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Interested In A US Linux For PS2? 159

Sony Computer Entertainment America writes "What is the interest level for a US release of a GNU/Linux Kit that works with the PlayStation 2? Sony Computer Entertainment Inc (Japan) recently released a Beta test version of Linux for its PlayStation 2 Computer Entertainment System. Currently, the PS2 Linux Kit is only available in Japan and only runs on a Japanese model of PlayStation 2 However, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) is considering the possibility of a US release of the kit. At this time, no decisions have been made as to whether to release, how much a US kit would cost or when it would be released. SCEA wants to find out what the level of interest for a PS2 Linux Kit is in the US. You can visit their website to register your interest."
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Interested In A US Linux For PS2?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Who needs onboard storage if you've got ethernet...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Burn your own boot CD: No. You have to boot from Sony's media. Sorry, them's the breaks.

    Recompile the kernel: Yes. It comes with a full toolchain, kernel source, and a lilo-like boot loader. You just need the CD in order to start it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You cannot make bootable discs under PS2 Linux. In fact, you do not have access to the DVD-ROM drive for any discs that are not PlayStation/PlayStation2 discs (the DVD that the distribution comes on is a PS2 disc, so yes, you can mount that)... However, you do get gcc, and you can recompile the kernel, which you can store on a memory card, so you can boot whatever kernel you want that way.
  • instead of one of the Dell/Toshiba/IBM/whatsoever corporate whore notebooks)

    Yeah, as opposed to Sony, the small Indie startup.
  • by HeUnique ( 187 ) <> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:37PM (#64125) Homepage
    As much as I heard from a Japanese programmer who bought this kit - yes, it's inside the Linux DVD..

    You do not, however, get all the sources. Some of the things are under closed source license (like the Emotion driver, etc..)

  • If I could get Linux for this thing, I could finally have the Ultimate Party Box. Just think:

    • Movies - DVDs are obviously there already. With Linux we could probably add VCDs.
    • Music - CDs, add mp3s, oggs, etc. Hook it up to some funky FX hardware and write some visualizers....
    • Games - Most obviously PS2 and PS1 games. Throw into the mix emulators for n64, snes, NES, genesis, MAME, etc., and you've got a box that can play almost every console game ever.

    Mmmm. Throw in broadband and start streaming music and doing massive multiplayer gaming... mmm.

    For SCEA reps who may be reading this: Linux is how to ensure the PlayStation 2 becomes and stays the market leader, and those are the reasons why.

  • A used PII-400 system would run Linux just great, and only cost a fraction of what a new system costs, maybe even the same as a PS2!

    Maybe so, but it would be noisy, (most likely) bulky, it would probably not play DVDs (and a remote is extremely unlikely), and it would not play PS2 games. It would require time and effort to figure out drivers and configuration issues, whereas PS2Linux is probably an upcoming distribution with few options needed.

    My PC won't run Tux Racer. What are the odds a PS2 wouldn't run a version made especially for it?
  • What about UK-based users? I'd pay for this. How about France, Germany, etc...

    How likely is it they'll use the "Not enough demand in region x" argument, when there would be enough global demand?

    I would rant on and on about global corporations using spurious geographical distinctions to shaft the user, but we've all got DVD players, so that'd be redundant.
  • There are two types of PSX2 - Japanese and non-Japanese.

    The hardware design for the two is different - for example, the JP version has software-based DVD playback, the non-JP is hardware - predominantly due to the differing nature of the JP market.

    However, as far as I can tell (without the service manuals in front of me) the physical characteristics are identical on all non-JP PSX2s - the only differences are the PSU, video output and "region coding".

    So, no reason not to do the right thing - except for "marketing" and, of course, greed.
  • I guess you (USAans) will need to build more prisons very quickly. If everyone who copies the ISO to the HD to tweak the system and burns back to CD-R gets accused of reverse engineering by Sony...
  • You might find a person or two who wants to play PS or PS2 games and also wants a linux box. That makes it more efficient than buying a PS2 for the games and a NIC for other stuff. Plus, people might want to try writing PS2 games, which is impossible on a PS2 without this or on a NIC.
  • Here are the requirements for my server/firewall/NAT box

    The MZ-104+ [] from Tri-M sounds like it would fit the bill nicely. I haven't tried it myself, but I found out about it when someone replied to a similar post I made on slashdot recently :-) I'd already built myself an OpenBSD firewall by then, but if I hadn't, I'd definitely be looking at the MZ-104+.

  • Hey, not to spoil the fun for those who might actually want to pay for a fixed disk and network card in order to install linux on their PS2's. If that's what you want, by all means let Sony know. But not me.

    I bought my PS2 to get away from Linux. I love the fact that I can stick a CD in and play a game, without fuss or trouble. Even my techology challenged sister can use the damn thing. Sure, linux on the PS2 has great hack value and could be plenty of fun... but so is 68K/Sparc/PPC/Alpha/x86 (etc etc etc) linux. It just doesn't seem worth the trouble from my perspective. And what are you going to play, Tux Racer? That is, if someone ports hardware accelerated Mesa to the PS2 (which would be a cool project for those who actually want this kit). Me, I'll stick with Gran Turismo, which happens to be an amazing game. :-)

  • How likely is it they'll use the "Not enough demand in region x" argument, when there would be enough global demand?

