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U.S. Playstation 2 Linux Hits the Streets. 446

msolnik writes: "The U.S. version of Playstation 2 Linux is getting ready to hit the streets. Here is an review of the first public beta. It really looks sweet and comes with a lot of nice hardware. I can't wait for it to start selling -- finally I will have a legit reason to buy a PS2."
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U.S. Playstation 2 Linux Hits the Streets.

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  • Next computer. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by _Knots ( 165356 )
    Ok, who thinks they just found their next computer? I know I've been waiting for this to happen for a long while so I could finally justify the cost of one or more PS2s (mmm, USB networking) - it's not a toy, it's my development station! Err... yeah! ^^;;

    Ain't Linux great?

    • USB? (Score:5, Informative)

      by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:22PM (#2652226) Homepage Journal
      If you're going to use the built in networking on the PS2, why use USB? The thing comes with firewire ports! Thats more bandwidth then 100baseT ethernet :)
  • by michael.creasy ( 101034 ) on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:26PM (#2652247) Homepage
    A Trolltech employee once said he wouldn't consider Linux a success until his mother was running it. I don't think the Mom Test is necessarily a fair one, but I get his point: When Linux penetrates the average user's home or office, it will have passed a significant milestone. Well until Linux is ready to beat out Microsoft in the desktop, where else can Linux be a useful alternative operating enviornment for the user who is not an expert? The answer is simple - on embedded devices. So you can imagine how cool it is that Sony finally got on the CLUE bus and decided to offer a Linux Kit to the world for its Playstation 2 console unit. Previously it was only available in beta form, for japanese models. The official announcement came via cnn, you can read the article by clicking here. So what does this mean for your typical console gamer or linux enthusiast exactly? In a nutshell it means your Video Game console will also be a valid bonafied NC/AC (Network Computer/Appliance Computer) unit.
    The kit consists of:

    DVD-ROM containing a Linux Release specifically designed by Sony to boot the PS2
    40 GByte Hard Drive

    10Base-T/100 Base-TX Ethernet Interface

    USB Keyboard

    USB Mouse

    VGA AV Connector /w HD 15 plus Stereo Audio

    PS2 Linux Kit

    The DVD that contains linux will ship with many packages you've grown up with linux like:

    Linux Kernel

    XFree86 (which means practically every single GUI application you can run from a desktop linux machine)



    XFree86 on PS2

    Here are a couple more images of linux running a ps2. On your left is Xscreensaver (not sure which one) and on your right is "gv" running inside WindowMaker.

    I didn't list the versions of these packages because simply put, nobody but sony knows what they will decide on at release time. But expect the packages to be up-to-date. Below is the output of dmesg from the Linux Kit running off a japanese version of the playstation 2. How cool is that..

    ---- begin snippet from /var/log/dmesg ----
    Loading R5900 MMU routines.
    CPU revision is: 00002e14
    Primary instruction cache 16kb, linesize 64 bytes
    Primary data cache 8kb, linesize 64 bytes
    Branch Prediction : on
    Double Issue : on
    Linux version 2.2.1 (master@linux) (gcc version 2.95.2 19991024 (release)) #94 Thu Apr 19 12:13:01 JST 2001
    no initrd found
    Console: colour dummy device 80x25
    Calibrating delay loop... 392.40 BogoMIPS
    Estimated CPU clock: 294.240 MHz
    Memory: 30724k/32760k available (1216k kernel code, 752k data)
    Checking for 'wait' instruction... unavailable.
    POSIX conformance testing by UNIFIX
    PlayStation 2 SIF BIOS: 0200
    Linux NET4.0 for Linux 2.2
    Based upon Swansea University Computer Society NET3.039
    NET4: Unix domain sockets 1.0 for Linux NET4.0.
    NET4: Linux TCP/IP 1.0 for NET4.0
    IP Protocols: ICMP, UDP, TCP, IGMP
    Linux IP multicast router 0.06 plus PIM-SM
    Starting kswapd v 1.5
    PlayStation 2 device support: GIF, VIF, GS, VU, IPU, SPR
    Graphics Synthesizer revision: 00005508
    Console: switching to colour PlayStation 2 Graphics Synthesizer 80x28
    pty: 256 Unix98 ptys configured
    Real Time Clock Driver v1.09
    rtc: Digital UNIX epoch (1952) detected
    usb.c: registered new driver usbdevfs
    usb.c: registered new driver hub
    usb.c: registered new driver usb_mouse
    usb.c: registered new driver keyboard
    usb-ohci.c: USB OHCI at membase 0x1f801600, IRQ 42
    usb-ohci.c: GrowLocalMem 64K bytes
    usb.c: new USB bus registered, assigned bus number 1
    usb.c: USB new device connect, assigned device number 1
    hub.c: USB hub found
    hub.c: 2 ports detected
    RAM disk driver initialized: 1 RAM disks of 10240K size
    loop: registered device at major 7
    PlayStation 2 IDE DMA driver
    hda: ST340823A, ATA DISK drive
    ide0 at 0xb4000040-0xb4000047,0xb400005c on irq 41
    hda: ST340823A, 38166MB w/1024kB Cache, CHS=4865/255/63, (U)DMA
    LVM version 0.8i by Heinz Mauelshagen (02/10/1999)
    lvm -- Driver successfully initialized
    scsi : 0 hosts.
    scsi : detected total.
    Partition check:
    hda: hda1 hda2
    VFS: Mounted root (ext2 filesystem) readonly.
    Freeing unused kernel memory: 48k freed
    usb.c: USB new device connect, assigned device number 2
    hub.c: USB hub found
    hub.c: 2 ports detected
    usb.c: USB new device connect, assigned device number 3
    keybdev.c: Adding keyboard: input0
    input0: USB HIDBP keyboard
    usb.c: USB new device connect, assigned device number 4
    input1: USB HIDBP mouse
    PlayStation 2 Sound driver
    Adding Swap: 136516k swap-space (priority -1)
    eth0: MAC address 00:04:1f:ff:fa:bc
    eth0: Auto-negotiation complete. 100Mbps Full duplex mode.
    PlayStation 2 SMAP(Ethernet) device driver is loaded.

