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GameCube (Games) Software Entertainment Games Hardware Linux

Gamecube Linux Port Announced, In Progress 258

NiteStar writes "A group of people from the homebrew scene and Xbox Linux have now started a new project to port Linux to the Nintendo Gamecube. A small preview version has already been released, it's a small application that draws Tux the penguin on the GameCube screen. The roadmap explains a small client will run on the Gamecube, so the 'GameCube could be used as a desktop computer, which stores its data on a server on the network. The GameCube has a CPU that is powerful enough to decode common multimedia data like MPEG-4/DivX and MP3. It can serve as a display unit for content stored on a server'."
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Gamecube Linux Port Announced, In Progress

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  • Very small (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:41AM (#8030589)
    A small preview version has already been released, it's a small application that draws Tux the penguin on the GameCube screen. The roadmap explains a small client will run on the Gamecube

    Wait a sec, go back to the part about it being small again...

  • Next Gen... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TiMac ( 621390 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:41AM (#8030592)
    By the time this is finished enough to be "useful" the next generation of hardware will be out or imminent....why not think of this stuff when the hardware is new? Xbox Linux crew did...

    But now the Xbox 2, PS3, and GameCube successor (name?) are looming, about waiting til then, and starting on those immediately?

    • Re:Next Gen... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xpilot ( 117961 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:44AM (#8030605) Homepage
      By the time this is finished enough to be "useful" the next generation of hardware will be out or imminent....why not think of this stuff when the hardware is new? Xbox Linux crew did...

      Perhaps, so that old "obsolete" hardware continues to be "useful"? Besides, I wouldn't want to install Lunix on my Gamecube if it were brand spanking new, I'd be using it to play games.

      • Re:Next Gen... (Score:5, Informative)

        by TiMac ( 621390 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:49AM (#8030640)
        Well, one of the arguments for Xbox Linux that the Xbox was a really cheap PC (essentially) so running Linux on it was a good way to get a solid machine for not much money. I can see this as much of the same thing--GameCube is cheaper still. So that's one reason you might want to run Linux on a brand-new machine--it'll be cheaper than a lot of PCs out there for what it will be used for.

        Accourse, I could be wrong....but this whole thing seems extraneous.

        • Re:Next Gen... (Score:2, Informative)

          by MMaestro ( 585010 )
          Yes, but the argument for modding the Xbox was more justified thanks to its hardware. With this attempt it seems silly and a waste of time. Unless the price difference is that important to someone or the Gamecube Linux somehow proves to be faster than Xbox Linux, it'd be far, far easier just going with the already established Xbox Linus work.
          • Re:Next Gen... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by lambent ( 234167 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @10:57AM (#8031733)
            What's the point?

            What the hell was the point in porting UNIX to a x86 architechture? Isn't that that chip that was based on chips originally used to control ballistic missiles back in the 70s?

            What the hell was the point of emulating windows apps on unix? You geeks whined and whined and got your own OS; why don't you get your own freakin' software, too?

            What the hell was the point of ...

            oh just fsck it.

            They did it because it was there. Proprietary hardware and software are the Mt. Everests of the geek.

            I, for one, look forward to my new thin-client multimedia center.
    • by MrRTFM ( 740877 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:57AM (#8030675) Journal
      I know what you're saying, but not everyone has the dollars to get the latest game console.

      If all you have is an GameCube, and your bored with playing the games - then WTF - hack away!
      You have nothing to lose**, and you'll learn heaps doing this stuff - well done!

      **apart from stupid lawsuits, angry Dads and potentially the local Fire department :)
      • by flynt ( 248848 )
        You have nothing to lose**, and you'll learn heaps doing this stuff - well done!

        **apart from stupid lawsuits, angry Dads and potentially the local Fire department :)

        At first, I thought you noted 'lose' with asterisks to alert everyone to the first time in the history of Slashdot where someone spelled it correctly. Congratulations!
    • Re:Next Gen... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @09:27AM (#8030854)
      Maybe you should read the stuff you comment on.

      GC Linux project is actually from the guys who
      also started XBOX Linux. And the webpage also

      Q: GC is old... why now?
      A: The XBOX had to come first

      and as a side notice. All looks like XBOX2 will
      be a PPC. So why not learn on GC how PPC works.
      All the XBOX Linux guys are x86 experts, but
      they need to learn PPC *BEFORE* xbox2 is out
    • Re:Next Gen... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Loconut1389 ( 455297 )
      Mostly because homebrew ability wasnt available on gamecube until recently when the phantasy star online thing opened up a bunch of opportunities, not to mention some bios tweaks and action replay card hacks.. When the platform is new, there is nothing known about it for the most part, obtaining an SDK is hard to begin with, but it would be next to impossible for a 'nobody' (as far as the gaming industry is concerned) to get an SDK, especially to develop Linux with. It's a very closed world.
    • Re:Next Gen... (Score:3, Informative)

      GameCube successor (name?)