    As far as I know the "expansion bay" for the USA PSX2 is different from the Japan PSX2, and since the "Linux Kit" uses the expansion bay, it does have to be built differently.

    I don't know of the UK PSX2 (or France, or Germany, or...) uses the same bay as the USA or JP PSX2, or yet another variant.

    I also don't know if the bay is different for brain dead artificial marketing reasons, or because the JP one came out first, and they came up with good engenering changes, or if there is a FCC regulation the JP one violated, or...

  • "The stock PS2 doesn't have one. " Sure they do, it is carried on the game disk (except for the bootstrap in rom on the box) so that they can upgrade it as they go, just like on the psx.

  • Only the first batch of japanese PS2's have a PCMCIA slot, and memory card resident DVD software.

    This was down to hitting the launch date, and not having finished the DVD software before the hardware was frozen for manufacture.

    All PS2 DVD playback is a combination of software and hardware, as there's a dedicated unit of the EE (the IPU) that handles key stages of the decompression process.
  • Aside from the coolness factor, why would you run Linux on a PS2 anyway? The PS2 doesn't have enough dynamic storage or networking ability to make it into a nice PC-like or net appliance unit, does it?

    Apologies in advance if this seems like a stupid question.
  • Yes, I love useless technology, but the fridge thing could be useful and AFAIK has already been done.

    The idea is that it has a barcode scanner in the door, and it keeps track of what you are putting into it. Then the next time you're leaving from work and want to know what you should buy at the store, you just connect to the fridge and find out. I mean, it's crunch time and you're coding til 3am, you don't want to call the wife and wake her up, do you?
  • Well, doing networking and all would be fun to do with such a box, but there's another very important use for a kit like this:

    writing computer games

    Since the Linux that runs on it is a full distro including c compiler and other fun development tools, how hard can it be to write a game that is bootable from a cd-r in your PS/2? Another cute thing is when the games are open source, they can be easily ported to other architectures. That way, linux (and maybe other *nixen as well) will get more cool games, which will aid in the acceptance of Linux as a gaming platform even more, leveraging the desktop more *our* way. World domination... woohoo :)

    Oh, and about Linux kit availability in the US, why not in Europe? *I* live in Europe, and I would be very interested in playing with kit like this. Europe has it's fair share of very talented geeks as well, you know. The world is not only America or Japan. Right... I'll stop spouting...

  • I'm more thinking about storage and networking (such as the aforementioned Ethernet/HD module in Japan)... how much does that add-on cost, just to get you network and semi-permanent storage?

    And how much can you thinker with the kit on the PS2, without the ability to burn new CDs for booting, etc? You'll need a PC devkit as well.

  • In this case, your $300 for a display would be better spent for a 25" Sony (black) TV set with S-Video in. :)

    I thought only the GPU pushed 6.2 gigaflops; what good will that do for your RC5 client? ;)

  • How many peripherals will PS/2 be able to use under Linux, so as to make it "usable for something other than a hobby."

    How strong is interest for the "Linux for Dreamcast" tinkering going on?

    Will people pay $300 for a gaming console, $(x*100) for peripherals, and then $Y for a Linux kit, when they can get all that and more for $200 from a NIC (see )?

    I'm not bashing the idea; certainly some of us here like to do things "because it's there," but what practical uses for end users and sales opportunities for Sony can come from this?

  • PC's are pretty cheap... the monitor is the only expensive part these days. In the US, $200 will get you a monitor-less system good enough to surf the net and play Quake III on. $800 will get you a top of the line machine (1.4 GHz Athlon with all the trimmings), which has more power than a PS2.

    Play stations are still about $150 here, so it isn't quite that level, but it is awfully close. You can even buy used PII PC's on EBay for $50.


  • FYI: 3D modellers have traditionally used unix (actually, Irix on SGI's). NT and Mac are relatively recent developments. Tron, Last Starfighter, etc. through Final Fantasy (movie) were all done on SGI's AFAIK. Games were modelled on unix (Doom was NeXT, I think) until PC's got powerful enough to run 3D modelling software. 3DS MAX on NT is now the platform of choice.

    I agree that PC games tend to be as good or better than PS2 games. The PS2 is a very cool box, but an Athlon with a GeForce3 has more power, ram, and hard drive than a PS2. By the end of the year, PCs will leave PS2 in the dust, performance wise. As you said, the attraction of consoles is that you don't have to write for 6 different flavors of Windows, worry about a Linux/Mac port, and try to support hundreds of hardware configurations.


  • by magic ( 19621 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @11:07AM (#64145) Homepage
    I greatly support a US Linux playstation, but as a graphics developer, I'm not sure it is interesting to me personally. With small modifications, it could be *really* interesting, however.

    The playstation is currently really hard for small developers to support because the development stations are so expensive and it is difficult to port to from a Windows platform. Providing Linux for PS2 almost fixes this. Providing Linux with OpenGL drivers (and hopefully, a SDL port) completely rectifies the situation.

    The X-Box is really attractive to small developers because it is a console where we can develop titles on regular PC workstations, then have a publisher (like Microsoft themselves) foot the minimal cost of the port if the game looks good. On PS2, the port is really expensive since the hardware is so different from a PC. With Linux and OpenGL support, I could develop on a Linux PC and Linux Playstation. I could also easily port PC Linux, Windows OpenGL, and Mac OpenGL/OSX apps to Playstation.

