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PS3 Linux Now Installable 109

Quinton writes "Around midnight Pacific time on the 17th, Sony updated their Open Platform website needed to install PPC Linux on the PS3. The FTP Site contains the CELL Linux ADDON CD image, which has the bootloader (kboot/otheros.bld) and instructions needed to install Fedora Core 5, PPC. A full install from DVD takes about two hours. Most all hardware is supported except for graphics accelerator support (framebuffer only, up to 1920x1200)."
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PS3 Linux Now Installable

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  • neato (Score:2, Funny)

    by undercanopy ( 565001 )
    does it come beowulf ready?

    nothing like a cluster of $10,000 nodes [ebay.com]..
  • PowerPC? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Constantine XVI ( 880691 ) <`trash.eighty+slashdot' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:32PM (#16885498)
    Did they say they were running standard PowerPC Linux on the PS3? In theory, what would stop us (besides Apple's legal dept.) putting the PowerPC Mac OSX on it?
    • Re:PowerPC? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:38PM (#16885614)
      In theory, what would stop us (besides Apple's legal dept.) putting the PowerPC Mac OSX on it?

      The same thing that prevented people from installing the PPC OS X on any other non-Apple PPC hardware. Namely, lack of support for the hardware itself. (Hint: just because the code is compiled to a specific processor doesn't mean that it automatically has hardware support for all of the other various chipset components--it just means it knows how to talk to the processor.)
    • I imagine you'd have a shot at porting darwin to it, but even before we talk about whatever kernel changes they had to make to run PPC linux on the Cell, you can bet that the drivers for basically everything else about the mahcine are non-existent in OSX.

      However, my money is that even if the hardware drivers were there, they used a quite hacked-kernel to make it work on Cell... good luck getting apple to cross-compile for you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      it'd be easier to just do Mac-on-linux instead

      http://www.maconlinux.org/ [maconlinux.org]
  • Almost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by androvsky ( 974733 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:34PM (#16885536)
    There's a hypervisor running between the kernel and the hardware, so I don't think it's going to be an easy task to hack the nvidia ppc macintosh drivers to run on this thing. I got the impression from the documentation that the accelerator was pretty much locked off, but even if it wasn't, we're pretty much stuck waiting for nvidia to cough up a binary driver blob. Unless someone wants to port opengl to the cell spus. It couldn't be nearly as fast as the nvidia chip, geforce3 territory at best, but it could support any kind of shaders you throw at it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Sony won't boot a non-approved OS so don't hold out hope for a Linux that uses the RSX. Besides, you're not missing much. The RSX is a severely cut down nv40-based chip. As people are just now finding out, it has no scaler and no video acceleration (as in "PureVideo"). It is just a vertex shading pipeline and a very simplified pixel shading pipeline. Sony expected people to do all their pixel effects on the Cell, but that isn't working out too well which is why people are noticing fullscreen effects lo
      • Sony won't boot a non-approved OS so don't hold out hope for a Linux that uses the RSX.

        The PS3 will boot any OS, but it runs under the hypervisor.
      • It is just a vertex shading pipeline and a very simplified pixel shading pipeline. Sony expected people to do all their pixel effects on the Cell, but that isn't working out too well which is why people are noticing fullscreen effects looking worse on PS3 versions of games like NFS:Carbon.

        All you have noticed is that a highly optimized renderer isn't in service on day one, big surprise. As far as pixel shaders and vertex shaders go, you have got your FUD garbled. The RSX has on-board pixel shaders, and ve
      • It's a shame that th parent post got modded up, as it's almost completely incorrect.
  • Yeah (Score:5, Funny)

    by eightball01 ( 646950 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:35PM (#16885542)
    But does it run... oh wait... it does!
    • by MS-06FZ ( 832329 )
      Heh, that's a good one. But here's one you may not have thought of: does it run Linux?
    • I guess we have to get something geekier now that Linux has become mainstream.

      "Yeah, but does it run BSD?"; a new Slashdot meme is born!
    • I predict that this will end up the same way as DVD+R and -R. All companies that support it WILL NOT give up because there has already been large amounts of money put into it and abandoning it would not be good for the companies. Even if it is at the detriment for all consumers (how would you like to buy both an HDDVD and BLURAY player?)
    • by Xymor ( 943922 )
      Now you can play 20 year old games without paying nintendo a dime. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIWwcGCI_nY&eurl [youtube.com]
  • Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Foofoobar ( 318279 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:35PM (#16885554)
    This and the cell processor were the major reasons why I was looking forward to the PS3. Blu-ray and HD-dvd still have to fight it out and it doesn't look like it's going to end quickly
  • by Odin_Tiger ( 585113 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:36PM (#16885558) Journal
    "Most all hardware is supported except for graphics accelerator support (framebuffer only, up to 1920x1200)."

