Sony Removes PS3 Linux Support; Gets Sued For It

On April first Sony rolled out new firmware for the PlayStation 3 that removed the ability to install Linux on the system by blocking a feature called OtherOS. Now a class action lawsuit has been filed against the company for its actions. It doesn’t take an attorney to figure out that they removed features that were a major selling point for the system. As mentioned in our previous article, the ability to use an exploit to access the hardware doesn’t mean that every user installing Linux on the system plans to do so. The suit asserts that users had no opportunity to negotiate the System Software Licensing Agreement which is only presented to a purchase after the sale is made. The lawsuit is availble in PDF from from IGN.

Who knows where this one will end up. The suit seeks an injunction against the removal of the OtherOS feature as well as compensatory damages. No matter what happens, we still think the removal was a bad move on Sony’s part.

[Thanks Shueddue]

85 thoughts on “Sony Removes PS3 Linux Support; Gets Sued For It

  1. It’s true that you don’t usually get to read the license agreement until after to take it home and hook it up but, couldn’t you just return it if you didn’t agree?

    By the way, I’m just playing devil’s advocate. I hope Sony reinstates Other OS as a result of this litigation.

  2. I hope they reinstate it too at least for the older hardware. I have 2 ps3’s. One I purchased recently due to the older one’s BD drive going up in it. I could install an alternate OS to get more functionality out of it since I can’t play bd games or watch bd movies on it.

  3. What people really need to to is start lodging complaints with their states attorneys general. If they receive enough complaints, you might see some criminal charges for running a bait-and-switch scam. Civil suits are one thing, but if you really want to see them scramble, you should see what they do when they’re facing criminal charges in multiple, different, states across the country.

  4. The loud mouths will win this one for sure. I would be pissed to if my toaster oven was also a clock radio and one day it stopped being a clock radio because the company realized “why is this here again?” — especailly when it was such a giant security* hole for them.

    *It is my understanding that there was a exploit in the wild that allowed users to pirate games easier or some such.

  5. Mikey, there is no piracy on the ps3. The “hack” is a hardhard of someone glitching the memory via a small circuit to enable them to dump its level 2 content. It’s been around in similar format on other consoles for a couple of years at least. That is it. Geohot got his 10 minutes of fame and is now in hiding having failed to deliver CFW to put OtherOS back.

    Sony have been removing features since launch, this is just another. Why? We don’t really know, but it’s nothing to do with piracy, more than likely they just want to kill OtherOS to cut costs.

  6. @Paul, Am I mistaken about what a “Hypervisor exploit” is? Isn’t that pretty much “OMG I can run unsigned codez now” — basically what you do on any console you want to pirate games with (ex. the copied discs don’t need to be signed now).

    Bleh at any rate, it’s still a game console and I have very little sympathy on the issue. Toasters don’t need clock radios. Just buy a clock radio.

  7. The hack had potential, but Sony’s spent too much time on squashing CFW on the PSP to risk another incident here. Although they probably could have patched out the memory glitch itself, it’s far easier to just cut a feature that was only a selling point to a niche group(Read: Linux users and hackers)

    Also, for those of you hoping that the ps3 slims get linux, it isn’t possible. The Slim lacks the hardware necessary to run the Linux, it was cut both to save costs and to slim down the console.

  8. I don’t have (or intend to get) a PS3, but what really pisses me off is the fact they’ve registered the trademark “it does everything” to advertise the damm thing.

    “no it does not!!!!” ™

  9. Gordunk, Just because Sony disabled Other OS on the PS3 “slims” Doesn’t mean It won’t be able to run linux.

    Hello PS2/Xbox/Xbox360/N64/Gamecube/Psp<-(partial Kernel).

    They have all ran Linux(or some form of; aside from the ps2) without an "official" support.

    If it's got a CPU+Ram ~ 9/10 Its going to be able to run some form of linux.

    I hope they get sued big time, maybe they will lower prices on their hardware for once.

  10. @Mikey: No, they just were able to dump some special locked memory areas. Possibility was that they could fully unlock the Cell processor and GPU for OtherOS use. There was nothing that could be used to pirate games without years of work and another exploit, into a different segment of memory.

    As for the lawsuit. this isn’t a “toaster with a clock radio.” People specifically bought these just because they can run linux. This was a major selling point to people, who are now left in the dust because this was removed.

