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Operating Systems PlayStation (Games) Sony Unix BSD Games

PlayStation 4 Will Be Running Modified FreeBSD 457

jones_supa writes "This discovery comes nicely alongside the celebration of FreeBSD's 20th birthday, for all the UNIX nerds. The operating system powering the PlayStation 4 is Orbis OS, which is a Sony spin of FreeBSD 9.0. It's not a huge surprise FreeBSD is being used over Linux, in part due to the more liberal licensing. The PlayStation 4 is x86-64 based now rather than Cell-based, which makes it easier to use FreeBSD. BSDs in general currently lack manufacturer supported full-feature AMD graphics driver, which leads to the conclusion that Sony and AMD have likely co-developed a discrete driver for the PS4. Some pictures of the development kit boot loader (GRUB) have been published too."
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PlayStation 4 Will Be Running Modified FreeBSD

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:05PM (#44089029)

    BSD license, I'm not sure you understand it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:16PM (#44089093)

    The license war he's talking about would proceed approximately as follows:

    GPL: had BSD been licensed under the GPL (I know, word salad), then Sony would have been forced to release the modifications to the kernel, and we would be able to better mod the PS4/overall cost to society would be lower since all the improvements would be available to everyone

    BSD: had BSD been licensed under the GPL, Sony would not have used the kernel, they would never upstream any changes, and the overall cost to society would be greater since they would have been forced to develop their own, in-house kernel.

    I'm trying to be neutral here, but I'm probably just starting the flamewar. You probably can tell what my bias is, but whatever.

  • by idunham ( 2852899 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:31PM (#44089161)

    PS4 is on FreeBSD, X1 is on a Windows-kernel abomination, and the Steam box is going to be Linux. Interesting. Any chance the WiiU has secret Mac lineage to complete this?

    It uses IOS.

    Not Apple's iOS, but the "Internal Operating System"-note that capital I.

  • Re:Except... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:47PM (#44089245) Journal

    Sony used NetBSD for PSP according to slashdot. True Sony might have ported some Linux tools over to BSD, but BSD is something they are familiar with. I doubt the OS was linux based but I know you could run it on the PS2 from what I remember reading.

    Apple also uses FreeBSD for the same licensing reasons not to mention it does not radically change and is designed rather than grown.

  • Re:Sony Hackstation (Score:4, Informative)

    by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Sunday June 23, 2013 @11:51PM (#44089259)

    So how trivial will it be to slurp the OS out onto a AMD card enabled PC and have our own "HackStation4"? Or... how would one modify FreeBSD to run PS4 software?

    I'm sure there'll be encryption up the wazoo anyway... and potentially software could specifically check that the graphics chip is not some off-the-shelf AMD card... ...but it begs the question.

    I don't think you know what that phrase means. So here you go: []

  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:33AM (#44089465) Journal

    Indeed. The best is whatever works for you.
    BSD: Good if you want high availability/adoption and don't care if derived projects are OSS.
    Linux: Good if you want high availability but no closed-source spinoffs.

  • Re:Sony Hackstation (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:36AM (#44089477)

    I'm sure there'll be encryption up the wazoo anyway... and potentially software could specifically check that the graphics chip is not some off-the-shelf AMD card... ...but it begs the question.

    How does it beg the question? Oh, wait... You misused a phrase in an attempt to sound erudite. Carry on...

  • Re:Except... (Score:5, Informative)

    by smash ( 1351 ) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:41AM (#44089495) Homepage Journal
    Also, OS X is based on NextStep which was BSD at its core from way before Linux even existed.
  • Re:Except... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:57AM (#44089575) Journal

    True which made porting the FreeBSD userland apps much easier than an NT or Linux based kernel. While the kernel is still Mach based it is close enough that code can be cut and pasted in from FreeBSD with small efforts to compile itl.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 24, 2013 @01:40AM (#44089709)

    GPL: Good if you want high availability but no closed-source spinoffs.


    We're talking about licenses, not kernels.

  • Re:Yep (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 24, 2013 @04:05AM (#44090149)

    Sony actually intended for it to be the graphic chips

    No they didn't. Originally Toshiba were developing the RS, which was insanely fast for its time (128 scalar pipes at 1GHz; 16MB eDRAM). When their yields were too low, Sony went to nVidia and obtained RSX.

    Early on they were doing graphics demos of things running on a number of Cell chips.

