Hacker Throws Down Linux Gauntlet as Sony Readies Firmware Patch v3.21

As reported yesterday, Sony's next PlayStation 3 firmware update (v3.21) is scheduled for release on April 1. This update removes Linux support, partly in response to security concerns that arose with the revelation that iPhone hacker George Hotz (aka, "GeoHot" - see topstory image), had recently cracked the PS3.

On his blog, Hotz explained back in January that he'd managed to obtain "read/write access to the entire system memory, and HV level access to the processor." In its Opposable Thumbs column, tech-news site ars technica reports that Hotz is threatening to fight the power with a rival firmware update of his own which will allow users to retain OtherOS support. In other words, it would allow folks to keep Linux partitions on their PS3s.

If PS3 Linux support is important to you, Hotz's latest blog entry advises PS3 owners to refuse the v3.21 firmware update when it's launched in a couple of days, though refusal will prevent those players from being able to use a host of other features. "When 3.21 comes out, I will look into a safe way of updating to retain OtherOS support," explained Hotz, "perhaps something like Hellcat's Recovery Flasher. I never intended to touch CFW [Custom Firmware], but if that's how you want to play..."

Be forewarned: Access to he PlayStation Network, online gameplay, files kept on a media server, future updates, and even the ability to play certain Blu-ray movies and games will all be unavailable for those who refuse Sony's new firmware. However, if you really love your OtherOS support, don't mind a temporarily gimped system, and have patience for GeoHot's workaround, waiting a while to update may lead to a solution.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 30, 2010 7:44 PM

    I always saw the fact that Sony kept this open OS hole open as a fragile unstated agreement between itself and users, and to have expected it to be removed at any time. In today's age, you have to assume as a hardware maker that if you allow users into the system via any means, they will find a way through whatever protection you may have.

    • reply
      March 30, 2010 7:53 PM

      Or perhaps that little bit they allowed us is exactly why people have taken so long to get around to breaking it. Its impossible to know.

    • reply
      March 31, 2010 3:39 AM

      We must have a car analogy: You buy a car with a sunroof. Someone posts about having used the sunroof to break into a same-model car. Manufacturer remote-disables sunroofs on all same-model cars.

      also (per DLC) "you sell your car, manufacturer disables sunroof under 'original owner' clause"

      You know it's coming.

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