    Blue Axion Studios []

  • The reason the Xbox is attractive to developers is exactly the reason it doesn't appeal to consumers:

    It runs pc games easily.

    PC games are generally shoddy piles of shit. They have at least 3 patches in their lifetimes... and even then they are very unpolished. PC games suck. The might be fun, and
    innovative, but they sure as hell crash a lot.
    Thats why I play all my games on a console.
    Its so fresh and so clean. No hassle.
    The upshot:

    You are an idiot and I claim my five pounds.
  • When I finished my questionnaire (vote), the meter read 472 votes. Brief refresh (just to see if number changed) read 485! A few minutes later, over 550. Site is fine, but the slashdot effect is readily visible.

    Anyone know when the site first went live (just out of curiosity)?

    = Joe =
  • There's a comment line. Use that to suggest supporting Java on PS2 as well (perhaps in future if not available immediately).

    Just a suggestion, but I think Sony already has Java in works, so it could be a reasonable addition to their Linux offering. Java games on PS2, hehe. :-)
  • "The PS2 doesn't have enough dynamic storage or networking ability to make it into a nice PC-like or net appliance unit, does it?"

    Nope. The thing only has 32 megs of RAM in it. It's built from the ground up as a machine to play non-networked 3D games. It does that amazingly well (GT3 is stunning). They left ports to bolt on hard drives and networking, but they're hardly the focus of the design. If you want to run Linux cheap, go buy an old PC. If you want cutting edge stand alond 3D games, buy a PS2.

  • It looks to me like it uses the PCMCIA slot, which our US PS2 kinda lacks...

  • Only if it can be umulated under palmOS under PocketPC under Windows 98 under Mac OSX ander Linux.
  • Even better, you could hook up a FireWire hard drive (assuming support for PS2 FireWire was there).
  • Slightly relevant to this topic is that Sony was also planning to have PS2 Java support [] later this year - I was assuming it was a port of the Blackdown project under Linux.

    Perhaps that will help a few people sign up to ask for the dev kit! Myself, I'd almost be wiiling to buy the whole package just to get the VGA adaptor.

  • Uh-oh, I've got to take a wizz.

    Think man, think.

    Think, think, think.

    I'd better get up.

  • Okay, they released it for the Japan PS2. So get someone who got it to request the source, then port it.

    (All non-trivial, but someone had to say it;)
  • I'd buy it. Jesus, it's a shame to have all that horsepower so I can just play games every once in awhile. And just think! Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things! HA!


    Seriously, I'd never leave the couch. Ever. Again.

  • Could be low end 'front' end for a server-client server architecture

    Eg linux serving in background, w/ PS2 handling the 3D-X interface and mouse etc. Backend handling multi-game storage and net connections, stand-alone game servers, web, mp3, stack of game cd-'s(multibootable) etc. Then a LAN party would be 'Bring your PS/2, games ,controller/interface/nic cards we got the server'

    A NIC with bootp would be wicked thou. Would not need HD then. Kit could be cheaper.

    Pretty cool!

    Too bad there's no way of actually telling that it was taken from a PS2, though. I mean, I probably could take a shot of my current desktop on my pc here and try and claim it's running on my microwave, using the fridge as a fileserver.

    I suppose there's no real reason to suspect this'd be faked, though. If the PS2 can run X and Gnome, I'd be surprised if it *did* look different than on a desktop!

    "Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done".
  • If it runs Linux properly, Kaffe support should be pretty much automatic. A simple recompile, and there ya go!

    Getting a commercial (Sun, IBM, etc.) Java port running would probably be as easy from a technical point-of-view. The only issue would be that you'd have to convince the vendor to do it, a social engineering hack if I ever saw one!

    "Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done".
  • Because the kit that is being sold in Japan includes a hard-drive, network adapter, vga out, and other goodies, all in one handy (proprietary) package.

    That said, it may be possible to use their source code to port Linux to the PS2 in different ways, or even using it to come up with ideas on how to interface conventional hardware to it. As slow as USB is, it might be possible to interface your network and hard-drive through there.

    "Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done".
  • by dead_penguin ( 31325 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @11:24AM (#64161)
    I suppose I may as well start the inevitable thread...

    With the Linux kernel and GNU utilities being released under the GPL, does anyone know if the source to the modifications Sony has made to them are available? Even if the US version of the PS2 "kit" never becomes a reality, having this source would probably help people independently port Linux to the machine.

    "Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done".
  • by dead_penguin ( 31325 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @11:13AM (#64162)
    I disagree. There are many uses for this. One that comes to mind almost instantly is as an mp3 player. I can see this possibly being done in two ways.

    First, if the PS2 is networked, all it needs to do is boot, and nfs mount the directory with the gigs and gigs of music on your desktop. From there, a simple gui would allow playing of music using the controller pad. Why Linux? It's got decent networking support, and it (hopefully) shouldn't be to difficult to port a player such as mpg123 over to the PS2.

    Another alternative would be to burn a minimal kernel and interface software to a CD (or DVD), followed by as many mp3s as can fit on the disk. Essentially this should give you a bootable, playable mp3 disk for the PS2. I realize that this would probably require modification of the actual PS2 unit to recognize the burned disks, though. Again, Linux would be great for this since similar things have already been done for PCs, and development could be done on a regular PC using a cross compiler.

