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Operating Systems PlayStation (Games) Sony Games Linux

"Install Other OS" Feature Removed From the PS3 739

Posted by timothy
from the security-huh dept.
Hann1bal writes "The next system software update for the PlayStation 3 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." Updated 3:49 GMT by timothy: An anonymous reader writes "This comes as something of a surprise. Particularly because only a month ago Sony Computer Entertainment management seemed committed to the continued support of the Other OS option on the PS3."
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"Install Other OS" Feature Removed From the PS3

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  • Sorry kids (Score:5, Informative)

    by piripiri (1476949) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:40PM (#31652970) Journal
    It doesn't run linux anymore.
    • Re:Sorry kids (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:47PM (#31653022)

      I'm a flaming PS3 fanboy, I think the games on the PS3 are awesome and significantly better than the 360's, and I really love the full functionality of this machine.

      But this really has me seeing red.

      I've been using my PS3 for all kinds of shit. It's got firefox and open office and all kinds of productive capabilities. In linux, the Cell rips DVDs much faster than a conventional CPU can.

      I understand that the black hat community is actively trying to hack the PS3 because it's proven to be very well protected from pirates. I realize Sony is a business and they are simply trying to protect their rights. But this is removing functionality I paid for and own. Telling me this is my option, my choice, but I can no longer log into the Playstation network (which is required to play many games I downloaded for a fee... you have to be connected to their network or the game won't work... which I didn't know until I had a period without a connection) is no option at all.

      They are taking away something that belongs to me. I am really pissed that they couldn't figure out a better way to thwart hackers. Even their own version of Linux, some new version of YDL, that they control, would be better than completely taking away this feature.

      I sold my 360 after it was fixed from a RROD (I still play my SNES and don't need a gimp machine that can't last 20 years). I won't go back to xbox. But I am probably not going to go back to PS4 or PS5. Once this generation is over, I'm back to PC gaming. Fucking Sony. Once again, you've gone a little too far in fighting pirates. Like that root kit thing that was ages ago... people have a hard time forgetting that shit.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      it never failed to run linux. Sony just doesn't want to support it anymore.

      It'll still happen anyway, I'm sure.

      • Re:Sorry kids (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dgatwood (11270) on Monday March 29, 2010 @01:02AM (#31653776) Journal

        The funny thing about this is I actually saw a pile of PS3 boxes in Fry's yesterday and seriously considered buying one on impulse to run Linux as a MythTV front end, but my bad experiences with past Sony products held me back. Now I'm really glad I didn't pick one up. I would have returned it first thing tomorrow.

        Actually, what am I saying? I kind of wish I had bought one the other day so that I could have returned it tomorrow... stick it to the Man and all that.

    • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday March 29, 2010 @12:25AM (#31653590) Homepage Journal

      "It doesn't run linux anymore."

      Want to bet? I PAID FOR FUCKING OTHEROS - You take it from me and I WILL SUE YOUR ASS FOR THEFT OF SERVICES.

      • Re:Sorry kids (Score:5, Informative)

        by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday March 29, 2010 @12:27AM (#31653602) Homepage Journal

        By the way, for those of you wanting to join me in the class-action I'm gong to form - just look up Finkelstein and Thompson if you're in the state of CA - they helped me out with Spore and they'll most certainly come in handy for this nonsense NOW.

        100 Bush Street
        San Francisco, CA 94104-3954
        (415) 398-8700

        Ask for Mr. Punzalan.

        • Re:Sorry kids (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jimicus (737525) on Monday March 29, 2010 @05:03AM (#31654818)

          While I'm sure many will welcome you taking Sony to task, do you mind if I ask exactly how a $10 voucher against your next purchase of a Sony product will help you run Linux on your PS3?

          • by mliu (85608) on Monday March 29, 2010 @10:47AM (#31658088) Homepage

            I see this sentiment a lot whenever class action lawsuits are discussed, but as a lawyer that has absolutely nothing to do with class action lawsuits, I would like to point out that one of the biggest purposes of class action lawsuits that people normally overlook when complaining about them is the deterrence effect.

