back to article Sony's new PlayStation 4 and open source FreeBSD: The TRUTH

Sony has confirmed that its newgasmic game console the PlayStation 4 - on sale today in the US - uses a modified version of the open-source FreeBSD operating system. In a license page on Sony's Japanese site the company lists the software used by the PEW-PEW-PEW machine, and Unix-derivative FreeBSD features prominently. The PS4' …

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Anonymous Coward

Another win for the open-source world

Actually no! FreeBSD allows Sony to freely loot open source developers work without giving anything back to them. They will make hundreds of millions without sending even as little as a thank you card to FreeBSD community.

I don't see much victory for OSS here.

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Re: Another win for the open-source world

I appreciate the point. Yet, that's the licence FreeBSD has and its contributors must be aware of. I license my code under the 2-clause BSD agreement and it's just one of the things you gotta accept. People can and will lift your code, and you get a tiny credit. If don't like it, use something (IMHO aggressive) like the GPL or keep the code to yourself.

If I was a FreeBSD contributor, and saw my code in a machine that's likely to sell like hotcakes, I might well be a little pleased (and find time to update the CV). Maybe we should drop the FreeBSD guys a note..

C.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another win for the open-source world

Talk about sour grapes...

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Re: Another win for the open-source world

"Actually no! FreeBSD allows Sony to freely loot open source developers work without giving anything back to them. They will make hundreds of millions without sending even as little as a thank you card to FreeBSD community.

I don't see much victory for OSS here."

Actually, the BSD license is actually pretty damn important to the FreeBSD core team, otherwise they would be Linux developers.

And how do you know how much Sony is contributing? FreeBSD developers use freebsd.org email addresses and bios are not posted, so it is hard to know where their day jobs are. Sony? Apple? NetApp?

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MJI
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Re: Another win for the open-source world

Actually Sony are rumoured to be a major donator

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FAIL

Re: Another win for the open-source world

FreeBSD allows Sony to freely loot open source developers work...

Using open source is not in any way looting. It is using it as it was intended. Now we've got that sorted maybe you can get a life.

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Re: Another win for the open-source world

@diodesign - There are going to be any number of folks attacking PS4 in any way they can and they are going to first post. This particular incident attempts to incite a Freetard Rebellion pitting the Linux fans against the BSDers, focusing ire on Sony so as to benefit XBone. Fortunately the short-term contractors used for this sort of thing have no understanding about how these things relate and so cannot do a good job of mixing it up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another win for the open-source world

"FreeBSD allows Sony to freely loot open source developers work without giving anything back to them. "

Exactly. FreeBSD give support to companies who oppose open source (and everyone else, of course, but you could do that with a different license). Companies using BSD as a basis for code they keep locked up is no win for anyone other than their shareholders.

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Headmaster

@MJI Re: Another win for the open-source world

donator donor

Sorry, I try not to do this sort of thing, but I see that one around a lot and it bugs me like all hell. I mean it's not even shorter!

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Re: Another win for the open-source world

"(and find time to update the CV)"

Good idea! I didn't even think of that. "Worked on Sony PS4 Operating System" should look good tucked in there. Providing Sony's PS4 doesn't go all Skynet and start killing people, in which case I'll probably keep quiet about it.

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Re: Another win for the open-source world

Yes. As one of the contributors that's listed by name, I'm tickled pink. I believe that my free software should be free for anybody to use for whatever purposes they want. That's the whole point of the BSD license. Many companies use FreeBSD. Most of them realize that it is in their best interest to contribute back many of their improvements, and even companies that have proprietary bits have contributed back more mundane bug fixes. This is fantastic.

Warner Losh (mmc driver)

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Paris Hilton

Another win for open-source leechers

So not only has Sony made a stripped-down PS3, that subsequently doesn't even work (although it's already defective by design), but it turns out they couldn't even be bothered writing their own OS for it.

And of course, thanks to the wonders of BSD licensing, Sony will never release even a single line of source for our its software.

I'm just amazed that anyone is gullible enough to pay for something that awful.

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Re: Another win for open-source leechers

@Oh Homer,

Firstly its not "our" software, it belongs to the FreeBSD guys. Secondly, if the FreeBSD guys want to license it under BSD that's down to them, not you. Thirdly, their choice of that license clearly shows that they're super-chilled about what other people, including Sony, Apple and even YOU, can do with the code. And I rather suspect that the FreeBSD guys derive a well deserved portion of smugness from the fact that their software seems to be so popular.

Personally I find that Google's choice of Linux as the basis for Android to be very odd given that FreeBSD would have done very well indeed. They would have had more control over the platform and the anarchy that is the Android ecosystem could have been avoided.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another win for open-source leechers

Linux has support for lots of hardware and they use it internally too for their operations.

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Re: Another win for open-source leechers

I always thought the same; FreeBSD makes more sense for Android.

However, it wasn't Google's choice. Let's not forget that Google bought Android when the decision to use Linux had already been made, they didn't create the OS.

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Re: Another win for open-source leechers

"I always thought the same; FreeBSD makes more sense for Android."

Android uses BSD in user land, Linux in kernel land. Presumably the Linux kernel is perceived as better than the BSD one, e.g. because it benefits from mainstream kernel development, scalability and wide chipset support.

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Re: Another win for open-source leechers

"I'm just amazed that anyone is gullible enough to pay for something that awful."

Ha ha ha, OS X and iOS are Unix, got it? People are gullible.

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The really sad thing is that not everybody is doing it

I mean in the embedded world, there are a lot of crappy commercial operating systems out there, typically with their own untested network stacks and badly documented APIs. The amount of money and time wasted on those is enormous. Of course there are reasons for dedicated small operating systems, for example in the < 1Megabyte of RAM area, but they are still used in areas where you could just as easily use some BSD or Linux.

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QNX

I'm still hopeful that Google will buy the carcass of BlackBerry, adopt QNX as the basis for Android and open source it. That would pretty much remove the reason for many to stick any of the buggy OSes you talk about.

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Re: QNX

Actually... no. QNX is far to large for many situations. If you can run QNX you can run Linux, typically. At least one without MMU. If we need another system it would have to be usable on the integrated memory of microcontrollers. It would have to run in less than (roughly) 128 kibibytes of RAM. QNX isn't that small... in fact you could get MS-Dos and a minimal version of Windows 3.11 easily onto a floppy disk.

The problem is once you need to add additional RAM, it doesn't matter whether you add 1 mebibytes or 16 mebibytes, it's all the same on such low scales. The main cost is in having to use more expensive PCBs to get in all those extra wires to and from the external RAM.

Many companies don't stick to commercial OSes because of technical problems, but because they believe open source software would be a huge problem. There's a lot of open source FUD going in certain large companies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: QNX

QNX is highly scalable, it was one of its selling points. You could download a 1.44mb floppy version of it once.

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Re: QNX

Open sourcing QNX would be great and Android demonstrably works over QNX (since Blackberry ported the runtime). However I don't think it would yield any benefits for end users, or Google for that matter. The Linux kernel is extremely robust, widely supported by chipsets and efficient. There would have to be a tangible incentive to drop all that for another kernel and I don't see it.

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Re: QNX

Unfourtunately 1.44Mb is still > 128k

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Actually it may be a "win"

Developing for a *nix environment makes a port to linux/OSX more likely. I wonder if Sony places platform no-compete clauses in the contracts?

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Re: Actually it may be a "win"

"Developing for a *nix environment makes a port to linux/OSX more likely."

Makes no difference, but people seem to always believe that.

Once you quickly get away from the standard library and POSIX (and you do) you are targeting platform dependent procedures. This is when you loose portability, even between Linux versions. You can make pure portable C applications by using standards, but eventually with video games you're going to have to break standards and do what you must to optimize. Non-standard code can still be made portable, but even if it compiles with just warnings, something is going to go missing (as usual, you should expect 95% error).

Video games aren't meant to be portable, they're meant to be fast.

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Re: Another win for open-source leechers

@Oh Homer

IMO the hardware I/O interconnect design, device drivers and UI are what are most important. If those components aren't well designed and programmed then nothing else matters. Using a mature, stable and well understood base operating system to build on sounds like a very good choice to me.

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And this is news?

Sony has been using FreeBSD for years: the PS3 used it. Using FreeBSD for a project means not having to ask the lawyers which is a win for any real developer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And this is news?

Nope, using BSD licensed code means they don't contribute to spreading the GPL virus any further.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And this is news?

So why don't all companies go to *BSD at once ? Don't get me wrong, I personally consider BSDs on par with Linux and I find it unfair they are not as visible as Linux. I honestly wonder why are we all bitching about Linux while largely ignoring BSD. Why did IBM, Oracle, Google, Facebook and others went with Linux and how did their lawyers deal with that ?

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 17:37GMT - Re: And this is news?

BSD is nothing but a toothless GPL. I also gave you a down-vote for using the (Microsoft-inspired) comparison to a virus.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 17:51

Numpty.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viral_license

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Re: @AC 17:51

@AC: Read the History part of that page.

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Re: @AC 17:51

AC quoting AC quoting AC ad infinitum, how is anyone supposed to know what you are replying to ?

What is the need for secrecy when posting about BSD, Linux ? I just don't get it .

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Re: And this is news?

"...Why did IBM, Oracle, Google, Facebook and others went with Linux..."

Yeah, why? Back then, they all suddenly jumped shipped and bet heavily on Linux, that was very immature back then. Linux supported 2-4 cores and not much more. FreeBSD was already mature and stable back then. And still every large company jumped ship and went Linux, with a much more constrained license than Linux. FreeBSD license allows anyone to even close the source, while using all code. GPL Linux forces you to open the code, you can not close it. Obviously, a competitive company (all of them are) will prefer propietary stuff will prefer FreeBSD license - and still everyone, suddenly chose Linux which was immature and had a bad license for monopolistic greedy companies. They all chose Linux at the same time. Why?

I worked at a big fortune 500 company recently and they suddenly said "orders from manegement: we dont buy HP anymore" and several other companies reported the same thing: they stopped doing business with HP. At the same time.

And I also saw that several big companies recently choose to bet heavily on ARM. Microsoft released Windows for ARM cpus, that was unheard of! MS had support for non intel way back, but today? Why would MS bet on ARM suddenly? Release Windows for ARM? And AMD did the same, AMD is now designing ARM cpus. And Nvidia too. And HP will sell ARM servers. And several other companies. Suddenly they all simultaneously choose to bet heavily on ARM. Or Linux. Or Google. Or Microsoft Windows instead of OS/2. etc. Why do they act as one single will is governing them?

You want to know the answer? Here it is, read the answer here: here is a smoking new hot research, a PhD thesis and other senior researchers on this subject:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed--the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html

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Re: And this is news? @Kebabbert

"Back then, they all suddenly jumped shipped and bet heavily on Linux, that was very immature back then"

Funnily enough, some then-large and some still-large players originally went BSD instead, like Sun Microsystems (Solaris), IBM (AIX, though admittedly with a UNIX source license in their pocket), HP (OSF/1, later rebranded as HP/UX), NEXT (and consequently, Apple, who still use FreeBSD on a MACH kernel as the base of their OSs). All of those companies have contributed hugely to the BSD flavour of their choice.

IBM and HP hedged their bets by supporting Linux and contributing to that project, too. As have many others. So, no news, agreed. But I don't share your conspiracy-theory point of view there.

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Re: And this is news? @Kebabbert

``HP (OSF/1, later rebranded as HP/UX)''

Huh? HP-UX existed even before OSF/1 was born.

OSF/1, from DEC, bought by Compaq which was then bought by HP, has its roots in Ultrix, DEC's port of BSD 4 which ran on VAXen and DEC MIPS workstations.

One should not mix BSD and FreeBSD/OpenBSD. Sun never had any interest the latter ones. Their own SunOS was a port of BSD 4 too until it became Solaris, which is much more SysV than BSD.

Their x86 port of Solaris doesn't share any code with OpenBSD/FreeBSD AFAIK, apart from what comes from their comon BSD 4 roots.

As for the conspirationist theories... please, spare us from these. It won't take long until someone links this to 9/11 too.

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Re: And this is news? @Kebabbert

"...As for the conspirationist theories..."

It is a fact that these large companies simultaneously, all together, bet on immature Linux with a bad license, instead of mature FreeBSD with a more suitable license. It is a fact that large companies together have bet on one company or technology instead of something superior. There are no theories involved here.

It is also a fact that only a few companies control the global economy - there is much research and PhD dissertations on this. These companies are typically Wall Street investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, etc, and they all cooperate tightly - no theories involved here, there are lot of credible research on this, just read the research papers in my link. If these companies decide to bet on something, for instance shorting more silver than is annually produced, then silver prices will plummet (this has happened, and if you work in finance you know this). Or if they decide to go long on a company, stock prices will rise. These are facts.

Here comes the only theory in my post, again: "It is my theory, that if these companies bet heavily on Linux, then Linux will take off. So, it might happen that Oracle and IBM and MS and HP and everyone else will bet heavily on Linux and start to buy and sell Linux". This is the only theory in my post. And I agree that it might be considered as a "conspiracy theory". The rest of the contents in my post are facts. Just read the research papers if you think it is a bit far fetched. I will recap here, what conclusion one PhD dissertation arrived at in my link:

-The researcher used mathematical models to analyze lot of financial databases containing lot of information. In particular, he analyzed which company owned a stake in another company, and which company owned another company which owned another company, etc. And he kept track of all this, across millions of companies. And it turned out that always, only a few companies owned a company, which owned another company, etc. It turned out that 50ish companies where the spider in the net, they controlled every other company. And these 47 companies where typically wall street investment banks: Goldman Sachs, Barclays, JP Morgan, etc. Just read the new and ground breaking research in my link. It is very interesting when researchers use mathematical models in other areas, such as in economics. No human can do this, but math and computers can. And we can observe things that has not been possible earlier.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC 23:04

Sod off you racist pratt.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And this is news? @Kebabbert

The switch from FreeBSD to Linux occurred because AT&T/USL sued BSDi, and that lawsuit led to an injunction that prevented further distribution of the Berkeley Net/2 release and the FreeBSD release that was based on it. There was a 2 year period during which it was not possible to use FreeBSD in commercial products because of the injunction. That gave Linux a temporary advantage and resulted in Linux eventually becoming more popular than FreeBSD. These facts are incidentally available on the Wikipedia page for "Berkeley Software Distribution" in the "Net/2 and legal troubles" section.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And this is news? @Kebabbert

Ultrix was based on BSD 4.2, though it satisfied the tests for several versions of UNIX, confusing that clever script that tried to work out on which version it was installing and building software.

Digital Equipment Corporation then considered SysV. Actually it already supplied AT&T and others with it for telecoms as a special case.

They then moved to OSF /1 , Tru64.

I was an engineer working with all those systems for Digital (not "DEC").

Many institutions ran Vaxen with BSD instead of ULTRIX. it was almost free and the paper docs. were excellent.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Kebabbert

"a bad license for monopolistic greedy companies."

Grow up.

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Re: And this is news? @Kebabbert

OSF/1... I still have that on my CV ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And this is news? @Kebabbert

"It is a fact that these large companies simultaneously, all together, bet on immature Linux with a bad license, instead of mature FreeBSD with a more suitable license. "

Quite a lot of that isn't fact at all, in fact.

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Re: And this is news? @Kebabbert

Actually SunOS 4 was BSD based. Solaris (SunOS 5) was actually more system V ("real" Unix), although with some bits of the BSD code merged in.

OSF/1 became Digital Unix, NOT HP-UX.

Now going with Linux and GPL2) has the strategic advantage that you know anyone using Linux and making changes is required to release those changes, so it forces everyone to share. If IBM invests 1billion in helping develop features in Linux, it doesn't make sense to do so if some other company could just take the result and go make money without sharing any of their contributions. The BSD license assumes people are nice and that they will help out, but doesn't force them to or demand that they do. As an individual developer or a small team, perhaps that is OK and you are happy to see people making good use of your code. On the other hand if you are putting thousands of people on something, you might want to make sure you aren't funding someone else's business for free.

I personally would use the BSD license if I came up with some small useful piece of code, because I like the being totally free thing, but I certainly see the benefit of making sure everyone plays fair.

Of course these days Linux just makes sense since it supports more platforms than even netbsd now, and it is what everyone supports. The BSDs are just starting to look obsolete in comparison in terms of support for large systems, odd ball systems, etc. Last I saw, freebsd just added support for 64 CPUs, at a time linux supported 4096. There just aren't that many people contributing to freebsd as there is to Linux anymore. of course the BSD userspace being such awful obsolete stuff that drives you insane compared to any linux system in the last decade probably isn't helping, although I suppose one could always use debian/kfreebsd and get the freebsd kernel without the BSD userspace hell, instead using a nice Debian userspace.

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Anonymous Coward

nothing new here the Vita's copyright acknowledgement screen is littered with bsd

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The xbone part made me....

..laugh so hard. Not surprising then that the xbone has no memory left after it has loaded that bloated kernel up for games lol

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It pains me to say it, as a Linux user myself, but...

... I think the enthusiasm for Linux amongst large corporations is largely a reflection of technical ignorance amongst senior manager, who, it has to be said, can tell you a lot more about the Law of Tort than they can about the use of goto.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It pains me to say it, as a Linux user myself, but...

"I think the enthusiasm for Linux amongst large corporations is largely a reflection of technical ignorance amongst senior manager"

There isn't that much enthusiasm. Window Server market share is still growing and is at ~75% of the x86 market....

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@AC 09:26GMT - Re: It pains me to say it, as a Linux user myself, but...

We're talking about Linux versus *BSD here so will largely be ignored.

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Stop

So that means...

Apple have famously been using FreeBSD for OSX since before it was born (NeXT Step), so that means there's almost certainly plenty Apple code in the PS4.

Given how 80% of Reg commenters hate Apple with a passion usually reserved for serial killers and paedophiles, does this mean they will be boycotting the PS4?

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