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Sony's Removal of PS3 Linux Support Hurts Air Force

by Brian Leahy, May 12, 2010 11:20am PDT
Related Topics – PlayStation 3, Sony, Linux

When the PlayStation 3 was released, it supported running operating systems, such as Linux, which was extremely valuable to scientific agencies looking to create powerful computing clusters that utilized the console's advanced Cell processor.

The Air Force, for example, purchased over 2000 PlayStation 3 consoles to create a powerful cluster for research computations. Through a firmware update, Sony has removed OtherOS support. This doesn't immediately affect institutions as the research clusters do not connect to the PlayStation Network so the update can be ignored.

Where it does become a problem, however, is if consoles die or need to be replaced. If a system needs to be sent to Sony for repair, it will come back with the latest firmware and won't be able to run Linux.

"We will have to continue to use the systems we already have in hand," a representative of the Air Force Research Laboratory told ArsTechnia. "This will make it difficult to replace systems that break or fail. The refurbished PS3s also have the problem that when they come back from Sony, they have the firmware (gameOS) and it will not allow Other OS, which seems wrong. We are aware of class-action lawsuits against Sony for taking away this option on systems that use to have it."

Sony's decision to remove OtherOS support has been the target of controversy and class action lawsuits. One hacker has even restored OtherOS support through a custom firmware.




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