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No more Linux on PS3
March 30, 2010 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Citing security concerns, Sony has decided to release a firmware update that will disable the "OtherOS" feature on its older (non-slim) PlayStation 3 systems. This is almost certainly a response to the system finally being hacked two months ago by George "GeoHot" Hotz. To counter Sony's disabling of the feature, Hotz, who previously stated that he would not be releasing custom firmware for the PS3, now plans to do so: "The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout its lifecycle. Software PS2 emulation, SACD playback, and OtherOS support are all just software switches you can flip. It's unbelievable you would go and flip one, not just on new boxes you are shipping, but on tens of millions already in the field."
posted by Who_Am_I (126 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
"The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout its lifecycle."

BluRay, the iPhone, yadda, yadda, yadda.

It's not a bug! It's a feature!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:42 AM on March 30, 2010


Sony: Celebrating 30 Years of Being Worse Than Microsoft
posted by Mister_A at 10:42 AM on March 30, 2010 [18 favorites]


The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout its lifecycle.

Yet another reason to never buy Sony.
posted by grouse at 10:43 AM on March 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Fuck you, Sony.
posted by threetoed at 10:43 AM on March 30, 2010


It's their product, they can do what they want with it.
posted by zombieApoc at 10:43 AM on March 30, 2010


It's their product, they can do what they want with it.

Yeah, maybe when it's on the shelves. But the moment you purchase it, it's yours. Perhaps someone purchased it solely for the OtherOS feature?
posted by unixrat at 10:44 AM on March 30, 2010 [19 favorites]


As a PS3 owner, this seriously pisses me off. I always wondered why the unit I bought didn't have software PS2 emulation. It's software, just throw it on there. There's no cost to Sony that I can tell. But whatever, I knew what I was buying. But now apparently they can disable features that I did pay for? Hotz's hack is incredibly complicated, and requires physical access to the inside of the PS3. There is no security risk to users from this hack, this is all about homebrew software.
posted by Who_Am_I at 10:46 AM on March 30, 2010


It's their product, they can do what they want with it.

I paid a lot of money for my PS3. That money bought me a piece of hardware that came with certain features advertised and supported by Sony, including the ability to install other OSes. So I reiterate: FUCK YOU, Sony.
posted by threetoed at 10:46 AM on March 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's their product, they can do what they want with it.

First, I don't think they can. Removing advertised features after sale sounds like a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen. I look forward to that.

Second, even if it were true in a legal sense, that does not make them immune from criticism. Perhaps they can do what they want, but they ought not to do this, and if nothing else it's going to reinforce my long-held judgment to never buy Sony due to their short-sighted anti-consumer practices.
posted by grouse at 10:48 AM on March 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


If you purchased it solely for OtherOS, you'd still be fine, since you don't have to accept the firmware update. But anybody using it for both OtherOS and the gaming side is screwed because the gaming side's online functionality will be disabled if you don't take the firmware upgrade.

Interestingly, Microsoft did a similar thing a while back, disabling the online functionality of a ton of 360s that were detected to be modded.
posted by kmz at 10:48 AM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


To counter Sony's disabling of the feature, Hotz, who previously stated that he would not be releasing custom firmware for the PS3, now plans to do so.

Hell yes! Show them that a "customer relationship" is a two-way street.

It's their product, they can do what they want with it.

I hope that was sarcastic.
posted by DU at 10:48 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"There is more to the PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™) computer entertainment system than you may have assumed. In addition to playing games, watching movies, listening to music, and viewing photos, you can use the PS3™ system to run the Linux operating system." Yup, Sony actually provides a manual for installing Linux.*

* This feature is not available on the CECH-2000 series systems.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:49 AM on March 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's their product, they can do what they want with it.

Just like how Toyota removed the breaking and acceleration control features of extant products recently.
posted by Damn That Television at 10:49 AM on March 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


There is no security risk to users from this hack, this is all about homebrew software.

I think it's hilarious that you thought they were claiming it has anything to do with the user's security. When a hardware/software/media company talks about security, they're talking about their ability to control what you do with the stuff they sell you.
posted by straight at 10:50 AM on March 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm a tech dummy. Will hackers give me my PS2 emulation? Have they already?
posted by cereselle at 10:50 AM on March 30, 2010


"Just like how Toyota removed the breaking and acceleration control features of extant products recently."

More like how Sony already released a root kit disguised as a music CD.
posted by Mitheral at 10:52 AM on March 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Can somebody explain why someone would install Linux on their PS3 other than "because it's there?"
posted by entropicamericana at 10:53 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, but... Uncharted! And the non-fucked version of Final Fantasy XII!

*hugs PS3, spurns Linux, realises that her slim PS3 could never run Linux anyway*
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:54 AM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Looking forward to the day when Sony techs HALO jump out of a helicopter into my backyard, storm my house, and then forcibly rip out the Emotion Engine chip out of my early model PS3.
posted by threetoed at 10:54 AM on March 30, 2010


It's their product, they can do what they want with it.

Uh, WTF? IF YOU BUY SOMETHING, IT BELONGS TO YOU Not the person who made it. Seriously, how can anyone be so confused?
posted by delmoi at 10:55 AM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because the PS3 is a cheap way to get a lot of processing power. The $/MFLOPS or $/MIPS or whatever is better than Intel or AMD boxes.
posted by GuyZero at 10:56 AM on March 30, 2010


Also what kind of nut releases this kind of update on April 1st.
posted by Mitheral at 10:56 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]




It's their product, they can do what they want with it.

--Yeah, maybe when it's on the shelves. But the moment you purchase it, it's yours. Perhaps someone purchased it solely for the OtherOS feature?

--I paid a lot of money for my PS3. That money bought me a piece of hardware that came with certain features advertised and supported by Sony, including the ability to install other OSes. So I reiterate: F*** YOU, Sony.




