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GameCube (Games) Entertainment Games

Linux Now Booted On GameCube System 80

Posted by simoniker
from the getting-there dept.
modifried writes "The GameCube-Linux project managed to get the Linux kernel to boot on a GameCube gaming system - it 'shows a full screen of kernel messages, up to mounting root', but there are still errors to be fixed. From what I have gathered no one has (as of yet) been able to burn a bootable mini-DVD for the system. Instead they are currently using a glitch in the patching system from the online-enabled game Phantasy Star Online. Screenshots can be found here. (And if you'd like more information on the PSOLoader, it can be found here.)"
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Linux Now Booted On GameCube System

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  • This is fun (Score:1, Troll)

    by sirmikester (634831)
    I really like the fact that people take the time to get linux to run on EVERYTHING. As soon as they get to a point where linux can run on the gamecube i'm going to try it out. I wonder if they'll ever be able to overwrite the original os and boot linux permanently on the cube?
    • I agree and disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

      by cheezus (95036) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @01:06PM (#8075712) Homepage
      I too think it's cool that hobbyists are hacking consumer electronics.

      But, c'mon. Neither you nor I will ever actually run linux on our gamecubes.
      • I disagree (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sadler121 (735320)
        The Gamecube is extremly cheap and once the team is able to get a working Linux OS on the Cube, there will be many applications for such a device. (Many have been mentioned aboove, like thin client, low end web server, etc).
        • Add in the cost of a broadband adaptor (~$35-60) and Phantasy Star Online (~$35-50) along with the pain of running the PSO exploit every time you want to boot something.

          No thanks. Seems kinda fun just for a hobby though. I don't see any practical use unless the geeks figure out how to boot up for a disk (seems very unlikely at this point).
          • $35 to $60 for the broadband adapter? I've never seen it for more than $35. As for PSO, I would imagine that the price of that is going to be coming down a bit more quickly than the price of the average game. Case in point, Everquest for PS2 - since the company makes the money through the subscriptions, the cost of the game dropped fairly quickly to $20. I'm not saying that PSO will drop to $20 tomorrow but it might get there more quickly than the average game.

            As for the pain of running the PSO exploit, you

            • Maybe the BBA has dropped in price recently, but before Mario Kart was released, I think nintendo.com was out of stock and the only places to get them were ebay and the likes. I remember looking about a month before Mario Kart was released and the price was consistently around $60.

              Yeah, I guess I'm more thinking about booting up linux from time to time and still using the GC to play games on. I guess if I was going to use it as a comp, I would buy another for $99.

              One thing I just thought of though, how
              • My guess is storage would have to come in a later Nintendo Games system. About all you can store in RAM is what is absolutly neccesary and when you re-boot, you'll lose any modifications that you make. That is, unless you mount a drive over the network from a PC and save all your prefrences there. ;-)
                • Nintendo has broadband (Ethernet) adapters for sale here [nintendo.com] at their online store. They don't have them listed as backordered like some of their other items [nintendo.com] so they should be in stock.

                  For anyone who is thinking that the GC is useless running Linux without a hard drive, I would like to point out the SD flash RAM adapter [lik-sang.com] and Mini DVD-R discs [yahoo.com]. While these aren't necessarily supported by the project at the moment, it's not too big of a stretch to imagine that they may be.
                  • The SD Flash is a posibility, but not the mini DVD-R discs. From what I've read the discs are written differently enough that they cannot be read be a normal dvd drive. Also meaning that standard mini dvd discs cannot be read.

                    On another note Gamecube memory cards can be bought in sizes upto 128 megebits and accessing the memory card slots (including accessing any peripherals plugged in I assume) is on the roadmap for the linux/gamecube project. 128Mbits should be more than enough for a /home directory to
    • I installed Linux on the Sun once. No, not a Sun. The Sun. But I decided to revert to the old OS when I realised that it had stopped going down every night.

  • You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bagels (676159) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @12:51PM (#8075629)
    it sounds kind of stupid, but has anyone actually just plain *asked* Nintendo what their stance on alternative OSes on the Cube is? They'd probably prefer a "proper" method to the PSO exploit, which can also be used to run bootleg games... and their past actions haven't struck me as quite so draconian as those of, say, Microsoft.

    That said, of course, if they revealed the information required to burn Linux discs, it wouldn't be long before someone used the technique to burn bootlegs :( .

