Goodbye Linux on the PS3 - Sony backpedals on "Install Other OS" support

Goodbye Linux on the PS3 - Sony backpedals on "Install Other OS" support

Summary: Sony releases news that the next software update for the PlayStation 3 games console will disable the "Install Other OS" option that was present on PS3 systems before the launch of the slimline model.


Sony releases news that the next software update for the PlayStation 3 games console will disable the "Install Other OS" option that was present on PS3 systems before the launch of the slimline model.

OK, most folks out there use their PS3 for gaming, and the removal of this feature means nothing, but for some who like to leverage the PS3 for other tasks, the loss of this feature is a pretty big deal.

Note: This feature wasn't present on the CECH-2000 model onwards.

Here's the announcement:

The next system software update for the PlayStation 3 (PS3) system will be released on April 1, 2010 (JST), and will disable the “Install Other OS” feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models, launched in September 2009. This feature enabled users to install an operating system, but due to security concerns, Sony Computer Entertainment will remove the functionality through the 3.21 system software update.

This news comes a little more a month after Sony management confirmed to the PS3-Linux community that the company was committed to keeping this feature on systems sold with this feature:

>> The feature of "Install Other OS" was removed from the new >> "Slim" PS3 model to focus on delivering games and other >> entertainment content. >> >> Please be assured that SCE is committed to continue >> the support for previously sold models that have the >> "Install Other OS" feature and that this feature will >> not be disabled in future firmware releases.

So, what are users who make use of this feature to do? Well, they have two options really:

  • Not install the update
  • Install the update, and lose all access to the data

It's important to note that this feature was an advertised feature of the earlier PS3 consoles and not some homebrew hack.

Sucks for folks who bought PS3 for that feature.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Operating Systems

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  • And this is important how?

    • Kills organizations ability to build Super Computers

      made from Sony PS3 linked via Linux.

      The military has a ton of them in small clusters. Other orgs. were thinking about building them too.
      • The advantage of using PS3 for SC declining

        It is probably close to cheaper (performance / dollar) to get a cheap PC and put an ATI graphics card delivering 5 times the Double Precision FP performance of the Cell used in PS3.

        There are some really powerful cards near $100 that could deliver 200 GFlops of double precision. The cell processor in the PS3 was capable of 200 GFlops of single precision much lower for double precision.

        So for $400 you could probably get a dual core system with a single GPU that would give higher performance than the PS3 but if you add another card you could nearly double the performance for an additional $100.

        Mind you I don't think a GPU substitutes entirely for the Cell but for most FP calculations a GPU works great. And you still have the main processor for general tasks. With more memory, 64bit, bigger disk, DVD+-RW, internet etc etc.
    • Education

      I know a university that uses the PS3 as a low
      cost way to teach certain types of programming.
      This will hamper their efforts.

      It's really only surprising that it lasted as long
      as it did.
    • Another company dumps the koolaid

      They've finally realized PS/3 is not a server.
      • Apparently not a computer, either.

        Not even what was advertised at point of sell.

        How is this legal?
    • Setting an insane legal precedent, for starters.

      If it's legal to sell a product claiming it has a feature, and promise on-the-record that it will retain said feature, and then go and remove it..
      • Also, tax fraud was illegal last time I checked.

        Due to the PS3 having the "you can install an OS on this" feature, <a href=>it was considered a computer and thus Sony didn't have to pay nearly as high taxes</a>.

        If they remove this feature (which was advertised at point of sell), so that it no longer counts as a computer, and don't even reimburse the people who bought it when it was advertised as having this feature, and/or don't pay the taxes they would have had to pay, ya.. pretty clear cut.

        Oh, and to all the people saying "just don't update then", you don't have a choice. The update is forced. If you try to stop it you're automatically banned from PSN so that you can't use the products you bought.
  • Security concerns?

    The reason Sony gave is rather bizarre. Security concerns? To call that unconvincing would be the bloody understatement of the year.

    I wonder what's the real reason.
    • Groups were buying them in bulk..

      and making Linux Clusters out of them. Sony subsidizes the console and makes back that money on the games - if you ONLY buy the console, Sony is LOSING money on each sale.
      • That sounds plausible. You're probably right. (NT)

      • Close, but missed it by THAT much...