    So...everything but the thing that makes the machine be what it is? That's great. At least you can play nethack...
    • So...everything but the thing that makes the machine be what it is? That's great. At least you can play nethack...

      Its all about gameplay man, all about gameplay.

      (Or wait.. its Friday. Do we like high resolution graphics again today on Slahdot? I forget.)

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I hate Sony but be fair ... you get the Cell to play with. 6 SIMD cores at 3.2GHz plus a dual-threaded PPC. Should make any geek's day.

      That is, I assume they haven't locked off the SPUs too ... can anyone confirm?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You have access to the SPUs. There's a filesystem interface for getting at their memory, dma state, mailboxes (spufs) and a higher level library on top of that (libspe).

        • Mod Parent Informative.

          My interest in the PS3 just rose a couple notches up to "Maybe with my next Job" from "Like I'd ever have enough money."
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hr.wien ( 986516 )
        The Cell PPE is a dual issue, dual threaded, in-order core, which means it ain't all that. A normal G4 would probably kill it. Yellow Dog Linux on the Cell only runs on the PPE (leveraging the other cores would take some heavy re-engineering of just about every piece of software in it), so I think it's safe to say the PS3 Linux experience won't be anything special either. Fun to play with, sure, but certainly no speed demon.
    • i could be wrong but i belive sony's intention is that for gaming you would buy PS3 games and for other stuff you would use linux.

      i suspect if they hadn't crippled the possibility of gaming under PS3 linux it would have severely pissed off the official game developers and those developers are the lifeblood of any console manufacturer (both from a financial point of view and the fact that your console will fail if it doesn't have a good selection of games availible for purchase)
  • Jeez (Score:1, Funny)

    by TodMinuit ( 1026042 )
    First a reduce number of launch titles and now this. Sony really knows how to suck the fun out of a console.
  • Its really cool that Sony is recognizing that people want to have a full OS on their gaming console, unlike M$ who locked their console down to prevent people from doing just that. This also allows people to justify spending more money for the ps3, as it can be used as a computer/gaming console.
    • by bcmm ( 768152 )
      PSP anyone?

      How long before they accidentally break Linux in an "update" then?

      (Just poking fun. I think it's cool, if it really works.)
  • Honestly, this is pretty cool. I'd love to get a PS3 to play around with the Cell processor. This is really a new thing - far from discouraging homebrew hacking on their system, Sony is making it possible to install a full-blown Linux system on *launch day*. The hardware in the system is all standard stuff so everything should Just Work. I imagine that the community will have the custom graphics processor up and running in no time. If I understand correctly, the seven Cell cores are already supported by Li
    • by crossmr ( 957846 )
      Why do people like the cell processor? Its only here to make games shiny, but crappy:
      http://crystaltips.typepad.com/wonderland/2005/03/ burn_the_house_.html [typepad.com]
      • by TerranFury ( 726743 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @02:05PM (#16887260)

        >Why do people like the cell processor?

        It's not about the games. It's more important than that: The Cell points in the direction in which we can expect all computing to move. The Cell has a lot of hype which should be taken with your-daily-recommended-value-of-sodium-chloride, but I think it's true that it represents a legitimate effort by a company to put R&D into a new architecture designed around multiple cores. That matters.

        Up front: A gaming machine might be the wrong application for the Cell. A lot of the buzz surrounding the Cell actually has to do with using the processors for scientific computation: The supercomputing market. I'm sure IBM et al didn't design the Cell with that in mind, since it's only a 32-bit chip (and serious scientific computation tends to require more precision than that), but I've heard rumors of a new 64-bit Cell (if IBM didn't scrap that project when they gutted their PowerPC/microprocessor teams of late).

        But the Cell represents an important direction in processor design because, frankly, it looks like we can't make the chips much faster: We're already switching logic at microwave frequencies! It used to be that we could keep making transistors smaller and smaller and they'd get faster and faster -- but now, scaling is bottoming out: oxide thicknesses are 4 atoms! Since we can't push the transistors much more (I'm not counting on finFETs to save the day), we need to start paying attention to the architecture. I'm glad that someone is doing something a little innovative.

