back to article Sony sued for dropping Linux from PS3

A PlayStation 3 owner has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Sony that accuses the console maker downgrading millions of devices by removing their ability to run Linux. The lawsuit takes aim at Sony's highly controversial move last month to disable "other OS" support from older PlayStation 3 consoles. The decision …


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  1. the bat

    was about time someone stood up to SONY

    that was reason for going PS3 as well it is like buying a car and being told you're not aloud to drive it (W)ednesdays and on (T)hursdays you can't user right passenger door and (F)ridays you can't turn the steering no more than 30 degrees while going left!

  2. Brian 6

    Millions of PS3 owners running Linux ???

    "...but it is also an unfair and deceptive business practice perpetrated on millions of unsuspecting consumers," the complaint stated. Oh yes all those millions of PS3 owners that were running Linux. I hope this gets Laughed out of court.

  3. Shell
    Thumb Down


    "Imagine if iPhones suddenly lost their multitouch capabilities."

    That's a wee bit over dramatic?

    When using an iPhone you pretty much HAVE to use Multitouch as part of the Apple UI - so, what, 100% of users?

    How many people do you know who actually run Linux on their PS3s? A few hardcore techies? 0.01% of all users maybe?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    The suit has no legs.

    Using the magic of WayBackMachine. The PS3 EULA from PS3 Launch in 2006..

    Everyone that has ever owned a PS3 has agreed to the following (regardless of if they read it or not):

    "From time to time, SCE may provide certain updates, upgrades or services to your PS3™ system to ensure it is functioning properly in accordance with SCE guidelines. Some services may be provided automatically without notice when you sign onto SCE's online network, and others may be available to you through SCE's website or authorized channels. Without limitation, services may include the provision of the latest update or download of new release that may include security patches, and new or revised settings and features which may prevent access to pirated games, or use of unauthorized hardware or software in connection with the PS3™ system. Some services may change your current settings, cause a loss of data or content, or cause some loss of functionality. It is recommended that you regularly back up any data on the hard disk that is of a type that can be backed up."

    If you didn't bother reading it, that's your fault. If a court does not instantly throw this out, and agrees that all written legal documents and EULAS are worthless, then all hell will break loose.

    Lets not forget that Sony is not the only one doing this. Microsoft took features away in NXE, Nintendo took features away int he Wii firmware (MP3 playback), Sky removed features in the SKY HD update, my NAS MediaServer had some codecs removed, the list is endless. The only difference of course, is Microsoft are the ones stirring up the Fanboy hornets nest here...

  5. Lou Gosselin

    RIP Other OS

    It was a great initiative, allowing the end user to maximize the capabilities of their gear.

    It was a cool feature while it lasted.

  6. P Zero

    Go dude!

    Give 'em what for!

  7. Daniel B.
    Thumb Up

    Hey, what took them so long?

    I've been expecting this since, well, the 3.21 FW "downgrade" was released. Come on "hackers" ... give 'em hell!!!

    1. Daniel B.

      Missing the point

      The feature removal itself affects *all* fat PS3 owners, regardless of their usage of OtherOS. Thus, the millions of fat PS3s and their owners are the ones being hit by this, and are at least within their right to ask for a partial refund. In fact, some PS3 owners have succeeded in doing this in the UK.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        re: Missing the point

        Not to mention Sony saved a mighty bit on import tax to the EU due to them being able to classify it as a "computer" due to it's OtherOS feature...

        1. David McMahon

          Nice one

          Well spotted

        2. Anonymous Coward

          tax fraud

          I'd really like to see one or 2 Sony UK executives go to jail over tax fraud. Preferably the same ones who should have gone to jail on Computer Misuse Act offences over the Sony CD rootkit which deliberately infected large numbers of PCs used to play their CDs a few years ago.

    2. Annihilator

      re: the suit has no legs

      Stellar attempt at understanding contract law. EULA's are not necessarily legal documents, and have been shown time and time to be unconscionable . You can sign a 'legal' document saying it's ok if someone shoots you, but the person who does it will still be arrested. A contract can't override basic laws or rights.

