Officials at Sony's UK offices confirmed on Thursday that the company is to release an official version of Linux to run on the PlayStation2. However, it will only be compatible with Japanese versions of the console at this stage.
According to Sony, the move is in response to consumer pressure, which has included online petitions. Users will receive a hard drive with built-in 10Mbit Ethernet socket that will plug into the console's PCMCIA slot, a mouse and a keyboard, as well as a PS2-compatible version of the popular open source operating system. The PS2 Linux Kit will cost the equivalent of around £140 and will go on sale in June 2001.
Only 1,000 copies of the Linux kit will be manufactured initially. "The decision whether to ship more will depend on the feedback and requests from the Linux communities," said Sony in a press release.
However, the new release will not be available for PlayStation2 users in the US or Europe. "The Linux release is only for the Japanese market, and I'm not aware of any plans to offer it in America or Europe," said a spokesman for Sony.
PlayStation2s include regional encoding, so that a Japanese console cannot play games released in Europe and vice versa. This led to allegations that Sony was overcharging European consumers, who did not have the option of importing a cheaper unit from America or Japan. Sony has consistently denied this charge.
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