PS3 FW 3.21 removes Other OS functionality

April 1 the new firmware update for the PS3 will remove the ability to load Linux onto the PS3. Sony promised not to remove this functionality from PS3 phat when they introduced the PS3 slim. But a hacker named Geohot has breached the PS3 security measures, namely the hypervisor. And Sony thought this was the best measure.

I don’t use Linux a lot. It was just a inexpensive computer for me. But I hate that l’m being forced to choose between latest firmware or linux. Others are livid. I’m hoping Sony will see the error of their decision.

Playstation Blog post re 3.21
Yellow Dog Linux thread re 3.21
Geohot’s Blog

Why would Sony change it back?

Don’t know. I’m hoping they figure out a way to stop the hack so this doesn’t need to be done. The hack is hardware and software based. You need Linux installed plus you have to open up the box and mod it. Geohot says that the hack can’t be patched by a firmware update. The technical details are above my pay grade so I don’t know if that’s true.

Well, I think it’s pretty clear that Sony didn’t want to be used as an inexpensive computer. Perhaps they were pressured by Microsoft to do this.

Eh. I can see being slightly miffed at the decision, but was turning the PS3 into a Linux-based computer one of the features Sony touted?

It was. The PS3 is one of the only technology products I’ve ever seen that has actually decreased features throughout the lifetime of the product.

It won’t affect me, since I don’t care about using my PS3 to run linux, I just hate to see a company advertise a feature, then yank it later… That shit shouldn’t be legal.

Why would Sony care about pressure from MS?

I don’t know if a lot of people are doing this for a “low cost computer”. Microsquish would probably like to knock that shit off, especially because Windows is on Sony computers.

Sony’s Vaio line of PCs are incredibly popular (and profitable) for Sony. It’s possible MS could say “Get that shit off the PS3 or we won’t renew your Windows license”, but I doubt it. I’ve read that all the sniping between Sony and MS is limited to the PS3 and Xbox 360 divisions. Other divisions in both companies are apparently quite content to work together and have no rivalry (and really, why would they?).

But man, if the 360 crushes the PS3 this Christmas, it is going to get ugly. Sony is running out of “Years of the PS3”.

I thought the PS3 was doing really well this year. Does the 360 have a big lineup of games coming through in the second half or something?

The 360 has Halo: Reach. That dwarfs everything Sony has announced for the Fall so far. Although Gran Turismo 5 is coming “sometime this year.” I’ll believe that when I see it.

I don’t think there are enough PS3 Linux users to be of any concern for Microsoft. I really think this is solely about shutting down hackers and pirating. Linux was a selling point. I didn’t even know about it until I bought a PS3. There are server farms that use the PS3 plus I’ve read that in Europe Sony classified the PS3 as a computer rather than a game console to avoid taxes.

YDL was actually developed with PS3 in mind. I’m not updating just yet but eventually I’ll have to.

While I expect this is going to piss off a small minority of very vocal people, I don’t expect that even the majority of people using Linux on the PS3 care. Those scientists you read about who bought a bunch of PS3 and Linux’d 'em for cheap processing? They don’t need the latest firmware, because they don’t give a rat about connecting to PSN.

Come to it, I’ve never really understood why anyone would install Linux on a PS3… and still use it to play games.

What features does the non-Linux enabled PS3 lack that you really need in your living room?

I think it is stupid to do this for something that requires a hardware hack, as the people that are actually using it will likely find a way to hardware around it. Far better would be to fix the part of the software that the hack manipulates.

Official Linux compatibility was a selling point for me, although I never got around to installing it. So while I’m frustrated at Sony disabling Linux compatibility, I also realize that the PS3 is still a decent entertainment machine, aside from its capabilities as a game console.

Since launch, Sony has added the following features:
[li]Upgraded to Blu-Ray profile 2.0 - no other Blu-Ray player on the market at the time was upgradeable[/li][li]Significantly increased the number of supported media codecs - the PS3 now streams MP4, Mpeg2, Divx and XVid video, as well as MP3 audio files[/li][li]Added Flash 9 support to its web browser (ok, the browser’s crap for things like youtube, but it works great to go to IMDB, wikipedia, etc. - the kind of browsing one would expect to do in their living room)[/li][li]Added Netflix via BD-disc - Personally I think this feature works great, and the picture quality is better than Netflix on a mid-range PC[/li][li]A pretty cool photo gallery application that can really show off a good TV[/li][li]Not that I care much about 3D, but Sony has confirmed that they will add 3D support in a future release[/li][/ul]

And here’s what they’ve taken away:
[li]PS2 compatibility in newer models (seriously, I have a 2nd-gen PS3, and PS2 games look like crap on a large TV)[/li][li]Install other OS option[/li][li]Did I miss anything?[/li][/ul]

So I don’t really see that on balance the PS3 has seen a net loss in functionality.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I didn’t even know about Linux until I bought the PS3. Now that i have it installed i kinda like it. i don’t have a computer. Firefox is better than the PS3 browser. i post on SDMB from the PS3 browser but some websites won’t load on it.

Eventually I want to emulate Amiga and play some old favorites. I wouldn’t even consider myself a Linux hobbyist. My main reason for buying the PS3 was and is games but I got a blu ray player and a browser(didn’t know about that either) and a computer, too.

BTW the current PS3 tagline is “It only does everything.”

Just an update. A few members of the small but vocal group known as the PS3 Linux community have filed lawsuits against Sony. There are three lawsuits currently and all three are seeking class action status. has been keeping track of events. I’m not hopeful of Sony reversing their decision. I think the case is probably winnable for the plaintiffs but Sony won’t be forced to back down from their stance as a remedy. If anyone more lawyerly would care to comment on the merits I’d appreciable it.

How is the case winnable? You can’t force a company to continue supporting a product they never offered any kind of warranty or guarantee on in the first place.

The fact that a month later this controversey has totally evaporated from the mainstream gaming press should tell you it’s a dead end.

It’s not that they’re not supporting it - they’re removing it entirely. As much as it wasn’t really all that much of a reason to buy a PS3, it was still an advertised feature. I’d think any bait and switch law would protect the consumer here.

I’m sure the courts are extremely sensitive to the mainstream gaming press.

Winnable in the sense that they said one thing and did another. I mentioned that hey won’t be forced to provide Linux anymore. But it was an advertised feature and if they can just take it away because they can, then where does that stop? It was there when I bought it.

Plus I don’t think this was ever in the mainstream media, just games/tech sites.

I didn’t say mainstream media, I said mainstream games media.

And Sony never took away the OtherOS option. If you want it and don’t want to connect your PS3 to the PSN for the latest firmware, you’re OK. The fact that it’s not part of the current PS3 configuration is something Sony is completely within their rights to do and is completely within their rights to require in a firmware update.