Ever read your EULA?
posted by zombieApoc at 10:57 AM on March 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Can somebody explain why someone would install Linux on their PS3 other than "because it's there?"
posted by entropicamericana at 12:53 PM on March 30 [+] [!]


Linux on the PS3 is the cheapest way to do high-performance computing on the Cell processor. The Cell is not otherwise available for just a couple hundred bucks.

For certain kinds of computations it's freakishly fast.
posted by Jpfed at 10:57 AM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, Microsoft did a similar thing a while back, disabling the online functionality of a ton of 360s that were detected to be modded.

I don't think these are related at all. Linux capability was an advertised feature of the PS3.
There is currently no real 'homebrew scene' on the Xbox; the only reason to mod an Xbox is to steal games.

His ultimatum seems a bit childish, but if he can break the PS3's DRM more power to him.
posted by graventy at 10:58 AM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


entropicamericana: "Can somebody explain why someone would install Linux on their PS3 other than "because it's there?""

Two use cases I know of:

To run MAME or other similar emulators (with the right ROMs downloaded that means you can play pretty much any video game for any video game system ever).

Using it as a dedicated live audio / video synthesis machine for electronic music performance (it is more rugged and more portable than a standard desktop or laptop, if you are already committed to doing live audio with Linux it seems like a decent option).
posted by idiopath at 10:58 AM on March 30, 2010


Can somebody explain why someone would install Linux on their PS3 other than "because it's there?"
posted by entropicamericana at 1:53 PM on March 30 [+] [!]


So you can use your PS3 as a true HTPC, with DVR functionality etc. Some media websites (e.g. Hulu) specifically block the PS3's browser, but under a Linux install you can view those sites. I've got a friend whose PS3 is his only computer. He boots into Yellow Dog Linux to do computer stuff like email and school work. Whoops, I mean he did.

Of course, none of that matters. It's a feature that they sold the system with, and now for some reason they think they can take it away.
posted by Who_Am_I at 11:00 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's their product, they can do what they want with it.

So, when is Akio Toyoda dropping by to remove some non-essential components from your car's audio system?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:02 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why is "because it's there" an illegitimate reason for me to use hardware that belongs to me in a way I see fit?
posted by DU at 11:02 AM on March 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ever read your EULA?

Ever read the deceptive trade practices statutes of each of the 50 states?
posted by grouse at 11:03 AM on March 30, 2010 [20 favorites]


Wait, new PS3s don't play PS2 games anymore? Wasn't that a key feature at launch?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:03 AM on March 30, 2010


For what it's worth, from Section 3 of the EULA (emphasis added):
From time to time, SCE may provide updates, upgrades or services to your PS3™ system to ensure it is functioning properly in accordance with SCE guidelines or provide you with new offerings. Some services may be provided automatically without notice when you are online, and others may be available to you through SCE's online network or authorized channels. Without limitation, services may include the provision of the latest update or download of new release that may include security patches, new technology or revised settings and features which may prevent access to unauthorized or pirated content, or use of unauthorized hardware or software in connection with the PS3™ system. Additionally, you may not be able to view your own content if it includes or displays content that is protected by authentication technology. Some services may change your current settings, cause a loss of data or content, or cause some loss of functionality.
posted by brain_drain at 11:04 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ever read your EULA?

WTF are you talking about?

Look, the sony system software EULA is here. Here's what it says about using the hardware in a way that violates the restrictions:
any violation of these restrictions will void the PS3™ system's warranty and affect your ability to obtain warranty services and repair services from SCE or its affiliated companies.
That's it. You lose your warranty. There's nothing in there about Sony owning the hardware. It does say they will push out updates, but it doesn't say anything about removing features.
Without limitation, services may include the provision of the latest update or download of new release that may include security patches, new technology or revised settings and features which may prevent access to unauthorized or pirated content, or use of unauthorized hardware or software in connection with the PS3™ system. Additionally, you may not be able to view your own content if it includes or displays content that is protected by authentication technology.
Yet, there is nothing "unauthorized" or "pirated" about Linux on the PS3.

Have you actually read the EULA? Or are you just spouting bullshit.
posted by delmoi at 11:05 AM on March 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was under the impression that the PS3 wasn't a very good Linux box, and that you didn't want to bother with it anyway, but was interested to read one rather aggrieved complaint. It seems that the Cell processor is fearsomely good at some things, and he uses his PS3 as a cheap, powerful, and quiet transcoding box, to shift his media formats around. He bought the unit explicitly to do that as well as play games, and now Sony is deliberately making his computer less useful to him. He can either accept the firmware update and lose his kickass little transcoder, or refuse it and never be able to play games on it again. He further observed that he was really glad that he hadn't put any time into learning Cell programming, which he'd been considering, because any time spent on that is now completely wasted and gone. The guys/gals who wrote that transcoder now have a bunch of knowledge that is completely useless to them.

This is why locked-down devices are bad; as I pointed out in the iPad thread, it gives the vendor the ability to retroactively change the terms of the sale, whether or not you happen to agree with it. It means you pay the full purchase price of the hardware, but you're just renting it. You use it at their sufferance, and if you happen to figure out a use they don't care for, you can get screwed.

You should think of buying DRMed products as flushing money down a toilet. If you then happen to get some use out of what you bought, great. If they change the terms, no big deal, it was money you deliberately wasted to begin with.

If you wouldn't be willing to actually flush the cash, you probably shouldn't buy the product.
posted by Malor at 11:05 AM on March 30, 2010 [21 favorites]


I was told that using Linux on the PS3 for HTPC wasn't viable because it couldn't access hardware graphics processing or something along those lines?
posted by entropicamericana at 11:08 AM on March 30, 2010


I'm pretty sure that the reason that PS2 emulation disappeared entirely at one point still had to do with hardware. Originally the system pretty much contained all the hardware for a PS2, so PS2 games could be played fine. In a cost-cutting move they took out the Emotion Engine chip that was the PS2's CPU, and started emulating it in software. Eventually they stripped out the rest of the hardware (there was at least still a GPU chip there remaining before that point, I believe) and ended backwards compatibility entirely.

