I don’t know about you but I’ve been amused at the amount of coverage in the media about Sony pulling the plug on alternative operating systems on the PS3.
Have you been following this mess? Talk about a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing whatsoever of importance. If you read any of the media coverage, you’d have thought that Sony had launched some sort of sneak attack on people’s PS3s.
Sheesh, give me a break people.
Why Bother with Linux on the PS3?
Why do people care about this in the first place? If you want to run Linux, why would you want to run it on a PS3? What particular value would you get from it beyond just the fun of doing it?
I know that some of you might consider my comments to be hypocritical given that there was an excellent piece on ET back in 2008 about how to set up Linux on a PS3:
One obvious way that Linux beats Microsoft Windows hands-down is in its flexibility. You can run Linux on just about any old crappy PC with a semi-functional processor and a paltry amount of storage. People have installed distros on the Apple TV, Nintendo DS, and—of course—the Mac.
It might not be the first device you think of when you download Ubuntu, but Sony makes it relatively easy to install Linux on the PlayStation 3 videogame console, especially useful during those times in early fall when the only video games worth playing are re-tooled EA Sports franchises and lame PC ported sequels.
But remember that I don’t control ET’s edit calendar, so you’ll have to give me a pass on that.
I also don’t own a PS3 and I have no intention of buying one. But if I did own one, I’d use it for games and Blu-ray discs. That’s it. Why on earth would I want to run Linux on such a limited machine?
I could build my own computer with truly kick ass components and enjoy Linux far more than with Sony’s already aging and relatively puny videogame console. And I could easily swap out older components for newer components, thus making a DIY box last far longer than a silly videogame console.
Sony’s Machine, Sony’s Rules
Speaking of Sony, far be it from me to take the side of a corporate behemoth.
But the fact of the matter is that the PS3 is their machine and they, like any device manufacturer, get to make the rules as far as what runs on it.
Is that fair? No. But so what? There’s a great deal in life that isn’t fair.
So why did Sony stop the use of Linux and other operating systems? Well according to their blog, it was a security issue:
“…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.”
They don’t go into details though about what exactly they were worried about in terms of security. That, unfortunately, does tend to undercut their argument a bit. Ultimately though, it’s pretty much tough bungies if you don’t like it.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t buy a PS3 if you don’t want to adhere to Sony’s policies regarding alternative operating systems.
The Linux Drama Queens & the PS3 Fanboys
One of the things that, unfortunately, sort of sticks out in situations like this, is the tendency of some Linux enthusiasts to behave like raving drama queens. I’m referring to the folks that somehow, for whatever reason, believe that Linux is the end-all, be-all of operating systems.
Hey, I love Linux too. It’s a great choice for a desktop operating system. But it really isn’t necessary to have it running on *every* piece of hardware out there, folks. If it doesn’t run on the PS3, big deal. Why must some people behave as though it is an affront to the Linux community that must not be allowed to stand?
As you might imagine, Sony got an earful and then some on its blog post about removing the PS3′s ability to run Linux. Here’s a few choice quotes from that thread from some Linux drama queens:
“This update is bull. This is as bad as Apple going into people’s devices and removing content the users paid for. I personally own a slim so this doesn’t affect me, but I still believe that those who own compatible systems and choose to run OSs such as Linux should NOT be made to use Sony’s CRAPPY proprietary OS. And as far as your “security concerns” excuse, ANYONE can see that that is complete BULL. Stick to working on giving us MORE features, such as a media controller that is FULLY FUNCTIONAL instead of punishing the ones who chose to spend $700 on your system who don’t want to be locked in to using the sh!tty OS that you provide for us. [DELETED] this update, Sony.”
“WTF?! I got a early PS3 and now I am getting features REMOVED from it?! What’s next? Are you gonna remove the backwards compatibility when you try to sell us PS2 games on the store? [DELETED] YOU SONY! I’ll be getting the next Microsoft console after this shit.”
“Linux usage was a big selling point for me when I shelled out $599 for a PS3 back in April of 2007, one of the systems’ lowest selling time periods. Sony keeps talking up customer loyalty, but keeps taking away the features that earned our loyalty. First you remove PS2 BC from new systems, and now linux from all of them?? I’ve been following the hack news, it does nothing! This is a red scare if I’ve ever seen one. Good luck getting me to support Sony when you’re down next time.”
Lighten up, people. Seriously.
And while you’re at it, you might also want to get a life and find something better to do with your time then spend it installing Linux on an aging and increasingly feeble videogame console.
Now don’t think that I’m just smacking some of the Linux fanboys around here, there’s plenty of smacking to go around for everybody, including the PS3 fanboys. I made it clear how I felt about them in a column way back in 2006 called PS3 Losers Need to Get a Life:
“The launch of the latest generation of video game consoles has now come and gone. As usual, the launches coincided with a massive media orgy, hysterical crowds camping out at the megastores and some all-around bad behavior on the part of a lot of people.
The PlayStation 3 launch, in particular, seemed to drag down the collective IQ and social skills of a lot of people. Talk about a bunch of losers who need to get a life.”
Those who worship the PS3 itself are every bit as silly as those who worship Linux.
Let’s face it folks, Linux on the PS3 just doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and neither does the PS3 itself.