back to article PS3 update to rid all consoles of Linux support

Sony will release the next PlayStation 3 firmware update this week, the company has announced. But the software - version 3.21 - will disappoint Linux buffs. It will remove the 'Install Other OS' option from older consoles. The update goes live on 1 April. A fair few Linux fans will hope Sony's announcement is an early April …


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  1. SuperTim

    Security? or cheap cell processing?

    I suspect this move isn't so much about security as it is about making sure that sony's very expensively produced Fat PS3s don't end up in parallel computing labs. It's always miffed sony that they sold at them at a loss and then didnt get the expected software boost when machines were used this way. There is little in the way of excuse to blame an alternative OS for quality issues if these were present when they first released the PS3.

    No I suspect this draws a line under the issue and any fat ps3s that are updated effectively become tied to the sony moneymaking machine rather than ending up in a Lab.

    Not that i am bothered. I didnt buy my PS3 to run linux, i bought it for the variety of gaming, media and connectivity it brought to my living room. Still going strong after two and a half years and the only console i actually still use daily. That Wii was a waste of money and the 360 is too noisy to use as a media centre (and doesn't have a whopper of a hard drive like i put in the PS3)

    I am intrigued as to what the new firmware will actually give, but the removal of the alternate OS is no issue for me. I just hope they will natively support MKV, so i dont have to remux loads of stuff all the time ;)

    1. Colin_L

      RE: cheap cell processing

      The time for that has come and gone. The PS3's cell is no longer compelling for compute clusters on a time versus results basis due to a variety of alternatives.

      This is definitely about security just as Sony is claiming.

      And I also agree with the poster citing that it is no big deal. I ran Linux on my ps3 for less than a week. Terrible platform for it-- so severely memory constrained it isn't funny. Much happier with ubuntu on an Atom + Ion. No, it's not free, but neither is my time or satisfaction.

    2. Annihilator
      Paris Hilton

      Padlock, door, horse, bolted

      What?? Sony are miffed that they sold phat playstations at a loss to universities, and now they're going to punish them?

      Sony have *sold* them already. Locking them out now will do nothing (not to mention that I would doubt the labs are upgrading them with the latest firmware).

      More likely it's to do with support costs of maintaining it in the firmware.

      As for MKV's, may I suggest PS3 Media Server? Rather awesome at the task of serving MKV's.

  2. GrumpyJoe


    Well, apparently the £230 I dropped on the console doesn't make me the owner. Silly me. Maybe Sony can rent them to us in the future.

    And to forestall the 'just don't install the update' crowd - that still cripples it as Sony enforces a 'leper' policy on users who do not have the update from getting onto the PSN - something they are allowed to do but basically enforces the 'no choice' mantra.

    And I don't even 'USE' Linux on my PS3 (I have a slim) - but this still annoys me - what's next to go?

  3. Jolyon Ralph

    Geohot is getting too close...

    I imagine this is the reason - notoroious iPhone hacker geohot is getting a bit too close with hacking the PS3

    I don't think this will be of major concern to the universities, etc, who want to use PS3s for their supercomputer arrays - somehow I very much doubt they'll mind that they won't be able to play DRM video content or the latest games. What is more of a concern is that they have to get such systems on ebay now (or more specifically since the PS3 slim came out) rather than direct from Sony.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    False sale?

    So they sold the PS3 using false advertising with features which are then removed once the buyer has been suckered in. Class action coming up if they follow through me thinks.

  5. Adrian Jackson
    Thumb Down

    So, isn't bait and switch illegal?

    Surely selling a product on the basis that it has certain functionality and then removing that functionality counts as a form of bait and switch?

  6. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge


    So it's nothing to do with that glitching-based attack from the other month ?

    But it's OK, it's optional, as long as you don't need to use the PS3 for anything ...

  7. St0kes
    Thumb Down


    So is Sony going to repartition my hard drive to give me back the space used by Linux or just stop me from booting into it?

    Thanks Sony.

  8. The Original Ash

    Ah, yes... This makes a lot of sense

    Unfortunately, Sony, you'd be disabling an advertised feature after an item has been purchased, and that's a big legal no-no! Expect to be sued by nerds, gamers, educational insititions, and the US military (who have used clustered PS3s in supercomputer scenarios).

