It's 2020: Linux Kernel Sees New Port To The Nintendo 64

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 25 December 2020 at 02:42 PM EST. 27 Comments
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.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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