PS3 Slim Axes Linux Support


We may have all been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the PS3 slim, but don’t get too excited yet. According to an official press release from Sony, the PS3’s slimmer counterpart is dropping the ability to install Linux or another operating system. It’s always a shame when new products come packed with less features, but this time, it’s preventing us from doing things like cracking SSL using 200 of the consoles, or running emulators from an Ubuntu install on the console. For those of us that still plan on keeping our “old” PS3s, Yellow Dog Linux has been released on a USB stick and allows you to run without having to do a full installation.

[via Joystiq]

80 thoughts on “PS3 Slim Axes Linux Support

  1. It’s true and interesting that each PS3 generation has had features removed from it – but remember that Sony’s had some rough times and for a long time (probably still) their game division was the only one making any real money, and that the PS3 was insanely expensive to manufacture – by removing features they can justify the cost.

    I would definitely not pay $600 for one, so I’ll take less features for a system I can afford.

    I like how the originals were basically home super computers, but I can’t put that to use so why bother paying for it?

  2. Awwww =(

    Too much power and cannot use it, i own a ps3 and i like the cell power it has on it, sure the ps3 slim looks beautiful, i think there is a way to install linux on it.

  3. Meh. I’m glad I got one before they took away all the cool features.

    Nice to know about the usb stick install – I don’t play games often, but I also don’t want to murder my saved games.

    Now if only I could run antiX on it… :D

  4. I think we’re probably overreacting. All they said is that they’re removing a menu option. They never said they were going to make it *impossible* to install linux. Hackers should be rejoicing that it will now be a boni fide hack, and not a company-sponsored option.

  5. What concerns me is that, as a relative outsider to the Linux community (I have Puppy installed on a flash drive somewhere, but that’s about it) is the fact that they’ve put a price tag on what is touted to the general public as a free commodity.

  6. @MrX not as lame as yours.
    And yes I really dont get it, why anyone in right mind will chose console over PC, it have worse graphics, bad control, cant do anything
    except games, and you need to buy them.

  7. @ therian:

    Well, personally I don’t touch console games with a 10-foot pole usually, but maybe the fact that most consoles are about the same price as a decent video card? I can see that as a pretty good reason for preferring consoles…

  8. @j4ke


    linux support isn’t like ps2 backwards compatibility, which required additional hardware. linux can run on the bare cell spe just fine, it shouldn’t require additional hardware.

    but removing support had to reduce hardware costs in some way, or else they wouldn’t have done it.

    i guess we’ll find out in september.

  9. It makes me feel good that my PS3 has all the options that have been removed in later models, but honestly I haven’t used them. I doubt I’ll ever see a need to install linux on it, and I’ve played probably 2 PS2 games on it. I don’t think many people really make use of these features and it makes sense for a company to cut them if it can lower costs. besides games, my PS3 gets the most use from the built in media server stuff. I watch all my downloaded shows and movies on it. remove that and I’d be miffed, except I already have one.

  10. Yellowdog linux is broken. Seriously. Don’t use it. When I tried to install it on my ps3, there was no wifi, no sound, and no ability to use the sixaxis as a mouse. These are pretty key features to something touted as the “official” linux distribution for it.

    For the record, I got the metal gear solid bundle ps3 (released a little over a year ago) and it’s played every ps2 game I’ve ever thrown at it.

  11. It’s an embedded relatively fast hardware platform to play games at an expected and acceptable performance.

    They say it’s because the otheros hypervisor drivers where too expensive to manage. That sucks.

    Hey at least you get a more compact design and a 40nm CBE in the cech2000/slim.

    The drivers and MMU filter/hypervisor all run on the 7th core and each SPE controls access to it’s local store internally. What this means is a out of bounds security model. A heap or stack overflow or any other memory corruption would have -0- effect on the native management code.

    It’d take something like a DMA attack to get into secure mode considering they didn’t run the h.a.l in otheros mode/lesser privladged ppc mode while in gameos mode. They do run the browser and most XMB applets in the unprivileged mode from gameos mode and they are all sig checked then decrypted when loaded.

    The x360 hacks are all thanks to the upper 30bit control vector vulnerability and a DMA attack. The ps3 doesn’t use a global address space and the hypervisor is just using hardware features that are in no way dictated by any code. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

  12. Sory paid to put extra hardware and software in the PS3 to cripple it under Linux.

    Then Sory paid to have a weak version of Linux ported to it with almost no support for the hardware.

    Then Sory paid to develop a weak & incompatible browser that they couldn’t get Flash support working for. The Sory browser is so bad, it doesn’t even work on Sory’s own homepage after years of work.

    On top of all this, people have been running pirated games since shortly after the PS3 shipped.

    So Sory paid to cripple their machine for nothing.

  13. The hypervisor prevented access to the RSX which makes it nearly unusable to watch movies. On top of that 256 of the 512 MBs of on board RAM was reserved for the hypervisor, which made running more than a few applications impossible.

    I won’t miss the lack of linux support considering how much of a let down it was in the first place.

  14. @rude dude: Still nobody is playing those pirated games. They are getting released every day but no method of playing (except with a development kit) is known to play them.