        And you know: Maybe it's ok for games too. It was always my fantasy to do realtime raytracing. How about radiosity or photon mapping at interactive framerates? Those algorithms parallelize pretty well! ;-)

        • by crossmr ( 957846 )
          It might be okay in games where artificial intelligence isn't attempted at all. Multiplayer games with no bots or enemies, or parlour games. For any game that should make use of artificial intelligence though its not good, and those are the games people want. People want first person shooters with AI so real you think its a human, or real time strategy games where the computer controlled opponents have more than a couple set build structures and attack patterns. The use of the cell processor in a mainstream
          • your comment was interesting... pray tell, how is it that a system custom-built for parallel processing is *bad* for ai? I'm an ai researcher and I'm dying to get my hands on one of these things cuz they'd be perfect for MAS/MRS research... hell, you could have 6 of those processors running the ai code for the 6 bots you're playing against... so please, tell me, how is it bad?
            • by SnowZero ( 92219 )
              Yeah I don't know what he's talking about. I would love to have a Cell for our RoboCup robots. Computer vision algorithms will map quite nicely onto SPUs, and will allow many techniques to run at video frame rates which are currently out of the question. As far as game-ai type stuff, path planning could use denser meshes for more realistic motion, and there is even enough CPU to do some local kinematic planning as well (imagine AIs that don't drive wheeled vehicles into walls constantly). The small loca
              • CMU Dragons? Dude, can I talk to you or one of your guys about design? I've seen the videos of you guys in Germany this year and they're insane. There's no Canadian presence in the small league atm (to my knowledge) and I'm trying to get funding to get a team in there... I'm hoping to present a PIPE variant in Hotlanta in July, but other than some simulation-league stuff that I'm hoping to put together for souzhou the year after, my university doesn't have anything :-(
            • by crossmr ( 957846 )
              The issue is the type of processing, not the amount of processors. If you read the link I provided in my original comment you'll see what is said about the cell processor. Its an in-order processing model and this makes writing good AI more difficult. The amount of sequels and other things we've seen show that the gaming industry isn't really interested in hard work. So even if good AI is theoretically possible on that type of processor we likely won't see it. I don't pretend to understand all the nitty gri
              • Even with the inefficiencies of having an in-order processor doing ai calculations, I still think that the fact that you can have a processor completely dedicated is what will make the difference. I'm not entirely sure what game makers typically use for their opponent ai, but on the cutting edge of ai research in general, all of the algorithms I've looked at can benefit from having multiple processors (especially any type of algorithm which uses a population of candidates who all have to try out the task be
                • by crossmr ( 957846 )
                  We can talk about what might be theoretically possible, but we have practical experience to tell us that that won't happen. Inefficient is the key here. The impression I got from what was said in the article wasn't that dedicating a core just to the AI would solve the problem. It seems like it will be fundamentally more difficult to write the AI in the first place. We know that publishers don't typically want to make difficult games. I was perhaps harsh in saying the cell processor has no place, but its pl
                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by Morphine007 ( 207082 )

                    funny... I write my ai code in C... game developers usually use whatever they're coding their games in... I still don't see how poor handling of branch prediction* (or no handling of it at all) is going to have any effect on whether or not a coder can code in an ai using a language that completely and utterly abstracts that low level crap away? There's a difference between not being able to easily code something, and not having your code run in quite the optimized way that it used to. The former simply isn'

                    • by crossmr ( 957846 )
                      As I said, I don't pretend to understand the nitty gritty, but if he says its bad, and knowing what I've seen from big publishers, I don't see it coming to a good conclusion.

                      I'm not sure how approachable he is, and he's currently working on Spore, but you could try getting in contact with him if you're interested in more details on why he feels this way:
                      http://www.d6.com/users/checker/ [d6.com]
                      He's left an e-mail address on that page.
                    • he really only talks about the gameplay code... code that throws a lot of exceptions... ai code is generally a lot smoother. I mean, stuff like neural nets and genetic algorithms would be absolutely fine on these things... but anything coded like an expert system would potentially suffer from performance issues. He says that that kind of code will run 1/3 to 1/10th it's "normal" speed on an out-of-order processor. But this code is normally vying for processor time in between context switches... and who real
                    • by doug363 ( 256267 )
                      By "exceptions" he means exceptional (i.e. special) cases. There's tons of that stuff in AI and gameplay code. Games generally don't use neural nets or GAs or fuzzy logic or anything... it's all expert systems, min-max, pathfinding with heuristics, etc. The most important thing for game AI is not that it actually learns well (or at all), it's that it doesn't do blatantly stupid things. Game AI code tries to detect all the special cases so this doesn't happen. You can't guarantee that stupidity won't happen
          • Think about it. You've got an average of 6 processors to play with. Part of what makes AI for gaming so crappy right now is that it must all be stream-lined for a real-time system that shares processing time with graphics, sound, physics, etc. Look at the PC. What allowed us to create more realistic environments? The graphics accelerator (basically an additional processor).