    ---- end snippet from /var/log/dmesg ----
    Now with all this one has to think of what you can't do with a ps2 running linux. Well a couple things actually. Don't expect you can pop in any of your self-made CD's into it. This isn't an OSI issue as much as it is a hardware-level one. The Playstation2's CD-ROM drive is unable to read normal data CD-ROMs. Special Playstation2-CDs can be created so that PCs can read them, but not vice versa, simliar to the GD-ROMs for the Dreamcast that can't be created on a CD-R.

    Another common question is how will Linux boot on the Playstation2? All the software in the world, regardless if it's runnable object code or source code with the most advanced compiler, is worthless if it can't be loaded into memory on the target machine and made to execute on the CPU. The perfect Linux system for the Playstation2 wouldn't make any sense at all, if it couldn't be booted.

    The boot process is one of the crown jewels of copy-protection in the game console business. Since only the console manufacturer knows how to manufacture bootable media, and probably is the only one with the manufacturing technology, game creators must license the technology. The console manufacturer earns from the royalties for this licensing, not thesale of the hardware. Actually it's very common that the console manufacturer is losing money each and every time one of their consoles is sold. This is how the traditional game business works. Don't expect Sony to give away the secret of how the Playstation2 boot.

    Linux will likely not boot directly off a self-made CD-ROM, nor from the optional harddrive unit, since no technical details about the port are currently known except a couple rumors, I'm going to speculate here and list some of the possibilities:

    depend on the boot loader (like LILO or grub) stored on a memory card, similar to the DVD player driver updates they distributed early on
    require a CD/DVD-ROM sold by Sony as an "authentication" mechanism
    require some special hardware so it could be booted from an external source (think of disk-less machines with root over NFS)
    only boot from the "official" CD that Sony sells. eg. Custom kernels unsupported. (The freedom to compile a custom kernel and freely boot it is very important. I honestly hope that Sony makes a decision which would be acceptable by the community as well as not risk their business model)
    In anycase, any "boot loader" would most likely be proprietary closed-source. We just have to accept this. The BIOS of any common PC that boots the operating system is proprietary, too.

    In short, I bought a Sony Playstation 2 unit with no intention of running any OS off it. I purchased it simply because its the coolest console video game unit I've ever seen and the game developement for it will be long-standing. The fact it also acts as a DVD player was a plus for sure. But when they tossed up the idea of throwing Linux on it, obviously because Microsoft's Xbox is going to bridge the gap between PC/console, I see endless possibilities now. Keep in mind this linux kit isn't a 'developers-only' package. This is going to be the interface that every ps2 user who wants to get online or treat his ps2 like a PC, will be using. Alot of wincentric folks are going to see linux for the first time, in all its glory and I wouldn't be suprised if some people will forever associate linux as "that video game OS." Any attention is better than none :-)
    • I got in... just tried again, and it's dead. The link to CNN was mentioned... I think it's more informative than the review, but it dosen't seem to be on CNN's scitech page (although there's a Video Game review there).

      Anyway, the link is: .ps2.idg/

      Take this in remembrance of me.

      Evan "the sleep deprived"

    • by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @10:58AM (#2653695)

      The boot process is one of the crown jewels of copy-protection in the game console business. Since only the console manufacturer knows how to manufacture bootable media, and probably is the only one with the manufacturing technology, game creators must license the technology. The console manufacturer earns from the royalties for this licensing, not thesale of the hardware. Actually it's very common that the console manufacturer is losing money each and every time one of their consoles is sold. This is how the traditional game business works. Don't expect Sony to give away the secret of how the Playstation2 boot.