  11. I thought SONY where already refunding PS3s if you complained about the lack of Linux support?

    The pain about this is, now manufacturers will consider supporting Linux a liability from the outset; But what can you do, eh?

  12. Of course ps3 slim could run linux dipshit.
    From what I understood of the hack it was foot in the door but no where near warranting this, the fact that it was dropped from the slim and now the fatty there is some other reason.

  13. Did Sony market the PS3 and REPRESENT to buyers
    that it WILL support Linux ? if not, then all
    you sue-happy malcontents STFU. This is like if
    I buy that toaster, convert it to a room heater,
    then the manufacturer decides that it’ll put a
    stop to it (by say putting proprietary screws on
    the case or epoxying critical parts).

    The lawyers will be the only winners here. YOU
    Linux geeks will only get a $3.00 rebate coupon.
    And Sony will raise the price of the PS3 to make
    up for this BS lawsuit from some geeks who need
    to learn to buy the right hardware for the job.
    (and to stay away from ambulance chasing law

  14. “Sony’s spent too much time on squashing CFW on the PSP to risk another incident here.”

    and they never have squashed it, everyone just got bored with the psp, no games really worth playing, shit controls, no accessories that people want (90$ 2mp camera?? where the hell is my gps???) and constant lies n BS from sony + more redesigns than sales

    sony is this gens sega

  15. The hack itself didn’t enable piracy or anything close, but it gave people the chance to sift through the dumps and find other exploits.

    @Paul: Geohot hasn’t gone into hiding. Reading his tweets, he’s waiting for the right time to release, plus he’s cleaning up code and such. Besides, his blog has been running for about four months. Give the man some time!

    And it’s good to see Sony feeling the heat of it’s actions. But the lawyers need to be careful about their choice of words. If Sony reinstates OtherOS support, they will severely water it down. “Yeah, you can run Linux, just like we promised (snicker)”.

  16. I guess they didn’t realize that this will force Sony to never release another product that will have this ability in the future.

    Not saying they should bow down, and kiss Sony’s toes, but it does sound a bit ungrateful that they even offered it in the first place.

    This is coming from an outsider that hasn’t owned a console since the original release of the PS2.

  17. I think they should do to Sony what other companies did to Microsoft. Claim they have a monopoly on the browser and that they won’t let other companies can’t install their own. Microsoft lost big time just like Sony should.

    If a computer or console has digital rights management that prevents me from doing what I want then I simply don’t buy it. Sony, Go sell it in Japan because I don’t want it.

    (Disclaimer: I’ve never sued anyone.)

  18. On a related note: What I find interesting about the Geohot RAM Glitch exploit, is there isn’t actually any proof he’s reversed the crypto loader and firmware.

    To date an injection has yet to executed on the PS3 and ‘metldr’ can only be loaded. Geohot also claims to have reversed it’s interface, but like code execution insinuations there is literally nothing but a Youtube video and claims anything can be done.

    That Youtube video only shows a menu display which is in unsigned code that can be byte patched..

    Sony probably only removed it because they had threats from investors and license holders. I’m calling Geohots bluff especially on CFW that unlocks OtherOS in 3.21 via custom PUP..

  19. Personally, I picked the PS3 over the xbox 360 because of it’s advertised ability to run linux. So, I’m pissed. I didn’t find out until later that linux didn’t have full access to the gpu and even the “officially supported” version of yellow dog lacked basic drivers for somethings.

  20. At least a dozen years ago I vowed that I’d never by anything from Sony again. They are just way too heavy-handed and proud of their proprietary-ness. Sony is about as bad as Monsanto, except that their hardware is usually designed pretty nice and slick – what a shame.
    I don’t miss them (never have bought anything Sony since my vow and I never will). Many of their competitors use standard file formats, etc. and don’t smell like big brother. This makes the competition look better so I’ll just keep buying things from their competition if & when I want something.
    Good riddance to Sony.

  21. yo dipshits, the console is made by sony computer entertainment.

    what the fuck do you think a console actually is at heart?

    typical. we got the general run of decent informative comments along with the usual batshit crazy, no grip on reality, finger far from the pulse posts that make me wonder why in gods name they’re even on this site in the first place.

