Wii-Linux is a port of the Linux kernel and related GNU userspace utilities to the Nintendo Wii video game console. Many distributions of GNU/Linux are available for the Wii. All current distributions use a version of the "gc-linux" kernel, a port of the Linux kernel by the GC-Linux project.
The kernel itself can communicate with nearly all Wii peripherals; Wii Remotes, Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth, GameCube controllers, USBGeckos and the DVD drive are supported. GameCube Memory Cards are currently unsupported. Note that actual hardware support depends on the drivers installed on the root partition.
Some versions of the GC-Linux kernel run under IOS (Nintendo's official operating system that runs on the Wii's Starlet coprocessor), while other versions run under mini (which stands for MINI Is Not IOS), the alternative operating system written by Team Twiizers.
MINI has some advantages and limitations over IOS. The biggest advantage is access to hardware: The MINI GC-Linux kernel has access to the Wii's interal Wi-Fi, USB2.0 and the DVD drive). A full list of hardware support is available here.
The IOS-based kernels can be loaded through the Homebrew Channel or the Twilight Hack, while the MINI-based kernel must be loaded through MINI (ie. bootmii). BootMii may be installed in boot2 (ie. Wii powers up into BootMii) or IOS (load BootMii through the Homebrew Channel's menu)
The latest version of GC-Linux is MIKEp5 (which stands for MINI Kernal Preview 5). The MIKEp5 kernel has an IOS and MINI version available.
A GUI is available, in the form of an X.org server. Although it is not optimized for a "10-foot user interface", like that found in the Wii Menu. A Wii Remote may be used as a pointing device with the X.org server, but manual configuration is needed.
It's even possible for a Wii to powerup directly into Wii-Linux. BootMii must be installed in boot2 for this feature. To enable this, replace the file /bootmii/ppcboot.elf (on the front SD Card) with the GC-Linux kernel of your choice (Remember to back up the original ppcboot.elf somewhere!!)
- Nintendo Wii Console (Homebrew Channel/alternate loader installed. bootmii installed in boot2 and/or ios for Wi-Fi)
- SD Card (Will be formatted. 512MB Required. 2GB Recommended)
- USB Drive (256MB will suffice if installing everything on the SD card)
- USB Keyboard
Note: A computer already running Linux is useful for manual installation.
Note: The SD Card or USB Drive will likely be formatted and repartitioned.
An ext3 filesystem is created on a removable disk (SD card or USB drive). The kernel image ELF can be loaded through Homebrew Channel. It is recommended to replace the kernel image ELF with the compatible MIKE (MIni KErnal) ELF binary. This will enable Wi-Fi and the DVD drive to be used. The latest MIKE version is currently MIKEp5.
Users may install a Wii-Linux distribution manually. Isobel has written the official instructions for manual installation.
Once a Wii has booted Linux, there are lot's of things for users new to Linux to do.
Frequently asked questions about different distros and even the Whiite-Linux Installer.
Before Wii-Linux supported internal Wi-Fi, users were forced to use USB Ethernet Adapters and USB Wi-Fi dongles for an Internet connection. Supported external hardware is listed.
Note that currently all internal "native" Wii hardware is supported. Some classic hardware (such as GameCube Memory Cards) are still unsupported. A full list of supported hardware is available here.
For frequent problems when installing and setting up Wii-Linux
Many distributions of GNU/Linux are available for the Nintendo Wii.
WiiToo! is a minimal precompiled stage4 made to let you run Gentoo on your Wii using MIKE and Mini. It provides all the basic software required to compile and install new programs on it, and some other software ready to be used. The kernel used is plain vanilla-sources & Wii-Linux patches, so expect WiFi working out of the box.
- Ready to use, uncompress, copy, configure and run
- Highly configurable, like Gentoo
- USB keyboard isn't a requirement, simply configure your network and use SSH
- Can use all the hardware that Wii-Linux is able to use
- Last update: 29 October 2009
Whiite-linux is a simple Debian 5.0 (lenny) based Linux distribution for the Nintendo Wii.
- Wifi, USB2.0 and DVD drive support when running with MikeP5
- Easy wifi config tool (in /root/)
- To run type "./whiite-ez-wifi-config
- Version 1.10 (Debian Lenny 5.0) Download
- Version 0.1 (Debian Etch 4.0) Download
- Last updated: 21 Oct 2009
- Arch Linux PPC for the Wii
- Designed for use with the new MIKE p1 kernel but can be made to work with Boot it or any other kernel release.
- Made By TheStorm/JonimusPrime and zc00gii
- Is designed for more advanced users to create from scratch but minimal and X11 file-system tars are available
- The X11 tar has X.Org installed along with the OpenBox3 WM and Cwiid for Wiimote input
- It also includes the Opera Browser, X-Chat IRC client and Pidgin IM client
- The Minimal image is just enough to get you booted and the end user can install any packages they wish using pacman
- File-system tars can be found here
- Last updated: 11 July 2009
- Miight 2.0 is in private beta. It seems likely Miight will be released early 2010.
- The author says it's "designed to be a full distribution for noobs"
- No partitioning needed, Miight will likely use an edited version of Boot It.
- Loaded like any other homebrew app
- Miight will include the following:
- An easy way to switch between TV types (require a restart though)
- The ability to install a disk image directly onto a normal partition on an SD card or USB flash drive, meaning absolutely no partitioning or anything (hopefully).
- An easy-to-use media mounter
- SuperTux (game)
- A pretty screensaver
- Muzer says he will be back online in mid-February.
- Made by Muzer with "contributions from many users"
- Progress Updates: Miight Blog. For older posts see here (a blog that Muzer shared with someone else)
- A video showing Arch Linux on the Wii called, "Archii."
- A video showing a playable pacman console game with Wiimote support
- A video showing how Wii-Linux Debian boots, with some features and applications
- A video showing T2 SDE 6.0 Linux booting from an external HDD using the SD card as pivot root. X runs!
- A video showing T2 SDE 6.0 Linux booting from an external HDD using a ramdisk card as pivot root. In this video the xserver works with a driver for Wii/GameCube and has correct colours
- The Official GC-Linux SourceForge Page
- Muzer's Miighty Blog