    My point is, though, that just because it can run Linux doesn't mean that it should be turned into yet another desktop system or web server. Granted, the PS2 has enough horsepower that it probably *could* do these things, but I think there are many more uses for a powerful-yet-inexpensive kernel on these devices.

    "Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done".
  • by jfunk ( 33224 ) <> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @02:31PM (#64163) Homepage
    By accident, a week ago, I clicked on a link on the right side of the main /. page (Happy Penguin, I think) that was labelled, "Falcon's Eye." I immediately thought, "yet another alpha version of an SDL game that will go nowhere."

    Boy, was I wrong. It's a 3d rendered isometric dungeon crawler. I kept reading and:

    It *is* Nethack.

    I don't mean, "based on," I mean "is." It is a fork of the code. I immediately downloaded it and it is very polished. It even has a big intro, reminiscent of the games from the 486 days, only with better graphics.

    I've been playing this a lot lately, and I even have Loki games I recently bought that I haven't even started playing yet.

    My only issue is that it sometimes 'stops' when I enter a shop. At first I was dismayed and killing it, so I was about to start debugging it. Interestingly enough, the game continues just fine when I start strace'ing threads. Odd.

    Everyone should go download this right now: [].
  • How has the Japanese one been received? What have people done with it? What can it do? (Were drivers for everything included?)

    I know they sold out quick, but does it DO anything?
    Charles E. Hill
  • by yomahz ( 35486 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @11:06AM (#64165)
    This is just the sort of bastardization I hate. If you want to run Linux (I do (Run it that is.)), buy/build an f'ing computer. PS2's may be cheap, but by the time you've got a keyboard/mouse, etc, it just doesn't loook quite so attractive. Plus the onboad storage is so limited.

    Actually, the Japanese version [] comes w/ a 40G Hard Drive, mouse, and keyboard (among other things).
  • Sony announced Java support for the PS2 at JavaOne. They never mentioned GNU/Linux but the demo screen showed WindowMaker and a java app running.
  • Sony's not a video game company. They're a consumer electronics company that makes a lot of other stuff. Clocks, stereos of all sizes, televisions, and, of course, laptops. And that's just the stuff I can see from the front door of Circuit City. I can't help but think that any experience they gain with Linux in the PS2 arena would eventually turn out to be useful elsewhere in their product line. . . and if they happen to garner some enthusiasm in the developer community, so much the better.
  • The PS2 already has i.Link networking built in, and Gran Turismo 3 uses it. I'm not sure what the bandwidth is but it's gotta be livable if GT3 can let 6 people race at once in realtime on 6 PS2's.
    I wish people would read more about the PS2 before posting....'what about storage and networking bla bla'. Sony has already announced a broadband/modem adapter that's both 100baseT and a dialup modem, and a 40gb hard drive is optional.

  • Actually Sony DOES want to give people the idea that the PS2 is a computer. Ever actually SEE a PS2? In big, bold letters all over the box and in the instruction manual, Sony refers to it not as a game machine, or a gaming console, but a 'Computer Entertainment System'. What does that tell you? The Linux kit is Sony responding to demand and at the same time watching a carefully controlled experiment. They want to see if they can put together a nice little distro that allows people to make the PS2 do what they need it to. After all, the PS2's chipset could be the Next Big Thing as far as home computers go. Ever see the pictures of the 'ideal' PS2? It's got a USB keyboard, mouse, broadband adapter, hard drive and Sony flatscreen monitor. Sounds like a computer to me. Particularly with AOL's involvement to bring a mutated version of their connection software to the PS2 for use with the modem. I think there's a connection between the AOL Linux alpha that got leaked and the PS2.
    I don't think consumers in general will ever be scared of the PS2. They might be in awe of it but it's not going to get scary, even with an OS and all the trappings that come with your average PC. In fact, since it's running Linux and will be simple and rock-solid, it's really the next step of the evolving console. It's what consumers have wanted for YEARS. A reliable, simple, hard-to-crash game machine that gets them on the internet, easily.

  • This poll is of course completely unscientific (like all Slashdot polls). Reason #1: Most people who don't care, like me, won't even bother to vote. The only difference is, this one doesn't have the "if you're doing anything with these results, you're crazy" disclaimer.

  • It's close to the real thing.

    If this were a genuine Slashdot Effect, the biggest bar on each graph would instead be 'CowboyNeal'
  • The Japanese Linux Kit includes USB keyboard and mouse (in black of course - let's not forget that Linus's first PC was a black Sinclair QL), 40GB Hard Drive, and 10/100 ethernet combo. It sells for $200 in Japan.

    So let's do the math: $300 for the PS2, $200 for the Kit, and $300 for a nice 17-19" monitor (its gotta be black tho ;).

    Yes, you can get a PC for this price, but this will be a PC as well as a PS2. Plus, it runs linux (and its black;). And you can't get a PC for this cost that will turn 6.2 gigaflops.

    My question is this: what in the hell is that port on the back? The early Jap versions had an actual PCMCIA Type III slot. I've no idea what the hell the thing on the back is now, but from what I've seen, the hard drive/ethernet combo "plugs" into it.

    I'm mostly curious about the X server for it. I've seen screenshots of the PS2 running WindowMaker. It's not hard to port Linux to the MIPS, but I would love to know how they're driving video. Does it use Mesa or just plain OpenGL?

    /me prays for a Sony PS2-Linux kit for the SCPH-30001.