      • Re:Next Gen... (Score:3, Informative)

        by EpsCylonB ( 307640 )
        GameCube successor (name?)


        That is just a codename (like dolphin was for the GC), in fact I don't think nintendo are using it anymore, anytime a spokesman talks about the next console they refer to it as the "N5" (because it will be the fifth console from nintendo).
    • Re:Next Gen... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Pirogoeth ( 662083 )
      Perhaps when the successor comes out, the cost of the GameCube will drop to a point where people may actually want to buy one just for Linux rather than use the one they spent $200 for.
    • Re:Next Gen... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by octal666 ( 668007 )
      Well, when the GameCube was new, nobody figured how to run code in it at home. Now, with the Fantasy Star Online bug, something can be done.
    • GameCubes will be even cheaper than they are now.

      Plus, they're the cutest damn system, save for the psone. you could think of some theoretical applications for that, kiosk displays or something.

      I think the main problem might be those little disks the GC uses, very propiertary, and harder to burn than the PS1.

      Another theoretical possibility is homebrew games, though that's probably not the focus here.
    • The reason they took so long is that there needed to be a sizable enough catalogue of games for them to pirate. Once you can get over a hundred GC games over Kazaa, it suddenly becomes a great time to *ahem* work on Linux for the GC (wink wink nudge nudge), and get those *cough* "homebrew" games loaded on there...
  • by wheresdrew ( 735202 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:43AM (#8030599) Journal
    "It's'a me, Tux!"
  • Legal implications? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sheetrock ( 152993 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:43AM (#8030604) Homepage Journal
    As I understand it, booting these sort of things without paying royalties/licensing a devkit usually involves some form of copyright or trademark violation as a result of the measures required to get something to boot (the Gameboy, for example, had a requirement for a logo to be stored on the cartridge that was trademarked by Nintendo.)

    As cool as these things are to play around with, they aren't worth sullying the GNU/Linux name... especially with the SCO situation looming. Does anybody know if this sort of concern is present with this code?

    • by Troed ( 102527 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:58AM (#8030685) Homepage Journal
      Due to a flaw tmbinc found it's "easy" to extract the necessary key needed to "encrypt" (XOR .. ) a BIOS that the GC will boot. This BIOS could be a pure Linux kernel, untainted by any Nintendo trademarks, copyrights etc.

      (And to prevent followup questions, no, it's not enough that the GC BIOS encryption is hacked to allow playing of games off mini-DVDr. It was on the Xbox, but Nintendo has additional security measures)
      • by edwdig ( 47888 )
        The modified BIOS tmbinc made isn't very useful. If I remember correctly, what he did was soldered an extra chip onto the GameCube motherboard containing his new BIOS. The new BIOS loaded an image from a PC on the network.

        Any type of GameCube Linux won't be very useful without being able to access the disc drive. So far, there hasn't been any progress on making discs that can be read by it. You pretty much have to have a DVD manufacturing factory to do it.
        • But wait! (Score:3, Interesting)

          by xenocide2 ( 231786 )
          Ah, but child, you forget that the network port is actually faster than your precious disc drive. There's already a couple of builds out there that hijack an online game and place in a small boot loader that operates over said network. FWIW, most of the piratey bootloaders are too slow and buggy, the "Streaming" of the image across the network isn't fast enough or low latency enough. A demo coder group has released an incredibly faster bootloader, however it doesn't support bootloading a lot of data, intent
          • Even if the network port is faster than the disc, it makes the setup a lot less useful if you need to have a PC server running all the time to use the GameCube.

            Your are right about the bootloaders for pirated games - supposedly most games are very slow, and tend to have broken features (usually sound and/or saving).
    • I used to be a game developer, and while I was not able to read our agreements w/ sony, nintendo and microsoft, my understanding was that all the licensing and stuff was more or less forced by the fact that you HAD to use the devkits for any sort of reasonable development. Now, you might get in trouble for cracking the boot encryption, but I don't think you would be in trouble for anything else - you haven't signed any contracts, right? And if the nintendo logo was unavoidable, then its a part of the mach
    • by sageman ( 726742 )
      Actually, and the site mentions it, the DMCA allows Reverse Engineering for the purpose of software operability, i.e., as long as they don't steal/use the SDK and build all the stuff from the ground up its perfectly legal (in the USA at least; not sure about international copyright laws and stuff). Interesting that the DMCA actually has a section that protects us. Hmm. Unless I read this completely incorrectly, in which case, someone, please right me! (pun intended)
    • Can't remember who, but as I understand it someone took this to court, and essentially the court said that putting a trademarked and copyrighted image in your roms without permission isn't a violation of any law because the device won't function without an exact copy of the image. In other words copys functional code may fall under fair use if there is no other way. This was pre DMCA, but there is a section on interoperability there so I'm not sure.