    • Re:You know... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cecil (37810) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @01:24PM (#8075819) Homepage
      Nintendo does indeed have a better reputation than Microsoft, but it's not any more deserved. While I love Nintendo, and even owned an N64 and a Virtual Boy :P I don't have any illusions about them being an exceptionally friendly company, especially when it comes to anything which could be twisted into a piracy concern.

      It was their staunch refusal to touch CDs (because they were easily copied) that lost them SquareSoft as a developer to Sony, and the N64's anemic cartrige space nearly dragged them out of the mainstream gaming market.

      They were, and still are, well known as one of the most litigous companies when it comes to emulators and ROMs. They crack down the hardest on manufacturers of ROM copier devices.

      And you expect this company to give you access to the system's internals? Not likely. Look at Sony's PlayStation Linux. It runs on a layer so that you aren't allowed to touch the PlayStation hardware directly. Console makers consider that kind of stuff extremely proprietary.

      Basically, Nintendo has this illusionary image that they are a good, consumer-friendly company. And they are that for the most part. Even still, they're mostly just a company like any other -- if you get in their way, they will not hesistate for a second before coming down on you like a ton of bricks.
      • Re:You know... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by xenocide2 (231786) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @04:23PM (#8076965) Homepage
        They are the most litigious in the realm of emulation and ROMs but they also have the most to lose. Sony's playstation hardly has a history to build on (note that sony has also pursued emulators to court, something that Nintendo hasn't if I recall correctly). Microsoft hasn't had any problems since they have no history at all. Emulation cuts into remarketing concepts and games already built.

        That Nintendo just won't let us have games for free is sucky, but their entire empire was built on survival. Their refusal to enter the CD realm was partially based on a lack of expertise, and a lack of expensive facilities. Sony already had plenty of CD based factories, but Nintendo was still in the chip market. CD piracy was of course another consideration, one that ultimately came back to bite Sony in the butt as personal cd burners came to market.

        Sega has probably been the most emu friendly, but thats not exactly an endorsement. As I recall, they settled their suit against a popular Genesis emulation by building Sega PC Sonic fun packs that are built on the author's emulation technology. And then the saturn has just been too rare (and large) and unheard of for emulation, let alone market exploitation. Though Sega has been releasing some other games for GBA as a sega classics, and the sonic mega collection on gamecube.

        So no illusions, just know that Nintendo works with the strategy that's worked for them -- conservative decisions. They spend a good deal of R&D money, but they do exercise caution in what they release, and how they move. Of the Big 3, Nintendo has the smallest bankroll. On the other hand they're also the most game dedicated. They're the least likely to pull out if things are looking down. At some point Microsoft's due dilligence will have to examine the XBox situation (at which point heads would roll if they hadn't already all left the company (interesting sign)).
      • Re:You know... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Kethinov (636034) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @04:30PM (#8077026) Homepage Journal
        It was their staunch refusal to touch CDs (because they were easily copied) that lost them SquareSoft as a developer to Sony, and the N64's anemic cartrige space nearly dragged them out of the mainstream gaming market.

        They were, and still are, well known as one of the most litigous companies when it comes to emulators and ROMs. They crack down the hardest on manufacturers of ROM copier devices.
        Funny thing is, this approach flopped on N64 and Nintendos all before it. Search Kazaa for Playstation ISOs and how many do you find, not many. Search Kazaa for N64 dumps, SNES dumps, NES dumps, how many do you find? Tons. Reason? You can make dumps of N64, SNES, and NES catridges that don't get much bigger than 128mb depending on what method you use to dump the data. But CD images are always ~700MB; though some of my Playstation CD images are as small as 300mb, while Final Fantasies are something around ~780mb. My recent rip of Final Fantasy X clocked at 4.19gb.

        Nintendo finally (unfortunately) realized that more data storage = pirate unfriendly with the Gamecube, even though those mini DVDs are still loads smaller in filesize than the PS2 disks. But it's their copy protection (burn/read from outside to in, among other theories) that has really stumped emulation enthusiasts like myself. To my knowledge, only a small group of people have figured out how to rip a GC disk, and they're not sharing how. Developers of the Dolphin emu probably know how to do it as well.

