Tutorial SX Core Mariko - what to do next & post-install guide for newbies

OriginalCopycat

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I just got my SX Core installed, and was quickly overwhelmed afterwards as a newcomer to Switch homebrew scene by the sheer amount of options, information and "best practices". This 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.

Disclaimer: As mentioned, I've only recently got interested in the scene as well. So there might be mistakes and missing parts in this guide. Please feel free to comment if you notice any. This guide in no way makes any guarantees to you, so take anything below with a grain of salt. Don't PM me if your Switch is now broken or some homebrew app killed your cat.

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.
Have fun!

finally! Thank you so much - the only missing bit for me is how I update switch firmware on my Mariko SX Core. Any chance you could add this to your very noob-friendly guide? I’ve just downloaded a game that requires 10.1 but I’m on an earlier firmware. I’ve put down below the things I don’t know that maybe would help other noobs too:

  • is ChoiDuJourNX compatible with SX Core on Mariko or not? There are so many conflicting reports and I can’t find a definitive YES anywhere. If so, are there any special considerations?
  • Is there another way to update instead?
  • Will I lose my games or saves?
  • If I’m not bothered about being banned should I just try and update my CFW via the official (online) method?
Thanks!!
 

laramie

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finally! Thank you so much - the only missing bit for me is how I update switch firmware on my Mariko SX Core. Any chance you could add this to your very noob-friendly guide? I’ve just downloaded a game that requires 10.1 but I’m on an earlier firmware. I’ve put down below the things I don’t know that maybe would help other noobs too:

  • is ChoiDuJourNX compatible with SX Core on Mariko or not? There are so many conflicting reports and I can’t find a definitive YES anywhere. If so, are there any special considerations?
  • Is there another way to update instead?
  • Will I lose my games or saves?
  • If I’m not bothered about being banned should I just try and update my CFW via the official (online) method?
Thanks!!
the new 1.3 update will let you update with choidujournx, it will still brick but after it gets updates the 1.3 update will fix it to make it bootable and not bricked. According to the sx team.
 
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HenryMin

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finally! Thank you so much - the only missing bit for me is how I update switch firmware on my Mariko SX Core. Any chance you could add this to your very noob-friendly guide? I’ve just downloaded a game that requires 10.1 but I’m on an earlier firmware. I’ve put down below the things I don’t know that maybe would help other noobs too:

  • is ChoiDuJourNX compatible with SX Core on Mariko or not? There are so many conflicting reports and I can’t find a definitive YES anywhere. If so, are there any special considerations?
  • Is there another way to update instead?
  • Will I lose my games or saves?
  • If I’m not bothered about being banned should I just try and update my CFW via the official (online) method?
Thanks!!

ChoidujourNX bricks mariko but the modchip can bypass the brick on latest SX CORE fw & latest SX OS.
But using ChoidujourNX on sysNAND is not recommended, only using on emuNAND is safe.
So update sysNAND using nintendo server, and update emuNAND using ChiodujourNX.
And yeah, if you don't care about ban, just use official method.
 
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OriginalCopycat

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ChoidujourNX bricks mariko but the modchip can bypass the brick on latest SX CORE fw & latest SX OS.
But using ChoidujourNX on sysNAND is not recommended, only using on emuNAND is safe.
So update sysNAND using nintendo server, and update emuNAND using ChiodujourNX.
And yeah, if you don't care about ban, just use official method.

thanks a lot. Last question / what will happen to my games and saves if I ChoiDuJourNX the Emunand? Will they remain or do I need to restore them all?

thanks :)
 

Crazystato

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How do you tell which version of lockpick you are downloading. I can't see an option for non RCM version? Nevermind I released that link is for all normal versions
 
Last edited by Crazystato,

Lan7638

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<<Tip: Ideally your Switch should have the most recent firmware version (that is supported by SXOS, currently 10.1.0 is)>>

Currently the latest firmware supported by SXOS is 10.2.0 if i am not mistaken.Should i update to 10.2.0 before install the SX CORE?

Thx you for the guide,it is very helpful.
 

JVC

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It looks like the latest SX OS Build doesn't work with Incognito 1.5. It keeps crashing EMUNAND for me. Can anyone verify this?
 

Mr_Twii

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Hello all, i Have Mariko with sx core. Does SD card needs to be FAT32 all times or just for nand dump? Can i just re format my sd to exfat after Nand dump? Just for the sace of 4 gb limitation on FAT32?
 

ManitoCC

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Hi there, is it safe to follow this tuturial on my Switch V1 Patched Erista? If not, can you point me one for V1 Switch.
Thanks

Edit: Forgot to say, i have the Sx Core already installed, dont know if its safe to do all the steps for mariko on erista? Thanks
 
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arawitch

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Hello all, i Have Mariko with sx core. Does SD card needs to be FAT32 all times or just for nand dump? Can i just re format my sd to exfat after Nand dump? Just for the sace of 4 gb limitation on FAT32?

It's highly recommended to always have it as FAT32. Tinfoil and other apps are aware of 4GB limitation, so they'll work around this for your games anyway.

@ManitoCC

It's only written for Mariko Switches with SX Core installed.
This website might be helpful in your case: https://switch.homebrew.guide/

Some parts of the guide will apply to your Switch as well, so it doesn't hurt to come back afterwards.
 

Mr_Twii

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It's highly recommended to always have it as FAT32. Tinfoil and other apps are aware of 4GB limitation, so they'll work around this for your games anyway.

@arawitch Thank you for your reply. Well i did try FAT32 on 3 different SDCards (One of it is 128 GB SanDisk for nintendo switch Red color) and i cant get a full nand dump... (Error 00FFFD4E)

Straight after install of sx core my first nand dump attempt ( used sandisk ultra 200 gb FAT32) got error at around 70 %. Now it usualy only gets boot0 and boot1 and then error...

Any advice where to look for a problem? Could it be bad soldering? Becouse as far as Glitching goes it looks ok two or tree blue flashes and green light. And after more tinkering ( swaping sdcards) with it looks like it cant read boot.dat from sdcard most of the time i have to try boot couple of times to get to sx boot menu. If there is no sdcard installed then screen quickly goes to "missing boot.dat" screen and if i insert sdcard with boot.dat it takes some time to display that boot.dat is missing..

I'll remove sd reader and look through it under microscope maybe i'll see some damage...

And when i get lucky and boot in to sx boot menu and select "Boot to OFW" i get just black screen ( system crashes iguess)

Is there any point to try solving the nand dumping issiue if i have booted to CFW once and lounched Album folder? I didnt see it coming when placed License file in sd and it boot straight to CFW...

Sorry for my message all over the place, i'm just lost and new to switch hacking. :/
 
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nickskaven

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Is it currently possible to run Android on a Mariko? At the end of the post you put "Run Android" ... so its possible? : O
 

Bunchi

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Hello and thanks for the support. As a owner of a switch with SX OS version 3.0.4 I was wondering refering to make a Nand backup can I do it even if my micro SD have already Xci files inside and homebrew as long as I have around 35 GB of free space? Or is mandatory to have the micro SD clear?

Regards
 

dim82gr

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Making a nand backup,how much time is normal to complete the process?
Three hours later is 15%
I suspected that the sd card was the problem.Was a cheap samsung EVO but nope....The old card was class 3, 100MB/s read 60MB/s write so i got an other class 10, 160MB/s and is almost the same
With that speed i am calculating over 15 hours to finish!
 
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