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Nintendo Wii gains Linux port

Feb 27, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 12 views

The GameCube Linux project has released a “proof of concept” Linux distribution for the Nintendo Wii gaming console. Powered by a 729MHz PowerPC processor, Wii hardware running Linux could be used as a thin client, multimedia terminal, server, or as a platform for “homebrew” computer games, the project suggests.

Initially, most Linux-on-Wii adopters appear to be interested in multimedia and gaming applications. Days after the port's announcement, an MP3 player has already appeared for the platform, along with a port of the Snes9X SuperNintendo game emulator. There's also a Windows script aimed at converting GameCube titles to Linux binaries.

The Nintendo Wii is a relatively inexpensive gaming console, compared to similar offerings from Sony and Microsoft. Uniquely, its handheld controller is equipped with accelerometers, allowing players to use hand and arm motions to fence, throw balls, and so on.

News of the proof-of-concept Wii distro came earlier in the week from the GameCube Linux project. After hacking the Nintendo GameCube with a “gc-linux” distro four years ago, the group had been fairly quiet since then.

According to the GameCube Linux project, the Wii is based on a PowerPC processor clocked at 729MHz. There's also an integrated ARM-based processor for service tasks, and integrated WiFi.

The Wii distro apparently relies on a Twilight Hack developed by Team Twiizers. This hack appears to leverage an exploit in a Wii game title to launch a Linux bootloader, as depicted in the video below.

Team Tweezer's YouTube video of Twilight Princess hack

The GameCube Linux announcement is currently available here. The MP3 player details can be found here. Information about the GameCube-to-Linux binary conversion script are here. More details about the “Twilight Hack” installation procedure may be found here. A tutorial on home-brew gaming on the Wii may be available here.

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