      For your examples, Nintendo switched from MP3 to AAC, you can move back if you like without degradation to the product. Your NAS would have carried on working as-is if you'd kept those codecs - you weren't forced to get rid of them. Sky is a subscription service and completely different rules apply (not to mention you could get out of your contract if they changed substantially).. NXE I can't comment on having had no experience of it, but if it's true, why are you happy to be shafted by Microsoft and think that it's ok?

      The key thing here is that Sony *forced* people to make a choice - PSN or "Other OS". You could not carry on regardless and refuse to make the choice - it was made for you. Default answer was "no PSN".

      If Sony win, what is ultimately being said is that Sony can remove any feature they like, be it BD player, gaming ability, bluetooth and hold you to ransom to do it. Not sure why that's so hard to understand?

      1. Corrine

        @re: the suit has no legs

        Courts have held, repeatedly, that EULAs aren't valid.

        Other courts have held the opposite of course.

    3. Pablo

      Hold on

      Tell me, did they agree to that before or after buying the product Sony claimed had "Other OS" support? If it was after it's irrelevant to this case.

    4. Francis Begbie

      Someone works for Sony...

      Why on earth would you support a multi-billion dollar commercial company over even one single complainant in this case? Obviously a paid shill.

    5. Dan 55 Silver badge

      @The suit has no legs

      The Wii update was optional, can be uninstalled, and gave you AAC and choosing the photo in the Wii Menu in return for taking away MP3.

      Come to think about it I remember writing the same reply a week or two back to another Anonymous Coward who said the same thing...

    6. Recaffeinated


      What if iPhone lost the ability to run apps that were developed so they could also run on "Other OS"? Oh, wait...

    7. uninventiveheart

      Hold on there, Superguy.

      Tort law is still a factor. Companies advertising a feature of a device then removing it from end users after purchase through a remote update may still violate laws and consumer protections.

      A EULA can state "Anyone who purchases this device shall lose citizenship in their present country and agree to become a legal resident of Kiribati, observing all laws, fines and fees therein of the immigration process." It doesn't mean it's enforceable.

      Companies who make promises then reneg on them, regardless of the EULA, usage (or non-usage) of the feature, or corporate concerns against it's user base do things like this for a simple reason: in case of a class action suit, they're prepared for the damages, if any would result. They know what's coming, they'll play their role, and if they lose, they'll pay.

      Another certainty, of course, is how many people who read class action notices mailed to them and ignore them like they're a Jury Duty notice. Again, they're prepared for the outcome.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Does that mean you can drive it.....

      quietly on those days?

      1. Ottoman

        Nice One

        probably some won't get it.

        1. archengel46
          Thumb Up

          don't deserve it then

          title says it all.

    9. Anonymous Coward

      Good post

      It should encourage people to read contracts.

      HOWEVER - it's not on the outside of the box. Unless you have the right to return the device for a full refund (which I doubt in the USA) because you didn't like the contract, then it's unreasnoble.

      Besides, didn't I read on El Reg (but failed to find using search) that the US Army bought 1000s of PS3s to run Linux ?

      1. Gary Turner

        Military purchases 2200 PS3s

        I didn't find it on ElReg either, but CNN reported it.

        "The justification review states the systems will run a proprietary Linux-based operating system," (in a supercomputer cluster)

    10. Frank Bough

      Agreed but

      the PS3 doesn't have enough RAM to make a good PC, unfortunately. Add to that the inability of LINUX to access the PS3's powerful gfx hardware and most of the point of running Other OS was lost.

      I still don't know why Sony doesn't give the PS3 a nice email client, it would become quite a useful little thing. I use mine mainly as a BD player and PVR and it's genuinely excellent.

  8. Annihilator
    Thumb Up

    Go Tony, go!

    100% behind this man. Though I assume I'm precluded as a British citizen from joining said class action, and due to there being no equivalent in UK law, I'm on my own.

    1. Mr Common Sense

      It doesn't mean its's the only way.

      If enough people pooled their cash to win a lawsuit and set a precedent thus enabling others to go after them.