      • Sega's Mega Drive (called Genesis in USA) and Nintendo's Game Boy and Game Boy Advance platforms require some sort of textual or graphical logo to be present at a given address in ROM, but distributing Game Paks containing such required logo data does not infringe the console maker's trademarks or copyrights. Sega v. Accolade, 977 F2d 1510 (9th Cir. 1992) []. Heck, even the GBA's packaging, which depicts a GBA showing a complete BIOS intro screen, makes it appear as if the logo were generated by the GBA BIOS

    • booting these sort of things without paying royalties/licensing a devkit usually involves some form of copyright or trademark violation

      If I follow your logic, it should be illegal to watch DVDs on Linux (since DeCSS contains the "copyrighted" Xing key), and all PCs other than true blue IBM have illegal BIOSes (since they were derived from BIOS reverse engineered by Compaq). Even the draconian DMCA has clauses covering reverse engineering for compatibility.

      Worried about SCO? Sheesh, that's exactly wh

  • Gamepad (Score:4, Funny)

    by upside ( 574799 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:44AM (#8030608) Journal
    I look forward to writing those shellscripts a character at a time using a gamepad. Like I don't get RSI from the mouse and keyboard as it is...

    And using an ordinary TV for a screen? No thanks.
    • There are several keyboards available for the GameCube, including one that's a keyboard and a controller combined into one. Picture a GameCube controller, cut it in half, and place a standard keyboard between the two halves.

      The GameCube supports progressive scan display. It's kinda funny playing the emulated NES games in progressive scan mode - you can make out the individual pixels very clearly.
  • Kube! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:47AM (#8030619)
    I cant wait to get KDE 3.2 on this thing. Then I will have a Game Kube!
  • BZFlag (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Loconut1389 ( 455297 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:48AM (#8030631)
    Similarly, there is a BZFlag GameCube port in the works.
  • Nice Media station (Score:5, Interesting)

    by freidog ( 706941 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:49AM (#8030638)
    not as good as the xbox
    No hard drive for easy locale storage. And may not be as simple as flipping a switch to boot from linux or from the default enviorment (i'm not sure how they're overriding the default start up)
    but for gc owners a nice addition to it's funconality. The ability to stream music, and / or video via a silent (and micro) computer. No real fan noise in the background when listening to music, and a much better video out quality than S-Video on the typical video card.
  • by Kalroth ( 696782 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:57AM (#8030678)
    .. I don't see it as anything but YaLC (yet another linux conversion) or in short, just a hobby.

    I just can't see it working as a cheap thin client, due to all the (extra) needed accessories, like keyboard, mouse, etc. XBOX would probably be much better for this, due to DVD + HDD.

    And as for the multimedia terminal, I'd personally rather have one machine that does it all; acts as tv recorder, multimedia player, storage server and even all that in silence, so it can stand next to the TV. Again the XBOX would most likely be better for this.

    Having said that, I think it's a neat project. If I was a kernel monkey, I'd probably spend some time on it too. I also love messing around with new projects myself. I'm not trying to troll (honestly!:), just expressing my concerns/views on the project.
    • > And as for the multimedia terminal, I'd personally rather have one machine that does it all

      Why? So you have to run RG6 to all the media terminals as well, and have extra hard drives all over the house? I'd much rather have one or two central machines beefed up with all the storage they can take and multiple TV tuners, serving up video to thin client media terminals throughout the house. A $99 MythTV client based on the GC for each TV in the house would be just the ticket. Eventually after they're EOLe
    • If you could get linux booting on GC without intervention it might be a nice way to get some additional CPU on the network. 400MHz Gekko, and 100 Mbps ethernet, for a hundred bucks. You could build compute farms pretty cheaply. Of course, they only have 40MB RAM so you won't be able to work on large data sets, but with 100Mbps networking, that's pretty much true anyway.
  • by galaga79 ( 307346 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @08:58AM (#8030686) Homepage
    For anyone like myself wondering how they run the homebrew code on something that doesn't employ a standard CD format the FAQ has some - ableit brief - answers.

