OtherOS Removal: In A Nutshell

Linux, OtherOS, Firmware 3.21.  It’s been discussed to death here on TheSixthAxis – but if you’ve been living under a rock here’s the skinny: first, Sony announce a new Firmware Update which appears to do little more than remove the ability to run Linux on your PS3.  This author decides that nobody really cares, which sends TSA into meltdown and we follow up with this article from one of our readers.

Meanwhile, 3.21 emerges, with a couple of lesser known features (and a few bugs) and GeoHot, the hacker who started all this off by claiming to have hacked the PS3 shows up with a teaser for a customised firmware that allows access to the PSN and Linux.  Oh, and a NeoGAF moderator manages to get some of his money back on his launch day PS3 by citing all kinds of laws.  Got that?  Good, job done, right?


Well, no, because whilst Sony have since apologised for the removal of Linux, the feeling around the web is that the issue is still continuing.  Sony’s official line is that piracy had forced their hand: “we have made the decision to protect the integrity of the console,” they said. “Our terms and conditions clearly state that we have the right to revise the PS3’s settings and features in order to prevent access to unauthorised or pirated content.”

It’s this aspect that’s still causing much of the disgruntlement from the PS3 community.

Of course, the reason Linux wasn’t available for the newer, Slim PS3 models is cost, with this article on TheSixthAxis from August 2009 clearly stating that maintaining the security of the console was expensive.  A post back then on the PS2 Linux forums said that “in order to offer the OtherOS install, SCE would need to continue to maintain the OtherOS hypervisor drivers for any significant hardware changes.”

The post was quickly removed, but not before we’d grabbed the text.  It’s interesting to note that the article picks up on rumours around at that time last year that suggested Sony weren’t altogether happy with businesses and corporations picking up dozens of PS3s and using their CPU power (via Linux) to create large-scale computing banks for very little money, and with Sony losing cash on every PS3 sold you can see why.

Now, I’m not suggesting that there’s any other reason than the recent piracy and hacking issues for the rather sudden removal of Linux from all currently updated PS3s, but I get the feeling that the writing was on the wall a while back and all this Geohot stuff just eased the decision.  Now that OtherOS is not an option, the security of the console is stronger and the costs involved with keeping up the defenses are presumably lower.

But is it all over?  It doesn’t seem like it, not yet…