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PS3 Update Pulls 'Install other OS' Option

Gordon Kelly


PS3 Update Pulls 'Install other OS' Option

It is traditional that hardware gets more powerful and adds features with every generation - unless you're Sony...

Following on from controversial decisions such as to strip the PS2 hardware emulation from first generation PS3s and the option to install Linux as an alternative OS from the PS3 Slim, Sony has decided to even things up a little: by stripping this latter option from all PlayStation 3s.

The update - which launches on 1 April, though Sony insists isn't an April Fools - will come with firmware v3.21.

"{It} will disable the “Install Other OS” feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models, launched in September 2009," said Sony Senior Director of Corporate Communications & Social Media, Patrick Seybold. "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. In addition, disabling the “Other OS” feature will help ensure that PS3 owners will continue to have access to the broad range of gaming and entertainment content from SCE and its content partners on a more secure system."

Naturally enough, committed Linux users can choose to skip the upgrade, but Sony warns this will mean you lose the following (fundamental) features:

  • 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
Yep, that pretty much equates to 'use Linux OR have a PS3'. All users currently with a Linux OS installed will also need to back-up their data prior to the firmware update since "they will not be able to access that data following the update."

So understandable elimination of a novelty feature of another prime example of Sony misunderstanding its user community? You let us know...


via PlaySation.blog


March 29, 2010, 7:49 pm

Unbelievable! They are basically saying that because they are scared of the hacking potential they are going to remove it. So, when someone hacks the main PS3 OS, will they disable the whole machine?!? I doubt this is used very much as it was so crippled in the first place, but it is the principle that is the worrying thing. Surely there is a law about selling something with an advertised feature and then removing it? If there isn't there should be! It's like Microsoft sending out a Windows Update that blocks all Internet access at the OS level, because of "Security". Sony you suck!


March 29, 2010, 9:48 pm

I liked the idea that I could add functionality to my PS3, but more choice might confuse most users. Other electronics manufacturers have released devices with limited features and customizability with great success.

In the end, if I could I probably would have installed Linux on my PS3 but in reality it would serve no purpose and just end up eating a chunk of my hard drive.


March 29, 2010, 9:57 pm

couldn't they have just added a "not recommended" warning and kept the linux users happy?


March 29, 2010, 9:59 pm

When I first got my ps3, I installed Linux - mainly because I *could* - it was a bit of a chew on, and the limitation with hardware not being directly available to the kernel meant that 'Yellow Dog' Linux really lived up to it's name. So it was removed fairly sharpish (a netbook would run Linux quicker, to be honest). So although I'm slightly annoyed that Sony have gone back on previous promises to keep the functionality, I don't think they're removing much that was any use.

Paul Randle

March 29, 2010, 10:08 pm

Clustering PS3s under Linux is the smart way to make a cheap supercomputer. Since Sony subsidises the console price with games sales, it loses money from this. Hence the firmware "update".


March 29, 2010, 10:19 pm

This is pretty outrageous. I was weighing up the option of buying a "fat" one instead of a slim one for this very feature, but opted not to having heard many stories like Chris2510's about performance being so poor as to make it not really worthwhile. But this is besides the point - it's just plain wrong for Sony to remove a feature on whose basis people bought the product.

I recall hearing that the feature originally enabled Sony to dodge some EU import taxes on the basis that the PS3 was a computer not just a console. Is this right? If so, shouldn't Sony be liable retrospectively for these tax payments?

Rob 7

March 29, 2010, 10:42 pm

I am outraged, I am going to seek legal advice, I am sure Sony can not be allowed to change the functionality of hardware without customer signature. I bought the machiner on the basis that I will be able to use this feature and now Sony has decided to remove such a feature, therefore I will need to be either compensated for the loss of such a feature or I will be taking Sony to court. Maybe I will be the first person in the UK to win :-)

I kid you not, I am in the process of talking to citizen advice and if get the go head, I will take sony to court.


March 29, 2010, 10:53 pm

Question for you Chris: Any idea what version of YDL you installed? I see that they're up to version 6.2 or something now (April, 2010). I wonder if the later releases of YDL are any better. I also wonder whether the latest release of YDL can access the PS3's video card.

I'd like to try and install it, but I'm not sure if it's worth the hassle according to most reviews...


March 29, 2010, 11:15 pm

@DrMaustus: I'm sad enough to scribble the version numbers of Linux ISOs on the DVD as I burn them, and the version I installed was 6.1 - so I can't see the performance improving that much on a minor point update.

As an added point to my earlier one - I don't see why Sony have made this a mandatory update (as much as they say it isn't). However, if they're trying to get the Slim and Fat PS3's singing off the same hymn sheet, if they take away Linux, I would like it if they added Bravia Sync to the Fat consoles, as I understand that's available with the Slim versions... but maybe that's just me being selfish...


March 29, 2010, 11:27 pm

@DrMaustus, the issue is not with the Linux distro itself, but that Sony doesn't allow direct access to the hardware. It basically runs under a hypervise - a bit like running Linux as a virtual machine under Windows using something like VMware. As such it runs like dog and has little practical use.

@Rob, best of luck! However, this is a software change, not a hardware one. I bet there is something in the EULA that gives them a get out clause. And you don't have to perform the update if you don't want to - though the PS3 will be pretty much crippled as a PS3 if you don't.


March 29, 2010, 11:27 pm

Thanks Chris. Sounds like it's not worth the trouble. I should just sell my phatty and move on...

snoop 7

March 30, 2010, 1:58 am

I have the fat PS3 and the previous major firmware update screwed up my blu ray drive. Each firmware update flashes the blu ray drive for security I've been told. So having fixed the fault I await not with eagerness but slight trepidation.

As for the removal of "install other OS" feature, I think it is outrageous. I personally use my PS3 for purely gaming but I have friends who run Linux and let me tell you they are well and truly peeved! Shame on you Sony. They'll have to revise the "it only does everything" tag!


March 30, 2010, 2:08 am

I know about a dozen PS3 owners, none of whom have ever installed Linux on their PS3. I understand that it's a matter of principle, and slightly naughty of Sony to remove this functionality (although if they just said "We're worried about piracy, nothing else" that may have got them off the hook), but really.... functionality-wise, does anyone care? Who would use Linux on a PS3 for anything other than ripping Blu Ray movies and (in the future, possibly) ripping, and playing, PS3 games ISOs?

And when are Sony going to implement MKV playback, NTFS external drive compatibility, and Bravia Sync (on the fat)?


March 30, 2010, 5:24 am

If you look at how George Hotz has been hacking the PS3, it is via the OtherOS feature and some hardware 'glitching':


From Sony's point of view it must seem that sooner or later his exploit will be used to defeat the PS3's security and open the door to piracy. From a business perspective it's perfectly sensible to try and protect revenues and one way of doing this is to ensure that newer firmware is more secure by closing this attack vector. It's not really that dissimilar to how Microsoft update the XBox 360 firmware to detect and nullify the latest hardware mods. It's just very unfortunate in this case that the hole being closed happens to be useful functionality for some.

Here is George Hotz' take on the matter:


Nick Hustak

March 30, 2010, 4:39 pm

It always cracks me up how they try to pass off this kind of thing as being good for the consumer. I mean, does anyone sit there and nod 'Thank god they stopped this - I was really concerned it was affecting my security'?.

I never saw - did they try to spin removing PS/2 emulation as an advantage as well? Did that keep us from seeing subpar graphics and thus 'improve' our overall experience?

I mean whatever on doing this shit - I don't have the time to muck with linux - , but it's simply insulting to attempt to pass it off as some sort of advantage.


March 30, 2010, 4:49 pm

I really don't see the problem. The PS3 is a games console, not a computer. If you have a PS3 in your house I bet you also have a PC, so why not just install Linux on that instead of going through twice the hassle of doing it on the PS3? I doubt even the most hardcore Linux fans would be sad at this news.


March 30, 2010, 5:00 pm

I am a big fan of the PS3, but am also of the opinion that lobotomised monkeys could do a better job of marketing it, so this comes as no surprise to me. I don't think they misunderstood their users - they understand that removing this feature will not affect the overwhelming majority of users in the slightest - but there IS a matter of principle in removing potentially useful features purely to protect revenue, and frankly the timing could be better. When the PSN network went down for a day recently, many users were somewhat unhappy, and it caused much gloating from XBox fans... common sense says they should have followed that episode with an update that noticeably IMPROVES the console, not one which removes features with no benefit to the consumer.


March 31, 2010, 5:22 am

@Nick Hustak: nothing in Sony's blog post states whose security they are protecting so it's probably safe to assume, especially given the underlying reason why they are removing the OtherOS functionality, that it's not consumer security that they are concerned about. Sony have made a great deal of effort putting security in place that makes it very hard to hack the system and pirate games, which is obviously to the benefit of themselves and all of their content partners (i.e. third party games developers). This is what they are referring to by 'security concerns' and a 'more secure system'.

And for those people who were building compute clusters using PS3s, it's not likely to affect them in any case as I doubt they ever use them for playing games. And by now they can probably get better value for money using a GPGPU.


April 4, 2010, 12:50 am

Warning before upgrading your PS3, read this thread ..


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