    For those US folks interested in joining a class-action lawsuit over this, consider visiting the following link:

    Anybody want to start a similar thing up for the UK?

    1. Rob Beard

      Class Action

      Heck yeah, I'm not amused about this, I bought my PS3 80GB over the 120GB PS3 Slim because of the ability to install and run Linux. Looks like I'm stuffed, either don't update and loose the ability to connect to PSN (which I do occasionally use for demos and stuff) or update and loose Linux (and have to find an alternative box, not really something I can afford to do at the moment!).


  9. P Zero

    Not happy

    So, so, soooo not happy. If it comes down to buying quality Sony content from the playstation store by letting go of features that drew me to the console in the first place, then they're just going to have to miss out on more money. Who ever heard of making something less value-for-money to keep customers?

  10. Scott 2
    Thumb Down

    Great market research strategy!

    Post a message designed to really annoy those few that use OtherOs.

    Watch the unfolding of strongly worded opinion flow around the net.

    Gather data about what percentage of owners would miss the feature more and why.

    If too many possibly paying public react negatively - April Fool! Withdraw statement and move quietly on.

    If only the hacking community strongly object, then Sony wouldn't lose out as much due to games and services probably not top of that demographic's list - put update out, claim it for the benefit of all mankind.


  11. Anonymous Coward

    My arse...

    "The consumer electronics giant said that the update will be optional"

    Yea right, some choice. Bastards.

  12. Paul Taylor 2

    No biggy

    Pretty crappy hardware for Linux anyway, given that access to all the good stuff is forbidden.

  13. hplasm

    Not that this will stop anyone.

    It was only a way to make it easy. Now Sony have Penguinistas grumbling at them.

    Still, it's not an Eggbox Fiasco yet.

  14. MarkOne
    Thumb Down

    a clue...

    An email "sent by a Sony staffer" Is not an official statement of intent...

    Both you AND slashdot should understand that.. It's not a hard concept to grasp..

  15. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

    April Fool

    FFS, El Reg, you're only doing this to get a rise out of me, aren't you?



    Apparent blubberings from sony PR rep noted.


    It's been reported on slashdot too.....

    PS3 Slim sans OtherOS ? Slap in the face.

    This alleged 'upgrade'? An alleged kick in the knackers.


    Think about it. How much of your interests have been actually pirated? You stand to alienate (even more) a small minority of your users for dubious tangible gain.

    Guess what? If this is indeed true, henceforth, if I want to play a console game, I am buying an xbox. No way am I knackering my ps3 box that I've lovingly honed and tuned over these few years. You will lose a customer and gain an adversary. I will personally make sure that as many people as possible are aware of your betrayal. Yes, I'm going to QQ. Not that I expect you'll care, but I'll do it anyway. You'll perhaps lose some business, I would imagine. /shrug.

  16. Simon Buttress

    Optional update?

    Gotta love the "it's optional" line when you see the restrictions that are imposed if you choose not to take the option.

  17. Citizen Kaned


    should i now install linux, if the install option is going to die is it worth installing linux? imnot sure how it would boot into linux anyway. can someone clarify?

  18. John Savard

    Distressing News

    This is extremely distressing news, but an E-mail from one Sony employee can't be construed as a commitment on the part of the company. It would be different if one could simply downgrade a PS/3 to an earlier update, but that is something that is not possible.

  19. yossarianuk


    Some people will have made the decision to purchase a PS3 rather than the competition purely due to the Linux support (after all that could ensure you had a computer as well as a console)

    Perhaps group lawsuit? They say it's optional but it isn't really (if you want to still connect to the playstation network)

    Personally I wan never interested in running Linux on a PS3 as Sony barred you from accessing the GPU... (would love to see how the cell performs though)

  20. MarkOne

    re: So, isn't bait and switch illegal?

    So they are ALLOWED TO ADD features, but as soon as they take features away, you get upset?

