Hackers Run Linux, Pokémon on PlayStation 4

Hackers in the fail0verflow group demoed Linux and a custom version of Pokémon dubbed “PlayStation Version” running on a PlayStation 4 at the 32nd Chaos Communication Congress.

Fail0verflow has been responsible for several gaming hacks in the past, opening Nintendo’s Wii to homebrew game development, restoring Linux support to the PlayStation 3 after Sony’s public decision to remove it, and tried unsuccessfully to get the hacking community involved in the Wii U.

At the conference, the group demonstrated using the PS4’s web browser, which runs on the open-source WebKit platform, to launch into Linux, then opened its custom “PlayStation Edition” version of Pokémon using a GameBoy Advance emulator.

The group, which called the hack “batshit crazy,” further explained how the hack works and what its motivations are in a post on its blog. Though the members found the PS4 initially pretty “boring” due to how close its architecture seemed to be to a PC, ultimately the group saw enough deviations in how the console worked to deem it “interesting” enough to warrant the work.

In the post, the group tries to absolve itself of any negative consequences involving piracy it might be opening up with this hack by emphasizing the “straightforward” nature of the PS4’s operating system and the open-source nature of the WebKit platform. The group says it hopes that by helping to port Linux over, it will simply encourage the homebrew scene to take advantage of the PS4’s power.