    The problem with this generation of consoles is the lock-down. Xbox 360 is the worst offender as it has taken years just to be able to run unsigned code. The shader hack was good, but then that was patched shortly. The timing attack requires some more-than-average skill. There are no modchips that are worth anything yet.

    The PS3 has Linux support, but it is crippled. No access to the GPU for 3D? Simply ridiculous! WHO is going to make a game for PS3 Linux? It would be not worth the time or money or maintenance costs. I think that is what Sony was afraid of if they let Linux utilise all the hardware of the PS3. Games still get dumped via dd on unpatched PS3’s (nice going Sony). This was the same with PS2 for Linux. It too had limited access to the hardware and could never utilise the PS2 completely. Homebrew overcame this problem and quite quickly too.

    The Wii is the best in this regard, even though the latest firmware patch is ‘fixing’ the ‘homebrew problem’.

    I wish companies would just let us at their machines. To me it’s like not even owning it. It’s like owning a license to HARDWARE! That is how the development kits are distributed to developers. But this is consumer stuff. I really believe in the right to tinker, and apparently these companies do not. I would suggest just not supporting them at all if you can.

  15. @fdawg: nope

    Linux uses the 256MiB XDR and the 256MiB DDR2 in the RSX. Push buffer operations are just blocked from the linux loader environment. The hypervisor has all it needs in it’s local store. It simply filters the MMU for calls and controls aspects of the PPE. Linux actually runs on the PPE and has acess to 6/8 SPEs.

    The lack of RSX acceleration slows frames on video playbacks and rendering. I agree their browser does suck..

  16. “@MrX not as lame as yours.
    And yes I really dont get it, why anyone in right mind will chose console over PC, it have worse graphics, bad control, cant do anything
    except games, and you need to buy them.”

    are you just trolling or are you really that stupid?

    1. Worse graphics than what? How much do you need to spend on a PC to get on par with a 360/PS3?

    2. Bad control? No idea what this means. The 360 controller is one of the most comfortable devices out there. If you’re comparing it to a keyboard/mouse, which one? How much are you paying for your ergonomic wireless keyboard and mouse?

    3. Can’t do anything except games? It’s a GAMES console – what do you want it to do? You put a game in and you play it. I’m sure that sounds really alien to a PC lover, given the fact you need to install it first (provided your specs are up to it and your drivers are up to date etc).

    4. You need to buy your games? So really, this all boils down to the fact that you’ve spent all your pocket money on a kick-ass PC and now live on toast. If you choose to partake in illegal activities such as piracy, don’t be so stupid in attempting to use it to justify owning a PC over a games console.

  17. @mem.namefix – Two hacks were posted on the 20th, therefore fulfilling the ‘hack a day’ title of this site. You don’t have to read the other stuff you know. In fact, you don’t even have to leave dumb-ass comments but you obviously feel aggrieved in the information that’s being provided to you – for free.

  18. @therian

    You are a fool.

    People don’t (usually) run GNU/Linux on a PS3 for the graphics, they run it to have access to the cell processors.

    While this won’t quite as necessary soon, as we have Cell processors on peripheral cards (PCI Express I believe) starting to appear, it would still be nice to have this option.

    If you are completely clueless, check this link for information on the Cell microprocessor:

    That should help you understand why this is so special. It’s basically a portable freaking supercomputer.

  19. First of all, note this is really a news item, but it’s about a (vendor-sponsored) hackable (okay, formerly hackable) piece of hardware. Perhaps we can also regard this as a hack challenge; get Linux running on the PS3slim.

    Whereas I can see Sony’s logic in discontinuing visible support for features that few customers actually use, it would be nice if they offered an “other-OS” enabled and/or an emotion-engine model. The difference initially would be only that Sony would be getting our money for the premium, vs. resellers of the classic 60GB (used) model, of which I own one. Ultimately, the premium on the fully-functional classic will rise from resellers, until PS4 is released. I wonder if they will support PS/PS2 but not PS3 on that model?

    Also, I play PS, PS2, and PS3 games on my PS3, and have Ubuntu Linux installed as well. Why? Why not?

  20. I’m still pissed they didn’t include a built in infrared port so we can use it as a BluRay player and allow universal remotes (like the Harmony) to turn it on and control it without a third party device. Thus nicely integrating it into our home theatre setups.

  21. i would love to see the slim model hacked. an on another note would also love to see a line of cell mpu’s incorporated in an expandable platform {either a bare mobo or palm/net-book device} mmmmm sweet smell of progress.also on a side note… why not create kits to incorporate a breakout board or a modular board layout for vector processor stacking? and really don’t view the loss of features as an affront to the hacking community; look at it as a beautiful challenge to confront. because it is not impossible it is perhaps only improbable to execute :-p

  22. I was a bit annoyed that they removed this.
    I never used the Other OS part much, but i did use the PS2 Linux a little for some stuff. (web scraper)

    I just hope (as others said) that this is hacked and restored.
    Someone will do it i hope, unless it comes to the point where it is no longer reasonable to hack. (like near or after the PS4 comes out)

    And speaking of PS2, even more pissed off that they won’t offer a premium model WITH PS2 support.
    They just outright said they will never offer PS2 B/C on PS3.
    While i have one, it sucks for everyone else who probably sold their PS2s for PS3.

