back to article Sony explains PS3 Slim's loss of Linux option

After Sony's PS3 slim announcement last week, many fans were dismayed the new model would no longer include backwards compatibility and the option to run Linux as an alternative operating system. Sony stated the console's ability to run PS2 games wasn't a major "purchase intent driver" and therefore not worth the cost of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    A quieter, smaller, less power-hungry PS3 slim would actually be an attractive Linux box. The old fatty George Foreman grill really isn't.

    Sony lose money on every console sold, and try to claw it back from games sales. An ps3 that would actually be attractive to buy just for Linux use would be an absolute nightmare for them.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    How many would pay extra? A couple of thousand?

    To cover their costs it cost hundreds per user, and the costs could be ongoing as updates are required. Far cheaper just to buy fat PS3's. There are millions out there and they don't (well very rarely) break so for the price of a new slim you should still be able to buy them on ebay of years to come.

    I know its fashionable to hate Sony but this is just getting silly.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    Certainly compared to the Micro$hit XPox the PS3 is a reliable beast.

    Stupid stupid stupid Sony - I was going to buy a Slim PS3 but I'll not bother now.

    They fucked us up over the reduced spec / higher price in the UK.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    With such a *massive* market, what are they thinking?

    How dare they drop support for Linux!

    The market for Linux usage on a games console is simply enormous!

    Why, just the other day, my girlfriend asked me, "Matt, I'm having some difficulty with my LAMP stack on the PS3, I asked the next door neighbours how they'd got it working on their PS3, but they were having trouble recompiling their kernel and didn't have time to help!"

    Those miserable Sony bastards - depriving at least 150 users (and their girlfriends) of some Linux on a games console sweetness.

    Whatever next? - will they stop me running Linux on my Alarm clock?

    I'm going to shave my beard off in protest and burn all my black t-shirts, jeans and lumberjack shirts. (But I won't sacrifice my plush Tux Huggable Buddy, and lay off my caffeine !"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Or they could...

    Or they could change the business model. Make the games cheaper, by not depending on overpriced-game revenue to subsidise the hardware. Yes up front costs might go up a bit initially, but look at what happened to UK mobile phone takeup when there was no longer any need for an overpriced contract simply to subsidise the up-front handset costs - PAYG changed the mobile phone picture forever.

    Now who's going to change the games machine model the same way (or are the manufacturers and retailers too busy enjoying the profits from overpriced games too much)?

  6. Davin S. George

    Good Bye Sony

    I had been looking to purchase the Slim PS3, but with Sony removing the OtherOS option we brought a new Blueray player, and it wasn't a Sony. And when the Tv comes up for replacement in a couple of years guess what, it will also be an LG.

    I can't see any reason to stick with buying Sony at present. They're behind from a technology point of view and its the little things that make the difference, and with dropping those doesn't help them at all.

    A brand going nowhere these days and doesn't stand out. Good Bye

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    End of life for OtherOS support

    your a little late with this news there Austin.

    the developers and interested users covered this a week ago on their thread

    simply said, End of lifing OtherOS compatibility in effect takes the new slim PS3 off the table so they loose more long term sales for no good reason , even developers buy and play games.

    and lets be clear here, there really is no good reason stated so far, "unwilling to bear costs of maintaining the hypervisor used for OtherOS support across major hardware revisions.


    thats ONE single revision and if you look closely theres nothing really changed there, not enough to classify it as anything like a "major hardware revision", nothing a quick patch for the replacement chips and recompile wouldnt fix.

    and you can be sure someone inside the sony tech labs has already gone this as soon as they got the new slim PCB in house and on their SW development desks before the executive penny pincher suits got a look in.

    as for the "private research labs, companies, and individuals using racks of PS3s as a relatively inexpensive Cell cluster node or workstation. Because Sony sells the PS3 at a loss," speculation.

    if they were really worryed about that, then how does sarahe

    the sony rep or these people explain "...the academic version was announced a while back (with RSX support),...

    again, sony and their partners can make profits IF they produced a real multi/dual/quad PPC based Cell PCI-E drop in card for your PC at a reasonable price inline with the slim PS3 price minus the BR costs OC.