        Actually, the only (public) method I know of that actually works is using the same exploit as is being used to create this GC Linux. You can supposedly make an ISO of any GC disk by exploiting the update process in Phantasy Star Online, though I wouldn't bother with such a backwards-ass method. I'd rather just tweak a DVD ROM to be able to read and make ISOs of the disks. In any event, PS2 and GC have both been out for just about the same amount of time, and PS2 emulation is lightyears ahead of GC. Nintendo's anti-piracy efforts are so good this time that people even have a hard time getting Linux, which supposedly "runs on anything", to run on one ;)
        • Re:You know... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by edwdig (47888) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @01:54AM (#8079710)
          But it's their copy protection (burn/read from outside to in, among other theories) that has really stumped emulation enthusiasts like myself.

          The idea of the data starting on the outside and working in has been tossed around a lot, but no one has really tried to test it.

          What has been proven to be the main factor in the copy protection is the barcode around the inside of the disc. The barcode is found near the center of the disc, just a little further in than the data. The barcode can't be burned onto a disc - it must be put in during manufacturing. You need to use a microscope to make out the bars, but if you're magnifying it enough to distinguish them, you won't be able to see anything but the bars, leaving you no frame of reference, making it impossible to map the bars.

          To my knowledge, only a small group of people have figured out how to rip a GC disk, and they're not sharing how. Developers of the Dolphin emu probably know how to do it as well.

          It's simple to rip a GC disk. Load a program using the PSO exploit. Write code to read from the DVD and send the data over the network. Code for all of that is readily available.

      • Re:You know... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NanoGator (522640) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:45PM (#8078091) Homepage Journal
        "It was their staunch refusal to touch CDs (because they were easily copied)"

        That particular detail is not entirely true. (Though what I'm about to say does not, in any way, defeat your point about Square.)

        Nintendo was quite happy to go to CD, see the Super NES CD that didn't quite make it. But that was a peripheral. With a mainstream system, like the N64, CD-ROMs were not so interesting to Nintendo.

        * The drive mechanisms were expensive. The money saved by using cartridges went towards more powerful processing. (note: The N64 came out for $200 instead of $300 like the PS launch.)

        * The media is easily damaged. Cartridges are much harder for kids to break.

        * Nintendo would have a hard time controlling who made what for the system. (Look up Nintendo's tiffles with Tengen and Atari for more info on that.)

        * Access times are slow causing interruptions in any given game. Above all else, it's a game machine, not a wait machine.

        * Cartridges make a lot more money for Nintendo.

        As I mentioned before, this does not interfere with your point about Square. However, arguably, Square was being rather whiney about it. The reason why they wanted CD media was so they could use CG rendered full motion video in places. Really, it wasn't that necessary. (Yes, I've played the game.) It was a luxury they demanded, instead of a limitation they could have overcomed. As a result, Square made their decision, and found themselves crawling back in Nintendo's direction.

        I will say this, though: Square made the right choice. I don't like Sony, I wasn't a fan of the PS, but I do think Square did the right thing. Sadly, they severely damaged their relations with Nintendo. They're slowly patching it up, but we as gamers have been hurt by it.

        "Basically, Nintendo has this illusionary image that they are a good, consumer-friendly company."

        Believe it or not, they are. Sadly, a company their size often finds themselves in a position where they have to make tough decisions. Everybody has their opinion, that's something Nintendo has no control over.

        "if you get in their way, they will not hesistate for a second before coming down on you like a ton of bricks."

        I don't think that's a fair statement. In a sense, it's true. However, there are a few missing words in that phrase. Believe it or not, they do think before they act. They do act swiftly, though.
      • Basically, Nintendo has this illusionary image that they are a good, consumer-friendly company. And they are that for the most part. Even still, they're mostly just a company like any other -- if you get in their way, they will not hesistate for a second before coming down on you like a ton of bricks.

        Nintendo is a very consumer friendly company. It's very rare to have a problem with their products. I own an NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, and GBA. I've had a total of 2 problems over the years. My SNES didn't co
      • I think it's only fair to point out the other reason Nintendo didn't want to touch CDs; load times. When CD-ROM drives first came out, they were single speed, which is... well... rather slow.
    • Yes, but this is the same Nintendo which has been fighting the production of flash carts for the GBA. Sure, people pirate games on them but people are also developing some neat stuff [gbadev.org] using them.

      I don't think any of the big console companies are really all that interested in the hobbyist market.
    • Nintendo is the company that claims that emulation is illegal.

      Not that pirating ROMs is illegal - not even that copying ROMs that you own is illegal - they claim that emulation is illegal, in and of itself. Even emulating a SNES to play a public domain SNES game you wrote yourself is illegal, according to Nintendo.

