SXOS is a custom firmware for the Nintendo Switch. It is meant to be an all in one package, so you can just copy their boot.dat and your license file to your SD card, and be ready to play your backups, use homebrew, transfer files wirelessly, even play online without connecting to Nintendo’s servers. For more info on what makes SXOS different from the various free CFWs out there, check out this article.
What you’ll need:
To get started you’ll need to connect your switch SD card to your computer, extract the boot.dat from the firmware .zip you downloaded above, and copy that file to the root of your SD card. While you’ve got the SD card inserted, if you plan on setting up EmuNAND you may want to go ahead and copy the Nintendo folder off of your SD card onto your computer. Once you’ve done that put the SD card back in the Switch.
In order to proceed you’ll need to boot into the SXOS pre-execution environment (pxe). You’ll do this by utilizing the TegraRCM boot exploit. If you want to learn more about what’s involved in this process there’s a really great article here and a very technical writeup here. The short version is, that you’re able to enter recovery mode (RCM) by holding down the Switch’s power, volume +, and home buttons. Not the home button on the joy-con, but the consoles home button (which doesn’t actually exist). This last is simulated by shorting pin 9 on the right joy-con rail.
The easiest way to do this is by using a jig. The SX Pro kit comes with one, or you can buy, or 3d print your own. You can also bend a paperclip into the proper shape, but be careful not to scratch your pins if you go this route. However you choose to short the pin, do so, and then press the power and volume + button at the same time, for about 2 seconds. If it was done right, it will look like nothing happened. If you see the Nintendo boot logo, the pins may not be shorted, or you may have pressed the volume button later than the power. Just shut the Switch back off and try again.
When you do press the buttons and the screen stays blank, it’s time to plug in your dongle or USB C cable to your phone. The payload will be sent, and the SXOS splash screen will be displayed, and then you’ll be in the pxe. If you plan on using CFW primarily going forward, I suggest you enable AutoRCM. This will keep you from having to use the jig to get into CFW. However, you will need to send a payload every time you power off completely. To do this, just click Options, AutoRCM, and Enable AutoRCM. From here I strongly suggest you make a NAND backup, and at least read up on EmuNAND and decide if you’re going to use it or not.
Once you’ve got your system setup the way you want, go ahead and click on the Boot CFW button. This will tell you that you don’t have a license, so it will create a file called license-request.dat on the SD card. Go ahead and click Continue. Next it will give you an option to continue to boot CFW or go back. You would probably be fine to activate it directly on the console if you boot into CFW with EmuNAND disabled, but you shouldn’t ever connect to a network on EmuNAND without having stealth mode enabled, or you’ll risk a ban. Either way my suggestion is to just power of the switch and connect the SD card back to your computer.
Once the card is back in the computer, you can start copying your backup over to it again, but put the contents of the Nintendo folder into the new Emutendo folder. so that it can be seen while you’re booted into EmuNAND. This allows you to keep your backups separate from your eshop downloads. While the copy is in progress, go back to sx.xecuter.com and click on the Activate SX OS button. It will ask for your license-request.dat. Upload it and it will verify everything. If you bought the pro kit the request will include your license, otherwise the website will request your license code. Once the license is verified, download the license.dat file. Copy that to the root of your SD card. I suggest you keep this file archived somewhere. You can generate a new one any time, but you’ll need to go through the same process again. Install the SD card back in the Switch and power it on.
Now that you’ve got the Switch in AutoRCM mode you’ll just have to press the power button by itself, and then connect your dongle or phone. With a license on the SD card, SXOS will auto boot. If you need to get into the pxe again, just hold the volume + button as you connect the payload injector.
Once you’re booted to SX OS, you won’t see anything different right away. To use the features of the CFW, you’ll need to use the Switch Album. Opening it will bring up the SX menu. Don’t worry, you can still access the album by holding down the L-trigger as you click the icon. In the menu you’ll find several options. The first is Games. Here you’ll see an .xci (cartridge dump) files on your SD card or external hard drive. By choosing one you’ll mount it so it looks like it is a cartridge that has been inserted. Next is the License page, followed by the Installer page. On here you’ll see your .xci and .nsp (eShop dump) files, and can choose to install them like an eShop title. Next is Homebrew where you’ll see any homebrew applications in the sd:\switch folder. I know I’m kind of glossing over these fairly large features, I will be doing separate articles and videos on each of these later on.
The next tab is Options. In here you’ll see the built in FTP server, Stealth Mode, Internet Local Wireless Play, and Update SX OS. You may have noticed after booting into SXOS that you can’t connect to any Nintendo services. This is because Stealth Mode is enabled. It prevents any connection to Nintendo’s network. If you turn this off, you run the risk of being banned. I’ll write an article about how to use the Internet Local Wireless Play feature soon as well. The last tab is the Cheat menu. Here you can enable cheats that you’ve downloaded online, or create your own.
That’s the basics of getting started on SXOS. There’s a lot of cool things you can do going forward like game mods, homebrew software, custom themes, and so much more. Stick around, over the next few weeks I’ll be diving even deeper into the world of Switch modding.