            It may not happen right away, but dedicating a processor or two to artificial intelligence will undoubtedly lead to gameplay that

    • This is really a new thing - far from discouraging homebrew hacking on their system, Sony is making it possible to install a full-blown Linux system on *launch day*.

      Rumors of the PS2 Linux kit circulated before the PS2 release and I think they may have even been confirmed before launch day. It took a while for the kit to come out, but come out it did - and it had the same flaw THIS kit does, which is to say a lack of graphics support.

      In other words, this is not really a credible attempt to deliver Li

      • Would you care to reference somewhere that states you can't access the graphics with PS2 Linux? It seemed to run OpenGL just fine to me. By default you didn't have direct access to the graphics hardware, but you weren't forced to just use a frame buffer like you currently are with the PS3; however, I'm sure Nvidia with fix that.
        • Sorry, it's the DVD drive you couldn't use at all. You can use the graphics hardware in a crippled fashion using OpenGL as you say. So far the PS3 has neither, although perhaps you can use the optical drive, certainly I haven't read anywhere that you can't.
  • It's nice that Sony will let us run Linux, but I highly doubt the graphic chip will ever work on Linux. It's simple, without a graphic chips it impossible to use Linux to play pirated games. That's generally the biggest opposition to opening up a platform is piracy issues. That's why the Xbox 360 is locked down unlike any other machine.
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:56PM (#16885936) Homepage Journal
      It's simple, without a graphic chips it impossible to use Linux to play pirated games.

      With out the graphics chip it is impossible to run any good games in Linux.

      If Sony opened up the graphics chip then people could create games without Sony's okay.

      On a bright note it opens up the critter to emulators :)
      MAME PS/3 anyone?
      When it calms down and the price drops I might get one.
      • It's simple, without a graphic chips it impossible to use Linux to play pirated games.

        It would be impossible anyway. The only advantage you'd have is using that Linux to try to bootstrap a pirated game, but since they were obviously lying about the PS3 including Linux on the hard drive when it ships, no PS3 game is going to be written to run under Linux -- they'll all be running on the bare metal.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Graphics Chip will never work

      You're forgetting one rather important little point: Kutaragi (and also one other top Sony guy whose name I forget) both said that they want to encourage amateur games development on the console, and to foster a culture of community development for it.

      That doesn't mean that the graphics chips will be programmable directly of course, but it does mean that the graphics subsystem will be made available at least through an API. Since the PS3 uses OpenGL ES and Collada, it's easy t
    • by adam31 ( 817930 )
      It's nice that Sony will let us run Linux, but I highly doubt the graphic chip will ever work on Linux

      A lot of people highly doubted that Sony was serious about this Linux thing, and here it is on launch day. It's likely that Sony hasn't had time to write graphics chip drivers yet since they've been busy with... other things. For console devs they probably just provided bare-metal access and moved on.

      From the looks of it, Sony built support for non-game OS from the very beginning, and most of the wor

  • I thought Yellow Dog was supplying linux for the ps3. Whats going on?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by brunascle ( 994197 )
      they are. Yellow Dog seems to be the only distro branding it as "linux for the PS3" but it sounds like you can use pretty much any PowerPC version.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    PlayStation 3....

    Linux... Good!
    Sony... Bad!

    but but... which is greater...?
    *head explodes*
  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:59PM (#16885984)
    Install Linux, install Myth, plugin a Haupage WinTV USB device - the PS3 becomes a PVR, plays DiVX etc. Or install MAME, UAE, Virtual Boy, SheepShaver, QEMU, Bochs and you have a pretty decent console / arcade gaming rig. Might even be able to play those SNES / N64 titles before they turn up on the Wii...
    • by bcmm ( 768152 )
      That's actually a really good idea. This is already designed to fit under the TV while including a DVD drive, be silent, use TV-out, etc. MythTV on it would rule.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ClamIAm ( 926466 )
      Unfortunately, there's no driver for the graphics card. If one never surfaces, just hope and pray that you can somehow wrangle those SPEs into doing all that video decoding.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DrXym ( 126579 )
        I have no idea what the refresh rate & characteristics are the display buffer, but it should possible to offload codecs, zip/bzip2 compression and even parts of Mesa (shaders, transformations, etc.) onto the SPEs. The net result would be a system which while not stellar should be able to put out reasonable 3D and video performance.

        I expect a whole cottage industry will spring up to add functionality to the various libs that does just that.

  • by RichardMarks ( 1011125 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:59PM (#16885988)
    To get a glimpse of what you have to look forward to when you install Linux on your PS3:

    http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/power/cell/d ocs_documentation.html [ibm.com]

    Best option is getting the $499 20gig model and buying a 100+ gig drive to upgrade the machine. The PS3 will partition the disk for you right from a menu and then you just follow the instructions they give you for the distro of your choice. People who just got their machines this morning already have things going and are posting pictures and results.

    There is a full set of all the normal Linux dev tools that you get with any distro but there also is the Cell devkit - which you can get right now to check out although you won't be able to run anything of course.

    Cell programming is incredibly cool...

    • by a16 ( 783096 )

      Any chance of any links to these pictures and results, I for one would be interested.
    • Why can't you run anything with the IBM Cell devkit?

      This thing has obvious potential for HPC.
    • Unless you're concerned about things like wireless networking or being able to use SD, CF and Memory Stick cards.
      • You can get an external WiFi adapter or simply hook into the gigabit Ethernet included on all PS3's (and if you were running Linux, wouldn't that be more desirable anyway?)

        As for the CF/SD issue, just buy an external USB reader (or use the one you have already)- it mounts mass storage you know. Sheesh!
  • But does it run NetBSD?
    If not, hopefully someone can port it.
    If BSD can run on a toaster, surely it can run on the "most powerfull games machine ever created" (or so says sony PR)
    • I know nothing about BSD tbh, but it can't be that difficult. You got all the code you need, so basically an experienced BSD hacker should be able to add support within BSD in a rather short time.
  • Gentoo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gentoofu ( 1028702 )
    I wonder how long it would take to install Gentoo and the stuff on it...
  • let me guess this is going to be as great as the ps2 linux kit. remember that thing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CronoCloud ( 590650 )
      Of course I remember the PS2 Linux kit, I have one.

      This is different, it requires no additional hardware, is free, and is available at launch.

    • by DrXym ( 126579 )
      The PS2 Linux kit was perfectly okay, it was just by the time you added the cost of the hd, network adapter, keyboard, mouse and OS onto cost of the PS2 you were left with something that wasn't good for much and certainly far less capable than a PC.

      The PS3 doesn't require you buy anything extra, or even use a specially "blessed" version of Linux. Just plug in any USB mouse and keyboard, burn any Linux for PS3 onto CD and install. I expect that Fedora, Ubuntu, YDL and specialist Myth / Mame Linuces will ap

  • didn't yellowdoglinux say they'd be supporting ps3?
  • This is awesome! If I ever do get a PS3, this will be THE reason.

  • Can anyone run Java on it? This would be a great opportunity to showcase the 'run-anywhere' aspect of it. Once the source is released (AFAIK it's only been announced not released) I'm sure that the community could come up with some wicked optimizations even if it is just dedicating one core to garbage collection and another for analyizing for runtime optimizations.
  • Most all hardware is supported except for graphics accelerator support (framebuffer only, up to 1920x1200)
    ... it comes gimped right out of the box.
  • Linux on PS3 cool, but we knew it was comming. Nice to see sony release it so early though.

    What I am really waiting for is Amiga OS4 [hyperion-e...inment.biz]

    As Hyperion state in feature 12 [hyperion-e...inment.biz] of their 20 features of OS4
    "It would be eminently suitable for - and relatively trivial to port to - the STI Cell processor used in the Playstation 3"

    Please Hyperion, it's going to be a lot cheaper for Amiga enthusiasts that shelling out for A1 based systems [eyetech.co.uk]

    Maybe a widespread plea from slashdotters would convince them hint hint

  • ...Most all hardware is supported except for graphics accelerator support (framebuffer only, up to 1920x1200).
    So what GPU is in the PS3? Is it a Nvidia or an ATI product? How many days will it take to get a driver for it?

  • This could be a HUGE opportunity for linux. I mean all PS3 will have the same hardware, some one could create a fast lean stripped down distro specifically complied for the PS3 hardware. It wouldn't be hard to make a distro that "Just worked" as you know exactly what hardware everyone will have. The user will not have to install any drivers or install linux to find out their network card is unsupported. Think Millions of people will have this linux compatable computer sitting in their living room. Create a

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