  • So you have linux running on your PS2. That 8 MB memory card ain't gonna last long. Isn't there a hard drive slated to come out? If so then you wouldn't even have to worry about networking it to play MP3's and such. You might be able to actually install linux to the PS2 Hard Drive and then be connected to the net (which I guess would require networking) and get your MP3's and such from there. Hopefully the Hard Drive will be out soon. Otherwise it seems a little worthless to me.
  • Guess I shoulda done my research first... the Japanese version comes with the following:

    DVD-ROM containing Beta Release 1 of Linux for PS2
    40 GByte Hard Disc Drive
    10 BASE-T/100 BASE-TX Ethernet Interface
    USB Keyboard
    USB Mouse
    PlayStation 2 VGA AV Connector (HD 15 plus Stereo Audio) - requires "sync on green" monitor

    Included on the DVD Disc is :-

    "PlayStation 2" System Manual Set
    "PlayStation 2" Runtime Environment
    PS2 Linux Beta Release 1 Install Kit
    Linux Kernel 2.2.1
    XFree86 3.3.6
    gcc 2.95.2
    glibc 2.2.2

    40 GB surely isn't enough... :)
  • I play all those games *now* on my PC with my old SNES / PSX controllers.

    Check out the Linux Parallel Port Joystick driver. Compile the module and set your options. A quick converter box later, you're all set :-)
  • Also, I'm sure all those art school graduated, maya using kids are not going to be very familiar with fsck or how to setup their xf86config when they have problems with their video card.

    Well, it'll be pre-configured for the only video card the system will ever use.

    I think it could bring a lot of the simplicity of console use (no driver issues to worry about, no need to worry if this card or that card is supported....
  • I suppose if you only had the money to buy either a PS2 or a cheap home computer, and wanted to run Linux, the PS2 might not be a bad option if you play a lot of games.

    However, if you can afford a PS2 and lots of games, you could afford a used PC to run Linux on. A used PII-400 system would run Linux just great, and only cost a fraction of what a new system costs, maybe even the same as a PS2!

    The storage options and expansion capabilities (or lack thereof) on the PS2 are a real turn off for me. It's a neat idea, and I'm glad people are playing with odd hardware and Linux, but I just don't see how this will be of any use to people, other than for entertainment.

    Oh, well. It's their money.

    Interested in weather forecasting?
  • This is a terrifying thought. So, most small developers are going to be limited to creating PC quality games? Hopefully not. And if they do, they're not going to be able to compete in the PS2 market anyway.

    Linux for PS2 just sems ridiculous though. The cost of creating PS2 games is SO high to just create the amount of content in a PS2 game that anyone who can even consider it can afford really expensive boxen and lots of 3d artists.

    Another good question is, are there really a lot of usable high quality 3d modeling tools for use under linxu to make this viable? I never get to use Linux anymore because there's no Flash 5 for linux, and that's what I author all day.

    Also, I'm sure all those art school graduated, maya using kids are not going to be very familiar with fsck or how to setup their xf86config when they have problems with their video card.

    Not to be negative, but I just think we need to be realistic about the market for linux. This is business we're talking about, from sony's perspective. []
  • This could be cool, but with the following considerations:

    1- It needs to come with a supported keyboard and mouse, modem/broadband support, and have a desktop environment, so that I can actually DO something with it.

    2- It damned well better support apt-get or something similar, because I am NOT going to try to compile a program and fill all of its dependencies just to screw with Linux on the PS2.

    It would also help if it could do cool stuff out the box to begin with, such as Tivo like abilities, especially now that the PS2 hard drive is getting ready to ship. Of course, if this thing has net access people will be able to just code all that goodness for me to download.
  • Could you use the Japanese Linux kit on a US PS 2 if you had the right modchip? Or is it more substantial hardware differences than that?
  • Everyone knows that Sony sells their console at a loss, so any investment in PS2's for commercial use would have Sony subsidizing part of it.

    I'm thinking linux-based personal TV recorder ala TiVo with DVD built-in. Could be hot... ;-)
  • Actually, the interesting thing is that this is also effectively a survey of /. readers, minus all the garbage survey options, and the joke answers people put in (Why yes, I think Cmdr Taco should run for president. ;-)

  • See It looks like this is a semi-official Japanese site. Considering the Kit is already out in Japan, this is good stuff to see! Hogarth
  • Wow great, that means Saddam actually might be able to make a supercomputer out of all those PS2s he allegedly purchased/purloined when they first came out in the States. Talk about making a beowulf cluster of those...

  • Forget the slashdot effect, how about a clean and clear demographic picture of the slashdot crowd...

    If I were an advertiser, I'd know where to pump ads...

  • What if it isn't Linux you are after, it may be all the nice emulators as in my case. Just think of it. Booting up Linux with about 1000 oldies from the arcades to choose from. Yummy! Not to mention Ice climber and super metroid. All on a nice 28" 100hz TV and comfortable PS2 gamepads. All booting up with a nice menu to choose games from. I can see you drooling already.

    Of course the Legal aspects of this is another question.

  • OK, here's the point. I live in an apartment. I want a Linux box I can put on my LAN and have it be my mail server and firewall and NAT server for my Windows machine and my other machine that alternates between Windows (when I want to play both my Everquest accounts at the same time) and Linux.

