Nintendo 64 Support Mailed In For The Linux 5.12 Kernel
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 19 February 2021 at 07:26 AM EST. 12 Comments
HARDWARE --
As expected, the new port of the Linux kernel to the Nintendo 64 game console from the 90's is now being mainlined in 2021 with the Linux 5.12 kernel...

The MIPS feature pull request was sent in today and it includes the port to the Nintendo 64. This is the Linux port to the N64 announced back on Christmas. 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 (or expandable to 8MB).


The MIPS pull request has the bulk of the port while the input subsystem pull request will have the new N64 controller driver.

Ultimately though the usefulness of this Linux kernel port to the Nintendo 64 is incredibly limited... You need a Flashcart to load the Linux kernel on the game console but then once you do there isn't that much that can be achieved these days with 4~8MB of RAM. Linux kernel modules can't even be loaded but need to be built-in for lack of space.

It's basically a novelty port it seems and at least from the core MIPS side is just a few hundred lines of code. Considering Linux just deprecated Itanium and some older ARM platforms are set to be dropped, we'll see how long this N64 code lasts in the mainline kernel before being hit by a round of cleaning. Even Linux 5.11's port to the OUYA game console is more practical than this N64 port going mainline in 2021.

the MIPS pull for Linux 5.12 also includes Realtek RTL83xx SoC support. There is also now support for Kernel Address Space Layout Randomization (KASLR) on Loongson 64 and other improvements.
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