PlayStation 3 Linux axed over "security concerns"

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

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."

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Latest comments (19)

Ben Furneaux Principal Designer 12 years ago
Their security, or ours? I'm guessing it's the former...
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Pedro Engana Studying Information Systems and Computer Engineering, Technical University of Lisbon12 years ago
The ps3 has remained more or less hack free since it was launched. It's understandeable that sony wants to keep it that way
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Robin Segitz12 years ago
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.
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Show all comments (19)
Martin Jungkunz Localization QA, Activision Blizzard Ireland12 years ago
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.
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Christopher Bowen Owner, Gaming Bus 12 years ago
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.
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Jarl Ostensen Director, Global Online Developer Relations, Europe, Electronic Arts12 years ago
This presumably means that low cost ps3 clusters are no longer available either, unless Sony does a special "computing center" version...
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Ricky Hodgson Studying BA (Hons) Computer Games and Visual Effects, Anglia Ruskin University12 years ago

Playstations with the OtherOS feature are no longer in production so this is not possible in the first place.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 12 years ago
This will only encourage others to try and hack the PS3, way to make some big news out of this.
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Joe Martin Journalism 12 years ago
I was surprised it was even there to start with.
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Philipp Nassau Student - Business Administration (M. Sc.) 12 years ago
- 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
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David Spender Lead Programmer 12 years ago
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.

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Fred Skoler Business Strategy, Design, Engagement, Sweepstakes, Contests, Executive Producer 12 years ago
Alternative uses for console squashed. Fewer options for innovative devs. Sorry to see this happen.
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Sotiri Dimpinoudis Manager, Media Networks12 years ago
its better of this way! geohtz did this through linux to make a write read option.
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David Amirian Writer 12 years ago
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.
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 12 years ago
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..
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Chris Kay Senior Level Designer, Crytek12 years ago
Release, Thursday, April the 1st... ;)
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Jayke Walker12 years ago
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.
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Private Industry 12 years ago
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?
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 12 years ago
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 ?
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