    The fact is, this is an OPTIONAL update, you pays yer money you take your choice. Take the additional new features coming along, or don't and just keep the 100's of existing ones that Sony have given you for free since 2006...

    It's hilarious to watch the about-turn, from a gimped feature that was no use because it did not have GPU access, to suddenly becoming an essential feature you bought if for.

    You realise what such an about-turn makes you look like?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Not really.

      Both PSN and Linux support were advertised features to the original purchasers of the PS3.

      They are now saying choose one or the other not both. Either continued use of the Linux option or access to PSN.

      It is definitely a bait and switch situation.

      Imagine buying a clock radio and the manufacturer telling you, a little while later, that you could continue to use either the clock or the radio, but not both.

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


      ? What additional features

      I coldn't care a hoot if I could not play blue ray on it but the fact is I game online on one of my fat PS3's. Not to the extent it would cripple my recreational time, but this new firmware update means I will have to decide if I want to knacker linux support on one of them and lose a node (ok this is a home node of 2 but, believe it or not ,some people like to tinker)

      or lose online play...

      So it's not like it's an additional feature they are adding, they are removing features I would deem critical to the function of a PS3 as a games console if you don't patch, and removing linux if you do.

      Now dedicated supercomputing clusters don't need to worry about this, but hobbyist like me on our own budget do.

      Linux on the PS3 is gimped this is true, I would say it would not be primarily the lack of GPU access that is most annoying, gimping 3d/multimedia, although it is annoying......

      but rather, the lack of real memory from a computational point of view, as I mainly use it to get at the cell, not the RSX. Nevertheless you can work with slightly under 256 megs, if you work smart. Pare everything down etc... My PS3 boots REALLY fast, albeit into runlevel 3.

      The main thing that attracted me about the PS3 is its asymmetric processing but I guess, at the moment, I'll just have to consider that the future likes in x86 (bleeach) / GPUs (interesting) at least for the casual hobbyist.

    3. Raspy32


      What's optional about it? If you don't perform the update then your console is effectively crippled assuming you use it for anything other than single-player games.

      It's not that I give a toss about the Linux functionality as to be honest there are much better (and cheaper) systems to run it on - take the Asus Revo for example which even has HDMI making it a perfect solution for a media centre. I just take exception to you calling it an optional update when essentially they make it perfectly clear that your console will be left next to useless if you don't apply it.

      Quite simply, I can understand why people who bought the console with the intention of using Linux would be annoyed by this.

  21. Adrian Jackson

    An e-mail from one Sony employee isn't a commitment.

    Publicising the console based on the feature, including it as a selling point in the documentation and claiming it as evidence of the power of the console, that's a commitment.

  22. Tom Fleming

    What else does it do?

    Unsure about this note. Does the firmware update do anything useful to the customer. The only item listed seems not-useful to the customer.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    a good thing about Sony...

    ... is that it makes Apple look like a company that embraces open systems...

  24. David Janda
    Thumb Down


    Pure and simple.

    Was going to do some development on it, well that's out of the window now.

    Fuck 'em!

  25. Anonymous Coward


    Microsoft regularly remove functionality from firmware updates, however it does not set the internet on fire like when Sony removed a obscure, underused and previously called "gimped" feature..

    The difference of course, is this is Sony, a foreign company, and the American press just love to hate foreign companies....

    1. Thomas Bottrill

      RE: BS

      "Microsoft regularly remove functionality from firmware updates, however it does not set the internet on fire like when Sony removed a obscure, underused and previously called "gimped" feature..

      The difference of course, is this is Sony, a foreign company, and the American press just love to hate foreign companies...."

      1) That was never a feature that was extensively advertised - the ability to run Linux on a PS3 was.

      2) Automatic XBLA downloading wasn't a feature in the original firmware. It was added at a later date. Linux on a PS3 was available in every single fat PS3 from launch.

  26. Paul 77


    I guess the thing to do is keep two hard drives - one for gaming, and one for playing with Linux. Still very unhappy with this. How can running Linux in a hypervisor be a security risk? Unless the hypervisor isn't a particularly good one...

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD



      The firmware is in flash. This is a firmware upgrade. There is no known way to revert to a prior firmware release, certainly swapping the HD will not do.

