Mod Your SHIELD: Why We’re Releasing Open Source Software for SHIELD

by Andrew Edelsten

Most gaming devices are black boxes. You use the games and apps the device’s manufacturer approves. No tinkering. End of story.

That’s not where we wanted to go with SHIELD, which began shipping last week. That’s why we’ve released the open-source code developers and modders can use to customize SHIELD’s entire operating system.

So, just to recap, this is a device you already can use to play mobile games, watch movies, and listen to music. You can stream games from your PC with our PC Game Streaming feature, now in BETA. You can even use it to fly an AR.Parrot drone.

Experts Only
Experts only: if you’ve got the skills, we’ve got some thrills.

But if you’re not content with what SHIELD can do out of the box, we invite you to build out SHIELD’s capabilities in any way you wish. To be sure, this is double-diamond stuff. If you’re not a coder or already set up with an Android development environment you should skip downloading these tools and perhaps just check out what the amazing XDA community can do instead.

And yes, our warranty policy does allow us to reject returns if a device has been rooted or a boot loader has been unlocked. Our goal here isn’t to discourage people from rooting their devices – it’s yours, after all  – but to give us a course of action if folks start to abuse the hardware through software modifications.

Ready to dive in? Head over to our “Develop for SHIELD” page. Then, grab the “SHIELD Open Source and Binary Driver Release.” You’ll find both a preinstalled factory OS image and the latest over-the-air (OTA) update. Don’t worry if you mess things up: we’re also providing a binary recovery image you can use to restore SHIELD to its stock software configuration.

Image, above, by Greg Younger

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  • Silithas

    comes with recovering image? hell yeah! Finally an android device i can feel safe to root! 😀

  • Brian_Caulfield

    Have fun!

  • HiLuckyB

    I root and unlock the bootloader on everything I own. I do hope that if the fan goes, Or the screen, Or batteries, Or buttons go wrong that it will still be fixed under warranty. I’ve never had a device die or go wrong, But this being the first time something like this has been made I just hope you can stand behind it.

  • RockDedJoy3

    How about someone tries to code it that could be used to play console games?

  • Matt Simons

    But when will it be available in the UK!?

  • Will Park

    Hi B, 

    We totally understand your position. NVIDIA’s warranty policy does allow us to reject RMAs if a device has been rooted or boot loader has been unlocked. But, our goal isn’t to keep people from rooting their devices though (it’s your device, and we want you to enjoy it) – rather, it give us a course of action if folks start to abuse the hardware through software modifications. 

    If your fan dies, and it’s not related to any software mods, we’d suggest you file a warranty claim 🙂

  • MicroByte

    NVIDIA, you are quickly becoming my favorite portable game console maker.  I think I’ve had more fun in the last week with my Shield with all of it’s capabilities made possible by the amazingly zippy Tegra 4 processor.  

    It’s handled the most graphically intensive games and emulators with amazing speed which is what I want in a handheld.  Couple this with the true console like controls without compromise (when compatible) and now, and open source development mindset – you are definitely a company on the front end.

    Thanks so much!

  • Will Park

    Glad you’re enjoying your SHIELD! And thanks for the support 🙂

  • Josh

    I’ll be rooting and unlocking mine very soon! I have heard the faq’s loud and clear, so hopefully you’ll stand by your products if something breaks that has absolutely nothing to do with having root access. I’ve been rooting since the Samsung Moment back in late 2009… Since then, I’ve never looked back!

    NVIDIA Shield Unboxing:

  • hotvibes

    I am blinded by the pure awesomeness of this stuff

  • domahman
  • Krzysztof Sobiecki

    I was thinking if it was possible to use PC Game Streaming feature or parts of it as screen recording solution? It would be nice to be able to grab screen content without the need of separate capture cards. So is it possible?

  • Brian_Caulfield

    Shirt looks good on you!

  • Cle Mens

    The graphic drivers are not open-source I suppose?
    As the graphic driver is one of the most important pieces of SHIELD, I guess your promise of being able to modify “SHIELD’s entire operating system” is just marketing…

  • svartalf

    Well, well…  Even though there’s still the ‘voiding warranty” thing (Heh…  I knowingly void warranties regularly…) with the “protecting abusing hardware with software” line- the fact that they’ve given us a way to get back to a production image is a win.