    or even go the whole logical way, and just put a full PPC based Cell Slim PS3 on a PCI-E card for a fair sustainable price and people can stuff it or even several if they like, inside any PC case and everyone can be happy.

    its not about getting a cheaper x86 box to run linux on ,its about getting access to a long term suported Cell box as an end user, end of lifeing OtherOS support on the new one wont make your old one run longer, and when it breaks and stocks are no more then no more OtherOS PPC cell as they wil try and force you to take the slim PS3 as the the only replacement tey have in stock.

    also, its not like the actual cost between the cheap laptop and HD TV non PPC based Cell 'SpursEngine' and the slim PS3 version of the real 'PPC based Cell' are that far apart in costs per tray to's mostly markup to what the brand puppys and academics will pay (with other peoples taxs) for it.

    if your the type of person thats gullable and prone to PR and brand pride then you will get someone to pay for it for you, if your after a cheaper real second generation retail PPC Cell then sony took the slim PS3 off the table for No good reason as you cant use it without OtherOS support.

    sure games and the odd HD video streaming are fine , but dual/quad PC Upgrades or a popcorn hour get you that cheaper than these slim PS3 anyway.

  8. Ian Davies

    PS2 compatibility

    The loss of PS2 compatibility isn't new. It was only the 1st and 2nd versions of the original PS3 that would play PS2 games (as I recall the 1st gen used hardware support, the 2nd gen used a mix of hardware and software emulation). The 120Gb PS3 I bought in February only plays PS1 games (and PS3 ones, obviously!).

  9. GremlinUK

    PS2 compatibility

    I have a stack of around 50-60 PS2 games, and when I found out that the UK PS3 had poorer backward compatibility than the US/JPY versions, I decided that a PS3 would probably be a waste of time & money, so didn't bother with buying one. Now that they've removed that compatibility all together, I know that I'll never be buying one, slim or otherwise.

    So much for backward compatibility not being a 'purchase intent driver'!

  10. Christian Berger

    The big problem will be piracy

    Now all those Linux-Geeks will try to still run Linux on the PS3. This will mean that they will have to circumvent the hypervisor. If they succeed they will obviously publish their results which will open the floodgates to pirated software.

    The reason there were no modchips for the PS3 is simple, nobody smart enought to do it cared because they got what they wanted, Linux.

  11. SuperTim


    Makes me glad i got an original 60gb model now. seems my PS3 kicks some serious arse compared to this "lite" model. Sure it uses more juice, and is massive, but the footprint of the new one is not much smaller, and is actually a bit deeper so it wont fit in my tv cabinet. It is also still curved so wont stack easily. The change from soft touch to real eject and power buttons doesnt appeal to me as i actually think the soft touch ones are good. They work perfectly for me.

    My "archaic" model has a 320gb hard drive, PS2 compatibility, card readers and 4 (count 'em) USB sockets. The only thing it won't do is output dolby true-hd via HDMI to an external amp, but given the cost of a good enough amp to make it worthwhile, it isnt on my agenda at the moment.

    Saying that, If i didnt have a ps3 already then i would get one of these new ones as they seem a good deal.

  12. PaulW

    How Many Games?

    I have in the back of my mind that it takes around 12 or 14 (unlucky 13?) games for Sony to get their money back on a console... which sounds about right. Given that most people I know only have around 10 games (I just checked... I have 9 for a system thats about 18 months old or so) that does sort of limit Sony in support of their revenue stream.

    That said my PS3 mk1 (80Gb with all the backwards compat knobs and whistles) sounds like a harrier taking off.

    Finally, as I understand it, the new PS3 is PS1 compatible for PSP remote playback unless I'm mistaken (or the folks at both Frys and Best Buy were wrong - which when it comes to games systems isnt typically they case)

  13. Filippo Silver badge

    sounds reasonable

    When I first read about labs using PS3s to build underpriced supercomputers, I thought it was cool - but I also thought that, essentially, this meant that Sony was unwillingly subsidizing their work.

    I know it's fashionable to bash Sony these days, but that's just not fair, and morally speaking they are well within their rights in stopping it.

    Of course, it would be even better if they produced CELL PCI-E cards.

  14. ElNumbre

    Recompile my idea's...

