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Linux Kernel Sees New Port To The Nintendo 64

Bullet Club

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Oct 24, 2017
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Linux Kernel Sees New Port To The Nintendo 64

It's been a turbulent year and 2020 is certainly ending interesting in the Linux/open-source space... If it wasn't odd enough seeing Sony providing a new official Linux driver for their PlayStation 5 DualSense controller for ending out the year, there is also a new Linux port to the Nintendo 64 game console... Yes, a brand new port to the game console that launched more than two decades ago.

Open-source developer Lauri Kasanen who has contributed to Mesa and the Linux graphics stack took to developing a new Nintendo 64 port and announced it this Christmas day. This isn't the first time Linux has been ported to the N64 but prior attempts weren't aimed at potentially upstreaming it into the mainline Linux kernel.

Lauri's work is a fresh port to the Nintendo 64 and not based on the prior efforts. But Lauri noted, "[Request for comments] because I'm not sure if it's useful to have this merged. Old, niche, and limited platform."

This fresh port to the N64 was pursued in part to help port emulators and frame-buffer or console games.

There is a binary of the Linux port available from Lauri's GitHub. The binary is a 64-bit MIPS build that can be loaded on the Nintendo 64 with a Flashcart.

The port does note that uClibc-ng was found to be broken for MIPS N32 so the Musl C library was used. It's also noted that Linux on the Nintendo 64 is still a big buggy and "constantly flirting with [out of memory]."

The Nintendo 64 is powered by a MIPS64 NEC VR4300 at 93.75MHz with SGI Reality Coprocessor graphics clocked at 62.5MHz while having just 4MB of RAM. We'll see if this N64 port ends up being upstreamed but admittedly the usefulness is rather limited more than two decades after the game console first appeared. In any case, this new port is now available in source and binary form should anyone be interested.

Source: Phoronix
 

kingpotato

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So odd, because it takes a lot of skill but is also essentially worthless. What would you even call this effort besides performance art?
 

Redneckerz

Those long posts don't cover that red neck boy
Jun 25, 2018
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Stuck in 1Q84.
Abstaining hardware graphics acceleration, i could totally see something like Core Linux be possible. Keyboard/mice support would be useful here though.
 

nkarafo

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So odd, because it takes a lot of skill but is also essentially worthless. What would you even call this effort besides performance art?
It's mostly people doing projects because it's fun for them and not necessarily productive or useful to others.

Although, the OP mentions this would be helpful for improving N64 emulation in general. So that makes it productive and useful in my view.
 
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Oct 7, 2019
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I don't care if this won't have any practical use for anyone ever - it is an extremely impressive achievement. Super cool!
 

Raploz

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Mar 23, 2018
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Here's a video:
Also a very interesting Reddit thread:
Apparently it's also the 64-bit version of the kernel, so if they manage to make a RAM expansion it could actually have some use.
 
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Edgelord79

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Sep 24, 2020
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Looks cool. The ability to run linux on anything resembling a toaster oven never ceases to amaze me. It's such a flexible operating system.

I'll stick to my Arch setup on vmware. Planning to use Pi to build a small system for my son when he starts school next summer though.
 
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