Now, I'm certainly not one to try and purify Sony's motives or defend them. In fact, this whole Linux-option removal thing pisses me off. I wouldn't doubt for a minute that as long as they were still selling PS2s they wouldn't want to undercut that by having the PS3 do its job. It's not quite as simple as them just sticking up the code in the PSN for download though, if they had decided to re-enable it. Even the software emulation relied on some hardware, and the later systems lacked that entirely.

Of course that isn't to say they couldn't have purely software based PS2 emulation released if they really cared about it. How hard it would be to do right and maintain compatibility with most games, I don't know. I really have no doubt that it was still a calculated financial decision to not do it.

I'm also pretty sure that it's fucking Sony, so it likely had something to do with sacrificing babies to elder gods in exchange for new software for their marketing guys.
posted by Stunt at 11:09 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


OtherOS Will Not Be Removed From non-Slim PS3 Models -- March 1, 2010.

What a difference a month makes. And if you don’t upgrade you’ll lose the ability to:

* Sign in to PlayStation Network and use network features that require signing in to PlayStation Network, such as online features of PS3 games and chat.
* Playback of PS3 software titles or Blu-ray Disc videos that require PS3 system software version 3.21 or later.
* Playback of copyright-protected videos that are stored on a media server (when DTCP-IP is enabled under Settings).
* Use of new features and improvements that are available on PS3 system software 3.21 or later.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:15 AM on March 30, 2010


Linux on the PS3 is the cheapest way to do high-performance computing on the Cell processor. The Cell is not otherwise available for just a couple hundred bucks.

For certain kinds of computations it's freakishly fast.


More on that: posted by AugieAugustus at 11:15 AM on March 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well at least you PS3 owners can download the MW2 Stimulus Package today, along with the XBox Live community.

oh wait...
posted by clearly at 11:16 AM on March 30, 2010


Why is there not a class action lawsuit yet?
posted by crapmatic at 11:17 AM on March 30, 2010


For certain kinds of computations it's freakishly fast.

It used to be, four years ago, but don't think it is anymore. The PS3 PPU was really slow by CPU standards even back then, and the 6 SPUs and the GPU together amount to less processing power than what you can get for a PC with $300. But yeah, if you want to do Cell SPU programming (I have no idea why you would, apart from developing for PS3), it's the cheapest alternative.
posted by ikalliom at 11:21 AM on March 30, 2010


Have you actually read the EULA? Or are you just spouting bullshit.

he's just spouting bullshit. it's ok, just ignore him. he doesn't know what he's talking about.
posted by shmegegge at 11:21 AM on March 30, 2010


This is a disappointing move on Sony's part. My much loved X-Box 360 red ringed twice, and I said "fuck it" and jumped ship. I've actually been hugely satisfied with the PS3 (Slim, so unaffected by this), but it still irritates me to see this kind of thing.

Because what's to stop them from putting out an update that kills my ability to use Vuze as a way to stream media to my PS3 off my Mac? Or any of the other non-standard ways I might use it?
posted by quin at 11:21 AM on March 30, 2010


I was actually thinking about getting a PS3 whenever Gran Turismo 5 came out. Now, obviously, I won't.

I actually started out being a Sony fan. When I got into college my first Sterio tuner was a Sony, and my first and second digital cameras were a Sony. I even got a little "Network Walkman" that played ATRAC audio off a Memory stick. My first laptop was a Sony too, with a memory stick slot. I was totally into the "Sony lifestyle" with lots of devices that used memory sticks.

Anyway, I kind of realized their stuff was actually pretty medicore and that buying crap from them was just locking me into their systems. Now I pretty much won't buy anything Sony, especially after their rootkit fiasco.

But I loved GT3 and 4 on the PS2, and GT1 and 2 on the PS1. In fact, by the time GT4 came out I'd pretty much lost interest in video games, but I still played it almost all the way through, and in GT3 I got something like 99.5% complete.

But Sony has become a completely ridiculous company.
posted by delmoi at 11:22 AM on March 30, 2010


Linux on the PS3 is only useful for HPC applications. Linux can only call down into the hardware through a hypervisor, which in turn restricts access to the GPU and other fun stuff. So graphics are really slow, being done entirely in software (on the dinky 500MHz or so PPU), meaning you wont be playing media or MAME or whatever. Geohot's hack may change that, but the PS3 is an AWESOME media player in stock form, so that isn't really a selling point.
posted by kableh at 11:32 AM on March 30, 2010


DENVER - Union Carbide representatives announced today that they would be removing the non-catastrophe feature of their chemical plants, including models currently in the field. "Our action is a preemptive response to consumer security issues," said CEO Warren Anderson. Legal experts are divided on the legal precedent of using a EULA to expose over 500,000 people to deadly toxins.
posted by Damn That Television at 11:34 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course they have no problem adding features to your computer in the most inconvenient ways, as well -- like a rootkit. NEVER FORGET.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:35 AM on March 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Cell processor is no longer being actively developed by IBM. There are only two reasons to put Linux on a PS3: research into performance characteristics of the architecture, and to fool around. Now, I'm a fan of fooling around, and removing functionality like this is not a good PR move, but the amount of people affected by this is very small. People doing research on their PS3s will not be updating the firmware.
posted by demiurge at 11:36 AM on March 30, 2010


Why is there not a class action lawsuit yet?

I'm sure Sony will say this is covered by their licensing agreement:

3. SERVICES AND UPDATES
From time to time, SCE may provide updates, upgrades or services to your PS3™ system to ensure it is functioning properly in accordance with SCE guidelines or provide you with new offerings. Some services may be provided automatically without notice when you are online, and others may be available to you through SCE's online network or authorized channels. Without limitation, services may include the provision of the latest update or download of new release that may include security patches, new technology or revised settings and features which may prevent access to unauthorized or pirated content, or use of unauthorized hardware or software in connection with the PS3™ system.