    2. Captain DaFt


      You could drop a missive to your local government official, querying whether said removal of functionality now retroactively downgrades the system from "computer" to "games system", and as such renders Sony liable for millions in unpaid VAT?

      (Yes, I am that big a bastard, after all, I learned from the best!)

      1. Dave Bell

        Er, careful...

        Last I saw any of the paperwork, you paid VAT in the UK on both, at the same rate. But you can't advertise a games console at a price "+VAT".

        Still, I'm sure there are places where there might be a difference in the tax rate, but who would be liable?

  9. Bill Neal


    I'll sign onto that one if given the chance.

    I WAS running Fedora on my PoS3

  10. tempemeaty
    Thumb Up

    Sony does't ethics much do they....

    I still remember when Sony "root kitted" their paying customers Windows computers with it's products. Will Sony ever change?

  11. asdf Silver badge

    stupid freetards

    Why don't all these freetards STFU and realize the mega corporations do know whats best for us and only offer these products to us out of the goodness of their hearts and for that we should be grateful. We are only leasing the hardware (not Truly ours) as a status symbol. Being a good consumer that follows the ever changing rules and doesn't question is what allows our almighty never wrong capitalist machine to function. Remember it is more important to get on the right company bandwagon and defend it to the death as a loyal fanboi that to question any supposed right we as the little guy consumers are giving away forever.

  12. motoh

    Where do I sign up?

    Been trying to find information on this suit, so that when it does acquire class action status, I can join in.

    EULA isn't a legal document, it's a deterrent. I want my system back.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Yes sir!

    Sony is being unreasonable and shouldn't force its consumers to make a choice between PSN and Other OS, at least until their native browser gets better. FF on PS3-Ubuntu is actually awesome and works very well - that was my primary reason for running OtherOS. People who think that 0.0001% of the PS3 population run Other OS are delusional Sony apologists - Ubuntu on PS3 is easy to use and works very well. Those who still haven't 'downgraded' their consoles should try it sometime before rejecting this as some silly exotic corner case.

    1. The Original Ash

      Don't sign up

      Take them to small claims court. Either they'll not bother to show up and the default judgement will be in your favour, or they will and you can (at least in the US) claim for punitive damages and legal costs. It might cost you some time and money, but it's better than the "We offer you a $10 gift voucher for Sony products, without admitting culpability or liability, or any wrongdoing." out-of-court settlement this class action lawyer will accept, making himself a tidy couple of million dollars in the process.

      5000 small suits sends a *much* bigger message, and hurts Sony more, than one easily dismissable case.

    2. Paul 77

      Still running...

      Still running Ubuntu on mine - haven't played games on it (I only own two anyway) since the firmware change was announced.

      I do hope this persuades Sony to reconsider this action.

    3. Dr. Mouse Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      Love it! Sarcasm at it's finest (or at least I hope it is...)

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Nobody cared about OtherOS, everyone called it gimped without direct hardware access. Now there is a hint of a cash refund (if you believe 2 sites that claim Amazon and Game gave a partial refund) every is claiming they cared, or used to run OtherOS.

    The fact is, and any quick website search will validate this, PS3 forums with OtherOS boards were totally dead, nobody was using it.

    Also it was never an advertised feature. It was never used in any formal Sony promotional material, and is not really a core console function (so is not really like "taking Blu-Ray playback away").

    Some people need to get a grip and stop being pathetic crybaby freetards. They accepted the terms of use, they also accepted the terms of service and were happy to accept numerous firmware updates that "changed the consoles specification" for the good, however the one time there is a negative step, they all throw their dummys out the pram.

    Perhaps they should be venting their anger at the hacker that caused all this, rather than wasting their time and effort in a lawsuit that is clearly destined to fall at the first hurdle.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    As if Piracy is the real issue

    I really dont think it matters now whether you can run linux or not now, the fact is that geohotz has access to the hypervisor (unrestricted as i recall) and that should be enough to allow modchip makers to potentially make a mod chip. As soon as they do, sony will undoubtably release another fw update to counter it. Linux has naff all to do with it. Besides, you seen the price of a blu-ray burner and media and surely to god the disks have other protection. Its taken (george)him 2/3 years to unlock the PS3. I bet a bank vault wouldnt last that long against a hardened safe cracker.

