back to article Hacker pledges to re-enable Linux on PS3

Hacker George Hotz, the guy who opened up the Sony PlayStation 3 earlier this year, has vowed to find a way to allow Linux buffs to install their favourite OS on the console after an upcoming firmware update renders this impossible. Hotz wrote on his blog this week that he will devise a "custom version of 3.21 that doesn't …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    as expected..

    This is pushing quite some other people who were messing around with PS3 Linux in the same direction. I know we're just a tiny minority of the user-base, but this seems to give the PS3 hacking effort a massive boost.

    the CBE has been a fun processor to play around with, and I'm not going to let my code go to waste. If it takes a custom firmware to be able to keep it.. so be it.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    And who wants to bet.

    A year from now, we still won't have succeeded? And his army of clueless idiots waiting to install this piracy tool will have dwindled to nothing as they can't log in to PSN...

    All he is doing by announcing this, is telling the word he is violating the DCMA, and I suspect he will be sued big time before he achieves anything worthwhile...

    What an idiot.

  3. paul 97
    IT Angle

    Legal avenue

    Any one know of any legal protection we as consumers can use to get a refund?

    You cant sell something with feature X and Y and then remove one of them.

    (X and Y being - PSN Online play and Other OS Install)

    1. Greg D

      completely missing the point

      You are missing a major point... this has nothing to do with playing pirate games, or even playing games at all.

      Generally users that want to install linux on their PS3's are doing so cos they want to develop using the Cell processors. They have many applications in parallel computing and other scientific related stuff (I dont profess to have a clue as to exactly what they are though). Playing games is a small fraction of what you can do with a Cell and you are being pretty ignorant or stupid by thinking this is about piracy.

      Sony are wrong to remove a feature that they advertised originally and the people need to let them know this. It's not our fault they sell the PS3 at a loss.

    2. DRendar

      AC is the idiot.

      "And his army of clueless idiots waiting to install this piracy tool will have dwindled to nothing as they can't log in to PSN..."

      Don't be a moron.

      This is not a piracy tool - it does not in any way permit the playing of copied or downloaded games - it just allows you to run Linux as a second OS on the box.

      This is about retaining an advertised feature that thousands of people purchased their PS3 specifically for.

      What if you purchased a HiFi, then a year after purchasing it, it loses the ability to listen to FM radio, due to a patch that the manufacturer forces upon you. If you refuse to allow the patch to install, then you lose the ability to listen to CDs instead,

      This is utter utter craziness - I await the class action lawsuit. Come on you Yanks - you normally sue people for sneezing the wrong way - get the lawyers rolling. Sony needs to learn that they can't simply remove features from their products that they have already sold.

    3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Ah, they are creating two violations in one go..

      First off, you're changing a sold, documented feature of a device without permission of the owner (I don't want the upgrade) under duress (you potentially won't be able to watch newer Blueray titles). AFAIK there are some questions here that could hit (a) the Trade Descriptions Act as we're talking about misleading consumers (it's the equivalent of selling someone a full stereo set and than disable the radio on remote) and (b) the Computer Misuse Act as this update is NOT doing things that are desired by the owners. The last one is harder because I bet you're asked to accept the license, but Sony's problem is that their announcement makes that acceptance "under duress" ("or you may not be able to watch future titles") which AFAIK invalidates it. You could also hit the Trade Descriptions Act in that nobody told you that in order to retain one functionality you'd have to disable another one - it means you're always going to be one short of the features you were sold.

      Personally, I think the biggest brick is the Computer Misuse Act, because you are forced into an agreement under duress. That is blackmail, whatever explanation they may furnish, and the invalidates your apparent "agreement".

      Imagine you buy a fully equipped car. You selected this model because the set is cheaper or more attractive. A few months later you will find that you cannot get your free annual service unless you allow the garage to change your alloys for steel rims. There, for those that need car analogies :-).

      No, no, no, and no. I will not install this update. I bought the device for Bluray and games, but I like the idea of an alternate OS, even though I may never use it. The moment I can no longer access Blueray disks I vow to bring every law, violation and anything else I can find to bear on them. I'm not a thief, pirate or criminal so I'm not going to be treated like one.