  23. @ hunnter
    true that dood i got rid of all my older/dead cd/dvd/bd consoles lol. mainly because maintenance and basic support vanish after a few years {sighs}
    so basicly to sum it up sony has done nothing to make gaming affordable even compared to pc’s.
    but hey don’t take my word for it :-p
    and to make a point no backward compatibility to be found or ports to other platforms for the older systems.px/p2 would be nice onna {name a brand of desktop pc /mac palm top / iphone/ bluberry / crap phone
    but i digress lol …and as far as ps4 don’t hold your breath on backwards compatibility lmao only more foward thinking and a newer fruitier subtitle for a none supportive and abandoning console

  24. @Xb0xGuru
    “1. Worse graphics than what? How much do you need to spend on a PC to get on par with a 360/PS3?”
    actually not more than $150, any 1 year old graphic card will do. I spend 1200 last
    Christmas on fully new pc build and COD4 looks much much better than ps3 one. And everyone need pc anyways so why not to build good one and enjoy working quickly and playing games.

    “2. Bad control? No idea what this means. The 360 controller is one of the most comfortable devices out there.”
    Just admit it it suck for FPS, it funny to see people trying to use it for cod4

    “3. Can’t do anything except games? It’s a GAMES console – what do you want it to do? You put a game in and you play it. I’m sure that sounds really alien to a PC lover,”

    You argument as good as using typewriter insterad of computer because typewriter was created for this one task

  25. I find it deplorable that they took out the linux support in the slim.
    Would it have done any bad to leave it there? I don’t think so.
    I was very tempted to buy one and be able to have it as a game console and at the same time a linux workstation, but I guess I can’t do that right now…

  26. The reason they took out Linux support is probably very simple: They do not want too many people buying the PS3 and then using it as a cheap, subsidised supercomputer (or even a Linux box for nerds who want to use theirs as a 24/7 Apache server).

    That, to me, is the simplest reason (and therefore the most plausible explanation.) Sony would rather forget about providing cheap computers, and only entice people who are interested in dropping lots of money on games.

  27. Linux was put by Sony on PS/3 as a import/export legal trick into USA and EU. Somehow having the linux option meant it legally was a computer instead of a game machine and it implied diferent taxes/accounting that saved/made money for Sony Japan…

    I say: Nuke them! They treat us as tax fodder with a crippled OS and then they take even that away!!!

    The only acceptable thing is to dismantle the machine and use the Cell Processor in other hardware. They don’t make money on the hardware: without linux they shall never recoup it on the software!!!

    Sony Game executives should do seppuku for such an honourless and despicable decision.

  28. look to the pc gamers

    1 consoles are a cheaper more constant less complicated way to play games waaaayyy less upgrading to run the software.

    2 type writers DO have a use over computers. have you filled out any of those pesky old fangled employment applications or old paper forms ona computer? it sucks and sure you could scan one in to your super fast computer and custom up a template to do your ONE application but 50 bucks for an old cheap type writer is still better especially for doing more than one custom job in a day.

    3. your computer doesn’t do any work any noticably faster than any 10 year old computer ever did. that is a falsehood. ever since the pentiums came out no SINGLE RUNNING application is faster as the pentium already computed faster than the human mind could process. similar to how video cards have surpassed the number of shades that the human eye can see.

    but hey sounds like all of that is way over your head so go back to your slightly better than sd highdef tv’s and all of your constantly upgraded computer and keep ripping off your fps games. hell the more you rip off the lower the profit the faster aholes like me can get intellegent games back.

    and no i am not claiming intellegents or correct spelling. yet i still feel smarter than you. flam away i won’t be back.

  29. Hey, I am the owner of my PS3, Not Sony. I should be free to do whatever i want with it. Its my choice if i wanted to install linux or whatever on my PS3. Its like i paid 400 bucks to be a slave of Sony.


  30. I just bought the PS3 Slim and can not run linux on it… I hope there is a mod out for it soon! My COmputer crashed and I was hoping to emulate all the nintendo games, and stream live NFL…

  31. Random thought — perhaps we could use a bunch of old PS3s to crack Sony’s signing key and rewrite the firmware for the PS3 slim? This would probably take a long time, but it worked for the TI83 hackers; of course, they were only breaking 512 bit RSA, and I have no idea what we are up against for the PS3. Still, it would be nice to slap Sony across the face like that…

  32. For all of you saying the controllers suck compared to a comp, you do realize you can plug a mouse and keyboard in for online use, right? Also, I am typing this right now on a slim, and the internet browser provided, while severely lacking, preforms basic tasks like reading/writing on forums and checking emails just fine. No, I can’t play flash games or go on facebook, but I don’t see the need to. My computer has been broken for a week now, and I have been doing just fine with my un-modified PS3 slim.

  33. It seems Sony tried playing spoil sport and shot themselves in tne foot. The fat PS3’s are more popular than the slim.

    Sony probably can still redeem the situation by adding Linux support to the slim and they’ll be forgiven !!!!

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