      Also, the HD linux partition is non-standard (possibly encrypted but I can't recall exactly..) if you think you can plug it in and read your linux partition on a typical PC to recovery your data, it won't work.

  27. Majid

    I guess its their security risk.

    Probably too hard to make DRM work so that you can't hack it by using your installed linux ;)

    So just lock it down, instead of trying to security it beyond obscurity.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about PS2 Compat?

    I heard awhile ago that one went with the other - does the removal of "install Other OS" also remove my ability to run my PS2 games? I did purchase the PS3 due to the backwards compatibility.

    Not that SSX Tricky EVER ran quite right (wish they'd update that for PS3)

  29. Daniel B.

    Really, REALLY frickin' mad!

    I have a PS3. I play games on it. I also use it as a testing lab because it is the only frickin' thing that lets me run Linux on something else than shitty x86 arch processors, and has an interesting enough arch to code for.

    This is one of the few times I wish I lived in the US, as I'd definitely start a class-action lawsuit against something like this!

    The feature was advertised, and it is even included in the PS3 manuals ... so removing it does fall under "bait and switch" legislation. Come on guys, sue 'em!

  30. asdf

    it only does everything (but linux and ....)

    >Does the firmware update do anything useful to the customer.

    Probably fixed the flaw that gimps the console every four years but the way Sony is going (losing money) they might not have to worry about a gaming division in four years. This is crap news but I mean what do expect of a company so greedy and with so few ethics they believe there is nothing wrong with loading rootkits on your computer? I mean they really believe they can tell you how to use their products (you think you own the PS3 haha, try lifetime lease unless Sony revokes) and pay through the nose for the privilege. Sony the company we grew up with and loved died the day they bought a movie studio. By the way f__k the Welsh for that greedy bastard Stringer (American too but you expect that).

  31. Anonymous Coward


    Clearly George Holtz is the one to blame in all of this. He let the genie out the bottle. No law in any country will not back Sony on this, they have to protect their hardware, their systems their networks.

    The feature is being removed because the community cannot act in a responsible manner. You stand a FAR better chance of suing George Holtz for losing your feature... Of course that's won't happen, as the media are making him out to be the hero in all of this....

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD



      Geohot was only doing what was the logically the next step, opening up the PS3 to run homebrew code. I would have done the EXACT same thing except I do not have his smarts, time nor dedication.

      If you buy a toy that doesn't quite work as you want it to, it is well within your rights to disassemble it, open it up and modify it as you see fit in my opinion.... You bought it. You break it, you own both pieces. Have the manufacturer come round and take away a crucial part from you just because you disassembled it, rendering it even less functional, does sound illegal doesn't it?

      This is all Sony's fault. Shun and boycott +/- sue, imho, events pan out as the main article describes.

  32. asdf

    EU only chance

    As much as I hate to say EU laws are the only way to fight this. American laws are way to big business friendly to waste the time. By the way blaming George Holtz for this is what the Sony astroturfers want us to do. Everything George is doing is morally correct so far because the fact is he is hacking HIS system. He is not trying to run software he doesn't own the right too. Sony is at fault because everyone else in the world has realized what a house of cards DRM is and how artificially trying to protect broken business models in the short term will only cause your business to fail in the long term. Look Sony your system has been largely unbreakable so far but how much profit are reaping these days? What you are in third place even behind lowly M$? Perhaps you should talk to Toyota about the folly of short term profits at the expense of long term customer satisfaction.

  33. asdf

    All your PS3 feature belong to us

    George Holtz himself sums it up best.

    "The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout it's life cycle. Software PS2 emulation, SACD playback, and OtherOS support are all just software switches you can flip. It's unbelievable you would go and flip one, not just on new boxes you are shipping, but on tens of millions already in the field.

    Again I'm sorry users. Sony, I expected more from you."

    1. Rattus Rattus

      re: "Sony, I expected more from you"

      Why did you expect more from Sony? They have been downright evil for a long time now. I decided long ago to never buy another Sony product ever again, because I knew they would try to fuck me over. I don't know why anyone buys Sony these days, they've proved over and over again they're not to be trusted.

