Sony Alienates Early PlayStation 3 Fans

April 07, 2010

On April 1st, Sony released an update for the PlayStation 3 that discontinued support for Linux. This move angered many, sparking intense reactions and discussions.

Researchers, scientists, and hobbyists from the fields of Scientific Computing and High Performance Computing (HPC) were among the first fans of the PlayStation 3. These early adopters helped establish the PlayStation 3’s reputation as a “supercomputer.”

In 2007, these were the initial marketing successes, as there were few games available for the PS3, most found the PS3 too expensive at 599 Euros, and game developers complained that the PS3 was difficult to program.

Now, Sony has made it clear to these early fans that they are no longer needed, effectively giving them the cold shoulder. Sony had also advertised the PS3 with Linux, stating that the ‘PS3 is a computer’.

The manuals of the “fat ladies” (the older models) describe how to install Linux. Removing this feature is legally questionable: one bought a system that could do A & B & C (A=Play, B=PSN/Downloads, C=Linux). Now it can only do A & B OR A & C. Contrary to the opinion of many, it doesn’t matter that only a few people used Linux. Sony’s claim that this was done for security reasons seems like an excuse to those interested in technology. The security of the PS3 is implemented in hardware, not software. Having Linux available saves hackers at most a week’s work, as the Cell processor is a PowerPC, and thus the GNU C Compiler gcc and all other tools are already available.

I am personally very disappointed with Sony and find this behavior to be a slap in the face. I suspect that the technical visionaries who brought the PlayStation 3 to life are no longer in charge, replaced instead by a type of management locusts. Further questions also need to be addressed…

  • Is the Cell processor history?
  • Is the security of the PlayStation 3 threatened by Linux?
  • I bought a system that could do A & B & C. Now it can only do A & B or A & C. Is this legal?