      Those who don't know their video game legal history are doomed to make stupid comments about it, it seems. In the US, its legal to reverse engineer booting protocols for game consoles, even up to, and including the point, of the console displaying "Licensed Playstation Game", or anything to that effect, as long as it isn't shown that there is a way to make a bootable cartredge/CD that doesn't display that message. I believe the case that determined this was one of the Nintendo-era consoles, the SMS or Genesis, maybe (been a long time since I looked at the cases).

      Reverse engineering a console can save a company millions of dollars in licensing fees. There have been several notable legal battles that have determined how far a company can go to make compatible games.

      A CD doesn't hide its data well. Even assuming encryption on most of the CD, its probably a relatively simple task to tell where the PS2 is reading from the CD at boot. Moreso, for the information on the CD to be useful, it has to be decrypted somewhere in the PS2 itself. Its very crackable.

      Just my (educated) $.02

      • Greetings,

        Quick note: Genesis was Sega, and the first case in question that I know of was either the NES or SNES, in which EA decided that they had enough of the crap from Nintendo, and released their own games... and were promptly sued. They won, eventually.

        That was before the DMCA.

        Don't bet on the same legal protections you had in the past, unfortunately. This isn't random bitching about the DMCA, this is EXACTLY the sort of thing that the DMCA targets. It'd be nice if Nintendo took EA (a classic reverse-engineering shop) or someone to court over it, via the DMCA, and the reverse engineering shop won, but I wouldn't place money on that battle these days.

        As for believing that all boot processes can be faked, that's just not true for the end user. You often must modify the hardware in order to boot your own creations. The end user, for example, to this day STILL can't burn CD-ROM's that are immediately bootable on UNMODIFIED Playstations (used as an example because of the age of the platform). Sure, if you've got the right high-end specific hardware, you can do it. The vast general populace can't, and that includes the vast majority of developers.

        As for the decryption crack, all it needs to do is a physical verification of a non-writable portion of the disk before boot, and *poof* you cannot make CD's without very high end equipment. It's not an encryption issue, it's an access-control issue. Most Playstation CD's aren't even encrypted, the data is raw on the disk. (Playing just the Final Fantasy cut scene movies on my PC is fun!) The disk, however, has physical protection that prevents you playing a copy of it, UNLESS you've modified your Playstation to not need that physical protection.

        You won't be able to burn a CD or DVD in a consumer burner that will boot on a PS2, unless you've modified your PS2. To the best of my knowledge, the PS2 mods currently available are all still 'unstable', or only allow you to be in one mode (Japanese, American) at a time. That may have changed.

        In summary, be careful what comments you call 'stupid'. The boot process IS the crown jewel, the protection enforced IS valuable to the companies, and Sony will NOT give it away. Even if they did, I would still wager that you and I couldn't build media that would boot. Last but not least, legal protections offered in the past may not still be in place, due to the DMCA explicitly outlawing them.

        -- Cyberfox!
    • I've played with one of the ps2 Development tools, they're actually quite interisting. The problem lies in the fact that the ps2 only has 32 megs of ram. That's not a helluvalot, which makes the box kinda useless for anything other than just hacking around. I don't know if you can buy extra ram, or just make shitloads of swapspace for the thing, but it's still one cool hack.
  • This is really cool (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alsta ( 9424 ) on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:28PM (#2652264)
    And to the people out there thinking that this is stupid, I have but one thing to say. Linux being able to run on such a vast multitude of platforms and different architectures should indeed bear testimony to a truly portable and well designed operating system. It's not about why, but how.

    On a more on topic note, I wonder what kind of benefits this would provide to the people with mod chips in their PS2s. Could it possibly put the knowledge about how the PS2 works out in the public domain? And if so, did Sony think about this?

    Oh the possibilities... Check out Flight Gear ( and wonder if that could be made to favorably run on a PS2/Linux machine. GNU PS2 games... Mmmm. And foremost, could this allow for developers to make PS2/Linux a better gaming platform than XBox/WinXB[sic]?

    • I agree with you, Alsta. This is really cool.

      should indeed bear testimony to a truly portable and well designed operating system.

      I'm not entirely sure that the fact linux is available on a bunch of different hardware platforms is due solely to it's design and portability. It could be, but there are other factors that prohibit many proprietary OS's from getting ported.

      If the owner of the OS doesn't see a financial incentive to dedicate programmers to the task of porting to XYZ hardware, it's unlikely to happen. Remember, NT used to be available on the PPC platform until it was realized that the market for NT servers was heading X86.

      If the owner of a proprietary platform is looking for an OS for a boondoggle project, it can be cheaper in the long run to use a non-proprietary OS rather than get into a huge agreement with some OS vendor that's going to take a chunk of the boondoggle's profits in licensing fees.

