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The PlayStation 4 Has Been Hacked To Run Linux

Bring your own exploit.

After just over two years on the market, the PlayStation 4’s walls of security have been breached in a very significant manner, with the team of hackers at fail0verflow – noted for their success in hacking the PlayStation 3, in particular – able to run a heavily modified version of Linux on the console.

With the complexity of modern console software, which invariably leads to a number of vulnerabilities, and the Windows PC-like hardware that Sony used as their starting point for the system, it was always more of a question of when, rather than if. However, in a presentation that showcases the hack, it’s also shown just how different the PS4’s hardware actually is from a PC, with a custom southbridge designed by Marvell that deviates significantly from industry standards and access to the HDD actually handled using USB protocols, rather than SATA.

While fail0verflow have made their work-in-progress Linux port available, this isn’t of much use to the vast majority of users. The vulnerability that they exploited within Firmware 1.76 has since been patched out, but in a follow up post, they point to the system’s open source roots in FreeBSD and Webkit as relatively easy targets to find other exploits. With Linux also comes the possibility of porting SteamOS to the system, once they have managed to solve the problem of getting the GPU up and running.

Of course, there’s also the lingering shadow and risk of this leading to piracy on the console, but as a group, that isn’t their focus. In fact, they say that “if we can get people interested in running Linux on the PS4 over using the native OS, we can redirect efforts away from reverse engineering the original software infrastructure (which is what the piracy guys need, and they inevitably leech off of those efforts) to Linux (which is completely useless for piracy).”

Sony will naturally be very wary of that threat, so it will be interesting to see how they attempt to thwart hacking efforts such as these going forward.

Source: fail0verflow, via Engadget, Eurogamer


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  1. Dazbobaby
    Since: Aug 2010

    £250 for a console that is also a steam box? Bargain.

    Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 13:59.
    • gazzagb
      Master of speling mitakse
      Since: Feb 2009

      Yeah, but the PS4’s specs aren’t really good enough for most Steam games unless you only want to run indie/pixel art games (which is basically mostly what the PS4 does anyway :P)

      Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 14:41.
      • Dazbobaby
        Since: Aug 2010

        I currently have a Mac Mini, so that’s me anyway :)

        Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 15:03.
  2. baska
    Since: Feb 2009

    You could run pretty much ever games system ever made via emulatiots. It would be amazing to have it running from a ps4

    Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 14:18.
    • The Lone Steven
      Never heard of him.
      Since: May 2010

      It’s kinda a gray area and Sony would have to clamp down on it to avoid being hit by all kinds of lawsuits along with not being pleased with their console potentially running pirated emulations.

      Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 16:16.
      • Tuffcub
        On the naughty step.
        Since: Dec 2008

        Sony wouldnt be hit with lawsuits, if that were the case Linux would be out of business.

        Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 16:38.
      • sirmlivesey
        Since: Mar 2010

        Their console? After it’s bought, it’s not theirs, that’s the point of homebrew/hacking consoles; to use it how you want to. Besides, it’s been patched. Until there is a downgrade exploit this is a very small percentage of owners.

        Reminds me of the OtherOS episode, very few were actually effected, it was more about the principle.

        Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 19:02.
      • The Lone Steven
        Never heard of him.
        Since: May 2010

        Techincally, Sony controls the software and i think, legally speaking, it’s a grey area. That said, i don’t really know much about the rights and consoles along with the whole techincal terms when people buy it. I did hear that we are licensed to own it but i doubt it’s that.

        Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 22:28.
      • AngryCoward
        Since: Sep 2015

        This comment is hidden.

        Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 23:41.
      • ron_mcphatty
        Since: Sep 2008

        Funnily enough I think cars may be similar to games consoles here in the UK. I’ve got a nasty cheaty VW (it’s not nasty, it’s bloody lovely) and the dealer doing the firmware upgrade told me they think it will be illegal to refuse it because VW control the engine management software in a similar way. Seems silly to me though, I never agreed to any EULA for my car, and it’s second hand.

        Comment posted on 05/01/2016 at 02:55.
  3. The Lone Steven
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    I can see Sony issuing a Cease and Desist Order as a precaution and to avoid a repeat of the whole PS3 linux issue that caused quite a stir. ALong with protecting their interests and generally doing it because they have to. If they somehow avoid having the PS4 connected to PSN, i would think that they would have to get other PS4s for the intended purposes instead of another OS and the group is on a rather narrow bridge. They aren’t focusing on piracy but all it takes is for a minority of uses to abuse it and Sony will hold them responsible for giving access to pirates by hacking it.

    Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 16:20.
  4. alistair6969
    Since: Aug 2013

    OH is this the reason the PSN is down for unplanned Maintenance for PS4 Then as its down.

    Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 16:31.
    • The Lone Steven
      Never heard of him.
      Since: May 2010

      It’s not. They aren’t hacking into the network and are just routing around in the PS4 hardware to see if it’s possible to find a way to run Linux on it.

      Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 16:54.
      • alistair6969
        Since: Aug 2013

        Nope it still down & it took Sony nearly a hour to confirm it. After all you need maintenance to get rid of Linux if that what Sony trying to do. You seen the backlash it cause on twitter.


        Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 17:09.
      • The Lone Steven
        Never heard of him.
        Since: May 2010

        I meant the reason, not that PSN is down. I realised my wording 30 seconds after posting. >.<

        I doubt Sony are doing it because of Linux and it only being reported. It could be a server breaking or someone uploading porn again or one of the various hacker groups hacking it and bringing it down just because they find it fun.

        Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 17:18.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Considering that this exploit circumvented PSN by going through the WebKit-based web browser, and was restricted to consoles running firmware 1.76, these aren’t likely to be related.

      Comment posted on 04/01/2016 at 21:04.
      • wonkey-willy
        Since: Jan 2010

        oh dear Steven, you should of hit the edit button!!!
        My bad there ain’t one!!!

        Comment posted on 05/01/2016 at 12:26.
  5. JR.
    Since: Apr 2013

    Why not take all this time they must have spent trying to hack the PS4 and get a job? Work your ass off, save up and buy a badass pc. With linux.

    Comment posted on 05/01/2016 at 00:50.
    • Phizzy
      Since: Jun 2010

      You think the point of this was for them to have a machine they could run Linux on?

      Comment posted on 05/01/2016 at 15:21.

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