  22. To the willfully ignorant in the audience: if you’re not prepared to do any research, no one wants to hear the pointless bawling your passing off as opinion.

    This isn’t about Sony removing a hacking vector. This is about them removing a _primary_ feature that they marketed as such:

    Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.:
    “In addition to playing games, watching movies, listening to music, and viewing photos, you can use the PS3 system to run the Linux operating system. By installing the Linux operating system, you can use the PS3 system not only as an entry-level personal computer with hundreds of familiar applications for home and office use, but also as a complete development environment for the Cell Broadband Engine (Cell/B.E.).”

    k&gl=us&client=safari) – google’s cached page of the above hyperlink from March 30th 2010 which does not say anything about FW 3.21 removing Other OS. I’ve saved the page in case it goes offline, copy http address into browser as link probably won’t work. Or, just search google and get the cached page. – kiyyto.

    Phil Harrison, February 2007,
    President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios 2005-2008:
    “One of the most powerful things about the PS3 is the ‘Install Other OS’ option.”

    Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., 2006-2009:
    “The Linux Distributor’s Starter Kit provides information, binary and source codes to Linux Distribution developers who wants to make their distro support PS3.”

    Izumi Kawanishi, Sony, May 2006:
    “Because we have plans for having Linux on board [the PS3], we also recognize Linux programming activities… Other than game studios tied to official developer licenses, we’d like to see various individuals participate in content creation for the PS3.”

    Geoffrey Levand, August 2009,
    Principal Software Engineer at Sony Corporation:
    “Please be assured that SCE is committed to continue the support for previously sold models that have the “Install Other OS” feature and that this feature will not be disabled in future firmware releases.”
    mailing list to PS3 customers using Linux

    Phil Harrison, May 2006,
    President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios 2005-2008:
    “The Playstation 3 is a computer. We do not need the PC.”,1518,418642,00.html

    (Thanks to Xrobx@slashdot for compiling this list)

    So SubDriver, you bitchy malcontent, why don’t _you_ STFU instead of dragging out insane allegations about how those of us wanting to keep what we’ve paid for are the ones driving the price up for everyone else. Sony’s bullshit strategies are Sony’s bullshit strategies, NO ONE else is to blame here.

  23. @Subdiver: Yes, Sony did market the ability to run Linux on it. It’s even mentioned as one of the features in the manual. Your analogy of the toaster converted to room heater does not apply here. It’s more like you bought a toaster, turned it into a heater, then the manufacturer breaks into your house and tears it apart in a way that can’t be rebuilt.

    I have no problem with Sony removing features when they release a new version of the console, but what you fail to understand is that this applies to all consoles EVER sold. Retroactively. You may ask, well can’t you just not install the newest firmware upgrade? Sure, but then you can’t play any games online anymore, another advertised functionality of the PS3. Either way, functionality is reduced after the fact.

    Also, as far as I know, once a newer firmware is installed, there is NO way to restore the system back to a previous version.

  24. I Purchased my ps3 because Sony advertised I can run Linux on it.

    I’m not a hacker but I use it frequently to experiment parallel programming (I’ve not found any other cell broadband engine based hardware that I can afford). Of course I also enjoy online games and playing bluray discs.

    Now I renounced to online games. I will play offline the ones I already have and I will not purchase any new game anymore.

    Sony have stolen 1/3 of my ps3 (2/3 of it if future bluray movies do not play on it) and this is something I will not forgive, even if they return back the other OS feature. I will never purchase any other Sony product.

    Best regards.

  25. Sony is doing a movie on demand thing aren’t they?

    Maybe they had to kill access to protect this new venture? We all know how rediculous hollywoods studios are about their IP.

  26. they decide to remove the feature dosent make the console useless just les useful dosent hurt there bottom line becuz they have plenty of support u bought a video game console the extra features like blue ray made it more cost effective to the consumer u could just go buy a xbox that has what hddvd support negative i would assume u bought the ps3 for its games and quality craftsman ship like me i have a rrod i owned my xbox 1/3 the time i owned my ps3 and if everyone keep messing with sony they will be force to make a system where u have to pay for online gaming like xbox and they expect u to pay for online play and not alter ur console with there user agreement for online play if u want to install linux on it dont play the new games or update and build another computer for linux is that so difficult just remember kids u could move back in quality gaming to the xbox and its over priced online or wii for its horrible graphics and remember a video game console

    @SubDriver good job u get it
    @the ignorant masses if the company gets litigation threat will start a price increase like i said earlier about the online charge like xbox live or a up in console price and in the end linux support will still be lost

  27. @andrew:

    “It’s true that you don’t usually get to read the license agreement until after to take it home and hook it up but, couldn’t you just return it if you didn’t agree?”