      BTW, did I mention this is the very last time a Sony device has ever made it past the doorstep? I don't want to have to worry about what they decide to disable later. Well done Sony, you may have saved the world from a couple of pirates, but you lost my complete household. May many follow until you finally get it into your thick heads that the only thing that really sells is a customer focused approach (and no, that doesn't mean I'll return as a customer - I have forgiven too much already).

      Now, being the irritating sod I am, I called Consumer Direct, and they are going to brief Trading Standards. According to them, as the device post this update will no longer have all the features as sold you are in principle entitled to compensation - in the UK it will be considered as "no longer matching the description as at the time of purchase". The lady agreed that it was going to be a long haul to get it, but your first step should be to contact Sony in your country and ask for compensation. Do this in writing because you need to keep a track record for Trading Standards and a judge to act upon.

      Anyone any idea how to get data on how you could nail them under the Computer Misuse Act?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I applaud the guy

    I think he has the right attitude. The companies think of us not as their customers, but as a collection of bank accounts to be leached at all costs.

    The big corporations need a massive wake up call to tell them that customers are people and deserve some friggin' respect.

    The paying customers are the ones who have to put up with this crap; with having to watch an enforced five minutes of advertising when a DVD is played; with Sony installing rootkits on to peoples hard drives when they play a music CD .. that thing with the memory sticks ... Sony need to be taught a lesson ... that's why I don't buy Sony kit any more.

    My feet have voted. How about yours?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      We are now just numbers!

      "with having to watch an enforced five minutes of advertising when a DVD is played"

      Use VLC media player, nine times of of ten it goes straight to "Play Movie".

      I agree, I also avoid Apple & Microsoft for the same reason.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feature removal: it must be fought

    We can let them have a precedent. What if you buy a DVD player and 6 months later it loses the ability to play DVD-Rs because it reduces piracy? We cannot let this happen.

  6. Geoff Campbell


    This would seem to be a fairly straight contravention of the Sale of Goods and Services Act, which states that goods sold in the UK must be fit for the purpose for which they were sold. If the PS3 was advertised as being able to run other OSs, or even discussed as having this capability anywhere near a Sony representative, then removing the capability makes it not fit for purpose.

    Note that the SoGA applies past the warranty period. You need to contact the retailer who sold you the console in the first instance, they have a legal duty to give a refund.

    All as I understand it, I am not a lawyer. And if you're not in the UK, this is all irrelevant, of course.


    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Geoff Campbell

      The T&C's *you* agree'd to when you turned on the console will come into play.

      Sony can do what the hell they like as you've already given your consent.

      SoGA is not relevant.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Trade Descriptions Act is

        I actually talked to Consumer Direct about this.

        You were sold a set of features. As soon as this update is available, Sony tells you that you will lose a feature that you paid for. Either you lose the "Alternative OS" feature as detailed in the description and manual, or you lose the ability to play future Bluray titles, again a feature detailed in description and manual. Either way, the moment they announce the update you are entitled to compensation as teh device you then have is no longer as described.

        In addition, you cannot be made to accept T&Cs under duress, which means the upgrade will act in breach of the Computer Misuse Act as you were blackmailed into agreeing it (future incompatibility with Bluray software) which invalidates your consent.

        Even if it wasn't just a blatantly stupid move from a customer satisfaction angle, there is enough meat to hang them either way. April 1st may be fun..

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its the right thing

    Sony are doing the right thing here, after all Linux on PS3 is rubbish anyway. They are doing us a BIG favour here, so u should be thankful.

    1. SynnerCal

      Re: it's the right thing

      AC said "They are doing us a BIG favour here, so u should be thankful."

      No they aren't, and no we shouldn't.

      As others have said, the fact is that some folks bought their PS3 based on the fact that the "Other OS" allowed it to be more than "merely" a games console (and I'll slap the next Sonyite that witters on about BluRay). It was bad enough - but probably just understandable - that they stripped the slim '3, but to do that retrospectively to all '3's does smack of Scroogism.