      Linux has armies of developers willing to dedicate jillions of hours of work towards some technical challenge just to 'do it' whereas BeOS, Mac OS (save for Darwin), and Windows have no open source developers working to port them.

      So what I'm saying is that because Linux is all over the hardware map doesn't mean it is necessarily more portable or better designed. That may actually be the case. But if you're speaking relative to other operating systems, you've got to admit that they've got some non-design-related hobbles affecting their portability.

      Some other poster said that Xbox has linux and it's more powerful, etc. etc. That's interesting. I'd like to see some info on that. I had assumed that Gates had demanded that all kinds of hardware-level encryption / proprietary protocols were built into the thing to prevent third parties from releasing unlicensed devices / software for the thing (not to mention a repeat of the eyeopener catastrophe []).
  • Pictures (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cascino ( 454769 ) on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:30PM (#2652269) Homepage
    Check out the full system, including Sony's PS2 Flatscreen monitor here []. Damn, it's really slick.
    Anyone also notice how smart of a move this is for R&D at Sony? They just sit back, sell units, and wait for someone to code/port the perfect office suit/browser/etc that fully integrates the PS2 into the home office, and then they sell more units! I'd say this puts them at least a step ahead of Microsoft.
    • Re:Pictures (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hal-9001 ( 43188 )
      The sight of AOL running on a PS2 [] makes me very, very sad... :-p
  • One question... why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Black Pete ( 222858 ) on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:32PM (#2652282)
    I am seriously not trying to troll. This is a real question that I'd like to know the answer to. I'm not bashing Linux (hell, I have a Linux box which I love playing with). I know I'll get flamed anyways.. but here goes...

    Why would I want a Linux PS2? When playing games on the PS2, I just put a CD/DVD in, boot up, and play. Why should the average Joe Customer care what OS it's running?

    I can certainly see how it'd be cool as a hacking plaything to mess around with. I wouldn't mind getting a Linux PS2 just for that very reason. But beyond that, I don't see much point... either for myself, or for the average Joe Customer.

    I'd really appreciate it if anyone could enlighten me on this point?
    • by Randy Rathbun ( 18851 ) <> on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:46PM (#2652337) Homepage
      I want it so I can be watching TV and check my email without having to get off my ass and walk the 20 steps to the computer room. Plus, how often are you sitting at the TV and think to yourself, "I really need to remember to look this up on the web when I get a chance.." then go off and forget about it. Hell, I do it all the time.

      To me this is gonna be cool.
    • by dark_panda ( 177006 ) on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:53PM (#2652364)
      The system is going to need some kind of OS when it comes time for Sony to launch their Internet platform for it. Why not use something that's already available with tons of applications rather than re-writing everything? When it comes time for people to connect to the Internet through their PS2 (which Sony has always envisioned as an all-on-one-DVD/games/networkable box), they're already going to have good browsers, mail programes, office suites, hell, even ftp and web servers.

      No use recreating the wheel. It's not just cool, it's somewhat practical for them.

    • I can certainly see how it'd be cool as a hacking plaything to mess around with. I wouldn't mind getting a Linux PS2 just for that very reason. But beyond that, I don't see much point... either for myself, or for the average Joe Customer.

      There are a lot of people who would buy this just for playing around. There are a lot of people who enjoy computing for it's own sake, the people who make companies like Abit profitable.
    • Well... if "Joe Customer" implies your core ps2 buyer, then I don't think that ps2linux is that compelling(yet). If Sony dumbs it down to WebTV level then I think it might appeal to the mass market (which is the direction I thought they were headed, as they were demoing AOL on the ps2.. don't know if that's still a plan).

      However, I for one am intrigued with the idea of a low-cost ps2 game development platform. At the very least, you can write SDL games for it []. Admittedly a lot of my interest is simply curiosity -- Dreamcast Linux is even more impractical but I'm still going to install it.. just to say I did.

    • by VFVTHUNTER ( 66253 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @01:01AM (#2652593) Homepage
      Price of a PS2: $300

      Price of a PS2 Linux Kit: $200

      Not having to get up from the TV to get porn off the net: Priceless
    • I have a linux box, i have a ps2

      my linux box needs replacing in the next 6 months (it's ancient and has mobo issues, i learnt a lot building it but it's had it)

      so for me this deal will kick arse compared to buying new.

      if I want games i can use the ps2 natively.

      and for web / mail / ICQ / a bit of writing the linux kit will be more than adequate.

      and save me a chunk of cash too.

      I bet you there are a LOT of families out there with ps2's who'll leap at this if it's explained properly.

      digital divide and all that.

      it'll make a cheap and adequate computing platform.

      be interesting to see how well it supports printers and scanners.
  • You mean besides.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by moniker_21 ( 414164 ) on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:32PM (#2652283)

    "...finally I will have a legit reason to buy a PS2."

