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PlayStation 3 Linux axed over "security concerns"

Mon 29 Mar 2010 7:40am GMT / 3:40am EDT / 12:40am PDT
HardwarePublishing

Sony disables Other OS option in wake of recent hack; any PS3's not upgraded will lose significant features

Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony Computer Entertainment is a Japanese videogame company specialising in a variety of areas in the...

playstation.com

Sony Computer Entertainment has said that the latest firmware upgrade will disable the Install Other OS feature of the PlayStation 3, meaning those that upgrade will be unable to run Linux on the home console.

Dropping support for Linux is down to "security concerns" according to Sony. Last month, notorious hacker George Hotz released an exploit for the console, allowing read/write access to the PlayStation 3 via Other OS and Linux.

The PS3 Firmware 3.21 will be released this Thursday, and although users are not forced to upgrade, the console will be unable to access the PlayStation Network and play any games or movies that will take advantage of the new firmware, as well as miss out on future upgrades and features.

The Other OS feature was dropped from the newer PlayStation 3 model by default when it was released last year.

Although no figures are available on how many PS3 users have installed Linux on the PlayStation 3 and Sony indicates that it's only a small percentage predictably the official PlayStation blog is being swamped with complaints and disappointment.

According to Eurogamer's Digital Foundry blog, the move is a "pre-emptive strike" against the possibility of the hardware running cracked games in the future.

"In taking such a measure to counter the hack, the logical conclusion is that Sony wants to the limit overall number of PS3s out there potentially capable of running copied games - an extraordinary pre-emptive strike against the possibility of piracy," wrote Richard Leadbetter.

Sony warned that any users that currently run Linux on the console should back-up valuable data on the Other OS partition of the hard drive, as once upgraded to firmware 3.21 they "will not be able to access that data following the update."

19 Comments

Ben Furneaux
Lead Designer

113 35 0.3
Their security, or ours? I'm guessing it's the former...

Posted:4 years ago

#1

Pedro Engana
Studying Information Systems and Computer Engineering

15 0 0.0
The ps3 has remained more or less hack free since it was launched. It's understandeable that sony wants to keep it that way

Posted:4 years ago

#2

Robin Segitz

11 0 0.0
Weak move, I think...

well I cannot use it anyways, since I upgraded (or downgraded?) to the Slim last year, but still, Sony heavily advertised the option to use Linux on the PS3 to learn CELL programming. And now, they take it away just like that. For people that only use it for Linux it doesn't matter anyways, but as I do game, it would matter to me too.

Posted:4 years ago

#3
If Sony want's to keep the PS3 hack free why do they remove a feature and (in my opinion) provoke the community to find a hack which allows you to install an other OS while still having the full PS3 functionality? And I'm pretty sure it's just a matter of time until this will happen.

Posted:4 years ago

#4

Christopher Bowen
Owner, Gaming Bus

118 0 0.0
Their security, or ours?

Theirs, of course. That's kinda common sense. It's not like PS3s are being taken over as if they were IE-running Windows machines, so "our" security is irrelevant in this case. We're "secure".

On the one hand, this was a selling point for the PS3, much like backwards compatibility, and it sucks to see it go away. On the other hand, this affects maybe eight people, all of whom are likely the foaming-at-the-mouth type of Linux nerds that run BSD just to say that they can. Translation: nothing to see here, moving on.

Posted:4 years ago

#5

Jarl Ostensen
Director, Global Online Developer Relations, Europe

3 0 0.0
This presumably means that low cost ps3 clusters are no longer available either, unless Sony does a special "computing center" version...

Posted:4 years ago

#6

Ricky Hodgson
Studying BA (Hons) Computer Games and Visual Effects

27 0 0.0
@Jarl

Playstations with the OtherOS feature are no longer in production so this is not possible in the first place.

Posted:4 years ago

#7

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

929 150 0.2
This will only encourage others to try and hack the PS3, way to make some big news out of this.

Posted:4 years ago

#8

Joe Martin
Journalism

27 0 0.0
I was surprised it was even there to start with.

Posted:4 years ago

#9

Philipp Nassau
Student - Business Administration (M. Sc.)

51 18 0.4
- does affect an extremely limited number of Linux users
- does not change the pirating-situation, to my knowledge noone has found a way to get the CPU-Keys out yet and Bluray burners und discs are too costly to make it worthwhile anyway

conclusion: probably unnecessary but still irrelevant to 99% of the userbase

Posted:4 years ago

#10

David Spender
Lead Programmer

127 51 0.4
Is it just me or is there a snowball of rights-trashing going on recently when it comes to video games. The consumer has been getting a beat down in the last few months. I'm just not sure its really in companies' best long term interest to keep pissing off their customer bases like this. Removing Linux may seem like a small thing by itself but adding it to all the crap being dumped on the average user... this is gonna blow up at some point.

Oh and if the reason for removing Linux is to stop hack attempts, when the PS3 is hacked using a different method will they allow it again? :P Maybe they will just turn off the ability of the PS3 to play movies or games that will stop those pesky hackers.

Posted:4 years ago

#11

Fred Skoler
Business Strategy, Design, Executive Producer

11 0 0.0
Alternative uses for console squashed. Fewer options for innovative devs. Sorry to see this happen.

Posted:4 years ago

#12
its better of this way! geohtz did this through linux to make a write read option.

Posted:4 years ago

#13

David Amirian
Writer

59 3 0.1
im sure there is still some version of the ps3 os that allows for "other os" -- it would just only be on certain ps3s, not consumer ps3s anymore.

i wonder if people would gripe this much if they took away the printer option from the ps3. I bet that sees about as much use as Other OS.

Posted:4 years ago

#14

Andrew Jakobs
Lead Programmer

209 74 0.4
This ofcourse is a slap in the face for consumers who also bought the PS3 with the OtherOS as a feature. I was using the OtherOS for learning to develop, playing with emulators, playing with scummvm and surf as you can use a much better browser as that buggy XMB version.
Also removing it doesn't do anything against piracy as those people will just continue using the older firmware to find the holes. Also the current hack requires as hardware alteration which is very risky.. All they do by removing the option is intensify the hacking..

Oh, and this is also a big concern ofcourse, what if someone in your family accidently updates (or someone who doesn't know the option is being removed? there is no way to downgrade the firmware so you lost all your data..

Posted:4 years ago

#15

Chris Kay
Senior Level Designer

14 0 0.0
Release, Thursday, April the 1st... ;)

Posted:4 years ago

#16

Jayke Walker

8 0 0.0
Jarl, that has been the case since the PS3 Phat was killed off in favor of the slim, That said, groups that use PS3's for supercomputing don't play games on them or update the firmware, so they are unaffected.

Posted:4 years ago

#17

Private
Industry

1,187 185 0.2
Looks like Hotz wants now to make a costume firmware, someone correct me if I`m wrong but he has still no access to the closed off part where the firmware is installed (and other parts) right? Wouldn`t that make it kind of difficult to make a fully working costume firmware without having proper access to all the different parts of the system?

Posted:4 years ago

#18

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

632 223 0.4
There are other platforms where its easier to pirate, and larger selection of games. May there was not much interest in breaking the protection so far ?

Posted:4 years ago

#19

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