    Well, I've constantly revisited the PS3 as an ideal linux machine - powerful, small, inexpensive - and only now is one of those criteria being met (the ?small? part). Where it falls down is the lack of decent support for the cell processors, certainly in the area I've been looking at - video transcoding.

    Developers don't seem interested in rewriting/optimizing their code to support the massive potential power available in the PS3, probably because there arn't enough people using it in the first place. Why bother when the 'standard' code will work across multiplatforms, especially when you can get good performance from standard x86/PPC type equipment without having to rewrite your code.

    So, anyone wanting a cheap linux box - will buy a netbook.

    Anyone wanting decent linux processing - will buy an x86 based machine.

    Anyone wanting a blu-ray player - wait, does anyone want a blu-ray player?

  15. pancho

    Funny PS3 advert references Nigerian 419

    is good i like it, but the Funny PS3 advert references Nigerian 419 u people better change that, Sony has unacceptable and very unfair towards majority of good people-Nigerians. There are bad people in every society of every nations and same goes to big time fraudsters in US and in the Europe. Therefore, Sony have no justification for singling only Nigeria as a nation of fraudulent people. Nigerians are good people but unfortunate we have few elements that want to give the rest bad image just like we have it in every society in other nations. I think we deserve an apology from Sony for this tasteless and guerrilla marketing advertisement.

  16. batfastad
    Jobs Horns

    Stop breaking things!

    I used to be big on minidiscs (yeah, I said it) and that's where my problems with Sony products started. They'd release 5 products, all with different pros/cons... but not a top of the range product that had all the features!

    They just don't get it... I want a slimline PS3 with PS2 compatibility and OtherOS installation. Then I would pay the top price bracket!

    Also how about console manufacturers make kit that actually fits in with other AV equipment.

  17. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


    Sony, WTF? epic fail

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Backwards compatibility

    How is PS2 compatibility not a "purchase intent driver"? Or am I the only person holding back from buying a PS3 because I don't want to have both a PS2 and a PS3 underneath my TV?

  19. Rob Beard

    Download option

    I wonder if enough people will complain (or if someone manages to hack the Hypervisor that is in the machine for Linux & possible piracy) if they will update the PS3 Slim and just add back the Other OS support.

    I was looking at buying a PS3 for games, Bluray and Linux and was waiting for the price cut, but to be honest I'm not going to bother buying a new one now, I'll just buy a pre-owned fat console. That is unless Sony either make an purchasable (or free) update to add back the Other OS (I'm not too fussed about PS2 compatibility as I have a PS2 Slim anyway).


  20. bmh

    PS2 compatibility

    Like some of the others, lack of PS2 compatibility means I wouldn't touch one with

    a bargepole, I have about 40-50 PS2 games and don't want to keep a 2nd console just

    for them ...

    PS2 compatibility might not have mattered to the 'money to burn' early adopters, but for those

    looking to buy a cheaper 'mature' console it makes much more difference, why couldn't they put the PS2 chips on an add-in module for those that want it ...

  21. g e

    Too many gadgets!

    _SO_ can't be arsed to have a PS2 hanging around if I bought a PS3, just to play the PS2 games on.

    No PS3 purchase here, then, because of zero backwards compatibility, either.

    Two sales lost in one web page...

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  24. Anonymous Coward


    Why bother worrying about backwards compatibility, I just kept my old PS/2 or you can buy them for peanuts on auction sites. Anyway, once I started playing PS/3 games in HD, my old PS/2 games looked rubbish in comparison to be frank so I rarely play them - just my opinion.

  25. Shonko Kid

    >Or Sony could open the technology up to the Linux community to maintain


    While It's true in the past I've applauded Sony for actually going to market with the Linux Dev Kit for the PS2, it was clear then that they're never going to open up the platform in the way the Penguinistas would like, or let hippy ideals get in the way of making $$$s

    But from my POV, this is just the cherry on the top of PS3s EPIC FAIL. When I can get one for £50 at the local game exchange, then I might just buy one.

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Anonymous Coward


    I will has to get one of those £250 quid ASRock dual core 64 bit Atom/Ion boxes instead then (which has HDMI out etc), to stick under the telly as a nice geeky PVR- mythTV ahoy, since PS3 with linux won't be happening on the small ones which sound less like hairdryers.