    Indeed - I wrote one of them. We had no final GPU yet, because of the Toshiba fuck-up. There was a really slow temporary GPU solution. Some demos ran only on a frame buffer. The gas station demo rendered some basic polys but the fluid dynamics and rendering were on SPU. Mark Cerny did an experiment trying to run general-purpose GPU on the SPUs, but it failed because the SPUs were too slow to synthesize bilinearly interpolated texture lookups. If there had ever been an intent for the Cell to be the GPU, they would have had texture units (as Larrabee did).

    However, it wasn't good at that either and as the PS3 went in to hardware development, it was clear that they'd need a real GPU.

    That was always the plan.

    Well rather than just admit that the Cell wasn't ready for a consumer device (I mean who the fuck tries to put first gen technology in a consumer device) they decided to make it the CPU instead, and had nVidia make them a GPU.

    It was always going to be the CPU. Lots of people put first-gen technology into a consumer device (ever heard of BluRay, for instance?) They went to nVidia last minute because Toshiba fucked up.

    Ultimately Cell's long term problem has been GPUs themselves. As you say Cell sucks as a general purpose CPU. No problem, that wasn't really its design. However as a stream processor it can't keep up with the new GPUs. That wasn't an issue when it was designed (this was back in the pre nVidia 8800 days) but now it gets out stream processed by GPUs.

    The SPUs are far more flexible than stream processors. They have their own DMA engines and can run arbitrary control flow. They also run very fast even compared to a modern CPU. They were never designed to compete with GPUs. A single GPU stream processor is not very powerful, and morphing an algorithm onto a stream processor is a lot of hard work (even compared to SPU coding). The factor that made the design go to where it is now for PS4 is that GPUs became ridiculously wide and cheap. Cell is a niche product. GPUs are everywhere. GPUs just shit all over everything else for MFLOP/$.

    You really need to stop posting things you made up that kind of make sense to Slashdot. Everything you've said is basically incorrect.

  • by LizardKing ( 5245 ) on Monday June 24, 2013 @05:58AM (#44090461)

    MacOS X is a FreeBSD-derivitive.

    No it isn't. Both OS X and FreeBSD are BSD4.3 derivatives. They were then updated with code from BSD4.4. When NeXTSTEP / OpenStep was rebranded as OS X, the userland was updated with code from NetBSD (another BSD4.3 derivative) as that code had more recent features and was very portable. Later on, the userland started to be updated with code from FreeBSD, since it had become more portable in the meantime.

  • by ikaruga ( 2725453 ) on Monday June 24, 2013 @06:27AM (#44090547)
    Sony is a group with hundreds of companies and hundreds of thousands of employees. In terms of structure/complexity they are bigger than Apple, MS and Nintendo together. Sony has lot of good and lot bad mixed together. To judge such cluster**** based on a handful of experiences(regardless of being bad or good) is just impossible. Also it's important to notice that Sony is under a new direction(Kaz Hirai, since 2012) and being completely restructured(One Sony plan). Judging the new administration based on the older is just unfair. Who knows Kaz may help Sony like Jobs helped Apple in the 90s.

    The PS4 wasn't even developed in Japan or by a Japanese, hell it will even be released earlier in the US and Europe.

    While I agree with most of what you said I'm pretty sure this is false, at least for most part. During E3 they introduced the Japanese guy who designed the PS4 case. Also there is an interview with a Gearbox programmer(forgot his name) he says that they needed 8GB(instead of 4GB) or the PS4 would be dead. So they sent a guy to Japan headquarters in order to get a new devkit. Finally, the new controller was also designed by a Japanese team (there is an Engadget article about it with some AR demos). I don't think the PS4 was entirelly developed in Japan, but most of it's main features came from there. I have no idea about the exact date the PS4 will be released, but it makes sense releasing it first in the West because the holiday season. The Japanese release will follow in a few weeks max(as it's still supposed to come this year) so this fact is not really relevant.

  • Re:Sony Hackstation (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrBandersnatch ( 544818 ) on Monday June 24, 2013 @06:43AM (#44090591)

    I'm amazed no one has said "HUMA" - Heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access, and that this fundamental difference between the architecture of PCs and the PS4 is likely to make it an uphil struggle for PS4 emulation. It *may* be a different story when it comes to AMDs Kavari (?) APUs since they use a HUMA architecture themselves.

    Personally I think the best to expect is that we may see more games ported to Linux ....

  • Re:Sony Hackstation (Score:4, Informative)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Monday June 24, 2013 @07:20AM (#44090713) Journal

    Because its not? Its a custom APU using GDDR 5 and most likely a baked in ARM DRM chip which AMD bought about a year ago. this thing is about as different from that AMD Hexacore and HD4850 I have in my desktop as my desktop is to a PS2.