    Here are the requirements for my server/firewall/NAT box:

    1. It should be relatively inexpensive.

    2. It should not generate much noise. I do not want to be able to hear it running during quiet parts of movies I'm watching ( home theatre is in my home datacenter)

    3. It should be small.

    A PS2 with Linux fits these requirements. (So would a hacked Tivo, which is another possibility, but I'd like to avoid hardware hacking)

  • "I bet you think now, don't you?" -Anonymous Cleveland FreeNet User, 1991

    Or you could really quote the source: Ned's Atomic Dustbin, "You". <grin>

  • I wouldn't plan to use a PS2 Linux box as a computer. I'd be connecting it to my TV and stereo and using it as some sort of networked media appliance, to play divx movies and mp3s available on my network. I wouldn't need a keyboard and mouse, just a remote, so I think it would look quite attractive.
  • by DeepDarkSky ( 111382 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @02:33PM (#64190)
    One use that I wonder about is in the realm of graphics rendering, but this really depends on whether the hardware and kit will support this.

    I recently read something in IEEE's Computer Graphics magazine about how they are using a bunch of machines with advanced 3D accelerated graphics cards to do graphics rendering and then reading the graphics buffer to retrieve the image and save it into a centralized location. Obviously, with a bunch of cheaper machines and relatively sophisticated graphics cards, you can get very good results because the rendering is done by hardware.

    That being said, you should know where I'm going with this - if you could use PS2's advanced graphics processing and rendering capabilities with a Linux system on it, then what you have is probably a good and possibly cost effective distributed rendering machine - just one of its uses. I don't know about the price/performance ratio, but I think it might be pretty good.

    Aside from the above purpose, I will use the oft-quoted Slashdot saying (but with all seriousness): Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of PS2's?

  • I think the idea of having a AV centric computer is a plus. Having actual vendor support for getting to the GFX chipset is a big plus. I like the idea of having a single machine on my coffee table I can use for Gaming and Surfing. Of course I have a 110 inch HDTV projector, so that helps. But I think as more and more people get DTVs the more useful something like this will be.

    But that's just my $.02
  • Anyone have links to information on what source, if any, Sony has released? I'd be interested to see the PS2 kernel modifications (again, if any) added to the regular kernel, as well as having all the other bits added to standard core pieces (glibc, gcc, XFree86) so that the PS2 Linux distro could evolve with community support.

    After all, once a PS2 gets obsoleted by the PS3, it becomes an abandoned platform and supporting those kinds of platforms has been one of the strengths of the open source and free software movements.

  • I don't know much about the Japanese port, so I may be asking questions with obvious answers here. But if I am, please provide URLs!

    Is this Linux port worth anything?

    * Will I be able to burn my own Linux CD according to Sony's specifications, and boot whatever kernel I want on the PS2?
    * Will I be able to get the GNU compiler set up at home, according to Sony's specifications, so I can recompile the kernel and other applications to run on the PS2?

    Both statements are true *today* with the Sega Dreamcast console (except that the instructions came from the community, not from Sega), which means I can run Linux (, or anything else I want to on it by simply burning a CDR.

    If Sony's hardware remains sufficiently closed such that it won't let me do on the PS2 what I can already do on the Dreamcast, then I'm not interested.

  • These can be ported to the PS2 proper, without Linux, using the usual PS2 SDK.
  • by Agthorr ( 135998 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @11:24AM (#64198) Homepage
    At last! We'll be able to cheaply port nethack [] (the only game that really [] matters) to the Playstation!

    All those console players who thus far do not know the beauty of the One True Game will finally be enlightened!

    -- Agthorr

  • and with the playstation's superior graphics, nethack could be fully rendered in 3d and i can live my dream of being chased through a dungeon by a huge 3d rendered ampersand.
  • No, not in the pr0n sense (although if you had it hooked up to a 31" tv that streaming amsterdam feed would look pretty good) but think for the kids. The may very well already have a TV. If they have a TV they probably have some sort of game system. Now they want their own computer (kids these days, when I was their age we didn't have these PCs at home... blah blah blah) you can spend an extra $200 or whatever and give them a hard drive, keyboard, and mouse to hook to their TV. Load up StarOffice (or whatever flavor you like) and they are set to go. This sounds like a good idea for computer savvy families who's kids already have tv in their rooms.

    Besides all that, it would give the rest of us (possibly) a chance to do some programming for the motion engine. That would be fun.

  • No kidding. You wouldn't believe the number of hits my page gets every time I post to slashdot, because of the .sig!
  • There's also the possibility that people will port games (Quake, etc) or emulators (Snes9x, MAME, ZSNES, etc) to the PS2 w/ Linux. This could be an ideal system for emulation. (I'm sure that usage won't be sanctioned by Sony, however).


  • by dthable ( 163749 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @10:59AM (#64208) Journal
    If they could sell a version of Linux with web, email, IM, etc. capabilities then we could abandon the bulky desktop machines. For the average user who just uses the web and email, the PS2 could be the true replacement for the PC. Of course, I would never get rid of my PC...but I don't think I'm the average user. ;o)
  • Hey!
    I just got a DOS prompt on my fridge!
    Not that its useful, but its something to do!
    Next, I'm gonna give it an IP!!

    Moderators, this is very metaphoric cynism, and it is on topic. If you don't understand, just skip it.