I'm quite certain that Sony considers themselves the final arbiter on what is "unauthorized software" on the system.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:38 AM on March 30, 2010


I will say one thing... if they replace that godawful piece of crap web browser, I'll joyously install V3.21 and even let them install a rootkit or two.
posted by crapmatic at 11:41 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some services may change your current settings, cause a loss of data or content, or cause some loss of functionality.

So, basically, their EULA is claiming they can take away what they sold to you at will.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:41 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm no lawyer, but wouldn't this move run afoul of consumer laws in jurisdictions with strong 'fitness for purpose' laws? If someone bought the PS3 because of the 'OtherOS' feature and Sony later removes that feature they've broken the implied warranty that the product is capable of running Linux and should refund the purchaser.
posted by papercrane at 11:47 AM on March 30, 2010


You do have the option of not installing the patch...
posted by aspo at 11:47 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was having dinner with a group of medical researchers a few months ago who were extolling the wonders of their PS3 Linux cluster, which they were using for interpreting MRI data to diagnose and track the development of tumors. It's highly unlikely that they'll ever want to run Dragon Age on that, but if you want you can still blame Sony for retarding the rate at which we discover a cure for cancer.
posted by bl1nk at 11:48 AM on March 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Now that I have an HDTV (thanks, mom-in-law!) I was thinking about getting a PS3.

Never mind.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:48 AM on March 30, 2010


Uh, WTF? IF YOU BUY SOMETHING, IT BELONGS TO YOU Not the person who made it.

Welcome to the brave new world of licensed technologies. The entertainment business has long since asserted its right to retroactively cripple your software and hardware to suit their business needs. This firmware downgrade should surprise no one.

It's a terrible state of affairs. I have no idea if it's legal, and I'd like nothing better than to see Sony sued. Or Apple, for disabling features in iPhones. Or any company that thinks they should dictate what software I'm allowed to run. But it's not at all clear a lawsuit on that basis would work, and in general the trend is against freedom to tinker.
posted by Nelson at 11:51 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This decision will lead to the following consequences: Note that none of these are good things for Sony!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:51 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I AM A VERY GRUMPY NERD
posted by grubi at 11:55 AM on March 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't doubt that this is entirely legal. It's an optional upgrade, and Sony is under no obligation even to keep running the PlayStation Network, or releasing future games, let alone maintaining access to them. It just seems like a counter-productive decision.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:56 AM on March 30, 2010


bl1nk: I don't see how their imaging research will be unaffected by this. Besides, the Cell is old technology. GPGPU clusters using ATI or NVIDIA hardware are where the research is going to be for the next five years. Except for Roadrunner, of course.
posted by demiurge at 11:58 AM on March 30, 2010


Ever read your EULA?

I love how we're at the point of accepting this sort of nonsense. They don't get to make their own laws. I swear, if I'm ever in the position of selling software, I'm going to start throwing in "first night" clauses in 3 point font. I'll even put it in Latin, and if you can't translate Jus primae noctis, well, tough.

We've reached some sort of bizzaro level where Metafilter, of all places, is more capitalist than huge mega-corporations.

Mefite: I bought it. With money. It's mine.
Sony: But I have rights as the producer!
posted by spaltavian at 12:00 PM on March 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


Why is the iphone or Apple coming up in this discussion? What's the connection?
posted by Wood at 12:03 PM on March 30, 2010


One option would be (when pirated games become available on the PS3) to download and seed the torrents of whatever the newest and most popular Sony-developed and published games are. Whether or not you own a PS3. Seems better to me to actually fuck over a company that's already fucked over its customers, rather than to impotently scream fuck you at Sony. Like they give a damn.

This is similar to how banks and developers walk away from loans and obligations at the very first opportunity, but scream bloody murder about morality and moral hazard when individuals and families do similar things.
posted by aerotive at 12:06 PM on March 30, 2010


There is currently no real 'homebrew scene' on the Xbox; the only reason to mod an Xbox is to steal games.

Or set it up as a more versatile media player, or play emulated games on your TV screen. Just like I do with my Wii. If I had a PS3 you can bet that I'd be using Linux on it to do the same thing. So, I doubt it really does affect no one.
posted by JHarris at 12:08 PM on March 30, 2010


Anti-piracy stuff always makes me feel like I’m 8 years old and the teacher has just threatened the whole class with losing recess because three of the “bad kids” won’t stop throwing paper around. “It’s not fair!” My inner eight year old screams. And my inner adult says “Hey wait inner eight year old is right it isn’t fair.” Sony is ignoring good faith users who just like the games and maybe want to cancel their cable and have been toying with the Linux idea in order to get Hulu to work(because PlayOn hasn’t for fucking months), and maybe because they miss old Katamari. But on the other hand , they are doing that because of all the flashing little UMD missing lights I see on the subway on my ride home. (Whether or not this is a legitimate concern of theirs; it surely was a factor in the decision making process.)

Or what Tycho said.
posted by edbles at 12:09 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wood: Hardware locked down by the manufacturer to work on their terms, I believe. Or the issue that arise from having locked down appliances that you don't have total control over.
posted by Stunt at 12:10 PM on March 30, 2010


I gotta say, it's also very, very interesting to see how the reaction in this thread is almost uniform in the "Screw Sony!" attitude.... but in the iPad thread, there were many, many apologists for Apple.

Anyone who doubts the power of pure marketing should examine those two threads closely. Even in a very smart crowd, marketing has enormous power. The chief difference between the two companies is their presentation. Both have good hardware products that are crippled by a profound desire to dictate the terms under which that hardware can be used. Apple routinely removes programs from its app store, and refuses to allow competitive products in at all. Until this particular fiasco, in fact, the PS3 was more open than the iPad.