            Class action lawsuits are basically one of the most, if not the most, expensive form of litigation a company can endure. Even though due to the number of plaintiffs, in the end each person might only get a $10 gift card, the combined cost to the company of that are staggering.

            In this case, it would be taking Sony to task, and hopefully Sony would see the error of its ways and back down. Even if that is not the eventual outcome, it sends a message to all the other bad guys out there, if you engage in this type of shenanigans, you should think twice because it will cost you dearly.

            In a way, the lawyers who bring the suit are acting as private attorney generals, punishing wrong doing that may not rise to the criminal level, but affecting large swaths of the populace in a tortious fashion nonetheless. While no doubt the lawyers involve need to be incentivized to engage in this activity somehow, whether they should be rewarded as richly as they are for it currently is another issue entirely...

  • This is BS, I don't see this being a good PR move, Possibly might even fall into

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:44PM (#31653002)

      Have you ever seen Sony do a good PR move?

  • On April 1? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KiltedKnight (171132) * on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:41PM (#31652982) Homepage Journal
    Something sounds awfully fishy about this. If it's real, that's not exactly a day I'd want to release something like this.
  • It's not totally implausible that the feature allows some sort of exploit, but I can't seem to find anything about one actually existing, or it having come up in the past as a security concern. Is that just a cover to remove it, or are there actually security concerns?

    • by malloc (30902) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:48PM (#31653030)

      GeoHot's hack [blogspot.com] was obviously way easier to do because he had a powerful userspace to work from.

      Perhaps this is what's spooking Sony.

    • by Kitkoan (1719118) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:23PM (#31653258)

      It's not totally implausible that the feature allows some sort of exploit, but I can't seem to find anything about one actually existing, or it having come up in the past as a security concern. Is that just a cover to remove it, or are there actually security concerns?

      I think it's a huge security concern that Sony is trying to plug up without anyone noticing. Linux has access to all the hardware of the PS3 when it's the OS being ran (implementation isn't perfect yet though). Including it's blue ray disc reader that a lot of people don't normally have access to. This is how the Dreamcast was hacked even though it ran special 1 gig discs. People figured out how to hook the Dreamcast to a computer and make the Dreamcast become an external drive to read the discs and send them to the computer allowing everyone to pirate the games. Now we have the first signs of the PS3 being hacked, removing the Other OS feature removes one problem of Linux no longer being able to be used to install/flash the BIOS for the future cracked firmware (a la PSP style hacks), but it also removes the option of having the PS3 being turned into an external drive to read possible 'hidden' disc data that would only be read with PS3 firmware code.

  • Now might be a time for the folks @ ps2dev to be a bit less arrogant/worrisome and allow things to be opened up.

    While they do have some valid concerns, their excuses are wearing thin.

  • by gearloos (816828) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:54PM (#31653070)
    How can they sell something with a certain set of features and then just take it away? Thats like Ford saying we are disabling the air conditioners that were previously working on pre 2008 vehicles. WTF? I know, it didn't (doen't) really work all that well (slow) but I did run PowerPC Ubuntu on mine. This is more of an "eroding consumer rights" issue. Why now, considering the rootkit etc.. This just proves once again that Sony gives a rats ass about its customers rights.
    • by andydread (758754) on Monday March 29, 2010 @12:19AM (#31653552)

      As someone who used to buy exclusively Sony products this is just one more reason for me not to buy their products anymore. Lets recap shall we.

      They buy draconian laws from clueless congress critters? .. Check.
      They want to ban consumers from possessing devices with a record button? .. Check.
      They want to proprietize the marketplace with proprietary DRM infected media formats? .. Check
      They lobby lobby lobby for broadcast flags? .. Check.
      They lobby to close the analog loophole.
      They lie to politicians (about piracy killing profits) for more draconian laws while turning record profits ? .. Check.
      They want to disable you ability to record CDs on you computer with rootkits while lobbying for a piracy tax on blank media?
      They sue their customers ? .. yep
      They are pro DRM, ACTA, DMCA,
      Slapped red handed giving payola to radio station DJs to skew the song charts."
      Anti fair-use? .. yep
      And they support the view and by proxy have told Congress that countries that support open source software as part of a gov. procurement policy should be on a watch list.

