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Operating Systems PlayStation (Games) Sony Games

Hacker Will Try To Restore Linux Support On PS3 468

Many readers have been sending in news of the impending PS3 firmware update that will remove the ability to install other operating systems on the console. (We discussed it here on Sunday.) Over the past few days, legions of PS3 owners have been voicing their anger at Sony's decision, upset that they'll be forced to either lose their custom install or forgo use of the PlayStation Network and be unable to play certain games and movies. Now, hacker George Hotz, known for his iPhone jailbreaks and his PS3 hack earlier this year, has vowed to fight back and restore Linux support on the PS3. He said, "The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout its lifecycle. Software PS2 emulation, SACD playback, and OtherOS support are all just software switches you can flip. It's unbelievable you would go and flip one, not just on new boxes you are shipping, but on tens of millions already in the field."
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Hacker Will Try To Restore Linux Support On PS3

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  • First DUH!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:30PM (#31678736)
    Well, no duh!
  • by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:30PM (#31678744)

    And Sony will respond by banning these people from PSN for hacking the PS3. Or does this person really think that Sony won't be checking such a thing when you connect to PSN?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:31PM (#31678752)

    express their total disinterest and get back to playing God of War whatever.

    Thanks for coming.

  • Its not just sony (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:34PM (#31678792)

    >> The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout its lifecycle.

    Presuming youre talking about artificial limitations, Microsoft have been doing it for years.
    For example, I can watch Blu-ray under XP. No such luck with Vista or Windows 7 thanks to the extra DRM and my non-hdcp monitor.

  • by grahamwest ( 30174 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:39PM (#31678874) Homepage

    The PS2 backwards compatibility always used a hardware GS (the GPU). They emulated the EE and the VU1s, but not the GS. I'm not sure the cost reduction was really worthwhile, but it's not something they can just flip back on, on machines that don't have it.

  • Re:Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Princeofcups ( 150855 ) <john@princeofcups.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:41PM (#31678904) Homepage

    In the interest of openness, I've decided to release the exploit. Hopefully, this will ignite the PS3 scene [...]

    Looks like the fires need a little more than that to get lit, but there's a lot of pissed off users now with torches just aching to start a blaze.

    Sony had to see this coming, now we just have to see if they'll try to litigate their way out of it or own up.

    I love the way that slashdot geeks think that they are the average user. The number of linux installs on PS3 is so small that there's no reason for Sony to continue to support it, basically a few high computing centers and a few hackers, as opposed to the millions of gamers who have no idea it's even there. And yes there is a reason to turn it off. To remove it from the list of features that need to be supported going forward.

    I'm really surprised that it lasted this long.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:43PM (#31678924)

    Precisely. This just becomes a cat-and-mouse with Sony, and unless someone puts in a LOT of effort (hint: likely not geohot), Sony has the winning hand. Users still lose bigtime, compared to an officially supported Other OS mode.

    Plus I don't even trust geohot to come up with a halfway decent solution. So far he's just stumbled through a hard to reproduce, glitchy, relatively useless hack. My guess is at BEST he'll figure out a way to chainload modified firmware, but you'll need to perform his hardware glitch attack to break into the hypervisor in the first place (every boot), which is only practical for a few people and extremely annoying to boot (pun intended).

    Make no mistake people, existing Linux users are still getting screwed by this whole episode, one way or another. The only winners are geohot (media coverage, which he loves) and the pirates (if someone, geohot or not, starts releasing modified firmware, get ready to count down the days until someone else comes up with patches to enable warez).

  • by Absolut187 ( 816431 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:44PM (#31678940) Homepage

    Sadly, major corporations don't typically play jokes like that, regardless of the date.

    I guess its still theoretically possible. Would be nice.

  • by toleraen ( 831634 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:44PM (#31678946)

    took the music player market by storm with the iPod

    iPod, meet Walkman and Discman. Just sayin'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:44PM (#31678948)

    >> The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout its lifecycle.

    Presuming youre talking about artificial limitations, Microsoft have been doing it for years.
    For example, I can watch Blu-ray under XP. No such luck with Vista or Windows 7 thanks to the extra DRM and my non-hdcp monitor.

    (emphasis mine)

    Those are separate products.

  • Re:Heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:46PM (#31678968) Journal

    And yes there is a reason to turn it off. To remove it from the list of features that need to be supported going forward.

    I'm really surprised that it lasted this long.

    There's even a bigger reason than that - the guy mentioned in this summary too exploited the OtherOS feature (with burning the PS3 hardware to cause kernel panic and subsequent escalate to PS3 code) and it would possibly allow piracy on PS3. It's obvious that now Sony will disable that feature from the few geeks to keep the system secure. You can thank this guy for ruining it for everyone.

  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:54PM (#31679076)
    And people still ask why I refuse to buy a console... I just will not buy hardware I am not allowed to own.
  • Re:Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:54PM (#31679080)

    Sony has forgotten something important. One of the ways that piracy hacks come to be is people hacking the hardware to install Linux or some other random thing. Now that Sony doesn't support it, it's like throwing down the glove and daring them to hack it. Once the hacks exist, it's just a matter of time until they're used for piracy.

    This is really a tremendously bonehead move.

  • Re:Heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:58PM (#31679124)

    I love the way that slashdot geeks think that they are the average user. The number of linux installs on PS3 is so small that there's no reason for Sony to continue to support it...

    There is a difference between not supporting it, and forbidding it. And while the people doing it, are a minority, they are a vocal minority of early adopters. Ya know... The folks that made it popular in the first place.

  • Re:Heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:04PM (#31679174) Journal

    True, slasdoters tend to way over estimate the collective moral outrage that exists out there in the world beyond this website. There needs to be some acceptance of reality that its very unlikely you are going to make $COMPANY pay!

    Still I totally understand the frustration. There are lots of comments to the effect here to of: I did not buy a $PRODUCT to do $TASK, where task is something other then the most common application. Still if you bought something that advertised $FEATURE its not at all unreasonable to expect to be able to use it for that, and its a little unfair for the vendor to come along after and say "well no you can't do that anymore."

    Its not like you can just not apply the new firmwares either, because if you don't you can't run the latest games. Lots of people probably did buy a PS3 expecting that they could run Linux AND native PS3 software. If Sony wants to be a responsible vendor (and they have proved time and time again, at virtually every opportunity they are not) they would support the full feature set for the life cycle of the product.

    What people have to start doing is being personally responsible enough to assess the past behavior of vendors and decide if that and the merits of the product make the purchase worth while. I have been burned by Sony enough times that I WILL NOT BUY their products even when they are light years ahead of the competition because I know I will end the end be treated badly by them.

    You can sell me awful hardware if your customer service is good enough. If I feel like you care about my problems and you're solving them quickly and painlessly when they happen, I will put up with a lot of problems. If you pull Sony type BS all the time than forget it, I don't want to do business with you becuase I know when I do have a problem its going be misery, even if there will be few problems.

  • by Aphoxema ( 1088507 ) * on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:11PM (#31679240) Homepage Journal

    [...] despite this Sony got nothing but flack from technical users from the PS3 since launch.

    They do not speak for all of us. I had great respect for Sony's relative generosity with a gaming console.

  • Re:Heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aphoxema ( 1088507 ) * on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @07:28PM (#31679508) Homepage Journal

    Don't try to slippery slope argue support into existence. Yeah, they came for the OtherOS and I said nothing because I didn't care. That isn't likely to have any effect on my ability to play God of War 3 any time soon. If they come for the God of War 3 players, I hereby grant you license to mock me. If they don't... well, yeah. They won't.

    "Slippery Slope" isn't a definite fallacy; let's look at the history. They've already killed off backwards compatability (software emulation, not just the Emotion engine stuff), SACD (An invention of Sony's own) and now GNU/Linux (Other OS whatever). There's a trend developing, though I'm not terribly clear what the point is.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @08:23PM (#31680258)
    "despite this Sony got nothing but flack from technical users from the PS3 since launch."

    Perhaps because there were not honest about what the "OtherOS" option actually was? The initial hope that the technical users had was that we could get full access to the system, and then we all found out the terrible truth: no, we have to go through a hyperviser, and Sony gets to decide which features of the PS3 we really deserve to use. They got flack for not delivering what we really wanted, and giving us a half assed proprietary system instead. Had they just locked it down entirely, we would never have cared at all -- it would just be another proprietary gaming console, and we would have gone on using other systems. "Instead of encouraging shipping Linux support on a major console like the delicate flower it was, technical people from all over stomped on that flower, spit on it, and then set fire to the remains."

    No, we tried to push our systems to the limit, just like we do with every other computer. Why should we abide by what Sony says we are allowed to do with our PS3s? I bought my PS3, I want to push it to the limit, and I do not care for Sony and their anti-customer tactics (and until they change their attitude, they will not see a dime of my money).

    "Thanks assholes, you killed a feature I liked"

    No, Sony killed that feature, and the blame belongs with Sony. Lesson learned, once and for all: do not trust proprietary computing, it is a trap and should be avoided, always. Do not blame the users, blame the company and its contempt for the users.
  • Re:Letter to Sony (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aphoxema ( 1088507 ) * on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:01PM (#31680752) Homepage Journal

    I'll summarize...

    "Fuck you."

  • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @09:12PM (#31680886)

    But you do own the hardware. You can do whatever the hell you want with it (see if it will blend, etc.). But if you want to connect to PSN, you'll have to play by their rules since they own the network.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @11:41PM (#31682500)

    If you don't want the update, don't update! It's optional.

    You made a huge mistake in buying the PS3, because while your (small) group desires a Linux-capable machine, 99% of the people who bought it did so for games, and many of them are quite happy to be playing without the hackers they experienced with the PS2.

  • Re:Well duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bit01 ( 644603 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @12:15AM (#31682760)

    I disagree that they're liable for disabling that feature.

    Of course they are. Depends on what the original sales contract says. Oh, no contract for a normal retail sale? Then normal sales laws apply and I'd be very surprised if those laws allow a vendor to change the conditions after the sale.

    They have said that feature might go away in the manual

    Irrelevant. That text was only available to the purchaser after the sale was made and many retailers do not offer money back guarantees.

    it's not advertised on the box.

    Irrelevant. It was advertised.

    If they informed all potential purchasers who knew about the other OS option that the functionality might be removed, not just not unsupported, before the sale then they are off the hook. Otherwise no.

    It is normal and expected that support will be dropped for a product after a fixed amount of time. It is not normal to expect functionality to be deliberately removed. Sony might have an argument if the PSN were not bundled (in other words it was an ongoing rental contract where ongoing conditions could change, not a one-off sales contract) but even then it's dodgy.

    You sound like many salesdroids who thinks that half-truths, lies, deceptions and post-the-fact revisionism are somehow okay. You're mistaken.


    DRM breaks ownership, the basis of capitalism and the free market.

  • by Runefox ( 905204 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @12:44AM (#31682934) Homepage

    Actually, it's worth mentioning that the only core available up front is a single PowerPC core, with 256MB of RAM. It's possible to expand the RAM by adding the VRAM to swap space, and to unlock some SPE's (I can't recall how many, but you aren't given access to all of them), but it's also necessary to program specifically for them; They have their own architecture.

    While for computational tasks, it's fairly moot, the GPU is also entirely locked down and inaccessible. Even available screen resolutions are, as I understand it and as I recall, restricted by the hypervisor. Having tried running Xubuntu on the PS3, I can safely say that its usability is very limited. However... It's there. And it works. While not everyone benefits from the use of OtherOS, those who do benefit for very specific reasons.

    It's very likely that this firmware update, while not entirely mandatory, will be mandatory (or at least, its descendants will be) with later games and for PSN access, much like homebrewed PSP's using older custom firmware are SOL when trying to play newer games - The user is forced between parting with the CFW or not playing the newer games at all. Personally, I'll keep my CFW - My PSP gets a huge amount of usage in homebrew apps (and really, at this point, saying that I don't pirate games would be redundant seeing as it's more or less impossible or at least incredibly impractical). Hell, Opera Mini and eBuddy Mobile on my PSP? With some apps capable of multitasking? Holy crap. I look forward to a healthy homebrew scene on the PS3, even if it takes until the console is out of production. It's easily capable of becoming an incredibly robust media centre unit, or even more.

  • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @03:05AM (#31683868)

    You think Sony is going to win. You are wrong. Look at how long the cat-and-mouse game over the PSP has continued. They are not capable of keeping people out of hardware they own.

    I'd say they were very capable. It took 5 years for the PS3 to get its first hack. 2 weeks for Sony to patch it. Who's to say it won't take another 5 years?

  • by SuperDre ( 982372 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:12AM (#31684272) Homepage
    5 years? the PS3 is only 3.5 years old (in the US, and 3 years in the EU), and you call removing a complete feature 'patching? and Geohot only looked at it for not even 3 months and got where he was when he first announced the hack, also he was going for RSX support under linux, not piracy. But now because of what Sony does tomorrow he is going for customfirmware, and if there is someone who can do it, it's him, the only problem is that his 'customfirmware' will in the end lead to piracy.. So Sony is better of just leaving OtherOs in there (and even add support for RSX) so the hacking isn't needed anymore, which will put the 'smartpeople' to rest because they can do with the PS3 what they want, and the PS3 is safe from piracy for yet another long time. Never underestimate a very small dedicaded group of people after you take something away from them which they used....
  • Re:PS3 Cluster (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @04:50AM (#31684514) Journal

    Firmware updates aren't just to play the latest games, they also fix critical bugs in the firmware.

    Games may not be important to massive clusters but critical bug fixes are.

  • Letter to Sony (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cheros ( 223479 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @06:25AM (#31685090)

    Dear Sony, if an update to my machine will disable the "install other OS" feature in my PS/3 I will guarantee you that I will have it reported to every possible authority that I can think off and ensure it is followed up.

    For a start, IT IS A DOCUMENTED FACILITY. It's on the manual, and I will make pictures of "before" and "after". This means it's something I paid for. Removing it without my permission is (a) theft and (b) a violation of trade description - you can't take something away which has influenced my decision to buy without expecting this to have repercussions. It would be equivalent to selling me a full stereo set and take away the speakers after I bought it so I'd have to spend extra money to buy those.

    Secondly, YOU CANNOT FORCE MY COMPLIANCE. If you make acceptance of a trade description violation dependent on, well, a trade description violation (the device should be capable of Bluray playback even with the new code you plan to implement) you will lose double. The sort of coercion is AFAIK illegal in most countries.

    So, here's your one and only warning: if I either find the facility gone, or find me unable to play a Bluray disc you WILL be facing the music, if you pardon the pun.

    Oh, FYI, I don't use the feature, this is a matter of principle. It would be rather nice if Sony for once thought about the *customer* before doing things. I accept that is a wholly novel and far too innovative concept for Sony, but believe me, the pain is worth it. That's what made the Nintendo Wii such a hit. Learn from it.

  • Re:Letter to Sony (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blowfly7012 ( 1780006 ) on Wednesday March 31, 2010 @08:21AM (#31685870)
    In UK and EU law, EULAs cannot override the statutory rights of consumers enshrined in law. Lots of people (including myself) bought a PS3 to play games and install Linux. Both were advertised features at the time. Sony shouldn't be able to hold either one of them to ransom.

UNIX is many things to many people, but it's never been everything to anybody.