    The ONLY thing they have in common with an AMD desktop is they both run X86, that's it, you can't even BUY a Jaguar chip yet, not a single product other than the PS4 and XB1 has been announced using it and with AMD being a fabless company you can bet for the next year to year and a half won't nobody else will be getting jaguar chips. The jag is NOT like the Thuban, Bulldozer, or Piledriver, its actually based on the BOBCAT which is a VERY stripped down and streamlined chip designed for netbooks originally, it has a CPU that is frankly weaker than an Athlon 1 of the same MHz that is tightly coupled to a GCN GPU that is designed to take up the load,with the ultimate goal to be have the GPU replace the FP unit and to have the GPU and CPU truly work as a single unit.

    So its really not like just grabbing a COTS chip like they did with the Celeron in the original Xbox, which I might add to this very day is the ONLY game console of that generation that does NOT have a functional emulator yet, so if it really was just that simple it would have been done with the Xbox, with the Jag I honestly doubt even the fastest i7 would be able to perfectly emulate the arch, its just too different from a stock x86. You are talking about 4 modules with each having two "kinda sorta" core designed to do integer and some common multimedia tasks connected VERY tightly with a GPU to do the rest and all of it with 8GB of fast as hell GDDR 5, and if I'm right an ARM DRM core designed specifically just for locking it all down...yeah i don't see this one getting copied or emulated anytime soon.

  • by Zeromous ( 668365 ) on Monday June 24, 2013 @07:54AM (#44090867) Homepage

    Other OS was removed for fiduciary duty to developers, as it is used as a successful attach vector: phase one to actively exploit the PS3 hypervisor.

    It is nothing more and nothing less. I'm tired of fanboys projecting evil or other nebulous intent on to Sony when the truth is plainly evident.

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Monday June 24, 2013 @12:25PM (#44093343) Journal

    Actually, it's the BSD license cheer-squad who are odd. you clap and cheer at something that does not benefit you, or anyone else (except Sony. or Apple. etc).

    If it wasn't for the fact that OpenSSH is BSD licensed, we'd still have TELNET all over the place. I benefit from that.

    The same is true for every other standard internet service. TCP/IP, HTTPD, SMTP, DNS, DHCP, FTP, LDAP, NTP, etc. Just try to name one service that has become a defacto standard, which only had a GPL-licensed reference implementation... They don't exist.

    I benefit from that, you benefit from that. And it's solely the domain of BSD/Apache-licensed software. NOT GPL'd software.

    1. with a GPL code-base, the user has the *right* to get, modify, use, and re-distribute the source code. the product manufactuer MUST release the source code to GPL-derived works under the same terms as the GPL. a win for the user and the world.

    The right to get a tarball is of almost no practical value. Look at things like Xen, Android, Webkit, etc. A publicly available blob of code helps no one. It can't get integrated upstream without those companies going far above and beyond what the GPL requires. And if they go above and beyond what the GPL requires, there's no reason to believe they won't go far above and beyond what the BSD license requires.

    2. with a BSD licensed code-base, the user has no right to the source code, at all. the product manufacturer might voluntarily make some of their code public, under any licensing terms of their choosing. no benefit to the user or to the world.

    It's in the companies' self-interest to release their code changes under the same license for upstream integration. And even if they chose not to, there's no HARM to the public or the contributors, as the upstream source is still available under the same license as always.

    And with the BSD license, companies have the option to contribute in other ways if they can't release source code. Money to the upstream project is almost always more beneficial than a blob of changes. One example, while Apple may have locked-up their Darwin OS under a different license, they've still contributed plenty back to BSD. LLVM comes to mind, but there are many others as well.

    The *ONLY* "freedom" you get with the BSD license that you don't get with the GPL is the freedom to restrict the freedom of others.

    It's not FREEDOM to compel others to give their hard work to you, for free. And others choosing not to do so, does NOT imping upon your own FREEDOM. You had the same amount of freedom before and after they used some BSD licensed code in their own project. The GPL may just as well have a clause saying you must donate X dollars to the FSF if you want to use the software. You seem to think it's "FREEDOM" when penalizing anyone who uses GPL software, so that should be just as good...

    And you should be very careful with that line of thinking... The GPLv3 has been a flaming pile of failure, because it forced too many demands upon those who wished to use licensed code. It caused a surge of BSD development, most notably projects like LLVM which are on-course to replace GCC, all despite not having a license that forces people to support the project.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"