  34. 1990 nerd

    makes me want to hack it even more now

    well I always hated Sony products in not being able to change and buy standard parts sd cards root kits etc.

    I would gues more people would proberly have a better go at breaking there PS3 and be able to run what you want and maybe even flash your own updates now that would be cool.

    xecuterPS3 :)

  35. Daniel B.

    If you want to....

    upvote this one:

    basically asking for sony to refrain from removing OtherOS.

  36. rdtsc

    Sony is trying to protect the AACS keys.

    Someone in a piracy-harboring nation might have already started a project.

    Why isn't there a red-pill option? Permanently remove all the content protection keys from the PS3 and make it a clean Linux box.

  37. Christian Berger

    Gamers will look forward to it

    Because that will finally mean there's gonna be modchips and pirated games for the PS3. Now Sony actually has people against them having a logic analyzer and knowing how to use it.

  38. mp17

    What happens to existing Linux partition

    Does anyone know what will happen to an existing Linux partition when the update is applied? Do we need to backup and format the drive to reclaim the space or will the update do this automatically?


    1. John Goodwin 4

      Exisiting LINUX partition

      I've just been on the phone to Sony CS in the UK, and the person I spoke to confirmed that the HDD partitions will remain exactly the same. This means that effectively you have lost 10Gb of space, just like me.

      I simply cannot believe Sony have removed a feature that was advertised on the box and at launch. It was one of the reasons I bought a PS3 (April 2007).

      Outrageous behaviour and I'm not sure that Sony are on a good legal footing on this one. I can either accept the update and play my games (80% online-based) or not install it and then use my PS3 as a very expensive LINUX system.

      Way to go Sony, pissing off those early adopters like myself.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    re: False sale?

    No, there is a clause in the documentation of your PS3, that says that feature and experience may change.

    Even if there wasn't, a lawsuit would never stand up, as the feature is being removed because the "community" as a whole broke it...

    Also, there is nothing forcing you to take the update, just don't expect to be able to connect to secure servers with a unsecure console if you don't.

    Sony are perfectly within their right to remove this, just like Microsoft were in their right when they removed features like download schedulers from NXE and forced people to take that...

    1. John Goodwin 4

      Total bollox mate

      So you'd have no problem with your car manufacturer removing the gearbox of your car because they deem it necessary? Looks like you'll be spending a lot of time at the side of the road.

      Don't expect to be able to connect? What poppycock and nonsense, my uninformed Anonymous Coward. I've already connected and have done so successfully using the Logan5 tool. PSN and multiplayer all working fine.

      And by the way, it's insecure - not unsecure, you twonk.

  40. tempemeaty

    All your products are belong to us said the corporations

    Time to stop buying products that the manufacturer can take control away from you with. They change the rules and do it these days.

  41. Muckydevil

    How do we fight this can we....

    I purchased my old PS£ especially to run Linux... now they are taking that right away!!!!

  42. Anonymous Coward


    Holtz is clearly and idiot PS2 emulation, SACD playback both relied on at least partially on hardware, which were removed because consumers whinged about the price of the PS3 initially.

    He is backtracking and trying to cover himself now, as it's clear he has opened himself up for being sued...

  43. MarkOne


    "I purchased my old PS£ especially to run Linux... "

    Then don't update.... It's not a hard concept to grasp. Nobody is forcing you to update.

    Don't however expect Sony to let your insecure platform to connect to secure PSN.... It's one or the other... TIME TO CHOOSE...

    However, as you said "especially to run Linux" it should be a no brainer decision for you (or do you want it all ways...).

    1. OldBiddie
      Thumb Down

      Not a choice

      Whether you chose to upgrade or not Sony is crippling the functionality of the machine you bought and paid good money for; the equivalent of, well, you can lose your left thumb or your right one. Either way you're still only going to be left with one thumb.

      It's not right, and for those saying, well I don't use it so it doesn't matter, you're completely missing the point.

      If Sony decide to remove DVD-R, Wifi, BluRay or Bluetooth support in the future due to "security" are you going to rollover and accept that as acceptable too?

