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Operating Systems PlayStation (Games) Sony Unix BSD Games

PlayStation 4 Will Be Running Modified FreeBSD 457

Posted by samzenpus
from the under-the-hood dept.
jones_supa writes "This discovery comes nicely alongside the celebration of FreeBSD's 20th birthday, for all the UNIX nerds. The operating system powering the PlayStation 4 is Orbis OS, which is a Sony spin of FreeBSD 9.0. It's not a huge surprise FreeBSD is being used over Linux, in part due to the more liberal licensing. The PlayStation 4 is x86-64 based now rather than Cell-based, which makes it easier to use FreeBSD. BSDs in general currently lack manufacturer supported full-feature AMD graphics driver, which leads to the conclusion that Sony and AMD have likely co-developed a discrete driver for the PS4. Some pictures of the development kit boot loader (GRUB) have been published too."
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PlayStation 4 Will Be Running Modified FreeBSD

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  • by bmo (77928) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:17PM (#44089099)

    This will also probably also be good for FreeBSD in terms of its codebase as well. I expect Sony will probably be feeding back some patches.

    This man is in denial.

    --
    BMO

  • Pipe dream. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Severus Snape (2376318) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:41PM (#44089205)
    Imagine being able to start up your PS4 to GRUB? Even just giving us the graphics driver this time around Sony would be nice, since you're playing the good guy this gen.
  • by Master Moose (1243274) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:47PM (#44089243) Homepage

    Not Worried about the piracy as I would buy games. . But if I could build a compatible P.C unencumbered by Sonys Restrictions and add other BSD/Linux software to the box, I would have a very happy lounge.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:53PM (#44089275)

    [...]since Sony is probably not going to give back any of the new stuff they've written[...]

    I expect that they will donate back all of their tactical code, and enough of the pieces of their strategic code to make the tactical code desirable to integrate from the FreeBSD community. I expect they will NOT donate back ALL of their strategic code.

    The business case for them doing this is that they will be able to offload the maintenance burden for the tactical code, which does not benefit them commercially, to the FreeBSD community, while keeping their proprietary intellectual property to themselves.

    Apple did the same thing when doing the UNIX conformance; my team donated back code and test sets to more than 150 Open Source projects to enable them to be standards conformant, and, in the case of the test sets, to continue to be standards conformant going forward.

    This would get a lot more press, if Apple employees were ever allowed to publish anything without VP approval. If Sony is smart, they will absolutely crow about their contributions back to the community, since the secrecy buys them nothing, and being candid aboit it gets them nothing but good press. It's too bad Apple was never candid about its contributions.

  • by larkost (79011) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:58PM (#44089309)

    Whether or not Sony gives back patches really won't have any significant impact on their sales. The vast majorty of people who would buy a PS4 will never hear about it, and would not care if they would.

    I expect that they will not upstream the things people would probably care about most (graphics drivers), becuase they will be propritary and co-developed with vendors. However my guess is that they will contribute a steady stream of small incremental improvements that no one will ever hear about. These are the normal by-product of smart people working on a system.

    The reason they will contribte these bits back is pure self-interest: the next time they upgrade they hopefully don't have to re-apply the patch they created. They are not giving the crown jewels away, the things that make Sony its money, but rather the things that Sony as a business does not care about. This is how FreeBSD works. It is not as "pure" as the ideas behind the GPL, but it does work a lot better for the corprorate/capitalistic point of view. And that is how we structure our society, for better or worse.

  • by willy_me (212994) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:31AM (#44089459)

    This will also probably also be good for FreeBSD in terms of its codebase as well. I expect Sony will probably be feeding back some patches.

    This man is in denial.

    -- BMO

    Not really. It is much less expensive to allow the patches to be integrated into the parent project then it is to patch the project after every update. In addition, others will be able to test/verify that changes don't break the patches if they are given access to them. So it makes sense to feed back as many patches as they can as it greatly reduces the effort required to maintain their port.

  • by cas2000 (148703) on Monday June 24, 2013 @01:00AM (#44089589)

    Actually, it's the BSD license cheer-squad who are odd. you clap and cheer at something that does not benefit you, or anyone else (except Sony. or Apple. etc).

    Here's the difference in outcomes with products using software under 1. GPL, 2. BSD, and 3. proprietary licenses:

    1. with a GPL code-base, the user has the *right* to get, modify, use, and re-distribute the source code. the product manufactuer MUST release the source code to GPL-derived works under the same terms as the GPL. a win for the user and the world.

    2. with a BSD licensed code-base, the user has no right to the source code, at all. the product manufacturer might voluntarily make some of their code public, under any licensing terms of their choosing. no benefit to the user or to the world.

    3. with a proprietary code-base, the user has no right to the source code, at all. the product manufacturer might voluntarily make some of their code public, under any licensing terms of their choosing. no benefit to the user or to the world.

    The outcomes of the last two cases are identical, so why cheer for something that has no practical benefit? bragging rights - especially when they're third-hand and your just a fanboy or a herd member who gets off on identifying with brand names - aren't worth much, if anything. they don't benefit the user, they don't benefit the public, they don't even benefit the original authors of the software who generously chose to use a BSD-style license.