    You mean besides,

    All []
    the []
    really []
    really []
    great []
    games []
    ? []

    And many more... You just can't beat the PS2 right now simply because it has so many amazing games available for it. Sorry it's offtopic, but it's true.

  • Crippled or no? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:35PM (#2652296) Homepage Journal
    I've already got a PS2, and I can pretty much say that I'll get this... assuming I have the money for it. But does anyone know how crippled its going to be? I mean is Sony going to release the components and software you'll need to turn it into a 'true' Linux system right out of the box? I mean the thing does have a nice little CPU, it's cheap, and it's got a small form factor. I'd bet they would make for a nice server array, if they didn't put out to much heat.

    And what about access to the PS2's internal hardware? Are we going to be able to program games/demos/etc. How much codeability are we going to be able to get out of the thing?

    Oh, and that fire wire port makes me wonder. Sony has been pushing the video editing market with their Vaio PCs, and the PS2 does have a fire wire jack. Are we going to be able to edit video? Or would Sony not want to cut into it's PC sales by giving the machine to much power

    This thing has the potential to be like the Amiga/C64/etc of our generation. A cheap TV computer that's fully programmable, hack able, whatever. Except with fire wire DVD support and all sorts of other modern goodies. The only thing holding it back really is how much Sony is willing to allow it to possibly cut into their profits.

    I would assume the preview mentions these things, but it seems to be slashdotted...
    • 32MB of RAM, folks.

      Is that enough to run Gnome or KDE?

      And is anybody going to buy a PS2 to run in console mode?
      • Re:Crippled or no? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Afrosheen ( 42464 )
        That's plenty to run Blackbox or IceWM.

      • That's some proprietary RDRAM with throughput in the neighborhood of 3Gb, behind a 300Mhz, 128-bit processor, IIRC. Prolly smoke your Ghz Athlon.
        • Re:Crippled or no? (Score:3, Informative)

          by mikeee ( 137160 )
          RDRAM is well and good, but the fact that that RAM is 100% faster than mine isn't going to matter when it starts swapping, 'cause my RAM is about 1000000% faster than that IDE hard drive. (No, really, it is. Do the math.)

          OTOH, my previous PC ran Blackbox tolerably with 28 MB, so maybe...
  • Networking? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Col_Panic ( 120757 )
    Perhaps I have just missed it, but any information on networking this beast? I have heard that the ethernet adapter for the PS2 isn't due out till after the winter shopping season. (Sony has to be kicking themselves over that one, networking is the only thing the Xbox really has over the PS2) Any word on how the box running Linux would use this network adapter?
  • Dreamcast! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spackler ( 223562 ) on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:41PM (#2652319) Journal
    I just flipped my self-burned CD-R into my $50 Dreamcast, just to reply to this. You can do this today, for about as much money as a PS2 game and a keyboard. Granted, no hard disk, but the idea was to mess with embedded Linux.

    Don't miss the point here. Run to "Toys R us", and scoop up the Dreamcast (read the manufacture date through the hole in the back to make sure it was made before Sept. 2000). Go to and grab the image. Burn it with DiscJuggler, and start playing with embedded Linux tonight!

    • by mastagee ( 26015 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @01:32AM (#2652663)
      is here []

      The bioses in US dreamcasts manufactured after November 2000 will not boot audio/data multi-session cds. This was done because major piracy groups (Echelon mainly) were using this as their primary self-booting game format. The workaround is to convert the audio/data cd to a data/data cd.

  • Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cascino ( 454769 ) on Monday December 03, 2001 @11:43PM (#2652325) Homepage
    Wow... I just thought of something. Does anyone realize what would happen if Sony started pre-loading Linux onto PS2's? Does anyone realize how many users would learn to use (and love) Linux? Consider this - the original Playstation sold close to 100 million units (maybe more?), and the overwhelming majority were sold in latter years of its life.
    I'd say this is a fairly likely scenario, actually. Once the price comes down enough, Sony would be smart to start bundling PS2's with harddrives - and so it really wouldn't be a big stretch to throw in the keyboard/mouse combo as well. And if they do that, consumers are going to expect additional functionality. Why pay extra for a harddrive when all it does is store saved games? In comes Linux. By that point, there will already be a browser, a word processor, and a useable GUI developed especially for the PS2. Thus the sub-$300 gaming AND browsing PC becomes a reality - and it runs Linux.
    • A disk would add a lot to the cost. OTOH, a small disk, or some suitable substitute, might well be a necessity if they are going to start being a full e-mail system, net browser system, etc.

      Problem is, those things won't add much cash to the pocket. So they will have to be paid for up front. I expect that whole module to be an extra cost add-on (add-in?). And wouldn't be surprised if it used proprietary hardware connections.