    If that EULA clause goes against the law, it’s invalid even if you agree with it.
    Besides, EULAs have been found to be non-binding if you don’t have to in any way state that you agree with it.

    That’s why you have to mark “I agree with the EULA” when you install a piece of software. If you could install and use the software without ever agreeing with the EULA, it wouldn’t be binding. See Specht v. Netscape Communications Corp.

  28. @drew
    Latest game I purchased for the ps3 was Grand Theft Auto IV, the next game I purchased was Modern Warfare 2 and I purchased the PC version, mainly for two reasons: one it was sigthtly cheaper than the ps3 version and I like more the mouse than the game pad for the FPS games, then I realized that the PC (a pretty new one) is as good as the ps3 (if not better) for gaming without Sony pissing me off stealing my ps3 functionalities.

    But no PC have a cell broadband engine to experiment with. (This is not totally true, there are some >$4000 PCI cards with one).

  29. yes and that only means u ca use it witout ever updating so no new games no new features from the updates and the eula is a contract u agree to just like if u install yahooo messaganger on ur computer or any other software u agree to use it in it proper use over the internet if u wanted online play threw sony u have to agree with there system if u dont want that feature or the ability to use the new software u can stop updating and the netscape case decision was based on the fact that u didnt have to agree u have to agree to the eula to continue to update contracts dont have to be in ur best interest the navy makes its enlistees sign a contract stating u must stay in shape and u can be pushed financially if u do something the captain of the command dosent approve of which can be pointless and pointless as u not getting ur hair cut

  30. @drew – my brain now hurts after trying to read your “random-words-in-the-form-of-one-big-sentence” post. did you not read the other posts in this thread or are you just ignoring the fact that taking a major feature away from a product after you’ve entered a contract of sale is a no-no?

    The OtherOS support was crucial to many who were trying to decide whether they were going to purchase a 360 or PS3. The fact it was an open platform gave it the edge. You cannot just remove that feature and expect it to be all peachy.

  31. spend the 4000 dollars then the ps3 is yet again a game console becuz thats what its for playing games if u want to put that wear and tear on ur computer thats fine im useing a 6 year old laptop to stream video and surf the web becuz i didnt put that wear on my computer

  32. yes but ur geting all preachy about thats the reason u bought it i would of bought a computer and installed linux on that cuz thats a computer not a gaming console u ppl keep forgetting it was a game console to begin with and they added extra features to get u to buy it i.e. blueray im sorry marketers are smarter then u and its a constent stream of thought sorry its easier to convey thoughts

  33. Drew – are you even reading the replies?

    Sony never marketed the PS3 as a games console, so stop right there. It was marketed as an entertainment unit (as it was a Blu-ray player too). The ability to install another OS for a lot of people was a very big deal and Sony more than likely sold a large proportion of units because of this.

    Also, most of us here are thinking and typing at the same time, yet are still able to converse in a legible way so others can at least read it. Maybe spend 5-10 mins to construct your replies so they’re in English, ya?

  34. @paul
    I feel even more sorry for anybody who IS a native speaker trying to read his sentence/paragraphs. A non-native speaker would just be confused. A native speaker would be confused and then want to cut drew’s connection to the internet. He didn’t just kill the English language, he murdered it then ran it over with a Hummer a couple of times.

  35. I don’t have time read all these posts, but I hope someone mentioned that the likely outcome of any class action suit is merely the lawyers getting rich. The consumer will probably get the shaft as usual.

  36. @drew: I couldn’t follow your badly constructed words and gigantic run on sentence. It looked like “blah, blah, blah…”

    Learn to write properly. This “texting” generation you belong to doesn’t realize that when you communicate in the real world you need to use proper language. Try passing that stuff you wrote to your boss, see how long you last at the company.

    It takes very little effort and a few more seconds to write properly. Give it a try. Really… it’s not that hard.

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