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After soldering the sx core into your switch, what should we do for the next ?
2020-09-08

After soldering the sx core into your switch, what should we do for the next ? I just find a guide from the GBA forums, the guide is aimed for those who've recently got into homebrew with their Mariko (v2, 2019) Switches, and will hopefully cover the most essential parts of what to do next right after you're done with installing SX Core.


0) Prerequisites
SX Core installed to your Mariko (v2) Switch as described in Xecuter website.
SX License activated through the Xecuter license page.
A microSD card: min. 64 GB, half of it (around 30GB) will be used by emunand. 128 GB is recommended. I use 256GB.
SD Cards nowadays are super cheap, and major titles can easily take 10 - 30 GB each, so when in doubt, go for the bigger one.
Check this guide here: https://www.nintendolife.com/guides/best-nintendo-switch-micro-sd-cards for the tips around speed & class of the SD card, it's important.
It's recommended to format this card to FAT32 first. Switch tends to format bigger cards (>64 GB?) exFat, so you'll need to do this on your PC.
So basically you need a Nintendo Switch that is ready to boot into CFW and has a sufficiently large microSD card.

For better protection, do not connect your Switch to Internet until you're done with this guide.

Tip: Ideally your Switch should have the most recent firmware version (that is supported by SXOS, currently 10.1.0 is) before you install SX Core, as it's easier to do this update before your Switch is hacked.

1) First things first: backups
No, not those juicy "backups" you'd like to play until morning. I mean NAND backups. This is a very important step, as it might save you if/when your console is bricked for one reason or another, or if you'd like to ever go back to pre-CFW state of your Switch. DO NOT SKIP THIS.

NAND backup
Hold volume up button while powering up Switch to open up SX OS boot manager.
Select "Options", and then "NAND" from the sidebar.
Click on Dump NAND.
Wait until it's done. This will take a long time, easily an hour or so.
After it's finished, power off your Switch. Take out the SD card and plug it into your computer.
In sxos/backup/ directory you will see "boot0", "boot1" and a multi-part big file (that is your raw NAND), copy all of them to your computer.
After copying is done, remove the files from your SD card.
Make sure you never, ever lose those files. Upload them to cloud, take another backup elsewhere etc.
Tip: Since Raw NAND backup is rather large (around 30GB), it's a good idea to compress this file afterwards. It'll probably be compressed really well.
Tip #2: It's a good idea to check md5sums of files on your SD Card and your PC before deleting it from the card, to verify integrity.

Creating an emuNAND
An emuNAND is useful in multiple ways:
It lets you do all the hackery in a duplicate system that boots from your SD card, so you can still boot to a clean system if need arises (for playing games legitimately owned, or if your emuNAND is corrupted etc)
While it's not going to protect you %100 from bricks, it's still an additional protection against misbehaving or incompatible hacks, bugs etc.

Okay now the guide:
Again, open up SX OS boot manager as described above.
Select "Options" and then "EmuNAND". Click on "Create EmuNAND".
It's up to you to decide if you'd like to have a hidden partition or a flat file.
An hidden partition is better protected against accidental deletion by user or apps, and also "might" provide better protection against Nintendo's checks.
A flat file is much easier to backup & restore if your SD card becomes corrupted.
This will take a long time. Expect more than an hour, possibly two or more.
After it reports successfully completed, reboot your Switch.
Hold "volume up" button again to show SX OS boot manager.
This time you'll see an orange "EmuNAND enabled" button over boot into CFW option. If you see this, now you have an emuNAND.

The "Album" app
Before the next step, this is a good time to introduce you to the "Album" if you haven't been already.

SXOS replaces Nintendo's Album app with its own app, and it offers capability to mount XCI, run homebrew, cheats, FTP server etc. among other things. Take a quick look into it now to get familiar.

Tip: Fret not, your official Album app is still there! If you hold "L" button (not ZL) and launch Album, it will open the official Album.

Backing up your keys
Power off your Switch, take out the SD card and plug it into your computer.
Download lockpick.nro (v1.2.6) from here: https://github.com/shchmue/Lockpick/releases
Do NOT download it from somewhere else, and if you do make sure it's not the RCM version as it will brick your Mariko Switch.
Copy lockpick.nro to your SD card root.
Plug the SD card back to Switch and power it on.
Go to Album App, find Lockpick under "Homebrew" section and run it.
Once you run lockpick it will dump your keys to SD card. Now you can close the app.
Power off your Switch, take out the SD card and plug it into your computer.
Find prod.keys file and copy it to your PC. Take multiple backups of this file.


2) Homebrew Store
Okay now we're done with backups! And ready for more exciting stuff: Homebrew Store!

Homebrew Store is the place where you can find many apps from the community: some very useful software, themes, games, emulators etc.


Okay, now the guide:

  • Go to https://github.com/fortheusers/hb-appstore/releases and download the latest appstore.nro
  • Power off your Switch, take out the SD card and plug it into your computer.
  • Copy appstore.nro to your SD card root.
  • Plug the SD card back to Switch and power it on.
  • Go to Album App, find HB App Store under "Homebrew" section.
  • Since you don't have Internet yet, leave Homebrew Store here for now. You can always come back to it later.
Now you have Homebrew Store. Be careful that not everything you see there is good for your Switch, and especially since you have a Mariko Switch -which is only very recently became capable of running homebrew- some applications there won't properly support your device and might lead to bricks.

Always check this GBATemp thread: https://gbatemp.net/threads/sx-core-mariko-list-of-non-compatible-tools.567803/ before installing something.

3) Measures against getting banned
Now it's the time to take some precautions against getting banned.

Most important thing to know here is that this is no exact science. You can follow everything here and more, and you might still get banned. Bear in mind that you're basically running closed-source software from a company that wants to monitor your usage. Embrace the ban. If you're not willing to get a ban, CFW is a poor choice for your Switch.

Stealth Mode
SX OS has a feature called Stealth Mode. I can't tell you what it exactly does, as it doesn't seem to be documented, or reachable over a casual Google search. Anyway it's better to have it then not.


By default Stealth Mode is enabled. So all you need is to verify it indeed is:
  • Launch Album app.
  • Go to Options tab.
  • If you see Stealth Mode is ENABLED, you're done.
  • If it's DISABLED, enable it.
Incognito
Incognito is an homebrew app that removes some identifiable information from PRODINFO. Bear in mind that, it doesn't mean it removes ALL identifiable information. So this does not offer %100 protection against bans.


Now we took it out of the way, we can start with the guide:
  • Power off your Switch, take out the SD card and plug it into your computer.
  • Download Incognito from here: https://github.com/blawar/incognito/releases (v1.5)
  • Copy incognito.nro to your SD card root.
  • Plug the SD card back to Switch and power it on.
  • Go to Album App, find Incognito under "Homebrew" section and run it.
  • It will ask you to confirm the operation. Confirm it.
    • Even though Incognito creates a backup of your PRODINFO.bin, You must have followed the previous steps and created a NAND backup and prod.keys backup as well.
  • After Incognito is done, power off your Switch, take out the SD card and plug it into your computer.
  • Find backups/PRODINFO.bin file and copy it to your PC and multiple places.
    • Losing this file and/or NAND backups will mean you've now effectively banned yourself. Don't lose them.
  • Now you're done.
90dns
90dns is a volunteer DNS service that makes it harder for your Switch to contact Nintendo by blocking requests on DNS level. This is of course not perfect by nature, but still offers an additional layer of protection.

90dns has some drawbacks:
  • It tends to mess up your system clock if time is set automatically. So don't be surprised if your Switch starts showing wrong date/time or Tinfoil starts acting up because of SSL validity checks.
    • You can manually set the correct date & time.
  • It might affect your download speeds. Though I haven't noticed anything major myself, this is indeed possible if it messes up CDN geolocation etc.
If you'd like to enable this extra protection, GBATemp already has a guide on how to enable it: https://gbatemp.net/threads/90dns-dns-server-for-blocking-all-nintendo-servers.516234/

Tip: You can also use "90dns testing utility" from Homebrew Store to verify that it works.

Disabling error telemetry
Now, open up Settings, and go to "System" tab. There you will see "Share Error Information" option, make sure it's off.

