

With the NES Classic console releasing in the US and Japan, teardowns revealed it to be a quad-core Linux computer toting 512MB flash memory storage and 256MB of RAM. In other words, it appears to sport a regular circuit board and custom software.

(Also see:  Retro Freak Review: This Console Lets You Play Games From 8 Classic Consoles)


As the device runs Linux, Nintendo has adhered to open source license rules by allowing downloads of the NES Classic Edition’s source files.

(Also see:  The NES Classic Edition and Sega Mega Drive Classic Represent a Wasted Opportunity)

Now, a Japanese hacker with the handle urandom has managed to run a customised distro of Ubuntu on the Famicom Mini which shares the same internals as the NES Classic.

“Using a serial-to-USB cable, urandom powered the device (in his case, the Japan-only Famicom Mini, which has an identical motherboard) using U-Boot loader software and then extracted necessary files in FEL mode that he needed to attach to his own kernel,” reports Ars Technica (via Google Translate).

Although this proves that the NES Classic and Famicom Mini can be hacked, there’s little else done by urandom in way of extracting the emulator used or the ROM files that make up the 30 games it ships with. However it means that others can hack the NES and Famicom Classic to bring added functionality to the table such as other emulators or games.


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Rishi Alwani Rishi writes about video games and tech. Legend has it he bleeds pixels. More
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