      Ignoring the relative merits of PS3/Linux for a moment - (highly hypothetical situation follows) suppose Sony issue a firmware that polls the display and restricts the screen resolution/quality on non-Sony TV's. They might justify this by saying they they'd tested compatibility for their kit, but didn't want to push other peoples (lesser obviously) kit beyond what it's guaranteed to support. Are Sony "doing us a BIG favour" in that (hypothetical) circumstance? I think even you'd say "no" - same difference here!

      I fail to see how this move of Sony's is much of an anti-piracy measure, and certainly it's hit my level of respect for Sony as a company, and for their (very expensive!) products.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    re: Legal avenue

    You don't have a legal leg to stand on, Sony own the PS3 software and can do what they like. Check out the legal mumbo jumbo you agreed to when you bought your PS3.

    In the same what Microsoft can take or add whatever features they want to Windows, Sony can do the same with the PS3 platform OS.

    I might be worth remembering WHO actually caused this problem. If you want to get upset, go see Geholt as he is the one that abused Sony's gift of OtherOS.

    1. Alex Walsh

      not as much fail as you might think

      Consumer law does protect you from unfair terms and conditions, and if terms and conditions in the EULA are deemed unfair...

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Not quite..

      It's a device with a certain range of functionality. You can't simply take one out because you no longer like it. That's like bringing your car to the garage and only getting it back after you agree to have your alloys replaced by steel rims..

  9. BeefStirFry


    Geohot has already said he has no intention of opening up the PS3 so it can play pirated games, however others could use what he's done to start trying, but the reaction from Sony is a bit over the top.

    Even if you could play pirated games, the cost blu ray writers, discs and downloading huge image files would give a slow start to something which could probably be patched by Sony further down the line.

    Sony obviously decided to start playing the cat and mouse game early, rather than wait to see whether games were pirated, but this could backfire as it could give the hackers more incentive to work harder and make more of a name for themselves. I think it will annoy Geohot that Sony have made him look like the bad guy whose caused them to take this action, and who knows what he'll decide to do now.

  10. Joe K

    Blah blah blah

    The guy hasn't even done a "Hello World" app, never mind reprogrammed the entire base firmware (a firmware, which is encrypted using a unique key in each PS3 and hasn't even been decrypted yet). So anyone needing this is in for a long wait.

    Who needs this anyway? If you really wanted a Linux PS3, you buy a phat, don't update it, and you're all set.

    Anyone else, even the cheapest netbook makes a far better linux box than the PS3.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Um....What??? No, I'm afraid not. You're off base on both points. PS3 Linux was crippled. It wasn't allowed to fully utilize the hardware till his crack (which is basically a firmware rewrite by the way). With full hardware access the PS3 is a more powerful Linux box than any of the computers I own.

  11. asdf Silver badge

    what this is all about

    Again the OtherOS option from day one was totally out of character for Sony so I was not surprised to learn they only did to try and get the lower tariffs for computers as opposed to consumer electronics in many countries throughout the world. When this failed obviously they dropped this feature like a hot potato as it costs them money and supposedly does give more of an attack surface on their precious broken business model. Honestly so far the PS3 does not seemed to have been hacked but has the PS3 been the cash cow Sony thinks it was going to be? Its attach rate is even worse than the Xbox 360 which has been hacked for a long time. Note to Sony: customers hate DRM and customers not stockholders are what most important in the long term.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    >Sony own the PS3 software and can do what they like

    No they don't they own the COPYRIGHT to the software. The customer who bought the PS3 now owns their own COPY of the software - they bought it after all. Unless the T&Cs to a software license were presented and agreed to BEFORE the sale then the first sale doctrine applies, and the software was sold not licensed.

    Now I'm pretty sure that there will be a license for the software update which disables OtherOS, stating that this is the case, so if you click 'I agree' then it is your own fault. However, if any of the functionality which was originally included ceases to work by not applying the update i.e. future blu-rays or games do not work, then anyone who bought a PS3 is almost certainly entitled to a refund (in the UK at least) as it has ceased to be fit for purpose.

    1. Andy 4


      When a customer buys software they purchase a license to use it, they do not own it - they do own the physical media, but that doesn't translate to owning the 'copy' of the software. Software copyright laws are quite clear on this.

      Sony on the other hand do own the software and dictate how it should be used - they don't own the media though so you can use it as a ninja star/circle or bird scarer/coffee mat.

  13. sisk Silver badge

    Dumb move by Sony

    It seems to me that the first hack on most consoles is to get homebrew applications to run. Inevitably game pirates pick up the cracks and run with them, but it's almost always the guys wanting to run Linux or an SNES emulator or something along those lines who first develop the exploits. By letting people do that without an exploit Sony may well have staved off the inevitable piracy for years. Now they're giving those people a reason to write exploits to put Linux back on. It seems like a bonehead move to me. I give it a year, two at the most, before we see pirated games working on the PS3 now. Before the announcement I'd have said probably never because there was no reason for the people who normally find the exploits to look for them.

  14. Mustang

    Is this action by sony even legal?

    Is this action by sony even legal?

    They sold me a product with well marketed X feature and then remove it with a software patch. The capability is still there they just don't want me to use it anymore.

    This can't be ok.

  15. Eddie Hotchkiss
    Big Brother

    Great will get a refund for my ps3 then, recession busting

    Firstly Primary legislation out weighs any terms and conditions presented to anyone.

    Sale of goods act is quiet clear if you buy it for a purpose and it does not do that purpose it is not Fit for Purpose. That purpose is integral to your contract with the seller.

    Any lawyers out there got some form letters for us

  16. Anonymous Coward


    ""isn't about getting what you didn't pay for, it's about making sure you do get what you did."

    A games console?

  17. Adrian Jackson

    @Anonymous Sony Shill

    A games console that, among other features, allows you to install a secondary OS, this being one of its most powerful features according to one of Sony's own vice presidents.

  18. Eduard Coli
    Gates Horns

    Rebirth of pc gaming

    It was the customer antagonistic closed thinking that drove video gamers to pc gaming i nthe first place. That and the graphics were better for awhile.

    This is stupid, Sony might get to witness the rebirth of pc gaming.

  19. Graham Jordan

    Big can of worms

    All Sony have gone and done is pissed off the ps3/Linux programming community, it's inevitable these little geeks will work tirelessly to crack it wide open, something Geoholt was likely no where near doing.

    I'm seriously on the fence here. I did have Linux installed and darn tooten I used it for illegal activities. It was piss easy to rip a Blu-Ray and convert it to a nice DVD9 size hd movie, so much so I rejoined LoveFilm and had me a wild time. So for that reason alone, using Sony's own hardware to circumvent Sony's own Blu-Ray protection and avoid paying Sony's tax on Blu-Ray movies, taking this feature away from me sounds like common sense. And that's before anyone figures out how to play cracked games on it.

    But then at the same time, as has been posted by millions of fans, this was an advertised feature, one that should not be stripped away from us, not without ramifications. Just reading the comments suggest they've lost a lot of custom by doing this.

    One has to ask though, is this really as big as the moment they took backwards compatibility away from us? Sales seem to have picked up significantly since then and there were a dam sight more ps2 owners than there are ps3/Linux users. And it wouldn't surprise me if our American cousins are already starting legal action against Sony so backwards compatibility by software is added to keep us all quiet.

  20. John PM Chappell

    No tech stuff required, this is a simple and clear cut legal issue in the UK

    The bad news, for Sony, is that they are ending the original sales contracts with anyone who bought their device in the UK and such customers are entitled to a full refund. No questions, no quibbles.

    Alternatively, they can leave the device alone in the UK, without restricting or removing any current functionality (this would be problematic, to say the least but it's a legal option) but should they later roll out new features which they did not extend to UK customers, a fresh legal challenge would likely succeed in forcing Sony to extend such features to the UK customer base (that one would need to be fought as it is not a simple breach of contract, unless they wrote the T&C badly).

    This situation is almost certainly similar to much of the rest of the EU, too, but I don't have the knowledge to address that at all. In short, they're fuct. It only takes someone to actually bother to follow it up (the more who do, the better) and it looks like a couple in this thread are. :¬)

    I never bothered with the overpriced shite myself but I feel for those who did.

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