But Apple has great marketers, and thus people think the iPad is okay, while the PS3 sucks.
posted by Malor at 12:11 PM on March 30, 2010 [28 favorites]


It bugs me that this is called a security update.

It is distinctly not an update that improves the end users security. It is in fact for Sony's security, as has been pointed out by others here.

I propose that this be renamed an insecurity update, and the difference be made clear between updates for enduser security and updates prompted by vendor insecurity.

by extension we can call the department in charge of making sure you remove your shoes before getting on an airplane the Department of Homeland Insecurity

suddenly I picture the the anthropized version of Sony asking "does this Linux install make my butt look big"?

posted by idiopath at 12:11 PM on March 30, 2010


I think the difference is that Apple users are reasonably aware that they were operating in a walled garden. Sony billed itself as a public park model with the OpenOS nonsense and then was like “Hey wait you mean PIRACY might happen in a public park? ATTENTION USERS: We are now a walled garden. Either remove your Linux from your open containers or lose access to the park and any future park amenities we chose to add later.”
posted by edbles at 12:19 PM on March 30, 2010


I wonder how many people who drone on about how "Copyright infringement in STEALING" don't consider retroactively removing paid-for features not stealing.
posted by delmoi at 12:20 PM on March 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


The PS3 was more open than the iPod? Even considering that Sony always blocked access to some hardware features critical for games from their open OS support?

I'm not sure why I'm engaging with you though because you've already wrapped up the interesting portion of the debate and moved on to psychoanalyzing the defects that cause people to disagree with you. Charming.
posted by Wood at 12:28 PM on March 30, 2010


The PSN pay-to-play has me seriously pissed, but I only have mixed feelings about the dropped Linux support. I have a Slim PS3, so on one hand, there's lots of stuff the world is losing out on, but on the other hand, I feel extreme glee at the knowledge that if I can't calculate prime numbers on my console, no one can. I'm a bad person.
posted by spamguy at 12:31 PM on March 30, 2010


JHarris: "Or set it up as a more versatile media player, or play emulated games on your TV screen. Just like I do with my Wii."

The Xbox 360 is more than capable on its own to be a pretty versatile media player, and I can't find any evidence of much homebrew for the system beyond a couple of early emulators that apparently don't work well.

(I should've perhaps been clearer in my original post that I was talking about 360s, not the original Xbox, which has a lot of awesome homebrew.)

The Wii does have some great homebrew, I agree. I haven't been too thrilled with the media player capabilities, but I can just use the 360 and streaming for that.
posted by graventy at 12:38 PM on March 30, 2010


I love my Sony television, but in my heart of hearts I just know that somewhere deep in the heart of Sony's R&D they're working on some new kind of Sony video format, or Sony connector, or Sony AC line voltage that their stuff will require.
posted by tommasz at 12:40 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The idea that Sony has any claim to the PS3 that I own is insulting on its face. Removing functionality with a firmware update amounts to vandalism of private property and should result in criminal charges. Even if it's in the EULA any half-decent justice system ought to recognize that as an unconscionable contract.

Class-action lawsuit is totally the way to go here. Take it all the way to the supreme court if necessary. Set some legal precedent to kill this business model dead.

I wouldn't mind seeing some performance artist or idealistic hardware vendor start selling a $1000 wonder gadget with a million features advertised on the box, that immediately phones home the first time it's turned on, and bricks itself. Just to make a point. This issue doesn't get enough attention from people at large.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:44 PM on March 30, 2010


To anyone who is thinking this isn't a huge deal because people can just not play games online. It's not just that. Even if you don't play online, you can bet that many new games and Bluray movies will require that you have the latest firmware, which will mean this upgrade is TOTALLY OPTIONAL (if you don't wish to ever get anything new ever for your PS3).
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:46 PM on March 30, 2010


The PSN pay-to-play has me seriously pissed, but I only have mixed feelings about the dropped Linux support.

I'm only a casual gamer on my PS3. I've heard rumors that Sony is launching a pay-to-play "premium" service offered in addition to the free PSN service, but I'm not sure how that will affect those who just use the free service. Slower connections? A longer wait before users can play new releases online? Got any good links?
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:53 PM on March 30, 2010


It is distinctly not an update that improves the end users security.

I hate to say anything to defend the update, but locking out homebrew consoles does help user security. In the aggregate. Modded Xbox owners are fond of cheating in online games. It's a lot less fun playing Halo when someone can shoot you through walls. A 100% secure hardware platform makes it a whole lot harder to cheat.

The idea that Sony has any claim to the PS3 that I own is insulting on its face.

Yes, but that's the world we live in. Specifically they run an online service its users find valuable, and part of that service is software updates that Sony publishes. I don't like what they're doing with it either.

(As for why Apple is being discussed here, it's because every iPhone OS update contains features meant to thwart jailbreakers. I think they haven't gone so far as to disable hacked devices, but Apple has made it very clear they are the final arbiter of what software you're allowed to run on their phones and tablets).
posted by Nelson at 1:06 PM on March 30, 2010


I feel like the iPad's DRM is better in a sense, because even though it may be more limited from the start, Apple is clear on what the limitations are. You can't run unsigned code on the tablet (meaning you need to use the store to legitimately get apps), etc. Apple is clear on that's how the device works, and they don't change it to be more limited. If you don't like it, you can just buy another tablet.

Sony, meanwhile brags in tradeshows that you can use the PS3 as a computer, so far as even installing alternate operating systems on it. It might not have been the most popular feature, but it was a clear piece of functionality. It's like taking your car to a dealer and losing a gear because the manufacturer decided not everyone needs to accelerate that fast. It violates the trust between the company and the consumer, and puts users who bought the PS3 for tinkering purposes out in the cold.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:11 PM on March 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


unixrat wrote: Perhaps someone purchased it solely for the OtherOS feature?

Hi, that's me! I ended up buying several thousand bucks worth of games once I decided I would indeed like to start playing video games again, but at the time I purchased it, it was solely for running Linux. I still use it.