    ### Can I just burn a 8 cm CD/DVD and use it in the GameCube? ###

    No. The GameCube reads no CDs/DVDs. There is no way to produce a GameCube compatible optical media using a CD/DVD burner.

    ### So do I run homebrew code on the GameCube? ###

    The PSOload method is the only way.

    ### What do I need in order to run homebrew code? ###

    A GameCube, any version of "Phantasy Star Online", a "Broadband Adapter", a memory card, and PSOload.

    ### Do I need a modchip? ###

    There are no modchips.

    All sounds kind of cumbersome IMHO.
    • I've got the stuff necessary to do homebrew GameCube development, but I haven't had the time yet to write my own code (too busy coding for GBA). Here's how it works.

      When PSO connects to Sega's servers, the first thing it does is asks the server if there are any code updates available. If so, the game downloads the update and runs the game from that code instead of what's on the disc. The game does very little to verify that it actually is connecting to Sega's servers.

      To load homebrew code, set up a DNS se
  • by EvilDonut ( 164879 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @09:10AM (#8030743)
    How on earth is this going to be useful? The GameCube uses a proprietary media format, so in order to boot anything that's not an official game, you need to use the Phantasy Star Online-exploit.

    Which means that you would have to boot up the GC like you normally would, load PSO, do the exploit-thingy and then begin streaming Linux to the console from your PC/server/whatever via the Broadband Adapter. Am I the only one who thinks this is way to big of a hassle?

    I mean, Linux on the Dreamcast was just a matter of throwing in a DC-Linux cd and hitting the power button. By comparison, this GameCube hack is cumbersome, to put it mildly. Why not just buy an Xbox and screw Microsoft over?
    • Why not just buy an Xbox and screw Microsoft over?

      You mean why not just buy an Xbox and give Microsoft money?

      They allegedly "lose" money on every Xbox sold, but all that really means is that the boxes sell for less than they cost to make. But the thing is, the box has already been made, so Microsoft has already felt the cost. If I buy one, all I do is help reduce that cost.

      So I decided to screw Microsoft over and buy a 'Cube. :)

      This hack does sound like too much of a hassle for too little reward, tho
      • Ah, but if people are buying them, take take the hit when it sells, and then build _another_ one to replace it in inventory, which means the overall loss to MS is bigger ;)
        • I doubt MS has that kind of on-demand manufacturing. They'll base their manufacturing off of demand from retailers, who are going to base their purchases off of sales estimates which won't be affected much by one sale.

          But getting a thousand Linux geeks together to clear out all the Walmarts in the area of Xboxes, necessitating another shipment from MS, does sound like fun.

  • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @09:15AM (#8030767) Homepage Journal

    Good vga output would make it a nifty little diskless terminal (the proper name for a "small client desktop computer which stores its data on a server on the network").

    Some operating systems [] were designed from the ground up to have diskless graphical terminals, even on serial lines.

    • TV only as I understand it. However that isn't all bad. If you network it you can use it as a diskless terminal for your livingroom enertainment system. Think TVIO and mp3 jukebox in a system your wife will allow next to the TV. (that is the kids will be on your side of having it in the livingroom because they will be playing games on it)

      The interface is left as an exercise to the reader. This isn't trivial, the Gamecube wasn't designed for keyboards so you will have to custom design an interface

  • Its alivee (Score:3, Insightful)

    by katalyst ( 618126 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2004 @09:21AM (#8030811) Homepage
    its aliveee! And this is just after Nintendo has declared excellent sales during the holiday period. Ofcourse, it has been attributed to the low pricing, but their sales were (apparantly) better than the PS2 and the XBOX.
    The linux port should help widen the gamecube's appeal to more people
  • GBA (Score:2, Funny)

    by PhuckH34D ( 743521 )
    I think i will start to work on linux for my GBA as soon as i get home from work :) Anybody wanna help?
    • by bluGill ( 862 )

      I've considered it. I think that I'd prefer to write my own loinux-like OS that runs the specific linux programs I want and nothing else though. xTux arena would play nice on a GBA, and doesn't need most of what linux provides. It would also play better if it didn't have the overhead of linux getting in the way. The CPU only runs at 16 mhz, and has very limited RAM you know.

  • Another small quiet MythTV frontend!
  • i wonder if it'd be possible to make a gamecube cluster like that academic PS2 cluster that was made by the NCSA... the gamecube would be even more ideal... it's so tiny in size... i think it's got a better chip than the PS2... and it's pretty cool... ing_th.html

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!