      Under this scenario one would have the basic Playstation, and its add-on. Then one would have the hard-disk/e-mail system, and it's add ons. The basic hard-disk system would have a Linux Kernel, X Window, a browser, and not much else. Then there would be the development kit that one could add on to that. This might be priced cheaply, if Sony could count on selling any software created (or on giving it away as a valued-added extra). Otherwise it would need to cover its own cost, and then a bit more.
  • Mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    by gabeman-o ( 325552 )

    Sorry, didnt get a chance to mirror the full size screen shots.
  • Legit reason? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sheetzam ( 454981 )
    Wow, this is clearly a definition of legitimate I had not encountered before! Not that I can argue with it, mind you. Now if only my wife were willing to accept that logic....
  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @12:21AM (#2652460) Homepage Journal

    Sony has released its distribution of the GNU/Linux OS for PlayStation 2 in the USA.

    17 USC 109 [](b)(1)(A) prohibits rental of computer software in the United States. Section 109(b)(1)(B), on the other hand, makes an exception for software designed to run on video game consoles. But does the release of PS2 Linux make the PS2 into a "computer" under the law, and thus ineligible for software rental without explicit contracts between each video game publisher and each rental shop?

    • 17 USC 109 [](b)(1)(A) prohibits rental of computer software in the United States
      Then how is the new Orifice XP license legal? Or .NET?
      • Then how is the new Orifice XP license legal? Or .NET?

        Because you sign a contract with Microsoft (or click your signature onto an on-screen EULA, but legal experts currently dispute enforceability of such schemes). It's illegal for the purchaser to rent copies of computer software not designed for a game console, but it's perfectly OK for the copyprivilege owner to do so, which is why I mentioned that Sony could potentially make contracts with video store owners. However, this opens up another can of worms relating to potential discriminatory policies about rental licensing; these issues already pop up in Japan, where consumers' first sale rights are much weaker.

    • by VFVTHUNTER ( 66253 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @01:10AM (#2652612) Homepage
      The PS2 is by default a video game console; since authorities would have to violate the Fourth Amendment just to see if you had installed Linux on it, this point is kind of moot.

      Way to think outside of the box tho :)
  • Quake 3 on Linux? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Deltan ( 217782 )
    Since the retail Quake 3 for PlayStation 2 sucked bad would it be an outraegous idea to think that maybe Quake 3 for Linux could be run on the PlayStation 2 making everything in the Quake 3 world all happy happy again?
  • Finally? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Elflord1999 ( 465328 )
    It almost makes me ill to read something like this...."Finally I have a legit reason to buy a PS2" about those of us that realize there are to play on the console? Not to mention the fact that it /is/ a console. Will I have a legit reason to buy a leafblower when someone finds a way to put Linux on it? I mean, come on. I run my domain on Linux boxes, and I play games on my PS2...imagine that. I'm sure this will end up being 'flamebait', but most of you need to get a grip on this stuff.
  • *DING DING!* (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Soko ( 17987 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @12:48AM (#2652555) Homepage
    Oh boy. Here we go.

    This is the exact reason the XBOX was conceived and released - to counter all of those CPU cycles being "wasted" in game consoles on a non-Wintel platform. I'd bet Microsoft has been terrified for many years that every kid who has a game console actually has a computer, and someone somewhere would make the consoles behave like real computers. XBOX is supposed to beat them to the punch.

    It's classic Microsoft strategy.

    if { Game_Console == Computer and Game_Console == Pervasive_penetration_into_homes and Game Console != Requires_Windows}
    { Game_Console == Threat_to_Monopoly_Windows_Position};
    End if;
    { Attack_Compeditors_base_market (undercut_price, add_proprietary_tech);
    Delflect_Competition_from_Windows(FUD_FUD_FUD, De-comodotize);
    until {Threat_to_Monopoly_Windows_Position==0};

    The PS/2 is no C64 - and Microsoft knows it. This has been brewing for some time - you could tell Microsoft felt threatened by all those game consoles that didn't need them (Except Sega, IIRC, and we know what happened to them). So, Microsoft attacked Sony's bread and butter with the XBOX. This is the shot Sony is firing back. This is going to be fun to watch. Heh - I know whose side I'm on - the consumers.

    BTW - those of you with Sony VAIOs running Windows should keep tabs on your machine's stability for a while *grin*.
  • by Nemith ( 114402 ) <{ten.tseweno} {ta} {btenneb}> on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @01:22AM (#2652643) Homepage
    After reading this article it dawned on me that this isn't a beta of the US version of linux for the PS2. It is just a english site on the Japan version.

    The X11 screen shot on that site is exactly the same as on the Japan site []. Furthermore the kit showing is also right off the Japaneese site. [] Check out this dmesg [] on the site. Look familiar?!?. Ya I though so.

    From my understanding the US version will have an internal harddrive/network card to fit in that big hole in the back of the PS2. Now I am a little dissapointed. This casts no forshadow to release of the US version and we still have to wait. Why this even made Slashdot I am not sure, but dont be fooled with this trickery.

    • Well, there is this article [] (hyperlink from the original posted link [], where Shin'ichi Okamoto, senior vice president and chief technical officer of Sony Computer Entertainment, said that although he couldn't provide a U.S. release date for the PS2 Linux Kit yet, "we'll be able to announce it soon."

      That article is dated October 24th, 2001, so the question is whether that pre- or postdates the disclaimer on the PS2 Linux Kit website [] stating that

      • The Linux Kit is designed exclusively for the Japanese model of "PS2", SCPH-10000,SCPH-15000 and SCPH-18000. Since these models are for domestic use in Japan, the Linux Kit is only available in Japan.
      • At this point, there is no plan to release the Linux Kit for non-Japanese model of "PS2".
      • Overseas delivery is not available.

      I for one hope this if for real, because for me, like for timothy, this would be the straw that breaks the camel's back and convinces me to purchase a PS2.

  • Maybe it should be called WorkStation 2 instead. =)
  • OpenGL? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @01:26AM (#2652652)
    A lot of people are slavering at the possibility of porting a bunch of Linux games onto the PS-2, perhaps getting a cheaper/better Quake for PS-2 that way.

    However, we need to be realistic about this. None of those things are possible until/unless there is a good hardware-accellerated OpenGL port for the beast.

    As far as I can tell, there isn't such a thing in existance - and whilst we can certainly port Mesa onto it, we won't get hardware accelleration and it'll run S-L-O-W.

    Even with a good OpenGL port, you still wouldn't see stellar performance because the PS-2's 3D processor isn't optimised for running OpenGL - it takes a lot of wierd programming tricks to get speed out of the PS-2 and without free access to the hardware details, there is little or no chance of getting good 3D games running on it.

    Of course, all of this changes if Sony announce an OpenGL implementation or release the hardware details - but I'm not holding my breath.
  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) <jmorris@beau . o rg> on Tuesday December 04, 2001 @01:30AM (#2652660)
    Notice anything missing from the dmesg output?

    Yup, just the hard drive! No access to the closed hardware in the CD/DVD player. No CD/MP3/DVD/VCD/Divx;) players for us until some outsiders reverse engineer things and distribute a loadable module.

    Bummer. I'd have bought one in an instant as a play everything console.

    Anybody know if it has one or two PC Card slots? It needs one for the HDD/ethernet but since ethenet to my TV would be a bitch I'd prefer to slam a Orinoco into it.
  • Potential of Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

    by j3110 ( 193209 )
    Since linux practically runs on every D@#$ thing in the world, is free, has a metric ton of developer tools... I have only one question...
    Why doesn't anyone ship a cd that boots linux,X11 4.01, and then runs their 3D game? If a game developer did this would they not be able to run it on Mac,PC(3D accel required), PS2(special ver.), XBOX(sure that's next if not already), Toaster Oven, etc. Seems like if a game developer really wanted to hit the entire market, they could use BSD or Linux pretty easily... I don't know how the GPL plays with shipping a binary linux kernel with a commercial product, but BSD license is all peachy. Even GPL, can you not just ship the source code on the same CD for everything but your game. (Linux distro's do this, so I don't see why game developers can't.) I don't see what I'm missing. Seems to me a larger market base for games + more games for linux is a win-win situation for the Linux community and the game publishers. Is the compiler for those processors just not optimized? Is there no OpenGL X11 support for the video of the PS2? Is Sony intentionally not wanting to compete with computers? Any fine game developers/legal experts/people generally smarter than me want to point out the flaw in my thinking? (Assuming it's flawed because someone else would have already jumped the idea if it was feasible. Then again, it could be at least a new goal for linux. I know a lot of gamers that would enjoy the power of linux. I know linux wasn't developed for realtime processes, but 2.4 is decent. I'm sure a game dev would tweak the scheduler.)
  • OK, so you put in the Linux boot disk... then what happens? Does LILO boot the linux kernel that you have stored on the PS2 hardrive? Or does it boot a kernel that resides on the CD.... my guess is one on the CD. Now Playstation 2's will not play any type of burned media.... CD or DVD. (Unless you mod your playstation2 and get a GameShark boot disk). So what happens when I want to patch the kernel? Or edit my startup scripts? Or just flat change my distro? I'm sure Suse or Redhat will have something before too long....

    Also if the kernel is on the boot CD, I just cant eject that CD and put in a MP3/DivX/DVD disk in it either.... meaning I'm going to have to pull any content that I want from those types of media from another source on my network. Granted... there is a certain amount of geekish pride in rigging it this way, but its definitely not conveinent. Who (outside of slashdot readers) has ethernet strung to thier entertainment centers?

    - J Rob
    • PS2 not able to read burned CDs? Bollocks, I say! I burn CDs all the time and then test out their success by playing a few tracks on my PS2. Not a problem.

      Kernel probably gets loaded into memory anyways, so you could eject the boot media and pop something else in.

      What really excites me about this though is the concept of doing an NFS mount back to my PC in my home office and playing back my music collection through my stereo (which is hooked up to the PS2 via an optical cable). Now that's what I call slick.

  • If you want a portible computer a laptop is far more powerful, plays games just as well if not better, and best yet, Linux was DESIGNED for it unlike the mutilated PS2 Linux.

    I think this is a waste of time, just like the Dreamcast linux, If developers want to do something useful, Improve linux for the computer, work on the kernel, work on KDE, Gnome, do something which matters to everyone and not something which matters to a few thousand people LITERALLY.
  • I mean, imagine buying a games console and playing games on it? You'd be shunned.
  • Namely, running XBoxGW [] on your PS2 to enable you to play Halo online. Betcha Billy G. would pitch a hissy fit *grin*
  • It's not like you could just bring most Linux software over to it without experiencing extreme virtual memory thrashing.
  • Why is it that when the Xbox was released people say it "Is only a PC disguised as a console".

    Now that the PS2 runs linux in the states, people are praising the console for becoming an affordable "pc".

    If this was linux coming out on the xbox then people would say you can buy a more powerfull pc for the price of the xbox + keyboard + mouse when in all reality by the time you add a hard drive, floppy drive, keyboard, mouse, and monitor to your PS2 you have WELL EXCEEDED the cost of a XP 1900 system with tripple resources.

    I don't get it. Do you want a console or another PC or is it only Anti Microsoft that the Xbox is a doomed "pc" and the PS2 is a great "pc"?

    Hell, i got linux running on my Dreamcast, which is fine and dandy, but not going to replace my pc. More of a hack and a way to produce my own software and run it on the DC.

    So yeah, its cool linux runs on another box, but this ranting and raving about how great a ps2 will be as a "pc" is about as pointless as making my Xbox a PC. They're not designed for that and for christs sake, for once the neither the Xbox or PS2 is standards compliant and both are proprietary systems so why the big fuss from such an anti-proprietary crowd and pro standard group?

    Oh well, somethings i will never understand :)
  • It's RISC (Score:2, Informative)

    As many of us know, this is a RISC R5000 (modified) processor. This is the same kind of chip you'd get in a 02 likely. Indy's don't get 294mhz. The potential for digital video editing is probably pretty good, because as I recall, the PS2 has a 32mb video ram, they're probably using opengl for the video (considering it's a R5000), and it's a fast video chip to do all those games.

    What I'm wondering, is why hasn't Sony released the source code to their modified Linux kernel? Linux is definatly GPL, XFree86 is GPL, at least a lot of the code, and plenty more apps. Isn't porting considered big enough a change that it requires a source release?
  • Could sombody provide a URL?
  • all this talk of ps2linux being major begs the question "how major is it in Japan?" they've had it for months now. if i walk down the street in japan and bump into some average PS2 playing teens are they gonna know what the hell I'm talking about (lets assume i can speak japanese and they can speak english)? is ps2linux a big thing in japan and if not hwo can we expect it to eb a big thing here? I'm all gung-ho for ps2linux but where is it? i wnat one. hell i want a real pic. i want a ballpark price.
  • I read an article some months ago relating to this very concept. While I can not recall or find the exact link to the article, I'll try to relate the gist of it here.

    Granted I'll admit to not having spent a lot of time dealing with Linux. I like it. I like what I've seen, but I'm far from a die hard fan/user. That may change. In any case...

    The Case for Linux on the PS2:

    One of the issues that seems to bother Linux is a lack of driver support. This is coupled by the myriad of nearly infite hardware combinations that are presented by the nature of PC comptable machines. Who know what hardware will be in which machine. Therefore, gobs of drivers must be available to make the product work effectively. The bonus of the PS2 is that the hardware is a given. A very focused distribution of Linux can be built and bundled with the console. It can be garrunteed to run properly because you have the same hardware in umpteen million units out there. Compatibility becomes a mostly non-issue. This is not the case with my experience with Linux in the PC compatible hardware realm.

    So here is a solid base of a large number of known pieces of hardware that a very stable and secure distribution of Linux can be put on. Once that happens, software (in many forms, business apps, games, etc...) becomes that much easier to produce in a workable, stable, coherent form.

    Now add into the mix Sony's partnership with AOL. As much as I hate AOL, think of the rammifications. An AOL Linux on every PS2 out there. Set top web access. Not to mention mozilla or what have you if you choose not to use the Sony/AOL service.

    The Linux/PS2 bundle becomes a rather inexpensive, stable, useful internet/gaming/entertainment/home productivity device.

    I'm sure I left out some of the original articles ideas, and I've added some of my own. Perhaps someone can point out the source I can't rememeber. Point being, though, the Linux/PS2 combo, if played right by Sony, could be major.

    'nuff said.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel