Sony: “No More Linux for the PS3, You Dirty Pirates!”

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Sony has announced that it will be removing the ability to install Linux on all PS3s in an upcoming firmware update, in what is thought to be a move to stymy efforts at cracking the console.

The feature, much touted at the PS3’s initial launch, was already quietly removed from the PS3 Slim, and will in future no longer be available for older “fat” PS3s.

Users can choose not to upgrade, though this prevents them from using later games and so is essentially a non-option.

The official 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.

In addition, disabling the “Other OS” feature will help ensure that PS3 owners will continue to have access to the broad range of gaming and entertainment content from SCE and its content partners on a more secure system.

Consumers and organizations that currently use the “Other OS” feature can choose not to upgrade their PS3 systems, although the following features will no longer be available;

• Ability to sign in to PlayStation Network and use network features that require signing in to PlayStation Network, such as online features of PS3 games and chat

• Playback of PS3 software titles or Blu-ray Disc videos that require PS3 system software version 3.21 or later

• Playback of copyright-protected videos that are stored on a media server (when DTCP-IP is enabled under Settings)

• Use of new features and improvements that are available on PS3 system software 3.21 or later

With Microsoft making next to no effort to keep its console free of piracy, and with what efforts it does take generally resulting in banned users being forced to buy new units, it seems two diametrically opposed strategies are at work.

Sony is successfully exerting total control through technological means, whilst Microsoft is so blasé about piracy that observers could be forgiven for thinking it is using the easy availability of free games on the system as a marketing tool, a strategy it seems to employ in maintaining the dominance of Windows as well.

Nintendo meanwhile is suing everyone it can lay hands on in an effort to stamp out widespread piracy on its consoles.

Just which strategy is most effective remains to be seen – it does at least appear that the prospect of no piracy on the PS3 has so far not stopped most publishers ensuring top games are multiplatform, and so effectively free on at least one.

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123 Comments

  • Barbarian of Gor says:

    They are killing a market because they are so afraid of hackers.

    A small part of their market is, believe it or not, “Homebrew SuperComputers”. This shouldn’t be a surprise since the X-Box system itself was made to help cover the costs of making a Petaflop system.

    There are now even many commercial software applications that use multi-processors and do a “LAN Distribution” application, using multiple computers in a network. Most notably, 3D software like Bryce, Poser, Carerra, Maya… Linux, being a descendant of Unix, is very multi-processor friendly.

    For $3000, you can get ten ready to go PS3 systems that if you “Linux” them, form a blazing hot network that if you go to the “Super Computer” makers you’ll be told is $30K just to stick your nose in the door.

    Frankly, though, I’m not crying or moaning. They are stupid and will pay for that stupidity. They close off a market that could have opened other doors and kept a ‘baseline’ customer base to keep the system alive long after it’s obsolete. All this because they fear the “Damage” that they think hackers do.

    The “earlier” option is just to swoop down and grab “Obsolete” computers from the dumpster, Linux them, and have a noisy pile of boxes. Ugly and power wasting, but when you need the power…

    Also, “Plug Computers” are coming into the market at $100 each for the “Cloud” thing, and those are almost designed to attract 3D batch render junkies.

    So, it’s really sad. Are the hackers doing THAT much damage, or is it an “RIAA Lawyer” crime where they think every single copy, real or imagined, is a “Lost Sale” and totally dis-count any “Side value” like “Free Advertising”…

    I’ve got the “Perfect Hack” of any “Copy-Protection System” designed to keep people from “Stealing” their stuff; “Buy no game system under a year old, focus on obsolete.” For a fraction of the price, I get the system and tons of peripherals and games.

    Circus Maximus for the X-Box at $400 for the thing and $60 for the game…GAH! Buyer’s remorse city! Several years later, $40 for the system, $5 for the game, awesome!!!

    The way around my “Hack” is to make the system usable in other ways. A supplement to a computer system is a nice touch. They should encourage personalization and modification of the systems, picking the cream of the crop for “Official” upgrades.

    • I’m pretty sure the people building Linux clusters from their PS3s have no need to connect to PSN or play games, and thus no need to update, making your post irrelevant.

      I am sorry you wrote all those words for nothing.