    It's not like I'd be using it as a games machine anyway, as it costs more for a worse experience most of the time, even compared to a freakin' Microsoft product, fergawdsake.. Some nice head to heads on - textures like that are sooooo Geforce 3 :)

  28. Anonymous Coward

    No surprise for Phony!

    Not a massive issue I suppose, but does seem like just another example of how ou of touch Phony are with their customers. They really no idea do they? The XBOX and Wii are wiping the floor with the PS3 and they still seem to be living in their own little £300 a throw console cloud cuckoo land!

    Icon, because Sony are slowly turning into a laughing stock, but the joke is wearing thin for their customers!

  29. asdf

    whats the point for sci computing

    The fact remains that the Cell BE is a very dated architecture and the modern mediocre performance is generally not worth the massive increase in development time for the platform. Now that the latest GPUs can do double precision floating calcs much faster than the dated PS3 and with easier to code for tools and sdks such as cuda and opencl why would anyone go the PS3 route? Yes true it is still involved to do stream code even for GPUs but at least you can run the addon cards on virtually any architecture you like and are not at the whims of Sony.

  30. Jean-Paul

    Sell at a loss

    I am no lawyer, but I thought competition law is rather specific about selling goods at a loss in order to obtain Market share. Quite specific as in that it is not allowed. I would take that poor Sony story with a pinch of salt.

  31. TeeCee Gold badge

    @Matt 89

    In order for a gag to really work it has to be believable.

    You almost had it, but you let yourself down when you implied that the sort of people who run Linux on PS3s actually have girlfriends......

  32. Vilho

    No Sony, not this way

    I honestly just can't believe that Sony would think that after selling millions and millions of PS2 consoles that there wouldn't be that many people wanting to have some backwards compatibility with the new PS3.

    Just like myself, most of these PS2 owners probably do have between 20 and 30 games bought for PS2 and I at least would like to have the opportunity to play some of those games on the PS3 rather than buying then AGAIN, thus ending up paying Sony and the game manufacturers twice.

    No wonder people are resorting to piracy nowadays with these kind of things happening.

    I think I will wait until somebody finds a good and cheap way to copy PS3 games and then I will buy the damn thing used and copy at least the games I have on the PS2 as I do feel that I don't need to buy these again just because Sony decided to be an ass about this whole thing.

    So for now I will be playing with my PS2, Xbox, PSP and GB Advanced until I hear better news from the piracy market.

  33. MarkOne

    re: No surprise for Phony!

    LOL, the Phony here is you. I know you love everything Microsoft chucks out the door, but give it a rest, you end up looking like a retard..

    Have a read of this (if you can't read, get an grown up to read it to you..)

    You are even worse that the "I was going to buy a PS3 but they changed the type of power plug so now i'm not" morons.

  34. hj


    I think this is not a tactic to gain market share, just a different businessmodel. Otherwise the average toothbrush / razorblade / printer manufacturer will be in big trouble..

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't this a games console?

    I was wondering why the excuse for not enabling a games console to run Linux or any other OS wasn't "Because it's a games console".

    Unless there's a version of WoW that has suddenly been released for Linux I can't see why Sony would give a fuck if their games console runs Linux. And the arrogance of a handful of anal retentives that insist it does is unbelievable. Yes, Sony should make the idiot mistake of Commodore and turn what was supposed to be a games console into a computer, leading to bickering and internal politics and a massive waste of money on multiple operating systems the original designers had no intention of implementing.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    cost for researchers/developers?

    okay...Sony lose on each PS3 bought for Linux/research 'cos no games are bought, fair enough - but how much is the main engine of the PS3? the only Cell-based PCI/PCI-E cards are hideously how much could (should?) a PCI-E loaded with a single Cell system be?

    researchers dont want stacks of non stackable PS3's with their blu-rays, 100mbit ethernet, USB ports, inefficient power supplies/cooling - they want PCI-E cards for the PS3 cost. imagine a

    PC loaded with 5 Cell PCI-E boards...with Gig or infiniband connectivity etc. real horsepower...then

    scale is properly with Multi-Cell cards.... we're only using the PS3s for this instead of Burnout Paradise or SingStar because no reasonable alternative exists....

