Push for Linux tie-up with original PlayStation

After high demand for Sony's Japanese release of Linux for the PlayStation 2 game console, another company is leaping into the fray.

After high demand for Sony's Japanese release of Linux for the PlayStation 2 game console, another company is leaping into the fray.

The Czech company, Blokman Trading, has released a test, or alpha, version of the Linux 2.4 kernel for the original PlayStation console--now dubbed PSone.

Sony has strictly controlled its release of PlayStation 2 Linux, building 1,000 of the kits that are set to go on sale this summer and will work only on the Japanese version of the console. The PlayStation 2 LinuxKit includes a DVD with software, a 40GB hard drive, a keyboard and a mouse.

In response, the Czech company said it will make its Linux port, called Runix, available for free. In addition, the company intends to publish the software as open source under the GNU General Public License. Vadim Veshchezerov, Blokman's co-founder and CEO, said the aim is to "transform (the) Sony PlayStation and Sony PlayStation 2 into a low-priced desktop computer".

Blokman said it will provide a beta version of Runix in July and a final version in October. By the end of the year, it plans to release a software development kit and office software for Linux on PlayStation. A port for PlayStation 2 is also planned, although Blokman did not announce a date.

Sony released its PlayStation 2 Linux after high consumer demand, including a petition with thousands of names.

The Runix kernel is available in a 26MB download on www.runix.ru.

Staff writer Matthew Broersma reported from London.