      Hmmm did i miss anything? When I take all these things into account a disturbing pattern emerges hence, when it comes to their products I'll take a pass.

  • by Kagato (116051) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:55PM (#31653076)

    People finally got into the Hypervisor on the PS3. That's pretty much the key to everything from legitimate homebrew to illegitimate pirating. I don't see a way for Sony to secure things in Linux. The Genie is out of the bottle. So this is the option they have taken. It's sad to see even though I never used Linux on it, or know anyone who did. It was nice to know the option was there.

  • by straponego (521991) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @10:57PM (#31653086)
    Most tech products improve during their life cycle. Not Sony's. Emulation, Linux... every iteration removes one more feature. By the end of the year, they hope to have removed sound from the PS3, and a year from now the PS3 Omega will do nothing at all.
  • Backlash? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nukem996 (624036) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:04PM (#31653136)
    I bought my PS3 for two things, cell development and games. So to play games I need the latest firmware but the latest firmware makes it impossible for me to do cell development. This was an advertised feature when I bought it(a few months after launch) so I don't see how Sony can do this without facing a class action suite.
  • Best quote fta (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:04PM (#31653138)

    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.

    lulz...

  • EFF Help? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flerchin (179012) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:11PM (#31653198)

    I can't think of a better case for a class action lawsuit. They are extorting us out of features that we paid for. I bought this version of PS3 for several reasons, installing an alternative OS was high among them.

  • HPC Community (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PAPPP (546666) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @11:51PM (#31653392) Homepage
    I wonder how the HPC community is going to respond; there is a not insubstantial community [umassd.edu] who heard "150Gflop/$400" and "Linux" and decided to build clusters from PS3s. Those machines can probably just have updates held back, but it makes replacement a problem. To forestall the inevitable "that isn't a serious use" argument, US Airforce owns Something like 2,500 [computerworld.com] PS3s for compute work.
    Killing Linux on the PS3 also presents something of an issue for the other Cell "partners", who seem to be looking at the PS3 as a low-cost Cell development starter kit. The other Cell machines on the market are *much* more expensive (an IBM QS22 blade is $8-20k, depending on configuration, and Mercury Computer Systems doesn't even like talking about how much their Cell boards cost). Given that Cell is an enormously difficult architecture to target, having relatively inexpensive systems to test and train on is very desirable for the other vendors, especially now that so many of the HPC folks are fixated on GPGPU, which is also terrible to program for, but has a far lower cost of entry. It could be that IBM's decision not to pursue Cell in the HPC market [theinquirer.net] is how it became politically tenable for Sony to kill off Linux on the PS3.
    • Re:HPC Community (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Photo_Nut (676334) on Monday March 29, 2010 @02:58AM (#31654314)

      I went to the National HPC conference about 2 weeks ago. Read this abstract of this talk [hpcc-usa.org]. The director of the research lab in Rome, NY with all the PS3's stated that the new slim PS3 won't support Linux and answered your question - selling Linux boxes lowers the attach rate, so they are looking at other options.

      I was representing one of the vendors at the show, and he stopped by our booth and asked a bunch of questions about the hardware we had on display. The AF doesn't mess around. If game hardware has cutting edge performance, they use it. :^)

      GPUs are some of the most interesting devices to code for - most people write programs for one core, where a thread is a big heavy weight thing. In GPUs, threads are your basic unit of computation, and the world is upside down. Want to make a loop 100X faster - in some cases you can do it by creating more threads and synchronizing them with a barrier to keep threads going. Don't hold onto calculations for long - recomputing them can be order of 50X faster vs making a lookup to global memory and recomputing frees up the registers so you have less register pressure/can get more threads executing simultaneously. Between the ATI Cypress (1600 cores) and the new GF100 based chips (448-512 cores), writing code that runs on these devices makes C++ seem like child's play.