    ..and for you naysayers about PS3 for Linux/research.. okay, the PS3 doesnt have much memory and its RSX functionality is massively locked off but the Cell engine is seriously kick-ass powerful

  37. Anonymous Coward

    @ Davin S. George

    Sony get money from each Blu Ray disc that is bought, so at least they will get their dolla with or without your support.


  38. Anonymous Coward

    @ Vilho

    You seem to have both missed the point AND hit the nail on the head!

    No Sony, not this way #

    By Vilho Posted Monday 31st August 2009 10:52 GMT

    "I honestly just can't believe that Sony would think that after selling millions and millions of PS2 consoles that there wouldn't be that many people wanting to have some backwards compatibility with the new PS3."

    Sony KNOW you want backward compatbility, they want you to buy a NEW console and ditch the old one

    "Just like myself, most of these PS2 owners probably do have between 20 and 30 games bought for PS2 and I at least would like to have the opportunity to play some of those games on the PS3 rather than buying then AGAIN, thus ending up paying Sony and the game manufacturers twice."

    Sony WANT you to buy the games again, not just update your console and NOT buy games. As has been mentioned already, the PROFITS come from add on / software sales, not the consoles!

  39. Jess
    Thumb Down

    I don't think I'll be encouraging my son to get one.

    The lack of PS2 capability. He already has far too much of a throw away attitude.

    Also I would have like to try linux on it.

    I'm not interested in bluray due to the DRM

  40. thefutureboy

    If Linux and BC is so important to you

    I'll sell you my fully working 60GB model complete with BC and other OS support for £500 inc p&p (UK mainland only) and I'll even throw in a SixAxis controller.

  41. A J Stiles

    Sony missed a trick the first time

    Backward-compatibility means that you can't gouge people for brand-new copies of all the software they already own. If you're in the business of selling software and hardware, it's a millstone.

    Even back when the PS2 was launched, I was fully expecting that it wouldn't be backward-compatible with existing PlayStation games. I expected Sony to remake all their games and offer a "new discs for old" trade-in. This would have ensured that there were no second-hand games out there to compete with new ones, and rendered used consoles even more worthless (as the only games available would be the ones that people couldn't even be bothered to trade-in for newer ones).

  42. Aidan Thornton

    PS3 supercomputers cheap advertising for Sony

    "When I first read about labs using PS3s to build underpriced supercomputers, I thought it was cool - but I also thought that, essentially, this meant that Sony was unwillingly subsidizing their work."

    Unwillingly subsidising? Every time there's a news article about one of these clusters of PS3s achieving something, it helps promote the PS3 - promotion of a type they couldn't buy. For what they've gotten from it marketing-wise, the cost probably works out quite cheap. Why do you think they put the effort into allowing Linux installation and making it easy for Linux to access the Cell SPUs in the first place?

    I have no idea why they're dropping it; possibly management stupidity, but more likely the fact that a lot of the stuff that would use a PS3 cluster seems to be moving to GPUs.

  43. Hans 1

    @ac 30th August 2009 11:43 GMT

    mythTV is sooo yesteryear ... check out XBMC ... even runs on the AppleTV ;-)

  44. MrPatrick
    Thumb Up

    Its not noisy

    I don't know what everyone's problems with. People complaining about hte noise? Really? Have you heard an Xbox360?

    Have you tried to build a HTPC thats the same size for the same price that has the same power and functionality and the same noise levels?

    I understand that there are a few people who are disappointed about hte loss of Linux compatibility, but if thats the issue then pick up a cheapo box and install Linux on it.

    Its a great bit of kit, both fat and thin. Its not perfect but it has its place.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    "mythTV is sooo yesteryear"

    Mythtv is miles ahead of XBMC and its v nice derivative boxee.

    Reliability is the key and they dont have it. Myth Systems run for months and months without problems. Myth Systems have a server / client model which is very nice if you have a few clients dotted around the house and a laptop or two.

    XBMC doesnt even record TV its a playback only model!! Myth does Freeview (DVB-T) and Freesat (DVB-S) at the same time.

    Heck it even works with my jesus iPhone. The only issue is that the installation isn't so easy.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Myopic view from Sony

    They've lost an opportunity to build a platform culture, but hey this isn't the first time Sony have managed grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.

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