according to the playstation blog, the next firmware update for the ps3 (v3.21) will completely eliminate the option to load an additional operating system onto the ps3. here’s the quote:
The next system software update for the PlayStation 3 (PS3) system will be released on April 1, 2010 (JST), and will disable the “Install Other OS” feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models, launched in September 2009. This feature enabled users to install an operating system, but due to security concerns, Sony Computer Entertainment will remove the functionality through the 3.21 system software update.
due to security concerns, we’re going to start removing features from your system. i wonder if the emotion engine (backwards compatibility with ps2 games) was a security concern? or how about the other two usb ports that were on the front of the system prior to my model? all those crazy features might lead somebody to hack something and steal stuff.
well that’s pretty much what happened. some bad ass was able to hack the system through the other os option and gain system level access. i can only assume from there people would be trying to pirate games or downloaded movies, or mess with drm in some other way. of course they could also try to completely re-purpose the unit. maybe they would use it to launch an attack on the pentagon, or better yet, bring farmville to its knees.
is sony within their rights to do this? of course they are. they control the updates, and when its all said and done, you don’t have to install them. you also don’t have to expect to be able to play any new games or enjoy any new content, either. check this shit out:
Consumers and organizations that currently use the “Other OS” feature can choose not to upgrade their PS3 systems, although the following features will no longer be available:
- Ability to sign in to PlayStation Network and use network features that require signing in to PlayStation Network, such as online features of PS3 games and chat
- Playback of PS3 software titles or Blu-ray Disc videos that require PS3 system software version 3.21 or later
- Playback of copyright-protected videos that are stored on a media server (when DTCP-IP is enabled under Settings)
- Use of new features and improvements that are available on PS3 system software 3.21 or later
so if you don’t update when it comes out some features will be crippled, but after a while, everything will require firmware more current than that and just about everything will cease to work. all because some asshole published a hack.
so why do i care? i care because i thought it was an extremely innovative and ingenious way of encouraging involvement in the open community. sony built a device that does everything. literally. with the other os option, you can install linux (and possibly even amiga or something else) on the ps3 and have a system that not only plays all kinds of killer games, but can balance your checkbook, watch youtube, do some facebooking, instant message people, almost everything you can do on a pc running linux. you can do all this because it basically is a power pc running linux.
i had yellow dog linux running on mine for quite some time before i upgraded my hard drive. while it was on there, i installed open office and all kinds of other apps. i was able to check my email and manage my finance spreadsheets like i could on any other computer. so effectively, it was like buying a gaming console that kept all my photos and music in one place and getting a pc thrown in for free.
the only draw back to running a full blown desktop environment on the ps3 was that sony never bothered to provide good drivers for that bad ass RSX graphics subsystem. the video drivers never got past framebuffer mode. that means lag and artifacts when you open a whole bunch of windows or try to stream high def video. forget about any kind of descent 3d rendering because there is no opengl support. that of course makes little sense on a device designed to blow minds with its graphical prowess.
but what about the other applications? the military bought 2200 of these shiny black boxes in order to compliment their supercomputing systems. why did they do this? where the hell else are they going to get 150 GFLOPS processors in a networked package ready to run out of the box for $299? ibm makes supercomputing server blades with the same processor, but not even close to that price point. oh and lets not forget about the astro physicist who decided to string 16 ps3 systems together in a cluster to try and calculate the resulting gravitational waves of colliding black holes. if that urts your head, you’re not alone.
well i guess its all over now. once this firmware update is out, you’re going to have to make a commitment to either updating your system and playing new games and movies, or doing something completely unrelated in order to exploit the godlike math murdering powers of the hardware itself. i think having to make that decision just because some jerk hacked the system sucks. especially when you consider the fact that they’re just going to hack it again and again, no matter what sony puts in place to stop it.