      • Barbarian of Gor says:

        Some might be playing games on them. Not all “Render Farms” esp. at that price are on 24/7. Also, might the thing not update itself and “Accidentally” kill that function?

        And, though the news is going like wildfire through the gaming community, what if someone buys a bunch (saving up their money…) only to find out they’d been ‘botomized?

        Frankly, would you please FOAD, I think you are only sniping cause you dislike me, so are looking for something insulting to say.

  • ChaosAngelZero says:

    @ Everyone who actually uses a PlayStation 3 videogame console as a goddamn GNU/Linux station: you’re supposed to hit nails with a hammer, not with your fuckin’ HEAD!!

    Both a desktop Asus Eee Box EB1006-B-111-5002 and an Acer Aspire One AO532h-2223 netbook go for the same $300 (on Newegg.com) as your utterly useless “phat” PS3’s, and actually can run a MUCH wider variety of distributions than the Sony Blu-ray movie player ever will. Now, please, pretty please, stop spewing retarded nonsense left and right and shut the fuck up. kthx

      • ChaosAngelZero says:

        I understand where you’re coming from, but if you actually thought about this as a serious alternative to an actual PC (especially one with a GUI-based OS and with the processing power for, I don’t know, running GIMP or something), well… you were wrong all along.

  • It just struck me that by pirating Windows all my life (well, almost, since I cathed a blink of that time when DOS was still around) I actually help them. Good to know I’m not all that bad.

  • My god, all you *NIX nerds with ePenises to go around.

    The motive here is not Piracy, It’s profitability.

    I suggest you have a look at Sony’s Zego Platform.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zego

    And google on the “Sony BCU-100”.

    Why would Sony want people that need to do serious business buy PS3’s when you can sell them a pro-grade 1U Cell proc based server at a premium to run an “OTHER OS” on.

    PS3 allowing “Other OS” was just a trojan horse to cheaply get people hooked on Cell Development while the costs we’re still crazy high.

    Regards,

    Informed Anonymous

    • @ Anon 16:12 :

      There aren’t going to be any more large-scale computing clusters based on PS/3, because you can only get phat PS/3s on the used market; there won’t be enough of them, and they’ll have no warranties.

      According to the ZEGO wiki article you pointed us to,

      “As of August 2009 the device appears to have been discontinued. Searches on Sony.com and pro.Sony.com for either Zego or bcu-100 return nothing but the year-old press release claiming the product would ship within a few months.”

      So ZEGO is either dead or was vaporware to begin with.

      You can’t — and Sony can’t — sanely justify killing off the PS/3’s “OtherOS” feature to favor Sony’s “commercial” supercomputing products, because they have none.

      And, even if they did, what (non-masochistic) fool is going to buy from a company with a proven track record of fucking over their customers?

  • This is fake. Why the hell would $ony release an update on Thursday when they usually release them on Tuesdays?

    Why would this ‘announcement’ say JST rather then US time or EU time?

    If this turns out to be true, then $ony can go fuck themselves and I’m selling my PS3. What’ll they remove next? The ability to play games? DVD playback? The picture viewer?

    First they remove PS2 BC, now this.

    PS3: It only does nothing.

  • I actually see this being a major issue with universities and similar institutes that have bought many ps3’s to solve problems ect that might be running on home brewed programs that sony has nothing to do with. Maybe they will offering these institutes special solutions?

    • Japanese Butt Toucher says:

      Except universities use them as computers and NOT for gaming. They most likely don’t update either and these machines are always on linux. So they either won’t notice or won’t care. Try again please.

  • Meh. What really sucks is how they basically promised this wouldn’t happen when the slims launched, and now here we are.

    From a practical standpoint… you can get vastly better Linux distros running on vastly better hardware than the access they allow “Other OS” to have to the PS3. Researchers making PS3 clusters won’t update and won’t care, and gamers seem to rarely use the option. Sucks for some that they can’t run emulators on their PS3 anymore, but… who can afford a PS3 and ONLY a PS3, not even a PC?

    So yeah, that doesn’t justify it, and they’re assholes to double-cross like that, but… does it really matter, just this time? It’s not like they’re pulling PS2 BC again. The PS3 just got owned in a practical, actual way, and so now they’re pulling the plug on something maybe 2% of users ever touched to limit the damages and keep what has to be the longest uncracked run of any disc-based console going.

  • Philosopher says:

    Actually, Microsoft did go so far as to ban people’s XBOX Live accounts permanently if a pirated game was detected while playing. They do it manually in waves so if you were unlucky enough, your account was screwed.

    Don’t know if they’re still doing it or which games they’re watching. Don’t have a 360 so obviously I don’t pay attention.

  • Let’s hope they don’t brick their systems like Nintendo (and get legit non-hacked systems in the process.)

    It sucks. It won’t effect me now that I quit using Linux on my PS3 a long time ago.

    Sorry geeks 🙁 Corporatism rained on your parade 🙁

    • @ Anon 09:51 :

      Dual-boot PS/3 user here… running Ubuntu on PS/3 is kinda slow, but it’s great when you’re working on your x86 PC and need Internet access for patch files, PDFs, KB articles… which you can’t do from your x86 PC, because it’s currently BROKEN! (“It takes a computer to fix a computer.”)

      This removal of features with a software update shows the consumer’s risk of using things like Blu-ray.

      Damned if you do:
      Take the update required for the new stuff to work and some/all of your previously-purchased games, movies, and songs no longer work.

      Damned if you don’t:
      Refuse the update so that all of your previously-purchased stuff continues to work, and give up on getting the new stuff to work…

      … and pray some goofball “friend” or ignorant little sister doesn’t click “Network Update” and screw the console.

      Sony: “Hey, buy our cool new car! You can run it on gas or diesel, and switch back and forth whenever you like!”

      (you buy their car, then later on…)

      Sony: “For security reasons, we’re disabling the ‘diesel’ feature by default. You can keep the ‘diesel’ feature if you want, but if you do, the stereo, windshield wipers, and headlights will no longer work. Thanks for your support!”

  • And nothing of value was lost.

    Seriously, I know not a single person who installed Linux on their PStripple.

    The people who did are like the scant 1% of the entire buyer base. It was useless as all hell.

    • Yeah, but what about developers curious to learn more about coding for cell? Can’t get that on a PC now can you? Or what about those interested in specifically writing apps for the ps3? If you’re not a dev, you wouldn’t understand anyway.

      So fuck off. lol

      • Yeah. I bought PS3 to play around with cell… 2 weeks ago. And now this. Lack of update will make me unable to pay online, and my 2nd reason to buy PS3 was to stop paying MS for Live. At first I hated how limited PSN was compared to Live, but it’s not bad once one accepts different logic to everything. Still it’s worse. But free.

        Anyway, now I have to choose online(fun) or cell(education). Obviously I’ll choose fun. But I will feel cheated by Sony and I will sure remember it when next generation comes over.

  • “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.”
    – SCE management

    Yeah…

  • Meh.

    It’s not a total screw job. Sony has legitimate fears that a Linux-based source of piracy might arise. The simple and obvious solution to end the piracy is to cut the middleman and disable Linux for future updates. People using the PS3 for a juggernaut of computing will not be harmed, since those aren’t being used for gaming.

    Look, if you had a PS3 with the option in the first place, either you stole it or you have enough disposable income that you can afford to buy a computer. The system is for games and Blu-Ray, with the ability to install an OS being a tiny fraction of the “draw”.

    Though one wonders why they’re worried about piracy in the first place. With scant few exceptions, nobody has the sort of bandwidth which would make downloading games to pirate them feasible. I’m Canadian, and two PS3 games at 40 GB a piece would put me over my total monthly internet bandwidth. It’s a similar thing for why Blu-Ray movies aren’t getting pirated too much… It just takes too fucking long to download unless you’re shelling out boatloads of cash for a fat connection.

  • Big “Fuck you” to those who bought the console exactly because of this feature. Ripping customers off just once is no longer fashionable.

    Where’s a bait-and-switch lawsuit when you need one?

  • I would much rather have a company remove problematic users than problematic features. Nintendo and Microsoft may have more piracy, but for the most part their methods don’t go after non-pirates.

    • Microsoft? The same Microsoft that forces WGA down your throat? The same Microsoft which wants to disable your computer if it thinks your software is pirated? The same Microsoft which disabled millions of home user machines because of a software screw up?

      • i loled.

        Meh no effect on me since i just play it for the few games i have. mgs 4, bio 1 n 2, lbp, and resistance 2. i will be getting gow 3 soon too so 6 game library ftw. maybe ff XIII

  • Then there’s the Wii, which is 100% a homebrew console with patches that get hacked within a day. Seriously, Nintendo doesn’t even bother trying. They even have official notes reminding homebrewers not to update officially in case of patch incompatibility.

  • There are enough worthwhile free games out there, why would I feel the need to buy a stupid console to waste my time on games I had to pay for? There are so many anime to watch and manga, light/visual novels to read, why should I bother wasting time/money on silly game consoles? (Besides, it’s difficult as hell to tell which games are any good, so why bother in the first place.)

      • To take something on the net don’t make you a pirate, this is people who put on it who are the truly, damn some mentality make me mad °’o’°
        Ho shit i lost my sense of humor for a sec. ^^

        • Anonymous says:

          @Anon from 08:25 30/03/2010

          Pointless request is pointless. A pirate won’t buy blindly, only the things he really enjoys. And if he wasn’t there, well,.. who isn’t there in the first place can’t buy stuff. Just treat pirates as nonexisting fans spreading the word of anime over the world.

        • No, on the web he’s called Anonymous. Geez, what a coincidence, that’s your name too. It’s a pretty common one around here, I guess. Doesn’t makes him any less awesome for sharing his stuff with me, though.

          On a side note, I think it was a mistake to establish the word pirate. (In case people who don’t like them invented it. Ohterwise it was pure win.) Pirate just has this romantic feel about it. What do you wanna be; a mere customer or a… pirate. Yeah, rhetorical question. Anyway, the glorification of people who do or did things they shouldn’t isn’t that new (war hero) and now it’s too late anyway. Not that this has anything to do with me and my generous friend…

  • Anyway I have tryed instaling linux on PS3 and it wasnt that great. Ps3 has 7 cores. cpu And 1 GPU. Linux can use those 6 cpu cores. but the GPU core is Nvidia and is protected very well so basicaly all the linux that are avalable for PS3 run on it without full graphical suport ( the xwindow sistem and xorg runs, but it cannot use the full hardware aceleration.) so basicaly if they are removing the option to instal other OS. It wont make much diference… All you could do with linux on PS# is browse the internet. No youtube, no hi quality videos , and defenatly no hi lvl games ( exept tuxmines, tuxwrite and othe crapy games that run on pentum 1)

    • I have used the PS3 as my only PC for a good time.
      Granted, you can’t run graphically intensive apps, but I usually don’t, so that was not a problem. I could do most of the things I did with my Windows x86 PC, including full Internet browsing, messaging and watching videos.
      It was truly a lifesaver while I fixed my other PC and I still use it, mostly for playing PAL DVD movies. I will really miss this feature… in fact, I’ll probably refrain from updating until something really requires it or some way of hacking it back is found.

  • Could be an April Fools joke. Notice that the firmware is updated from FW 3.15 to FW 3.21.

    Or Firmware 3..2..1…

    Well i hope it is just a clever surprise. Even though i never used the OtherOS option or would i ever in the future.

    And in other news Geohot responded saying…

    “A note to people interested in the exploit and retaining OtherOS support, DO NOT UPDATE. When 3.21 comes out, I will look into a safe way of updating to retain OtherOS support, perhaps something like Hellcat’s Recovery Flasher. I never intended to touch CFW, but if that’s how you want to play…”

    What a douhe! Its because of him this is happening in the first place.

  • Seeing as I only installed linux on my console for lulz and then deleted it to make space for my other media…

    Effect on me? Nil.

    Future prospect of playing PS2 games on my PS3? Wait I already am.

    However I AM interested in that little dreamcast tidbit from a while back, it’d be kinda fun to play sonic adventures ala PS3

  • “Use of new features and improvements that are available on PS3 system software 3.21 or later” could this be a hint to a ps2 patch being released soon or does the ps3 get more channels to watch instead of only abc

        • kajunbowser says:

          It already has, but not completely, in the sense that emulating and overriding NAND gates was done after more than 2 years.

          I can’t understand their haet for Linux. At least the architecture didn’t allow Windows on the PS3. Linux (and UNIX included) just shows off it’s power, except for the poor excuse of a RAM cache.

    • Who cares, honestly? If you wanna play mommy’s little computer genius in your parents basement *buy a computer and install linux*. The PS3 was a lousy platform for anything productive – outside of research fields that had spent effort writing Cell optimized code. What they’ll do, I dunno. Not update? Thats a shitty solution. But for all the whiney weaboo commenters here who will tout their PS3 hatred shortly, its not an issue.

      As far as the PS3 being hacked, it wasn’t, though it was a start. That Geohotz mouth piece is typical of this younger generation of ‘hackers’. They stand on the shoulders of giants and take all the glory (and heat). His iPhone efforts were much the same, he himself actually did *very little* of the heavy lifting. But whatever, in my day crackers were rather not seen or heard, kids these days are just retarded attention whores.

      Get off my lawn etc.

      • lol seriously. you had to laugh. i like the “get off my lawn ending”. lets not talk wat the ps3 is losing, lets talk about wat its gaining. i wonder wat the new update will have. i hope its big 🙂

      • I happen to like Linux. What’s your problem?

        You come here, guns blazing and barging about your 1337 skills and then you tell other people to “get off your lawn”? If I’ve ever seen hypocrisy, this is it.

        I don’t suppose you happen to have invented any major cracking methodology? If not, you don’t have the slightest right to tell people not to use them. And if you do, then you should have kept your secrets to yourself, old timer.

        • Anonymous says:

          Have anyone considered the possibility of distributing open source content designed for the cell platform?

          Discussing about rearranging memory stacks or kill a pointer is nonsense. Is about money. It has so many implications as an open platform that Sony couldn’t let it be, for its own sake.

        • @ Imyou 13:35 :

          You mentioned MAPPER — Burroughs MAPPER, right?! I know a woman younger(!) than me who writes MAPPER for a major sportswear manufacturer. She once showed me some of her code, and I got the *general* idea, but it’s not something I know the syntax for.

          But to the main point — don’t be hasty to blame the languages, or even the programmers.

          It’s easy to say, “gah dam th3m l4zy fu|<rz thatz pure crap kode!!", but you have to consider the conditions and constraints under which it was specified and developed.

          The wonderful "modern" languages with features that could be used to prevent buffer overflow attacks come with a code-size and speed penalty.

          Consoles necessarily have limited memory.
          Games *have* to meet certain speed targets to succeed.

          Manager Rob says, "Code Monkey, I don't care how you do it, but make that input routine so it doesn't drop any of a user's buttonpresses, and uses no more than 3% CPU time, and get it done by Friday morning, or you're fired!"

          Code Monkey goes back to his/her cubicle and starts savagely hacking on the input routine, destroying the previously-clear code structure. When Code Monkey is done, it *looks* like a piece of crap. But, it:

          * is finished on Thursday afternoon;
          * doesn't drop any buttonpresses;
          * uses less than 3% CPU time; and,
          * is vulnerable to buffer overflows, under certain circumstances.

          Manager Rob got what he asked for, and Code Monkey continues to have a miserable, but paying, job.

        • You’d think after 40 years, people will finally learn to use C++ container classes instead of memory buffers. Anon above is right through. The most common example of security exploits are web related attacks, if only because they are easier and more profitable. And because most web developers suck.

          Never the less, “hacking” doesn’t only mean security exploits. Altering a console’s behaviour through various modifications (hardware or software) in a way that allows one to debug the CPU(s) is a prime example of hacking. But so is altering an existing program’s source code.

          Anon, Imyou, how could you forget to include WHITESPACE. Seriously through, it doesn’t matter how old languge it is, so long as it’s useful. 80386 assembly is almost as old, and people still sometimes write C functions in it. The language may be old, but I’d still rather use C++ than some of the “modern” languages (namely PHP).

          p.s.
          Don’t be in a hurry to dig a grave for C/C++. They are not going anywhere in the next few decades.
          There are many situations in which you need maximum performance regardless of development costs. Scientific software, mainframe code, embedded devices, games, interpreters for your precious .NET or Java and a lot more are all coded in them.

          p.p.s.
          This is getting too nerdy for Sankaku. I demand someone responds with “fap fap fap” to this!

        • No, I’m talking about game development, which is relevant to programming exploits on the PS3. C came into being in the early 70s, and C++ in the early 80s, about a year after the IBM PC.

          Nice extrapolation to include all languages you could brainstorm… no ADA, RPG or MAPPER? Anyway, I was talking specifically about the Cs and their ubiquity.

          Also, even if you look at the most recent pwn2own contest, you’ll find no shortage of buffer and heap overflow exploits for things like popular web browsers – somewhere I’d hope they’d be especially cautious and ready for such attacks. Aging image libraries are also a good weak point, like the LibTIFF exploit that allowed among other things, the arbitrary code execution exploit on the PSP-2000. More recently, a weakness has been found in a RAW image file handler in OS X, though I haven’t looked into it.

          Anyway, if most programming jobs have suddenly switched to new languages in the last 2 years, that’s a great sign, and a good start. I’m somewhat skeptical how much impact it will have however, if not applied to operating systems, firmware (same diff), and virtual machines though, where the “fun” attacks lie already.

        • I think your information is outdated. Most programming jobs that are not replacements for existing jobs are for “modern” programming languages – typically .NET, Java, or a web application in any of the numerous web scripting languages. The few new programs that are being made with C/C++ era languages are primarily for specialized work, driver development, or something else that requires very fast performance. One such example is a kernel and a hypervisor, which just so happen to be was the PS3 uses.

          As for the “dawn of desktop computing” languages comment, I’m not so sure BASIC/BASICA, VB for DOS, VB4, RPG and JCL, FORTRAN, COBOL, etc. are common nowadays. C/C++ became common well after the “dawn of desktop computing”. That said, any language can be secure if written properly – don’t blame the language for a flaw in the programmer’s logic. Newer languages do help, but programmers shouldn’t be relying on the language to protect their code from flaws.

          As for most exploits being buffer overflows, you clearly are not including web applications. The most commonly identified exploits when including all applications would very likely be SQL injection, XSS flaws, or other common web application security concern. I strictly follow exploits and don’t see many new flaws that affect programs built on old languages (except Windows itself and occasionally the linux kernel or common linux applications – sshd, apache, etc.).

        • How many people invent cracking methodologies, anyway? Most crap is still written in C or C++, so most exploits are still buffer overflows. I swear, that should be impossible in modern times, but we keep using programming languages from before/at the dawn of desktop computing.

      • TehBoringOne says:

        I already have two… But I don’t really like the idea of losing that functionality. I also use both PS3s as PCs.

        The possibility to install a Linux OS was one of the greatest reasons for me to get a PS3 back then and the main reason for me avoiding the Slim model.

        Can’t they keep the security up, without screwing users like me?

        • @ 8:47..
          Bitch, please. Windows is the biggest rip-off in the history of computers. Bill Gates ripped-off IBM by selling them licenses to DOS that he ripped-off of another guy for only around $20,000 (cant remember exactly).
          Steve Jobs was co-founder/ceo/president of Apple, the biggest computer manufacturer at the time. Microsoft was a local small-time business. When Apple made the Apple 2 with the milestone GUI, Bill Gates went to ‘work’ for Steve and stole company trade secrets. But due to Steve’s personal life issues, Bill was able to grab Apple by the balls and used underhanded tactics to indefinitely make them the #2 company. Only thing Apple has ever ripped? The mouse, because the inventors didn’t think it was worth selling.
          Don’t attempt to debate with just conjecture.

          @ 12:54.. correct. over 90% of company servers use Linux. OSX actually hosts more websites than MS. Ignorant-Anon only complains because either he’s never used Linux, or he tried and it wasn’t idiot-user-friendly enough for him (e.g. Windows).

        • Anonymous says:

          Please, linux is a worthless OS used by people that want to be anti microsoft.

          But it can’t even catch up with freaking apples piece of ship rip off OS, let alone Windows..

          Linux is improbable and will never replace windows, even apple…