      Do you seriously think this company is going to look favorably on people hacking their flagship system? I admire your optimism.
  • But why would you want to run Linux on the Cube when it has no high-capacity storage (i.e., hard drive)?
    • Perhaps as a thin client which would access multimedia files on one of your PCs that isn't in the living room - thus delivering movies and music that you've got on your PC to your television. That's one use.

      Another use I can see is a very cheap [and pretty weak] web server. Sure, the GC isn't going to be able to handle huge loads but if you're running a video gamers league for you and a few of your friends, how fitting would it be to have that site being served by a Gamecube?

      There are two uses where high-ca

    • So you can develop your own games without having to pay any licensing fees...
      • Why would you use Linux to develop a GameCube game?

        All you'd get is a lot of unnecessary overhead. The hardware is designed to be incredibly simple to program. You don't have to deal with things like IDE to read from the DVD. To read from the DVD, you put a pointer to your memory buffer in one register. Put the write command into another register. There's a third register to check for status (finished, in progresses, error, etc). That's it. Adding the Linux kernel in there won't make it any easier.

        Since t
    • because it's fun (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cheezus (95036) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @01:03PM (#8075705) Homepage
      I'm sure making linux run on strange hardware is fun and educational.

      Why run a smb3 on a nes emulator inside of a ps1 emulator inside a pc emulator inside a virtual machine on a mac?

      Geeks are just weird like that. I think it's cool.
    • So that it can run as a light X terminal, and do some processing too. All gamecubes are connected to TVs, so its a nice easy way to watch your media collection there. Also you could view news headlines, browse email, ect.. Anyway, its nice to run the OS you like on the console you like :) (If true for you)
    • But why would you want to run Linux on the Cube when it has no high-capacity storage (i.e., hard drive)?

      Perhaps I shouldn't be the one to answer- I can't see any compelling reason for running Linux on the Gamecube, even considering my answer. *shrug*

      There's no reason someone porting Linux to the GC, or someone interested in using the port, couldn't add a hard drive or a more regular media drive to the GC through one of the high-speed ports on the bottom of the GC.

      For me, the only useful reason to have
    • For fun ?
    • You could use the SD-memory card adapter to attach SD cards to the system (up to 512MB). Of course being a flash memory device, there would be limitations.

      • lower speed than discs, possibly limited by the memory card interface
      • I wouldn't try writing too often to the card (think of the cells!), it would be strictly a read only device
      • I believe the memory card file system is limited to 127 files on the Gamecube but not 100% sure
  • when mplayer runs on the gamecube, give me a call. I'll be sure to buy a broadband adapter then.
  • by -kertrats- (718219) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @02:02PM (#8076056) Journal
    GamecubeOS has reportedly been booted on a pc.
  • by mnmn (145599) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @06:25PM (#8077671) Homepage
    A new stock dreamcast can be bought for $99 from dealers who still carry it. Running Linux or BSD on any game console is cool and dramatically increases its usefulness. It also brings a good OS on good hardware for much cheaper than an eMachines computer.

    Does anyone know the current prices of a gamecube? Does anyone know if linux or BSD can be run on the first playstation (which is cheaper than dreamcast?).
  • Linux on GBA or DS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sofakingl (690140) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:00PM (#8077870)
    This is cool, but I'd rather see Linux on the GBA, or maybe even the DS. A Linux distro on a portable system would be quite useful for those of us who want to have a makeshift PDA. Concidering the DS uses rewritable media, I think it could be done.
  • by slux (632202)
    There's only one problem with PSOload - it's non-free. This has resulted in not being able to load Linux on the cube from a GNU/Linux machine currently as only 1.1 is ported and only 2.0 loads it AFAIK. You can also forget about using PSOLoad if you're on PPC or any other non-x86 platform GNU/Linux runs on since there's never been a build.

    I hope there will eventually be a free way to load Linux and any other software on the Gamecube whether it's PSOLoad or not.
  • In one of the more beautifully simplistic bits of copy-protection I've ever seen, Gamecube discs spin opposite to standard DVD/CD playing devices.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there are a lot of reverse-direction DVD burners floating around.
    • by Jawju (614159) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @07:57PM (#8078147)
      The GC discs spin the same way as other CD/DVDs (clockwise). However, they read from the outside towards the inside (I believe the XBox does the same). This allows faster bootups and so on. I think the problem with copying is getting your hands on the 8cm discs. You can get blank ones if you own a GC dev kit, but good luck getting them on ebay ;)
      • Do you have a link to support this?