  44. asdf


    >Holtz is clearly and idiot PS2 emulation, SACD playback both relied on at least partially on hardware, which were removed because consumers whinged about the price of the PS3 initially.

    >He is backtracking and trying to cover himself now, as it's clear he has opened himself up for being sued...

    Bullcrap. DRM will never work and just about every other company besides Sony has accepted this. At some point you have to allow your customers to see your content in plaintext or else they won't buy your stuff. You put something out there and say you can't do anything with YOUR hardware that we don't approve of and guess what, someone will. Holtzs only mistake was being so public about it. Also don't quote the DMCA as it is obviously unconstitutional and doesn't apply outside USA Inc.

  45. asdf

    whats really going on

    As has been stated elsewhere the only reason Sony even bothered with the OtherOS option was because they were trying to get the lower tariffs for computers as opposed to consumer electronics in many countries. After this ruse failed they have had zero interest in maintaining this feature. Makes sense because since when has Sony shown any interest in letting you use their hardware however YOU want. Kinda sad that the only next generation console that is really open to homebrew and still being able to play games online is the WII (token DRM protection but easily defeated).

  46. Woof

    I was getting bored with the PS3

    It is a simple fact that I really don't use our PS3 much any more -- it is getting rather old in the tooth as a gaming platform and I really prefer using wasd+mouse over that annoying controller.

    The only reason I have a PS3 at all is that I had a severe motorbike accident a while ago and during my recovery, my PC broke and being in a wheelchair I could not repair it so I got the PS3 to play games on; but now that I have recovered, the turn-key aspect of a game console is no longer quite so appealing to me.

    If I do use our PS3, it is as a Linux box but even this I rarely exercise in favor of Linux on my PC (which is much faster). My wife still uses the PS3 to play DVD's but not Blu-Rays because the old titles that she likes work well on DVD's so again Linux (which she uses too) is just fine for that.

    I enjoy tinkering with gaming hardware as much as I enjoy playing the games. But it is just too much work to consider doing very much with the PS3 (e.g., you can't just put in a new graphics device). So despite the hack, at this point it is irrelevant as I am back to PC gaming. Maybe PC gaming will go away (very possible) or maybe I will eventually become bored with PC gaming. In either outcome it does not matter there are plenty of other toys.

    So in net, our PS3 is becoming superflouos. When it eventually fails, I will remove the hard disk and discard it and say good bye to Sony. It was a decent romp while it lasted.

  47. MarkOne


    Sounds like you got a brain injury in that bike crash too..

    As for this "news". it seems like nobody cares...

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone this PS3 mine or not?

    I've got Linux installed. I upgraded the HD especailly years back. Was disappointed about it's performance, but still, as a geek, was fun to do. Still like to geek that fact out that I have Linux on my PS3 to non-geeks..In fact, my m8's thought of me when they read the news :-)

    Haven't booted up using it for over a year, probably won't (think about it like an ex-girlfriend kinda thing - nice to have known)...but the important thing is that it's something I have invested time and money in, in a product I thought was mine.

    Now...I could be wrong, but removing this feature is changing a feature of the product...isn't that a misrepresentation of goods problem? Let alone the whole known idea that where does ownership of a product be fully mine and partially the manafacturers?

    Silly analogy:

    I bought a pair of jeans coz I liked the cut...designers decided they don't think the cut is representative of their new image - they change the cut of my jeans

    ..."but I didn't buy those jeans"

    ..".well, you're making us look bad"

    ..."but you sold them to me like that"

    ...".sorry (optional apology!) kid, you don't have a choice"

    ..."ok, well..I'll be buying jeans from another designer next time."


    doesn't seem right does it?

    The install isn't really optional. It's only optional because I have to manually do it. If Sony could auto-update legally, they would have done.

    Get in the crammed car with no space for your luggage or walk the next 30 miles in the rain?

    Thanks...ya f*cker

    I'm all up for a Facebook Group on this...anyone know one going? The consumer act must cover this somehow

    Don't give me candy then tell me it's bad and take it away. You'll make me cry and I'll hate you and you'll be that "meany" everyone dislikes

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