      And the development environments are all V1.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday March 29, 2010 @12:33AM (#31653634) Homepage

    There would be an uproar heard in Congress if General Motors used their OnStar download links to remove a feature. Suppose GM did something so that third-party audio players like the iPod couldn't use the car's speakers. This isn't totally unreasonable. GM's onboard entertainment system has a port for connecting a CD changer. If you didn't buy the CD changer option, that port is unused. There are third-party non-GM adapter kits [crutchfield.com] for connecting an iPod to that port. The dashboard CD changer controls then control the iPod.

    GM could probably download an update to change the interface so that this would no longer work. GM would prefer that customers buy a GM audio source; they remarket XM Radio. Arguably, the iPod is a device for pirating music, and removing that capability would enhance the security of the system. It would also eliminate the possibility of unauthorized iPod software interfering with the car's networks, and perhaps the OnStar system.

    So why shouldn't GM do that?

  • by acid06 (917409) on Monday March 29, 2010 @12:37AM (#31653650)

    They're still advertising the "Open Platform" feature on their website:
    http://www.playstation.com/ps3-openplatform/index.html [playstation.com]

    "There is more to the PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3(TM)) computer entertainment system than you may have assumed. In addition to playing games, watching movies, listening to music, and viewing photos, you can use the PS3(TM) system to run the Linux operating system."

    Let's see how long that page lasts...

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday March 29, 2010 @12:40AM (#31653672) Homepage Journal

    They took down most of the options on their 'Contact Us' page. You can't e-mail, or anything.

    BUT they were stupid enough to leave the phone numbers on the site so feel free to clog their phones with calls expressing your displeasure over their violation of your property rights.

  • When the Cell was first announced, I was very excited about it - I do signal processing and protocol simulation for a living, and having something with 8 powerful signal processing engines plus a dual core CPU to run the protocol stacks was just about a perfect fit. So I got my boss to approve buying a PS3 to begin evaluation on, and we began trying to find a vendor for the Cell chip (we can do our own PCB design and fab if needed).

    After many talks with IBM, we found that unless you were willing to buy millions of parts, they didn't want to talk to you, didn't want to sell you the chips, didn't want to support you, here's a nice mainframe blade, isn't that good enough (NO! I need something like microTCA, not a big ass blade!).

    Add to that how the PS3's Linux had really crummy support for graphics (because rather than being SMART and making the PS3 have the best OpenGL implementation out there, Sony crippled the system with a dumb framebuffer).

    Recently, IBM has announced they are end-of-lifing the Cell blades, and moving everybody over to the newest Power series CPUs. So, you can pretty much bank on the Cell only being in the PS3, and maybe one or two TV sets (and even there, I would not hold my breath - until those TVs are shipping the vendors can and likely will change their minds).

    While I would still recommend anybody wanting a Blu-ray player buy a PS3, and they are a decent video game platform, I would NOT recommend anybody even think about trying to support the Cell outside that platform - it will not happen, IBM has moved on, Sony doesn't want to support it.

    And while there is much typical slashbot dick-waving posturing about "I'm gonna SUE! CLASS ACTION BABY! I'm gonna DESTROY SONY!" - good luck with that. You are taking a minor feature that most PS3 buyers don't even know about, that is periphery to the main function of the device, and trying to say you are in some significant way harmed by this? You expect an attorney to take on a major class action like this, for what - lulz? Against a multinational with a large army of lawyers? At best, you will get US$10 off your next Sony purchase.

    What needs to happen is all the companies that bought PS3s to explore Cell programming need to start pressuring IBM and their limited set of third-party vendors like Mercury Computers to release the next generation Cell (with double-precision SPUs) on something reasonably sized and priced.

    Meanwhile, flood eBay with all the now-useless PS3s they had in their clusters - drive the price down and cost Sony money.

  • by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Monday March 29, 2010 @10:19AM (#31657642)

    Does the PS3's license agreement say that Sony can add or remove features at will? If so, it seems like all the ranting and noise about a lawsuit is for naught.

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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