        I've always heard that they spun backwards. One of my friends was working on rewiring his dvd drive in his computer to spin backwards but gave up after he felt that the drive wouldn't see the small disk.

        shouldn't it be possible to write the tracks onto a disk in such a way that it could be read by a GC? I mean, if you managed to take apart the enclosure, you could fit a regular-sized disk onto the drive so it could spin freely...

        and with that said, shouldn't it be po

        • There's a lot of comments on this older /. article [slashdot.org].

          The disc spinning backwards seems to be some sort of chinese whisper due to the fact that the tracks written on it are reversed.

          But there's a simpler way I know they spin in the right direction - I own one, and if you have it running and open the case, the disc is spinning in the regular direction.

        • Well, I have a GameCube, and every time I power it down and open the lid, the disc is spinning clockwise...

          There have been some seriously tricky rumors about the contents of the disk. What is so far known is that the media is normal 8mm DVD - burnable blanks are available, just rarely and costly. (No idea if the GC drive can read burned discs anyway - as everyone knows some optical drives can only read factory-pressed CDs/DVDs...)

          Yet, the disc is not in standard DVD format. And the problem is, the DVD-R

    • Even if that were the case, how hard is it to reverse the bits of whatever iso you are burning before doing the actual burn? Think about it, that's an easy hardware solution.

      Let's suppose the iso you want to be read is 111000, in a standard format. And let's imagine your pretend device that reads backwards, then just burn 000111 to the disc. Solution presented. The problems with replicating GC discs do not involve this supposed spinning backwards problem.

      By the way, if you own a Gamecube, try hitting the op

      • Even if that were the case, how hard is it to reverse the bits of whatever iso you are burning before doing the actual burn? Think about it, that's an easy hardware solution.

        Actually, it isn't even as simple as that. AFAIK, CD's are written to in the same fashion as records were/are, to some extent. The data (or music) is laid out in a spiral. If the disc is burned from the inside out, while spinning clockwise, the laser/needle will move outward when the disc is spinning clockwise, as you would expec

  • BogoMIPS...? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PipianJ (574459) on Saturday January 24, 2004 @08:06PM (#8078191)
    From the screenshots... The GameCube only runs 484.96 BogoMIPS? Sounds pretty reasonable [tldp.org] considering the speed of the chip... [216.239.39.104]
    • 484.96 sounds pretty low to me. The GameCube CPU is a modifed version of the PPC 750 running at 485 MHz. Based on the site you linked, I'd expect it fall in between these two entries:

      PowerPC 750/400 G3 801.67
      PowerPC 750cx/600 iMac 1198.00
  • When the Gamecube-Linux project was reported on Slashdot a few weeks back, I was skeptical. It sounded too much like one of those "we've got a plan and a roadmap and a committee and a logo... now we just need people who can write code" projects.

    But if those screenshots are for real (ie, not faked) then I'm impressed. Linux now boots on all the latest generation consoles (DC, PS2, XBOX, GC). That means the hardware that can run Linux is both pervasive (50 million PS2s? 10 million XBOXs? 10 million GCs?) an

  • First prealpha booting in 40 column mode, complete with Commodore 64 font [gc-linux.com]??? Where can I get a Linux framebuffer patch to do that?

    Smells mighty suspicious...

    • Take a look at the windows title bar. "Dolwin -- Nintendo Dolphin Emulator for Win32" That was before they were able to get the kernel to actually boot, just uncompress itself.
      • Yeah, I saw it was in emulator. That still doesn't explain the appearance of the text, unless it's a feature of the emulator.

        But still, I wonder why anyone would have bothered to specifically use slightly odd screen colors to say the least, 40 column text mode, and on top of all that a Commodore 64 font!

        It didn't make much sense to me - it smells of unnecessary tweaking with details to appear to be cool. There might have been some other priorities at the time, such as, oh, trying to get it to boot or so

  • It would be nice if a disc like the freeloader disc or the action replay could be updated to allow direct booting from either the broadband adapter of from the disc itself. Maybe it would be an idea to approach datel once a working version is available. They have a long history of producing some of the more interesting peripherals for various consoles.
  • Anyone else notice the Amiga 1084-style monitor in one of the pictures? =D

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