I'm pretty upset. I like to buy rock band songs from time to time, which I won't be able to do. My SO is going to be pissed that she can't buy any new songs for Singstar, too. I won't be able to use the subscription to Qore I paid for (stupid in the first place, but it's the principle of the matter). No more online games. No more new games. No more playing videos over DLNA in GameOS, either.

Basically, the PS3 becomes a very basic game console if you refuse to update the firmware.

I have been trying to look at the bright side, though. This will free up a lot of money for things other than buying video games. At least I got to play Uncharted and Uncharted 2 (and a fair number of other good games) before Sony screwed me over. Rock Band is going to be rather annoying to play.

Who_Am_I wrote: I always wondered why the unit I bought didn't have software PS2 emulation. It's software, just throw it on there.

It's not just software, though. The initial US-release PS3s had the PS2's Emotion Engine (CPU) and Graphics Synthesizer (GPU) built-in. Hence the 97% functional backwards compatibility. With the (US) 80GB models, they took out the EE, but left in the GS. They apparently still don't have a working GS emulator.
posted by wierdo at 1:11 PM on March 30, 2010


Malor — every time Apple does something crappy, it does get shit. It gets shit even from the people who get paid to write things about Apple. But it's possible to be critical of a company and still like it.

I mean, it wasn't like that iPad post was Apple going "Oh hey new product AND ALSO WE'RE DOING XYZ EVIL THING". It was a new product. So when people said "Yeah but Apple does ABC Evil Thing" some people responded by saying "Yeah that sucks but this thing looks pretty fucking sweet."

I use an iPod and haven't seen fit to jailbreak it because I don't use it in any way that requires jailbreaking. I wish Apple was more open to jailbreakers, but it doesn't personally affect me. Similarly, I have a PS3-using friend who doesn't use Linux on it and he probably doesn't care about this new update. Possibly he wishes Sony wouldn't do this, but it's a halfhearted wish and not a personal affair.

So you're comparing two threads of different focus. If Sony was announcing a new PlayStation I wouldn't expect the whole thread to be "Fuck you Sony". I'd expect some people making good "Fuck you Sony" points, but I'd also expect people to go "Hey I think Sony's pretty cool even if fuck them sometimes". And when you have your "Apple announces iPad AIDS" thread I think a lot of the people you call Apple apologists will be "Fuck you Apple"-ing.

I think it says something about Apple's products that they have so many apologists. I don't like them because they have good ads or a good PR team, though they have both. I love them because I own a bunch of Apple things and they all make me happy. Sony doesn't have the same reputation for quality.

also I was not intending this to derail into an "Apple is not actually quality you shitty shitty person" argument so we can like skip it's cool
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:16 PM on March 30, 2010


PS: Just to be clear, being able to jailbreak the iPhone/iTouch/iPad isn't one of the features they sell the device on, so it's not really a violation of the trust to try to patch those vulnerabilities. I like to hack my Wii to install homebrew, and I would probably jailbreak an iPod touch if I could afford one, but it's understandably not what the manufacturers want. I don't think it's innate right that people should be allowed to hack every device. It'd be nice, but that's just not really how the current economy works.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:18 PM on March 30, 2010


If you want to play their games, you need to play their game.

Bells and whistles come at a price - they always have, its just now Sony is being a little bit more upfront about it.

Don't get me wrong - I think this is a step in the wrong direction for consoles; however, Sony knows that only an insignificant portion of their userbase (financially) will be storming the proverbial bastile. Class action efforts will get killed in the EULA. New consumers won't care as they'll be brought in under the new system. If you don't like it - give up your PS3 - which some people will.

Incidentally, I don't own one. So, um, for those of you who don't want your console anymore - $30 for your used console. From my perspective, I think that is a fair price.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:32 PM on March 30, 2010


I wonder how much pressure Sony was under from developers that they contract with to lock down their system. Taking a look at the PC game market has to send a chill down anyone's back, regardless of how amoral and bad this particular desicion is.
posted by codacorolla at 2:02 PM on March 30, 2010


codacorolla wrote: I wonder how much pressure Sony was under from developers that they contract with to lock down their system. Taking a look at the PC game market has to send a chill down anyone's back, regardless of how amoral and bad this particular desicion is.

Yet taking a look at the Xbox 360 (or Wii) market gives an entirely different picture, despite both platforms having been made to easily run illicit copies of games.
posted by wierdo at 2:06 PM on March 30, 2010


As a long time Sony product lover, she typed on her beautiful little Vaio , I wonder yet again how they managed to get the fantastic customer loving geniuses who do Sony product design to stay in the same company with the customer hating ogres who do Sony service (hahahahahaha) and who are responsible for this kind of retroactive security policy decision and who decide to price anything Sony makes at a 20% premium. I always picture the product design people as being cordoned off in some kind of tiny happily decorated little shed.
posted by bearwife at 2:12 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's their product, they can do what they want with it.

I'm glad car makers don't have this attitude.
posted by mecran01 at 2:13 PM on March 30, 2010


Re Apple vs Sony:

How many unlocked iPhones are there in the wild?
How many unlocked PS3s are there in the wild?

The amount of resources Apple vs Sony put into making their various walled gardens is startling. Apple built a 6' high chain link fence. It'll keep you in provided you don't actually care (or can't climb). Sony built a 30' concrete rebar fortification with electrified concertina and guard towers.

I'll buy an ipad once I can jailbreak it and not one second sooner. I'm reasonably comfortable with the height of Apple's wall but Sony will never, not ever get one cent of my money.
posted by Skorgu at 2:14 PM on March 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ahem.

THIS WILL NOT AFFECT NORMAL PEOPLE.

Please note that, as somebody who soldered an Xecuter3 chip into my first-gen XBox, I hereby cede all membership to aforementioned group.
posted by LordSludge at 2:17 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's their product, they can do what they want with it.