    (and, note, while I think the BSD license is inferior to the GPL for many reasons, I absolutely accept and endorse the authors' rights to choose that license for their software)

    So, I don't even see any reason to care that Sony (or Apple or anyone ) chooses to base some of their products on BSD-licensed code. I certainly see no reason to think it's a Good Thing because it's NOT a Good Thing - at best, it's neutral because it just isn't relevant.

    BTW, I'm really tired of seeing, as it was in this article, the BSD license described as being "more liberal" than the GPL. The *ONLY* "freedom" you get with the BSD license that you don't get with the GPL is the freedom to restrict the freedom of others. Claiming that that makes it "more liberal" is akin to saying that we had more freedom before the abolition of slavery because we hadn't had our freedom to own other people (and to treat our property in whatever manner we liked) restricted.

    Freedom to oppress, to exploit, to be a parasitic leech are not freedoms worth having, let alone worth crowing about.

  • by SilenceBE (1439827) on Monday June 24, 2013 @01:17AM (#44089645)
    It is funny how there are many definitions of Sony . When they opened the bootloader for Android the Slashdot crowd reasoning was "it was the Ericsson part" (even if the Ericsson was dropped) that is the reason they play nicely. But the Sony - BMG rootkit scandal was Sony doing, even if you can seed the same doubt. I think when they opened up their smartwatch (http://developer.sonymobile.com/services/open-smartwatch-project/smartwatch-hacker-guide/) is also Ericsson doing I presume ? Companies can change you know especially if they did some wrong in the past, the world isn't always black & white.

    That being said, I don't know if you are aware that a lot of the older people (that made the PS3 decisions) with regarding the SCEE are out of the picture. The PS4 wasn't even developed in Japan or by a Japanese, hell it will even be released earlier in the US and Europe. If you follow the news a bit you will see Sony has a massive attitude change regarding the PS4. You just need to look how they are handling Indie's these days. You must read the humbling interviews with a guy like Cerny, what a chance in comparison with the arrogant Sony.

    With regarding the OS a lot of people seem to forgot that Sony also supported linux through the PS2 lifetime (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_for_PlayStation_2) and they never took it back. So it may be that the removal of the OtherOS for piracy reasons was more valid then the so called hatred for Linux suddenly. There are strong opinions about linux, but does opinions never involve the fact of the possibility of that method being abused as an easy way to pirate. Or what should be the real reason that they removed OtherOS support anyway ? Because they hate linus or RMS ?

    You are right there should be other mod options like "living in the past" that I would gladly reward you with.
  • by perpenso (1613749) on Monday June 24, 2013 @04:25AM (#44090217)

    You expect, but it's not at all required. If you want code back, use a different license.

    Many commercial vendors using BSD in closed environments do in fact have a track record of giving code back, contributing fixes, etc. A current notable example is Apple. They have submitted patches to BSD projects they use, they have released some of their internally developed projects.

  • by andy.ruddock (821066) on Monday June 24, 2013 @07:31AM (#44090767) Homepage

    To judge such cluster**** based on a handful of experiences(regardless of being bad or good) is just impossible.

    No, it's easy, you make a decision based on how you personally feel about an issue and stick with it.
    An assistant in a store was rude to me once, I decided not to shop there again. I've never been in the place since. She may, or may not, still be working there - I've made a decision and I'm sticking with it.

    Same with Sony, I decided that one arm of the conglomerate commited an act heinous enough (to me), that I wouldn't buy Sony products - I voted with my feet.
    In reality it's practically impossible to avoid Sony products since they have their corporate fingers in so many pies. But if I see a product has a Sony logo on it, I won't buy it.
    Some of Sony's products are excellent, but I've decided that I won't give them my money. Some would say that I'm cutting off my nose to spite my face - but that really is the essence of voting with your feet this way.
    I'll explain why I don't buy Sony if anybody's ever interested in listening, some understand my position some don't, or don't consider that it's an important enough issue (to them) - that's fine by me.
    Of course, as it's purely a personal decision, I can reconsider my stance at any time - and even change my mind. So, based on my experiences, I don't buy Sony or Toyota, and I don't shop at B&Q. Your experiences will differ.

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday June 24, 2013 @02:22PM (#44094743) Homepage

    BTW, I'm really tired of seeing, as it was in this article, the BSD license described as being "more liberal" than the GPL. The *ONLY* "freedom" you get with the BSD license that you don't get with the GPL is the freedom to restrict the freedom of others. Claiming that that makes it "more liberal" is akin to saying that we had more freedom before the abolition of slavery because we hadn't had our freedom to own other people (and to treat our property in whatever manner we liked) restricted

    I receive some software under GPL. Let G be the set of all things the license allows me to do with/to the software.

    I receive some software under BSD. Let B be the set of all things the license allows me to do with/to the software.

    G is a strict subset of B.

    Hence, B has a more liberal license than G.

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