    Let me do the double-diamond stuff.  Don’t get in my way.  I’ll either brick it or not- but trying to keep me from doing it (hint: NVFlash sucks on the A500 and I think I finally bound it up in a permanant boot-loop because I don’t have the secure flash key for the device…  If I’d had the ability to nuke and pave it regardless with the consequence that I might not have an HD version of some media app because of a busted trust chain, it might still be in service…) makes me not want the thing.

    Now, I’m more interested than I was previously (which was a pretty high interest to begin with…)

  • svartalf

    You can do that rather easily with PSXE on pretty much any Android device right now.  I doubt there’s enough oomph even on this thing to emulate say a Wii, 360, or a PS3, but you might even manage a PS2 and GameCube- if someone manages a portable emu that works well for those consoles.  PS1 era and prior as well as many arcade machines…piece of cake, actually and already pretty much done.

  • svartalf

    And that’s why I said what I said earlier.  It’s a bit of an off line all the same, but so long as you’re doing what you’re doing and NVidia keeps to the claim you’re making Will, you’re going to get a lot of fans- because it’s the right answer from start to finish.

  • Je Saist

    My own posts on GNiE and G+ are as follows:

    This is a great step forward for Nvidia… and come on… I wouldn’t mind getting sent one of these for a review if Nvidia was actually trying to court /Linux journalists instead of ignoring us… 

    but I’m left cold on the continued usage of a closed license for the Graphics Driver. Sorry Nvidia, but that is a huge stumbling point for any /Linux based device. 

  • Rick

    this is my first android device, so I’m a bit paranoid about rooting anything. I’ll give it a couple of months. I’m mostly interested in seeing if one can upgrade to Jelly Bean 

  • Gary_Rainville

    Get this gamer a welder’s mask!

  • Gary_Rainville

    Matt, thanks for your patience. If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up to be notified of intl plans for SHIELD here

  • Henry Hill

    Q2 2014, PC game revenues are expected to reach around 20 billion annually by 2015. Read Transcript @

  • domahman

    Any chance of improving the shields’ shell/body and modularizing it so we can pop in tegra 5, 6, 7 etc… On the same controller, much like dropping in a graphics card? The next shield should be this!!!

  • hx kevin

    cool, I want to get a one.

  • Daniel Wayno

     pretty sure they are referring to overclocking software, and things that may push it past limits nvidia set. Which is perfectly understandable.

  • Andre Prasetya

    That’s awesome! Btw, is it possible to create a Shield clone ? do nvidia allows it ? and if nVidia allows it, will there be a Shield 2 (cause that means nVidia will be creating what its partner created) ?

  • Andre Prasetya

    will nVidia sells individual Shield components ? for example if I voided my warranty and wants to try repairing the damaged shield by my own 😀 (like replacing the display, the board buttons, fans, or even the motherboard).

  • Andre Prasetya

    no more Android Thursdays ? any chances of a Dual Sim Tegra 4i ?

  • Andre Prasetya

    no more Android Thursdays ? any chances of a Dual Sim Tegra 4i ?

  • pramod kumar

    valuable blog. 

  • Edward Thomas MacConnell

    agreed, but it wont happen

  • Adnan David

    Its really and really awesom game console & device ..

    I have sicked of Sony & theirs Dam & pathetic software and conditions ..

    With this perfect system called

    Nvidia ..

    My dream is come to be true ..

    Thank you guys ..
    And you have my respect ..

  • Adnan David

    As he said ..

    Thank you so much ..

    Am saying : You are the best guys & I mean it ..

    Best of the best ..

  • Malachi Norvell

    What about removing apps that I don’t use?

  • cyrylthewolf

    I think you’re missing the actual question that ALL of us want the answer to. (Feels like you’re pointedly avoiding giving the direct answer to the obvious question.)

    Will Nvidia reject ALL RMA’s that are rooted/bootloader unlocked as a general policy? Or will Nvidia only reject where abuse is apparent?