---
And now you have enabled the most popular ways of ban evasion to hopefully decrease your chances of getting a ban. After this, you might want to take up some principles as well. What principles you take up is up to you, as I've mentioned, there is no exact science.

Most effective way is to never let your Switch go online ever, but that'll also be quite limiting. My personal way is as follows, mind that it's based on just my "gut feeling" and nothing more:
  • I never launch games while online, and never ever login to eShop or let Switch update titles on its own when prompted.
  • I keep my switch on Flight Mode all the time, except when I'm installing homebrew or if for some reason I need Internet connectivity.
    • Hint: By default Flight Mode will also disable BT (remote joycons won't work) and NFC (amiibo). This behaviour can be easily changed from Settings. (Sadly doesn't seem to be retained for long)
    • Hint: You can't enable Flight Mode while your Switch is docked. Always enable Flight Mode before you dock your Switch, then it will keep the last mode.
If you're not going to ever go online (best protection), then of course it's better to simply remove all known WiFi devices as well from Settings.

Now you're done with the measures, you can set up your WiFi connection if you prefer, or not.

4) Installing Tinfoil
Tinfoil is a title management app. It lets you install backups, manage installed games, has a file explorer and such.

  • You can install Tinfoil downloading the NRO here: https://tinfoil.io/Download
  • By this point you already know what to do next: get the NRO and other files in your SD card root, run it from Album app.
  • If you're willing to enable WiFi, now you can also make use of FTP server feature in the Album app so you won't need to move SD card around all the time.
Bear in mind that some features (like Incognito) is not supported on Mariko and might lead to a brick. Though most recent versions of Tinfoil now removed that harmful option for Mariko Switches.

5) Status of piracy on Switch
To keep this guide in good standing and of course, to not promote piracy, there won't be any guidance on how to get pirated content on your Switch. Information below is a simple overview to report on well known services, to satiate your curiosity:

People generally get their pirated content from one of these three sources:
  • Classic way of downloading them off Internet to their PC or Switch. These files are either in .NSP or .XCI format.
    • .NSP formatted ones get installed to Switch like any other legitimately installed game. That means they are the ones with best compatibility and ease of use, but also the most easily detectable ones.
    • .XCI formatted ones are like images. They can be mounted from Album app and act like game carts.
  • HBG Store, is a service that lets people download games directly, like the FreeShop in 3DS days. (Not from Nintendo CDN though). This store gets installed through a modified Tinfoil app to Switch.
  • Other, Tinfoil-enabled stores.
    • These can be discovered by searching over the Net, and they might offer first party titles as well.
6) Saves
Now you have a hacked Switch, you're not bound by the limitations around save files anymore. Simply search for "Checkpoint" app in Homebrew Store, or get the NRO here: https://github.com/FlagBrew/Checkpoint/releases

You just need to pick a game from the grid on the left, use A button and then select "New" by using A again. And you're done, your save is now copied to your SD card.

Try your best to copy your saves often to your PC. Otherwise if your emuNAND or SD card itself gets corrupted, you will lose all saves.

Checkpoint also has cheats for its known list of games, if you're into that kind of thing.

7) What next
Congratulations! Now you have a backed up, somewhat protected CFW-enabled Switch and you know how to get homebrew and game backups installed already!

What comes next is up to you. For most, that's already all you wanted. And while homebrew is all fun and games, there's always the risk of messing something up, especially if you're not paying attention. Always make use of the list here: https://gbatemp.net/threads/sx-core-mariko-list-of-non-compatible-tools.567803/ before installing anything major.

If you're into tinkering, you can:
  • isstall various emulators and games in HB Store. For emulators, give RetroArch and PPSSPP a try.
  • try streaming games from your PC to Switch with Moonlight
  • use your unofficial controllers with Switch, or use your Joycons with your PC.
  • enable local wireless play over online, as a poor man's Nintendo Switch Online platform. Good thing is you don't have to pay for this one, and it doesn't ban you. Details here: https://gbatemp.net/threads/ldn_mitm-play-local-wireless-supported-games-online.525512/
  • try themes, overclocking, running Android etc. etc.


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