  • When I think of quality games, the Playstation (1 or 2) rarely comes to mind.
    Really? Everything Square has done in the last 5 years isn't quality? You can't find quality on a platform that is the unquestioned leader in every market segment that doesn't have the word 'Mario' in it?

    How has Sony's quantity over quality creed hurt them? Everyone jumped ship from Nintendo to PSX due to Nintendo's censorship, incredibly restrictive licensing system, and bad technical decisions. Sony's more open licensing system gave them the crown for the last half of the 90's. Sony's one attempt at 'quality control' was trying to restrict RPGs in a misguided attempt at branding the PSX as a action/sport console -- an attempt that hurt everyone involved, none more than Sony. They learned their lesson after seeing which segment sold the most and had the most repeat customers; and now on the PS2 they push the RPGs as the system mainstay.

    Games are still a new field, with development very analogous to start-ups. A big dumb company wielding creative control is, and always has been, a dramatic failure. Sony, a big dumb company if ever there was one, has gained a great deal by keeping their hands off their developers.

    Quantity, not quality, becuase you can't predict quality.

  • If you go the page now, view the results of the survey, then repeatedly hit reload on your browser, you can see a real live slashdot effect.... one submission per second (approx). Very neat!!
  • Sam ported SDL to the PS2 graphics chip not too long ago. The code is in CVS.

    Anyone up for porting Mesa? :)

  • I am in favor of running linux in cheaper and faster platforms then a monolithic pc. I would love to trash my pc and get a cheap console with a real monitor outlet and USB keyboard/mouse support. The monitor port issue is the only problem. A firewire one or a standard pc monitor output plug would suffice. I believe if Microsoft would port ms encharta and ms office to the xbox it would finally solve the problem of getting a computer into every home. Its the cost factor and the fact that pc's are designed to run boring bussiness apps like office. If you have no use of taking work home then you don't need a pc.

    A ps/2 with linux would change this.

    But in order for Sony to be successfull it needs to make their ps/2's easier to program with a standard software platform. If they wrote some mesa drivers and include some custom gcc compilers then it would benefit Sony greatly. Developers are more fimiliar with Opengl and linux/unix libraries and could help write games for the ps/2. Sony would only need to write a good video driver and a version of gcc. The reason why the xbox is getting popular is not because its agood machine infact its cpu is alot slower then the ps/2, but it will take the lead because of devlopers. You can download wince emulation for free for w2k. Also many game developers are more familiar with directx then Opengl or some proprietary library the ps/2 uses. Apple learned to accept opengl to survive and Sony needs to do this and support it in ps/2-Linux.

    Sony needs to do this not to help consumers run linux apps but to accelerate ps/2 development before Microsoft accelerates its xbox platform by its windows and vstudio monopoly.

    Perhaps Sony can create a special version of linux that loads itself automatically and can be scripted to run the linux game or app on the same cd. This way we can develop it in linux and have linux run automatically when the game loads up and not need worry about how to load linux first then the game second. My only concern is the lousy 8 megs of ram! This is the 21 century! The version of linux would need to be a small micro version of striped with everything but libraries for the game to use. Remember that the games need to share the 8 megs of ram as well. We would need to have it under 1 meg since even 8 for a game is way too small. Sony probably had to do this due to the cost of rambus ram. Smart move sony. The xbox would be much easier to port linux to sadly enough. If we only port linux to the xbox then the arguement on why to do game development on linux is dead.

  • I see your point... I guess its all about how you think about it. PCs and PS2s both have the components that (at least as far as I'm concerned) make up a computer. CPU, memory, I/O. While there is the argument that a PS2 was designed for only one task (games) and isn't very good at things that a 'computer' is good it, one could also argue that the PC wasn't designed for games (more for office work) and has evolved into a game machine (over many many years).

    I should also remind you that a computer is also defined by the presence or absence of an operating system

    Another good point... but I tend to think of a computer more in terms of the hardware than the software. In this case, if you load the same software (Linux) on a PS2 and a PC, is the PC still a computer and the PS2 still a game machine?

    And then again, On the other hand PS2+Linux, well, I don't see the interest of the thing ... I don't know if I see the point of it either >:D
  • Geek: SAH!
    SONY Overlord:Yes?
    Geek: I have or new websevers up and running!
    SONY Overlord:Excellent. Now, how can we test to se if the new configuration can handel the heavy traffic....Hmmm....
    Geek: Porn site! Nothing attracts web hits like p0rn!
    SONY Overlord:No, HR would have a fit. Perhaps we can lure those open source people to slashdot us wih empty promises and manipulative target marketing... Geek:SAH yes SAH!
  • Many people seem to have no knowledge of what the PS2 Linux kit comes with. When you buy it it's not just the distro. The Japanese version had a USB Keyboard & Mouse, a 40GB external HDD(the original Japanese unit didn't have an internal hard drive bay like the US PS2) the software on a DVD and a VGA output cable. Hopefully that clears up some folks objections/questions.
  • The main advantage of consoles for users it the fact that they are really easy to use and reliable. They should not be marketed as hobbiest toys or computers, that makes them LESS appealing. Does that mean Linux for PSX2 is a bad idea? Well no. It does mean, be careful, you don't want to give consumers the impression that their little "black box" is a computer, they might become scared of it. In the end, all it does is hurt sales and not enhance them.

    If Linux for PSX is to be sold, sell it on the web and don't avertise it.

  • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @11:13AM (#64243)
    Heh. You can actually see the "Slashdot effect" by visiting their results page: .cgi?survey_name=survey []

    In case you're interested the total "Yes" votes was a little more than 200 after I voted.

  • If they could sell a version of Linux with web, email, IM, etc. ...

    Personally, I get all of the options you list on my Mandrake8 machine at home. What I really need is video game console that *could* be flexible with current console AND PC games. The only reason my Windows box is still around is because of games like CounterStrike, Alpha Centauri, Need For Speed, Black&White, etc. I am already planning on getting a PS2, it's just a matter of when, but if I could get a Linux compatible version of it, and one that could run Linux ported PC games (such as FPS games), I would be a complete convert to no longer being a Windows user.

  • Think about this for a moment. Who are the primary targets of Video Game consoles? I would think young kids. There was this article on slashdot [] the other day that talked about how video games can be beneficial to young kids as it teaches them coordination, problem solving, and allows them to imagine and fantasize. What if at the same time we were also teaching them how to use the Linux OS?

    How great a day would that be? From a young age, kids will use the Linux OS and teach themselves, without knowing it. Most kids would want to play with the system and see how it works. Instead of teaching them how to use GUI only, we can show them the command prompt. Kids can, and will, teach themselves how to use the system. If we get into networking, the kids can learn about root and how to set up an effective network. Yes, these kids *can* imagine a cluster of these machines, and they just might try it.

    For us slightly older folks, I think we would enjoy this system. It would be cool if I get my choice of distributions too :). I think Sony should go for it, and perhaps include as a manual a small primer on Linux to get people started. Though I never read a manual when I was young and figured out DOS just fine, so I imagine kids will do the same. Then when the kids figure out the system, they can teach there parents, not only how to play games, but how the OS works. Could be a good way to expand the community.

  • Sony and Sun signed a big deal a while ago to put Java on the PS2. Here's the press release [].
  • The PS2 has USB and firewire ports, thus you can install a hard drive, broadband adapter, modem, keyboard, or whatever else suits your fancy. Add the fact that it's TV ready, it would make a pretty cool net appliance.

    D - M - C - A

  • by Breakfast Pants ( 323698 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @11:20AM (#64263) Journal
    is obviously to run MAME, snes9x, etc. with PS2 controllers. You would have some real bragging rights to have all the old arcade games ever made, all the nes games, all the snes games, etc. etc. etc. all on your ps2.

  • A linux for Playstation would actually be a perfect solution for third world countries as my own. If anything, it would actually prove that cheaper PCs are possible to make...

  • I see two interesting possibilities for home use. I want to know what you think:

    1. Cheap rendering machines. I'll admit that I don't know much about hardware, but do you think there is possibily a way to make these machines cheap rendering farms? Maybe not only software rendering to frames, but ways for users to create their own rendered-on-the-fly creations, like maybe a very-poor-man's VR system?

    2. Home server uses. Possibily ports of Apache and other Linux staples that allows more self-hosting of web sites and streaming media. (Real democracy of video and audio content... home broadcasting beyond webcams.)

    3. Hardcore Internet Telephony. Home use of telepresence tech. House to house video conferencing.

    4. Home holography. Holographic phones like in Wild Palms. I'm really just kidding... but with enough graphical power this could be an eventual possibility.

    I would love to see high end graphical hardware enter the home and actually be controlled by interested users/hackers instead of a small number of game publishers. I think it would be an excellent development.

  • Really? Everything Square has done in the last 5 years isn't quality? You can't find quality on a platform that is the unquestioned leader in every market segment that doesn't have the word 'Mario' in it?

    Come on...I did say "rarely". Square is an obvious exception. Same with MGS and the Gran Turismo series. But compared to Sega and Nintendo, Sony's lineup is pretty shallow (989 Studios comes to mind). A large percentage (note: not ALL...I own a (dusty) PS) of Sony's userbase consists of your average, mindless Joe Consumer.

    How has Sony's quantity over quality creed hurt them? Everyone jumped ship from Nintendo to PSX due to Nintendo's censorship, incredibly restrictive licensing system, and bad technical decisions.

    Yet Nintendo is still a goddamn gaming beast. Sega and Nintendo hold the majority of the "hardcore" crowd, because they still make games that are as groundbreaking and intuitive as the old NES games (I'd take Metroid over all the PS2 titles any day). Now Sega obviously made a couple mistakes (IMO it started going downhill when Bernie left), but Nintendo is stronger than ever. And with Sega drifting further towards the big N's camp every day, it looks like the GameCube is going to be THE platform for quality games.

    Sony, a big dumb company if ever there was one, has gained a great deal by keeping their hands off their developers.

    Very true. But they also lost out on a very powerful chunk of the market: those of us who'd sit outside ElBo the whole night, blindly waiting for the next Sonic game just because it has Yuji Naka's name on it. And while I'm tempted to purchase a PS2 for MGS2, I can't rationalize dropping $300 on a platform for which I know I'm only going to want 3 or 4 games.

  • Nope nope nope!

    I just checked, the 3d driver source is there. They include it as one giant patch against the Mesa sources.

    Sony's emotion chip unfortunately isnt a terribly good match for GL architecture, and the driver falls back to software rendering in many cases.

    The fact it works at all is pretty interesting though ^_^;

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker