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Sony Games Linux

Game Over For Sony and Open Source? 364

Glyn Moody writes "Sony has never been much of a friend to hackers, and its infamous rootkit showed what it thought of users. But by omitting the option to install GNU/Linux on its new PS3, it has removed the final reason for the open source world to care about Sony. Unless, of course, you find Google's new distribution alliance with Sony to pre-install Chrome on its PCs exciting in some way."
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Game Over For Sony and Open Source?

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  • Who Cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:33PM (#29288111) Journal

    Buy a damned computer, or one of the mobiles you can install Linux on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:35PM (#29288145)

    It didn't sell them any significant number of new PS3's. That they did it for the first generation was fine, but it's not a contract they signed in blood.

  • Re:Who Cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PrescriptionWarning ( 932687 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:35PM (#29288149)
    without the use of most of the computing power when you actually put linux on it, it seemed gimped to begin with. In other words they weren't exactly being open source friendly from the start any way.
  • Re:Who Cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:36PM (#29288177) Homepage

    A console is a computer, just with annoying restrictions tacked on.

    But generally good advice, that's why I don't buy consoles in general, and avoid Sony like the plague.

  • Cost/Benefit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TJ_Phazerhacki ( 520002 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:37PM (#29288191) Journal
    RTFA. Sony has chosen not to maintain the Hypervisor for the new hardware. You can still run linux on the old systems, and they do not plan to disable that feature. This isn't open source hate, it's a practical business decision by a company that loses money every time they sell a console. They made the console cheaper.
  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:38PM (#29288217)
    ... PS3 Slim won't run PS2 discs [fudzilla.com]
  • Stupid Article. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reason58 ( 775044 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:39PM (#29288233)
    I'm in the "open source world".

    Should I stop caring about Burger King because I can't run Linux on a Whopper?
  • Re:Who Cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:40PM (#29288247) Journal

    From the article

    Sony explained their decision on the Playstation 2 developer forum, in a post that has since been removed:

    "The reasons are simple: The PS3 Slim is a major cost reduction involving many changes to hardware components in the PS3 design. In order to offer the OtherOS install, SCE would need to continue to maintain the OtherOS hypervisor drivers for any significant hardware changes--this costs SCE. One of our key objectives with the new model is to pass on cost savings to the consumer with a lower retail price. Unfortunately in this case the cost of OtherOS install did not fit with the wider objective to offer a lower cost PS3."

    And this is understable, seeing how much PS3 price has come down from its launch.

    Old PS3 owners still have the option, it just affects the 'slim' model.

  • Re:Who Cares (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:40PM (#29288257) Homepage Journal

    Buy a damned computer, or one of the mobiles you can install Linux on.

    Three things:

    • That's another box to buy and connect to the TV. I thought people chose the PLAYSTATION 3 to get away from having to buy an extra box for everything.
    • If you have an SDTV, you have to buy yet another box to convert the VGA signals from the PC to the composite or S-Video signals that the console understands.
    • Apart from EA Sports, there appears to be a stigma among major PC game developers against releasing multiplayer games designed to run on a single PC connected to a TV.
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:47PM (#29288369) Homepage Journal

    They probably realized Linux support buys them little over the Wii and XBox360 despite what I and everyone else thinks.

    Xbox 360 has Creators Club and Xbox Live Indie Games, a business model that Apple copied for the iPhone SDK and App Store. What does Sony have to match it?

  • Re:Cost/Benefit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:52PM (#29288441)

    And stopped people from buying it that weren't going to buy games and accessories with it.

    Yes, some gamers also installed Linux, but there were -many- people who bought it just to install Linux, for various reasons. Each of those sales was an absolute loss for Sony and it doesn't make sense to encourage it.

    I don't blame them one bit. Besides, I installed linux and it wasn't a very good experience on the PS3, between horrible installs and slowness and general awkwardness like having to choose what to load on reboot/etc. I ended up just putting a PC in the room instead.

  • by sesshomaru ( 173381 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:55PM (#29288475) Journal

    The big console makers are sort of Tivo-ization to the Nth degree. They give (or rather sell) you these neat computers and then tell you, "Don't worry your pretty little head about them, We will tell you (or rather, sell you) what you can and can't run on them."

    Sony was trying to leverage Linux because they are enemies of Microsoft now. They are also enemies of Free Software, though, so it was a half-hearted "we'll just see what happens if we let people do this," situation. Even though they are selling these great, powerful computers, they still insist on controlling the content on them. That hasn't changed, and won't change because the console model requires it.

    So, the whole thing where people would rave about Linux on the PS3 didn't make a lot of sense to me. I feel that as far as making use of a console, the SEGA decision to allow the Dreamcast to boot ordinary CDs was a far bigger deal.

    The problem is, the hardware from Sony (and Microsoft, and Nintendo) is all locked down to prevent the power user/hacker/programmer from doing what they want with it. The fact that the might allow some locked down version of Linux on there is beside the point.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:06PM (#29288659) Journal

    Yeah, well that wasn't a capability of many big PS3s either, the 40GB in Europe never had that capability. Sad, yes, but once the PS3 game library was big enough an understandable cost optimisation.

    Maybe Sony will one day sort out its PS2 software emulation (not the half and half that they had in 2nd generation PS3s in some markets) so that we can load our existing games (although I suspect they would rather we rebought them in the PS Store).

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:11PM (#29288737)

    ... PS3 Slim won't run PS2 discs [fudzilla.com]

    I think this is a more practical thing to be concerned about, at least for some of us. I thought about buying a PS3, even though it's unlikely I'd buy many games at first, because looking forward it seemed to make sense. But heck, my daughter still plays a number of PS2 games on a regular basis - so nope, we're not getting a PS3 for a while.

    I don't understand why console makers can't grasp that we don't want to keep connecting more and more devices concurrently to our televisions, or having said devices taking up more and more room under/around them...

  • by brkello ( 642429 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:18PM (#29288845)
    Just summarize the article, don't whine to me about how you don't like Sony. I am able to evaluate actions they take individually. Rootkit = bad. PS3 not supporting linux = good business decision. They are in no way related to each other since this isn't replacing Linux on the PS3 with a rootkit.

    And seriously wake up. If you get pissed at Sony for the dumb things they do, then you probably wouldn't buy a product from anyone if you actually paid attention to all the crap that has gone on in each company's history.
  • by Malkin ( 133793 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:22PM (#29288897)

    I agree. This quote really made me giggle:

    But by omitting the option to install GNU/Linux on its new PS3, it has removed the final reason for the open source world to care about Sony.

    Unless they -- I don't know -- like playing console games, like the vast majority of people who buy game consoles. My microwave oven doesn't run Linux, either, but it somehow manages to still be useful to me.

    Honestly, I think out-of-touch rants like this only serve to further reinforce the "Linux zealot" stereotype, and drive the mainstream away from Linux.

  • Re:Who Cares (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:35PM (#29289093) Homepage
    A console is a computer, just with annoying restrictions tacked on.

    But much cheaper, and with far less software glitches.
  • Re:Who Cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:38PM (#29289139)

    For how many more months will the Old PS3 remain available with a hardware warranty?

    If you're interested in running Linux on a PS3, you probably already own one. If you don't, Sony has given you fair warning to get a "chubby" PS3 while they are still available.

    Besides, I don't think this is going to stop anyone from running Linux on the slim PS3. It's not like the iPhone comes with a "install other OS" option in the boot code.

  • Be fair, now. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:46PM (#29289233)
    All Sony has done is reverted to the status quo for game consoles. The Wii and 360 don't allow Linux to be run. While Sony should be praised for including a (mostly gimped) linux option with the PS3, they shouldn't be condemned any more than Nintendo or Microsoft for not including it. I'm not a Sony fan at all.

    There's FAR better things to criticize Sony about.
  • It fights piracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Late Adopter ( 1492849 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:53PM (#29289377)
    The hypervisor gave homebrew developers a way to make apps without enabling warez. But now the homebrew community and the warez community are brought back together by the need to find a hack to access the console resources. And once one finds a way in, the other gets it for free, no stopping them.

    Linux support seemed like an intelligent way to take a stab at piracy on the cheap, while paying lip-service to Open Source, etc, and getting a tiny amount of street-cred for it. It may be that's not worth the cost to them anymore... we'll see if that turns out to be a mistake or not.
  • by masmullin ( 1479239 ) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:56PM (#29289427)
    It didn't spark the development push because Sony crippled the ability for Linux to use all of the hardware.

    If they wanted to spark development, they should have let the OtherOS have free reign.
  • Re:Who Cares (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @03:27PM (#29289901)

    Pain free? have you ever heard of titles breaking, or that you have to pay for every add-on that PC users get free, or that you can't upgrade your hardware like a PC and constantly stay up to date?

    Both systems have the same problems with DRM, no need to delude yourself thinking that the problems with DRM are lesser with a console. Console DRM is 100x worse in general, and costs more too. $60 PS3 vs $40PC for the same game? easy answer. Guess which one can get bluray later, and guess which one is now losing linux support supposedly.

  • Re:Who Cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thtrgremlin ( 1158085 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @03:29PM (#29289937) Homepage Journal
    all you are saying is that proprietary restrictions work both ways, which is exactly one of the issues brought up by FOSS promoters about proprietary software. The Commodore, Amiga, Atari, and others of their time were "computers" or "consoles" based on what was desired by the USER. Today, users PAY console / SDK developers to provide "protections" against open third party development to provide an incentive of non-competition to large gaming companies by ensuring that the only games / software is going to be on a shelf next to their own product released by other big game companies that also had to pay big licencing fees. Sony doesn't care how many games for their system are sold other then its relationship to potential future licencing agreements. Units sold tell game makers how large their market is to determine cost benefit of buying the licence and producing / porting a game.

    So just because despite everything inside of it being the same as any other desktop / laptop mix of parts that happens to have an IBM Power7 CPU for which WINDOWS will never be ported doesn't change anything. Does something become a "PC" when MS whack pack signs the drivers?

    But of course, many arcade machines still running today have worn out, been gutted, had their entrails replaced with a Linux Server running MAME. So maybe it would be most accurate to say that consoles are arcade machines with annoying unnecessary restrictions tacked on.

    But well said; on the upside you could probably put something like that on your resume and get a job at Sony, or even Apple or Microsoft in no time. Hell, you could probably get elected to public office.
  • Re:Cost/Benefit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @03:31PM (#29289979)

    I hate to say it, but Sony probably lost more PS3 sales by removing the PS2 compatibility than they did removing the ability to run Linux.

  • Re:Who Cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by guruevi ( 827432 ) <`moc.stiucricve' `ta' `ive'> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @03:33PM (#29290009) Homepage

    Never owned an X-Box I see. I don't own an X-Box either but against my advice my brother-in-law did and he has had nothing but trouble with it. He had it in and out of service for 5 months, this is his fourth X-Box in less than 2 years (warranty) and now it's eating his disks. The disks are not under warranty. Too bad he can't make a backup copy of them.

  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @03:44PM (#29290165) Homepage Journal

    Sony didn't make it a challenge. I thought that so at first, but guess what? It was the hypervisor restricting all the access. Hypervisor's gone, all that's left is to hack the firmware to allow installing another OS. If anything, Sony's likely made it easier to get Linux running.

  • Re:Who Cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CronoCloud ( 590650 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <noruaduolconorc>> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @03:48PM (#29290241)

    Never had a scratched disc, perhaps the people complaining that they need "backups" in case they scratch the discs need to take care of their valuable things better.

  • Re:Cost/Benefit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CronoCloud ( 590650 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <noruaduolconorc>> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @04:19PM (#29290679)

    I agree, anyone who wanted to run Linux on a PS3 probably already has one. The slim model is not aimed at Sony's hardcore fanbase (who probably wanted backwards compatibility and already have a PS3) or open source geeks, but those who don't have one already.

    Sony said something similar when they released the slim PS2 without the hard drive bay: "Look, most likely anyone who wanted to play the few hard drive enabled games already has a fat PS2 because they're hardcore fans"

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @04:26PM (#29290797)

    In the future Sony will refrain from supporting Linux in anything initially, because they get more flack for not supporting it in all models than do other console makers for never having supported it to begin with.

    It's this kind of mean-spirited crap that keeps Open Source as generally a second-class citizen on platforms.

  • Re:Who Cares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:27PM (#29291693)
    My rerfigerator is a a computer. My thermostat is a computer. My car's engine has a computer. My remote control is a computer. I don't get persnickety about not being able to Linux on those devices. Why should I, or anyone else, get upset that I can't put Linux on a console? The other poster is right. If you want to install Linux and use it buy a device that lets you easily install and run arbitrary code. You'll never achieve the mythical "year Linux takes over the desktop" if you keep wasting time trying to put it on everything *BUT* desktop computers.
  • by hxnwix ( 652290 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @05:52PM (#29292057) Journal

    Nobody uses the PS3 for supercomputing these days. The ugly secret of the PS3 is that its 'extreme performance' was mostly marketing.

    Folding@Home maintains a popular PS3 client that is currently used by 31,933 PS3s. [stanford.edu] The PS3s provide about 26% of the total x86 equivalent TFLOPS available to F@H, although PS3s represent just 9% of the total F@H CPU population.

    Let me emphasize that: thirty one thousand, nine hundred thirty three PS3s actively contribute to Folding@Home. That's a long way from zero, my friend.

  • Re:Who Cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @06:19PM (#29292381) Homepage Journal

    Pain free? have you ever heard of titles breaking,

    On a console? Is that like when PC games are released early in the alpha stage and the first 3 months are so are devoted to patching the game into a somewhat-workable state? And a broken console can't stop me from doing work (at least not directly, heh heh) but a broken PC means not only can I not play games, I probably can't work either.

    or that you have to pay for every add-on that PC users get free,

    Ah, but you can sell your console games when you're finished (for the most part). That's much better to me than getting some crappy after-the-fact add-ons.

    or that you can't upgrade your hardware like a PC and constantly stay up to date?

    You mean that crushing feeling you get when your PC that used to be bleeding edge gets sloooower and sloooower every time you install a newer game? Don't miss it.

  • by Zeikcied ( 1630059 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @01:03AM (#29295761)

    First, to the story poster, the Sony that made the rootkit isn't the same Sony that makes the PS3. Sony Music made the rootkit, and Sony Computer Entertainment makes the PS3. Yes, same parent company, but two very different divisions. Also, SCE doesn't make Sony computers. Just because the name Sony is common doesn't mean it's the same division, or even the same company. Each division can have vastly different philosophies. So comparing SCE to Sony Music or Sony Computers (whatever the exact company names are) makes for a flawed argument.

    Anyway, to me, this story and a number of replies to it smack of open source elitism. You know that's why Windows and Mac users don't much care for us Linux users, right? Open source isn't the be all end all solution to everything. Yeah, I use Kubuntu Linux (Jaunty, to be exact), and I have since December 2006. I'm quite happy with Linux. But I know that open source can't do every single thing perfectly. I use the closed source NVIDIA graphics driver, because the open source version isn't up to par. I use Adobe Flash Player, because Gnash can't hold a candle to the official product (not yet at least; I tried Gnash on Homestarrunner.com and Weebl's Stuff, and the video was much slower than the audio, causing a huge syncing issue). At one point I used the Adobe Acrobat Reader, because the KDE PDF viewers at the time couldn't support editing PDF forms and emailing the results (functionality of a more recent version of Acrobat).

    Sony removing Linux support from the PS3 Slim isn't the end of the world. You can still install Linux on the pre-Slim units. My 60 Gig PS3 (now with a new 120 Gig HD) still has the Install Other OS option. I don't use it, because it would be redundant, seeing as how my computer and PS3 are in the same room. But I still have the option. It isn't like the feature is being removed from every PS3 in existence. Besides, I don't understand why someone needs Linux on their PS3 and their PC at the same time. Sure, I can understand the curiosity factor. But I don't see what other functionality you need that the PS3 doesn't have to begin with, or that you can't easily get on your PC.

  • by faragon ( 789704 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @01:47AM (#29295997) Homepage

    Dear fuckwad, please learn what censorship actually is and stop calling everything you don't like censorship in an attempt to gain notice, you are just lowering the value of the word and making it so more and more people don't give a fuck when you scream censorship.

    Please also learn that it is completely acceptable to every normal person on the planet to censor certain things at certain times, regardless your inability to understand that, or the fact that the world doesn't revolve around you.

    It may be "completely acceptable" for you.

  • Re:Who Cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:45AM (#29296597)
    Pain free? have you ever heard of titles breaking, or that you have to pay for every add-on that PC users get free, or that you can't upgrade your hardware like a PC and constantly stay up to date?

    I honestly don't mind buying a new game if I break it. That's the way it works with all my OTHER stuff.

    Paying for add-ons is lame, and I don't do it. It's not deceptive, though, and takes no control away from me.

    And I don't need to upgrade my hardware to stay up to date because that concept doesn't exist in the console world. A three year old 360 is no more out of date than a brand new 360. There's no games coming out that my console can't run; it's not slowly becoming obsoleted. I don't have to run and send in order to stay in place, like I do in the pc world.

    I'm defending the consoles, but I like playing pc games, too. Less and less, though, because it's just a headache. People bitch about the 360's red-ring rate... I'd like to see stats on how many brand new gaming computers are running without serious problems three years later. (Not anecdotes. Stats.)
  • Re:Who Cares (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unapersson ( 38207 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @05:16AM (#29297033) Homepage

    They said Metal Gear Solid 4 was going to be PS3 exclusive - guess what bucko? 360's about to get it.

    Are you porting it in your spare time?

  • Re:Cost/Benefit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Thursday September 03, 2009 @11:50AM (#29300565) Homepage Journal

    "Using a version of Internet Explorer that is how old, and knows how little about modern web technologies?"

    Actually I'd just use an older version of firefox with a few plugins. Oldversion.com - because newer isn't ALWAYS better.

    "And how many features does your Outlook have? I know you can't use webmail because you're using a version of IE that can't do shit."

    Gmail has a regular HTML display option for email - try again.

    "The capabilities of Quake 3 are nowhere near those of modern games."

    The Q3 engine is open-sourced and has been extensively and heavily modified. The engine itself is more efficient and actually handles more detail. In fact, iD software is the premier engine developer, and the Q3 engine is so customizable that with just some tweaking you can get much better looking graphics. Actually, the engine is so efficient that extremely high polygon count models would still render pretty easily even on older Geforce 6 hardware.

    "Ah, but can you do 1080p video?"

    Software 1080p only requires a 2GHz P4 and 256MB of RAM (That's my old system spec from early 2000, was watching 1080p fansubs) Get a video card that handles it natively on the board and you can get away with only a 1GHz processor.

    "Calculators do simple math. I bet your calculator can't brute force an MD5 hash at 600 million attempts per second."

    http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=767419 [ycombinator.com] - who needs speed? It can be done, it will be done. yea it'll take years on the TI-83's 8MHz cpu but it could still get it done.

    "Sorry old man, but computers from 10 years ago just aren't capable of things that today's computers are."

    Only games. Everything else can and has been done on older computers, pretty well might I add, maybe not REALTIME but it still gets done. All those super-awesome CGI scenes you saw in movies back in the late 90s? Yea, quite a few of those were done on machines that don't break the 300MHz barrier, and were lucky to even have 256MB of RAM in both video and system memory combined. Music tracks? Yep, been done a loooong time on old computers. 3D modeling/CAD? Yup, been done and is still done on old computers (go take a tour of the Carvin guitar factory, they're still using machines from the early 80's running some variant of UNIX.) Text processing? Been doing that since before the days of monochrome screens. Spreadsheets, graphs, plotting? Yep, those too.

    Sorry, but computers even back then were capable of doing pretty much anything you wanted with them. Whether or not you got results back in realtime is an entirely different matter.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson