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Hardware Hacking PlayStation (Games) Sony Games Build

First PlayStation 3 Custom Firmware Created 269

Stoobalou writes "Hot on the heels of the discovery of the the PlayStation 3 private root key, and its subsequent leakage by iPhone hacker Geohot, the first custom firmware for the formerly impenetrable console has been released. A code wrangler known only as Kakaroto reckons he has created the world's first custom firmware for the popular console — although if you're expecting it to help you play pirated games, you might be a little disappointed."
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First PlayStation 3 Custom Firmware Created

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  • ...before the PlayStation can be used just like a ...umm...PC.

    • by headhot ( 137860 )


    • ...before the PlayStation can be used just like a ...umm...PC.

      More than just a PC: a fully functional HTPC.

    • before someone at Sony is sitting in a corner rocking back and forth holding a P45 saying "Why oh why did I remove linux from the PS3?"
    • You must have "a less-mainstream opinion of copyright law builds a publicly distributable firmware that will leave the PS3 wide open to piracy"

      "open to piracy" meaning :
      like a PC.

      I'm not sure when a desire to have a PC became "less-mainstream".

      Many just want a PC with a cell processor that runs Linux. Perhaps if Sony or someone else sold such a box, then less effort would be devoted to jailbreak their precious game machine.

  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @12:03PM (#34765598) Homepage

    although if you're expecting it to play games, you might be disappointed. []


  • I wonder, is it possible that this might increase the sales numbers for the PS3? Now that they're a hackable machine, all sorts of enthusiasts are going to want to play with one, and the "dirty pirates" might buy one to play downloaded games. While this isn't a good thing for Sony, perhaps a sort of silver lining?
    • Re:Increased Sales? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @12:10PM (#34765696)

      Increased sales of a console are meaningless to these companies without an accompanying high attachment rate on buying games.

      • Increased sales of a console are meaningless to these companies without an accompanying high attachment rate on buying games.

        I thought both the Xbox360 and PS3 had reached the point where the consoles themselves were profitable now, such that while a high attach rate is desirable, sales of consoles in and of themselves are still positives for the company.

        • Re:Increased Sales? (Score:5, Informative)

          by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @12:30PM (#34765924) Journal

          Indeed, sales of all three consoles are now profitable (and have been for about 2 years). The margins are still small on all three, though. Last numbers I remember seeing indicated that for the console manufacturer, one console sale was roughly equivalent to two game sales. That's not bad, but it's not fantastic either. Might be outdated, of course; you'd expect the margins on hardware sales to get larger as time goes on.

          The Kinect, however, has an absolutely stonkingly huge profit margin for each unit sold. No wonder MS were treating its release as a new console launch. Even if the Kinect attach rate for games is awful, as I suspect it probably will be (unless games improve from the launch titles), MS are probably already laughing their way to the bank on that one.

        • There is a difference between just profitable and profitable enough. You could turn a $0.01 net profit and it would be "profitable" but possibly not "profitable enough" to justify its resource consumption.

      • They are profitable now, that's one of the reasons why Sony started to remove chips from the PS3 pretty much from the start, to get the cost down under what they were selling it for.

        But, really, if people buy them and want to use them for Linux then Sony shouldn't be allowed to do anything about it. If I buy a console then I own it, and should be able to do whatever I like with it. Provided it doesn't screw up anybody else's experience. And even then with the minimum restraint necessary to solve the prob
  • Tuxracer, here I come!
  • should we also apply the same tactics and proclaim Nobel as greatest mass murderer our planet has ever seen? [ although i hate guns, i still agree with "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" ]

    and homebrew applies very well when you have really expensive setup. i don't have pc connected to it and i don't plan to run it on small 27" screen

  • Or rather, DMCA lawsuits specifically related to custom firmware. I'd be interested to know how the courts (or a jury) would side on issues specific to hardware. Then again, FTFA it says the guy wont be publicly releasing the update, just the tools to build it yourself.
  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @12:23PM (#34765838)

    I'd love a ROM for these that essentially just makes the PS3 and all its features available to a Linux distribution. Similar to the Other OS functionality, except with full access to the hardware.

    There are a lot of cool things a PS3 could do. It is inexpensive, reliable hardware. Of course, XMBC can address the media aspects, but for non-media, I can think of a few things (some can already be done):

    1: Hook it up to an external disk array, and use it as a NAS head, with encryption. Perhaps have it rsync to a gmailfs directory for backups to the "cloud" of critical files.
    2: Three Ethernet ports, so it can do some complicated firewalling/IDS/IPS/content filtering/NAT.
    3: Persistent storage for a squid cache, a caching DNS, DHCP, DDNS.
    4: RADIUS server for the wireless router.
    5: LDAP
    6: Mail gateway.
    7: VPN server.
    8: SSH gateway.

    These are relatively boring things for a PC to do, but a PS3 has the advantage of being relatively inexpensive, reliable, and a non-x86 architecture, which may help things if an attacker manages to get arbitrary code executing.

    I almost wish Sony allowed this in the first place -- there is a vast, untapped market for an all in one home server appliance, that doesn't just provide file and print serving, but authentication, caching, and many other features.

    • by mccalli ( 323026 )
      I'd love a ROM for these that essentially just makes the PS3 and all its features available to a Linux distribution.

      I'd love to get the Blu-Ray drive acessible and act as a ripper. I buy my media - I buy DVDs, I buy music online. I'd like to buy blu-Ray too but won't due to DRM - at the moment any blu-rays we've watched have been via rental. I'd like to rip them for use on a media server, but the only blu-ray drive I've got is the PS3. Be handy if we could get access to that and install a ripper.

      • A Bluray Drive in my HTPC + MakeMKV works very well for this exact purpose. I rip the main movie from the BR-D's we buy in about 35-45 minutes, then the BR-D goes on the shelf. Use XBMC or 7MV as your interface and you have a VERY nice media center.
    • by tgd ( 2822 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @12:46PM (#34766116)

      There are hundreds of options for hardware better at doing the things you just listed that are cheaper than a Playstation.

      A $50 router and OpenWRT can do all of that.

      • by yorugua ( 697900 )
        > A $50 router and OpenWRT can do all of that.

        ...and without using some 300W worth of electricity.

    • Why would you want it for any of these things?

      A cheap linux box on an Intel Atom can do most of these things on 25W of power, the PS3 takes about 100W (my early one takes much more). And you can get the Intel Atom machine for about the same price as a PS3 and it'll work better because it has more RAM.

      Neither the cheap Atom or PS3 can do #2. The PS3 doesn't have 3 ethernet ports.

    • You could do that with a PS2. It wouldn't be as powerful, obviously, but you don't have to break anything to make it work either. And it'd be damn near free at this point, with half your friends keeping their unused PS2 in the bottom of their closet.

      You'd need a PS2, network adapter, PATA HDD, and a distro disk. The VGA dongle is a nice thing to have but by no means required. And I think the disk is duplicable.

      • :-)

        While the Distro disk is duplicable.... the magic RTE disc you need to boot Linux isn't however. It's also slightly non-standard, the only Japan-pressed NTSC-UC I have. If your PS2 is going to have DRE (disk read error) issues, they'll start showing up first with the RTE disc before anything else.

    • 2: Three Ethernet ports, so it can do some complicated firewalling/IDS/IPS/content filtering/NAT.

      You're looking at some really old specs. Sony made that claim early on (actually with the intent that the PS3 be used as a wireless router itself), but production models all have a single gigabit ethernet port. All but the original 20GB model also have 802.11b/g.

  • With the PS3's root key leaked, you shouldn't even need CFW to enable piracy. You should be able to sign the pirated game with the root key and it will run it just as if it was an official game. It won't be long until self boot PS3 images become common.

    See, piracy and CFW are orthogonal issues. This CFW doesn't enable piracy, and piracy can occur without CFW at all.

    • Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, but for whatever reason there is no way to install even signed packages from the XMB. That's actually the only thing this CFW does: allow you to install signed PKG files from the XMB. The developer says on his site that none of the current homebrew will run because none of it is signed.
      • by Nursie ( 632944 )

        Couple that with the fact that Sony screwed up the crypto massively and in the last week all the keys have been found to allow signing, then it's just a matter of time before unofficial signed pkg's are ready.

        Hell, that's how the custom firmware can be installed - it's signed with one of the recently discovered keys.

        • The holy grail surely is to not need CFW in the first place. I mean once you have a CFW on the PS3 , it would be be easier for Sony to do some sort of hash check against legal firmwares and detemine whether to allow access to online services etc. If the firmware is Stock Firmware thats much harder to do as you would have to verify anything that's installed on the console too - and thats a lot of potential variations.

          Im not sure on this , but geohot's provided a homebrew file that can be run via the USB if

    • by leuk_he ( 194174 )

      This was addressed in the video. THe BR are loaded by apploader, and those keys are not leaked. (but with rootkey leaked you can write an other apploader to load unsigned BR). Currently you need some usb jailbreak to get your first code on the ps3

  • by FunkyELF ( 609131 ) on Wednesday January 05, 2011 @12:34PM (#34765988)

    I know that there is complete access to the system now (not going through hypervisor), but are there Linux video drivers yet?
    I __REALLY__ want to have XBMC on my PS3.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Khyber ( 864651 )

      The RSX is just a modified 7800GS so I would think someone could patch it together sooner or later, given the age of the GPU.

      • I presume this would be covered by the Nouveau drivers?

        These I believe are working on the Aros PPC port ... which begs the question .... wouldnt this be a lovely lightweight alternative to linux?


      • It's my understanding that it was already possible to access the GPU through some hack before Sony removed OtherOS, but nobody bothered to write drivers for it.

  • Qemu has a powerpc emulator. when will I be able to run a playstation virtual machine on top of Qemu?

    • The fail0verflow team released SPU emulation, so if there aren't public Cell emulators today there's no reason not to expect someone to develop one at some point. The rest is all down to how hard it is to emulate the custom and semi-custom components.

      Of course I wouldn't expect PS3 emulation performance to be usable for years. The best PowerPC emulation I've used is Apple's Rosetta and even that is significantly slower than native code for anything non-trivial. Take that and combine it with how the PS3's

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