    Now, i have a fat PS3, it runs yellow dog linux. Its the only time i've EVER installed linux on any pooter i own. I like linux (i'd prefer to run windows on it but there ya go, cant have everything), its a great media server, mp3 player, web browser, wordy pro etc. etc.

    Sony really do think they are above the law and seem to be of the impression that us, the little people will simply roll over and let them pat our bellies. (Insert sound of Mr Babbage, the Family Fortunes Computer giving a wrong answer). I truely hope that they are properly dragged over coals for this. Firstly for shafting us, secondly for shafting the VAT man and thirdly because as a corporation, they suck. I promised i would never buy Sony again years ago as it was clear their quality was dropping at an exponential rate. Hell, i paid 60 quid for my fat ps3 and then 50 for a laser unit which i didnt mind as i wasnt paying sony anything. My games come off ebay so once again, Sony get no money from me! Thats a situation i intend to maintain. The PS3 sits doing nothing these days as its not getting turned on until this fiasco is sorted.

    Sony can suck my balls.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      your logic is flawed, your opinions are ill-considered and aggressive

      "Nobody cared about OtherOS, everyone called it gimped without direct hardware access."

      "Nobody" and "everybody": making sweeping generalisations does not prove your point; where's the evidence for the claims you make?

      "Now there is a hint of a cash refund (if you believe 2 sites that claim Amazon and Game gave a partial refund) every is claiming they cared, or used to run OtherOS."

      This is an ad-hominem attack; where is your proof that people are acting with this motivation?

      "The fact is, and any quick website search will validate this, PS3 forums with OtherOS boards were totally dead, nobody was using it."

      Idle forums do not prove that nobody was using it. There's plenty of evidence that many people were using PS3's in this way; aren't there a number of research projects using clusters of PS3 for number crunching? Why should these people be denied the ability to use the hardware they have paid for in ways that they want?

      Why go to the trouble of removing something nobody was using?

      For "security reasons"? This needs to be justified by explaining what insecurities are being exploited and why they cannot be closed another way.

      "Also it was never an advertised feature. It was never used in any formal Sony promotional material, and is not really a core console function (so is not really like "taking Blu-Ray playback away")."


      "Some people need to get a grip and stop being pathetic crybaby freetards."

      "they all throw their dummys out the pram."

      Do you think that your argument is made more credible by vicious, petty and judgemental attacks on people you don't know? A counter-argument would be that these people are anything but cry babies because they are standing up for something that they believe is unfair.

      By making your attack so personal makes it look as if you have something to lose from this lawsuit. Is that so?

      1. Test Man


        If you think that attack was personal, you don't have a clue. The only people who have something to lose from the lawsuit is the people jumping on the "OtherOS is gone so Sony should pay" bandwagon... like you. It's amazing how people like to moan about some feature they clearly didn't use.

    2. Test Man


      You clearly don't have a clue, as it was a complete myth that they tried to "shaft the taxman". You really need to get a grip on your silly anti-Sony rabid nonsense. I mean you say you're not going to turn on your PS3 till it's all sorted, what silly pathetic action is that really?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        @ Test Man

        Awww, you really love your PS3 don't you?

        Never mind, just keep ranting like an adolescent fanboi and I’m sure all these people with nasty opinions about Sony will just go away.

    3. I didn't do IT.

      You DID have an argument

      ... until you conveniently validated every complaint Sony has for turning off "OtherOS"...

      Sony (apparently) doesn't have a problem with people selling off old equipment to others; heck, how else are people going to be able to afford the latest and greatest of the East? But proudly(?) trumpeting how you pirate the software at all costs simply drops the floor out of the validity of any argument you had.

      Sony WANTS to hear more of this from people like you - like the wail of tortured souls of the damned, you fuel the infernal engine of Sony's claims. Please note that Sony will probably decline to suck your appendages and simply pat your belly, since you are rolled over anyway.

      What Sony did was NOT ethical and it was NOT fair. You can't throw stones if they are all single sheet paper (pirated) copies...

      1. dr_forrester

        @I didn't do IT.

        Try again. The comment says "My games come off ebay..." This is not piracy. The courts have long established the concept of right of first sale - that is to say that once you purchase an item, you are free to sell it used, loan it out, rent it, etc. This doctrine is what permits libraries, used book stores, movie rental stores, and so forth to remain open.

        On a semi-related note, one of the reasons I don't buy a console is that I have the odd notion that I should be able to write software for a computing device, and to run that software without paying a licensing fee to the manufacturer or risking prosecution for circumventing DRM.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      @ "pathetic" AC

      "however the one time there is a negative step,"

      you said it there yourself... it was and is a negitive step so i want some recompense...

      as for previous updates, they fixed stuff that needed fixing. And I never accepted any terms.... i think my 13 year old kid brother did when he first plugged it in....

      just checking all my stuff is still there in my pocket.....

  16. Anonymous Coward

    The EULA issue

    The problem with relying on the EULA is that it means absolutely nothing until it has been tested in a court of law. If the EULA, or at least the relevant parts, are found by the court to be legally unenforcible then Sony lose. Of course a court may find in their favour and they may win. The weird thing is that companies pay lawyers fortunes to write EULAs and these EULAs are often found in court to be invalid. So why do companies continue to trust the lawyers who write this crap?

    If I were paying somebody to write and EULA I would do so under a very simple contract. A contract which stipulated clearly and in plain english that the lawyer would be liable for any costs arising from any part of the EULA being found by a court to be invalid.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just walk away

    For what it's worth, I have a PS3, It's ok i guess, nothing revolutionary, I don't use the "Other OS" functionality. The PS3 oozes potential, but it's mainly untapped.

    Really it feels like I bought this cool device and I'm just not getting much value out of it, simply because there's just nothing that good available for it. The last game I bought (EA's Dante's Inferno) which looked and played great but the game was broken, it was so glitchy it was impossible to get through certain levels, even after updates were applied. This is on a console with a game that has been patched!?

    I don't know if Xbox 360 is any better, but I really don't like the idea of Sony removing functionality after I have bought into their product.

    There also seems to be a real need by Sony to get everyone onto PSN and buy different clothes for the characters in games. WTF is that all about! If I want to play dolls I'll buy a Barbie (for the record, I don't want to play dolls). Sony have really lost the plot of what their core market wants.

    I won't be buying any other Sony products.

    1. Gary Turner

      It doesn't need to be valid

      Neither the company nor its lawyers expect EULAs to be enforceable. Companies write EULAs to intimidate consumers by using lots of legalisms that cause confusion, and by making it more difficult and expensive to challenge them.

      Sony has long since (the root kit fiasco) proven itself to me to be an unethical company. Now it has taken it upon themselves to remove an existing feature from a product already sold to its customers. It doesn't matter whether the customer knew about, cared about, or used the feature; it was a part of the product he bought. Sony is stealing, and I believe it will defend itself with its EULA.

      Were Sony an ethical company, it would restore the feature on existing machines, and if it wishes, sell future degraded versions without that feature.

  18. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Wake up to the real world

    This is modern business. Just because you pay lots of money for something doesn't mean you own it!

    BB - you can only use the bits your ISP lets you

    Music industry is working on pay as you listen so you will have to pay everytime you listen to your favourite track or youre a freetard.

    Windows - on license

    Your PC - see above - you have to upgrade when MS need a cash injection.

    These are all apparently modern innovative business practices. I'm just waiting for Monsanto to demand your gut is separated from your stomach so you have to eat twenty times as much of their products to live.

    If you dont like it go buy a government or two - they did.

  19. Danny 14 Silver badge

    not really

    I thought that this "remove other os" happened when you did an update. Are you forced to update your PS3? I know online gaming probably wont happen if you dont upgrade but if they dont force you to upgrade then I cant see the issue legally.


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