        That is a very plausible explanation, but also
        very unlikely.

        Any PS3 sold today does not have the Linux
        capability. (The PS3 Slim models have never had
        this functionality.)

        So, if agencies were "buying them in bulk",
        they were buying them used, which does little
        to Sony's bottom line.
        • If they're no longer useful as computers due to this update..

          ..the people who already [i]did[/i] buy lots of them for their advertised use which they can no longer be used for, may end up selling them to gamers who will buy games for
    • Security; "Collateral used to guarantee repayment of a debt." ;)

      [b] [/b]
  • Typical Sony. Bait and switch...

    Typical Sony ploy to oversell a device, then later deliver less than stated. Sony can just die IMHO.
  • real facts

    Wow, some stupid posts here.

    First, the implementation was pretty poor. You could only use 10% of the HD for Linux, or 90%. You couldn't name your own partition. And they blocked access to a lot of the hardware, specifically the graphics portion.

    Second, they did this so the PS3 would qualify as a computer and get tax breaks (in the UK I believe). Very few people bought a PS3 over an Xbox just so they could use linux as a feature.

    Third, the security "concerns" are probably because someone finally figured out how to access that prohibited hardware recently. Someone "jailbreaked" the PS3 and this is Sony's response. No one seems to complain when Apple releases OS patches to hamper jailbroken phones or to prevent the palm pre from synching with iTunes.

    I'm sure those who built super blade-like computers with a PS3 cluster have never upgraded their system software. They run in linux 100% of the time. They won't be affected.

    If you want a HTPC, just buy one. It'll be a lot better than using a PS3, anyways. Get over it!
    • real facts: PS3 sucks

      I agree with you CelticBrewer, the PS3 is a terrible system, not just as an HTPC but on a lot of items.

      If people want a system that grows, get the XBOX360. This week MS was ADDING FUNCTIONS to the Xbox360, not taking them away:;col1
      • HMM USB storage, had that for a long while

        on the PS3, it has taken them this long to add it in. Also you are limited in buying MSFT branded Hard Drives for the special connector for the XBox. I can install whatever size hard drive I want into my PS3, and I don't need to buy a Sony drive. Xbox 360 limit on hard drive is 250GB as was just released, how about 1.5 TB on a PS3.

        No Bluray support for Xbox 360.

        Free online play, not 50/year subscription here, and this is almost required for the XBOX 360. Yes I am fully aware of the Silver Membership, but in order to use netflix, it is required to have gold. In fact many of the premium services require gold.

        No WiFi built in, adapter sold separately.

        Don't get me wrong, the PS3 has some limitations, such as having to run Netflix from a disc, but so does the Xbox 360.

        But in fact the management of the Xbox 360 is so draconian that it ranks right up there with Apple Computers, iPhones, iPods, iPads, and such.
    • Where have you been?

      [b]No one seems to complain when Apple releases OS patches to hamper jailbroken phones or to prevent the palm pre from synching with iTunes.[/b]

      Guess you don't come here(ZDNet) too often?

      Arm A. Geddon
    • Bad analogy

      You made some horrible analogies in your post. This is NOT like Apple releasing a patch that hampers jailbroken phones. This is like Apple releasing a patch which forces phones to only work on Apple's own phone network when they SOLD the phone as available to use on ANY phone network!

      Yes, you might be correct that it won't affect many people, but it DOES affect SOME people. People who bought the device specifically for its DUAL USE capability. There are some people who picked the PS3 over the XBox360 because when their kids were not playing games on it, they could use it for computing usage.

      Yes, there might be better computers out there in the HTPC usage, but people bought this system because it had this capability. Sony has made lots of money from sales of games and download content from people who now had a PS3 in their house instead of a HTPC. It would be perfectly fine for Sony to remove the feature from new hardware versions since they are not advertising and selling those units by that feature. They DID sell many previous units BECAUSE of that feature, and to simply remove it because they feel like it should not be tolerated. I know I personally am contacting my state Attorney General to discuss this with him/her. They LOVE to get their hands on cases of bait and switch, since this IS what is happening if people can not continue to use the product to its fullest without patching to the latest version (i.e. online play, new download content, etc).
      Fallen Kell