A well-executed one-off troll line. Really hooked 'em too.
posted by kingbenny at 2:20 PM on March 30, 2010


It's their product, they can do what they want with it.
I'm glad car makers don't have this attitude.


Oh, but car manufacturers do treat their hardware as an unmodifiable black box. Ever tried to plug in an aftermarket MP3 player to your car's entertainment system? Ever asked an independent mechanic what he pays for the computer interface to access your car's engine computer? There's even potential retroactive feature removal to cars in the guise of mandatory recall service, I'm sure there's at least one example of a car being made slower or dumber as part of a recall.
posted by Nelson at 2:20 PM on March 30, 2010


Class action efforts will get killed in the EULA

A EULA or other legal agreement does not give a company carte blanche to screw over their customers. Blockbuster had to settle a class action suit about their "No Late Fees" advertising campaign and give customers their money back, even though the legalese in their rental agreements made it clear that customers couldn't keep their rentals forever.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:29 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


THIS WILL NOT AFFECT NORMAL PEOPLE.

posted by LordSludge at 5:17 PM on March 30 [+] [!] No other comments.


You're not the only one to post this sentiment, so I don't mean to single you out, but: the problem is the precedent that this sets. Sony can remove features from my system whenever they want? What happens when the backward-compatible (at first) PS4 comes out, along-side a PS3 firmware update that makes that older system not play games anymore? Tough shit, read the EULA.

Re: the PS2 emulation: I knew about the EE chip, but I though the second-generation emulation was entirely software. Sounds like that's not the case, and so it makes sense that they wouldn't include it.
posted by Who_Am_I at 2:32 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much pressure Sony was under from developers that they contract with to lock down their system. Taking a look at the PC game market has to send a chill down anyone's back, regardless of how amoral and bad this particular desicion is.

That brings up an interesting question, do developers see any difference in terms of profit between releasing a game on the PS3, which is locked down, and the XBox 360, which has had exploits to run pirated games for years? Given the numbers that are used to justify DRM efforts, a locked-down platform with similar capabilities to a hackable platform should sell significantly more software. If there really was a big difference, you would think that a lot of major developers would have abandoned the XBox 360 (and as a former Dreamcast owner I know it's definitely possible for developers to completely abandon a console with an established user base).
posted by burnmp3s at 2:39 PM on March 30, 2010


Sony: Celebrating 30 Years of Being Worse Than Microsoft

They wouldn't exist without people buying their products.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:39 PM on March 30, 2010


"It's unbelievable you would go and flip one, not just on new boxes you are shipping, but on tens of millions already in the field."

It's totally believable. This is Sony, a company ready to infect tens of millions of Windows computers with a poorly written rootkit.

It's unbelievable people still buy Sony after it demonstrated such a total lack of respect for paying customers.

Long before the Sony rootkit scandal, Sony Pictures Entertainment US senior VP Steve Heckler said:

"The industry will take whatever steps it needs to protect itself and protect its revenue streams... It will not lose that revenue stream, no matter what... Sony is going to take aggressive steps to stop this. We will develop technology that transcends the individual user. We will firewall Napster at source - we will block it at your cable company. We will block it at your phone company. We will block it at your ISP. We will firewall it at your PC... These strategies are being aggressively pursued because there is simply too much at stake." (emphasis mine)

Sony is not a company anyone should be giving money to...
posted by stringbean at 2:41 PM on March 30, 2010


I would vote that this is not legal. Customers are given the choice to upgrade but declining that option then disables online play (all game play maybe? I'm not sure). In either choice the customer will lose advertised features that the product sold with. There probably isn't a class action yet because it's only been a few days since this was announced and it takes a little time for the roving hoards of lawyers to smell blood.
posted by chairface at 2:42 PM on March 30, 2010


It's unbelievable people still buy Sony after it demonstrated such a total lack of respect for paying customers.

This is why Sony never apologizes for this stuff. They know that the consumer memory span for this kind of nonsense can be assuaged through other cool products and enough time. Nobody ever really boycotts a company much anymore if they can still provide enough flash and innovation somewhere else. It's like Stockholm Syndrome for stuff.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:49 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


to those who seem to be bringing up the EULA and presenting this "whelp, this is just the way it is. you don't own what you buy and you need to just accept it cuz that's how it is these days" attitude, i just need to ask you one question:

what the fuck is wrong with you?
posted by clarenceism at 3:08 PM on March 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


A EULA or other legal agreement does not give a company carte blanche to screw over their customers. Blockbuster had to settle a class action suit about their "No Late Fees" advertising campaign and give customers their money back, even though the legalese in their rental agreements made it clear that customers couldn't keep their rentals forever.

And from what I understand, unilateral contracts, where one side doesn't have much of a say in the drawing of the terms, generally are decided in favor of the buyer, if the terms can be interpreted as unclear or ambiguous. I would argue that Sony did not go out of its way to let people know this was a possible condition of future software upgrades, or express it very clearly in the EULA. Going into a purchase, it's not at all obvious what "unauthorized software" is going to be in the future, especially if a precedent is set earlier on that the very same software is deemed appropriate.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:39 PM on March 30, 2010


It also perplexes me that more companies don't get this: the more open the platform (assuming it's good and comes with sufficient tools), the more rabid the following. See Valve or any other software company that view themselves not only in terms of developing great products, but opening those products up as a service for others to create things. They are going to be around forever, rolling around in their money. Good will in this regard, even if it's only utilized by a minority, creates awesome word of mouth.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:47 PM on March 30, 2010


Oh, but car manufacturers do treat their hardware as an unmodifiable black box. Ever tried to plug in an aftermarket MP3 player to your car's entertainment system? Ever asked an independent mechanic what he pays for the computer interface to access your car's engine computer?
Engine computers use a Standard connector, and you can buy readers pretty cheap. Here's one for $62 on amazon.

But actually car makers tried to lock down their engine computers but the government actually stepped in and made an open standard mandatory.
posted by delmoi at 4:17 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


yeah, ODB-II is an ISO standard. Well, it's like 3 or 4 different SAE and ISO standards, but in the case of modern cars it's as standard as something like C or the liter.
posted by GuyZero at 4:42 PM on March 30, 2010


I didn't know the car companies were forced to open up. You've taken all the fun out of my ill-informed rants! Sony still sucks, though.
posted by Nelson at 5:11 PM on March 30, 2010


Wikipedia has a good overview of ODB-II standards. There are probably a lot of proprietary tools and such nevertheless. Certainly modded engine EPROMS and such aren't sanctioned.
posted by GuyZero at 5:14 PM on March 30, 2010


ChurchHatesTucker: "It's not a bug! It's a feature!"

I think you mean, "It's not a feature, it's a bug! We even fixed it for you!"
posted by pwnguin at 5:22 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


2008: Sony removes Playstation 2 backwards compatability from PS3.
2010: Sony removes OtherOS functionality from PS3.
2011: Sony removes ability to play games or watch BluRay discs - PS3 now only plays adverts for other Sony-branded products.
2013: Pressing the power switch on the PS3 causes a comedy boxing-glove to shoot out of the console, knocking user unconcious.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:38 PM on March 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


Casual users will learn from mainstream press...

Ha ha ha no they won't.
posted by aaronetc at 6:57 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


check out this mainstream press yo
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:24 PM on March 30, 2010


I went to "Nerd Camp" (Center for Talented Youth) with George Hotz a few summers in a row. He was well known among the campers as being one of the more brilliant kids among some generally sharp children, and also for having a lot of moxie. He could count cards near flawlessly and in a culture of being deferential to authority he was the only "rebel" type there. I'm not really surprised he's made such a name for himself with this and the Iphone hack.

Here is his page from the camp wiki.
posted by Suparnova at 8:00 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Something being covered by large mainstream news orgs doesn't imply casual users will find out about it. Is this on the Telegraph's front page? Did it make the BBC's newscast?
posted by aaronetc at 8:31 PM on March 30, 2010


check out this mainstream press yo

Pff. No one reads mainstream press anymore.
posted by delmoi at 9:31 PM on March 30, 2010


We've reached some sort of bizzaro level where Metafilter, of all places, is more capitalist than huge mega-corporations.

Mefite: I bought it. With money. It's mine.
Sony: But I have rights as the producer!


Consumer rights are capitalist now? It's not as if you can cast Sony as an underdog.
posted by ersatz at 4:41 AM on March 31, 2010


Nintendo drops MP3 support in favor of AAC.

Microsoft discontinues "support" for third party Xbox 360 storage devices.

This is a common theme this generation.
posted by Remy at 6:24 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


PEOPLE DO THINGS I DO NOT LIKE. I WILL NOW TELL YOU AT GREAT LENGTH WHY THIS BOTHERS ME. AND I WILL USE PHILOSOPHY TO JUSTIFY MY RAGE.
posted by grubi at 6:38 AM on March 31, 2010


Microsoft discontinues "support" for third party Xbox 360 storage devices.

Microsoft (re?)adds support for third party Xbox 360 storage devices.

posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:33 AM on March 31, 2010


EndsOfInvention: I think the "discontinues" remark has to do with third-party memory cards, which are starting to seem kind of quaint now aren't they?

delmoi: But actually car makers tried to lock down their engine computers but the government actually stepped in and made an open standard mandatory.

B-b-b-but government is bad drown it in bathtub support our troops thank god for Palin!!
posted by JHarris at 12:10 PM on March 31, 2010


This is why Sony never apologizes for this stuff. They know that the consumer memory span for this kind of nonsense can be assuaged through other cool products and enough time.

Maybe if some kind of meme were created around it. Like using the word "sony" as a curse word.

I'll give it a try. (Although more to get the looks on people's faces when I say it more than anything else.)
posted by JHarris at 12:13 PM on March 31, 2010


EndsOfInvention: I think the "discontinues" remark has to do with third-party memory cards, which are starting to seem kind of quaint now aren't they?

Yeah, it refers to "memory units" which are the small memory packs that connect to the 360 controller and can store game saves and profile info - this latest update means you can plug USB flash drives directly into the console and use them to store game saves and profile info. So they are essentially making it possible to use ANY USB drive as a memory unit, therefore increasing the functionality (since you can buy any cheap 16GB USB drive instead of a pricey 512MB memory unit).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:35 PM on March 31, 2010


Maybe if some kind of meme were created around it. Like using the word "sony" as a curse word.

I'll give it a try. (Although more to get the looks on people's faces when I say it more than anything else.)


"So my boss walks in and says he's giving us all a pay cut and we have to work and extra 10 hours a week... but then he gave us some donuts and we were too distracted to object".

"Dude... you just got Sonyed!"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:37 PM on March 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sony Sony!
posted by wierdo at 1:15 PM on March 31, 2010


Soni, Sone, Sony!
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:42 PM on March 31, 2010


Geohot claims to have hacked the firmware update and re-added OtherOS support.
posted by papercrane at 10:30 AM on April 8, 2010


Due to European consumer law, Amazon is issuing partial refunds for their customers in Europe. A commenter on the Kotaku article claims that they've also received a refund from Amazon.uk and that this wasn't a aberration.

Not that anyone is still reading this post....
posted by papercrane at 6:33 AM on April 9, 2010


Wow, that's pretty impressive papercrane. It's not even an insulting $10 or something, they've refunded a substantial portion of the original price. Too bad we don't have those kinds of protections here in the US.

(I RSS subscribe to my own posts.)
posted by Who_Am_I at 9:37 AM on April 9, 2010


(I RSS subscribe to my own posts.)

You know about Recent Activity, right?
posted by grouse at 9:45 AM on April 9, 2010


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