Removing “Install Other OS” Will Hurt The Sony Playstation 3

There is a certain amount of Geek DNA that was required to run Linux on the PS3 from the start. Over time that changed and guides and easy installers were made to take advantage of “Install OtherOS” and it became much easier to do so. The problem now is that the geek community is like the NRA: number wise very small in comparison to who they lobby against, but extremely vocal. That segment of users were some of the ones touting the PS3 in forums, fan boy circles, and online. So that segment now feels betrayed, hence the reason why the lack of SACD support didn’t generate such shockwaves in the community.

The addition of Divx/Facebook at this point are enhancements, but they don’t really differentiate Sony from anyone else operating in the console space. They are simply things that have become common place. Linux access to the Cell, although very restricted and controlled was a powerful option. It gave that core group something that they were more than happy to generate free publicity about, and that group did buy hardware, and fell in love with the console.

Given the statement of what you lose if you don’t upgrade (i.e. PSN access) it gives the impression that by wishing to retain your Linux access, you are somehow doing something you should not. Akin to 360 users being banned from Live for playing pirated games. Not the same by any means, but again, it’s that perception amongst many that is being circulated, and while not entirely accurate, it casts Sony in a negative light.

It is true that as a whole Linux has not been a significant revenue driver for Sony’s Playstation brand. Modifying the GameOS required modifying the OtherOS to ensure compatibility between the two, and that when you have to segment resources to support something the majority aren’t using, it makes sense at some point to discontinue it. Couple that with George Hotz gaining some serious ground very quickly, one can see why Sony is taking a move like this. Right now, in the next generation Sony has the longest streak of being the console that is not compromised. But look at what this has caused. Previously, George Hotz was not going to do anything more than release his exploit according to his own blog, and then let everyone play in his sandbox. Now he is behind creating custom firmware to maintain the OtherOS feature, the very thing Sony doesn’t want. If everyone gets behind this, and views the OtherOS as a martyr (which is happening) it’s going to do nothing but force piracy as a backlash. Or at the very least find more exploits that previously might not have known.

The other problem is that not only does this feature removal come so suddenly, so swiftly and the most inopportune time given Sony’s amazing buzz. Sony is leading PS3 sales in Japan, analysts predict the PS3 is going to sell more than all other consoles, people were excited about the Playstation Move, and now Sony is being viewed as the evil company who takes away features. Along with that there is nothing to replace it. If Sony wanted do a little, give and take, the perfect idea would be one thing: Divx 7 certification. True it would support mkv, and there is a strong reason why Sony would not want to do that. However, many other vendors are starting to do it as well, and the PS3 would be the only console to support it. That would get many in the geek community, the vocal ones, behind Sony again.

The Playstation Blog is quite the interactive community, filled with many people who are frank and open. Sony engages their users more than I think anyone else does, via chat’s, message postings etc. PlayStation.Blog Share is a great initiative, which formally allows anyone to submit their best ideas on how Sony can improve all PlayStation products. It’s also a place where you can discover and vote on other people’s ideas, as well as communicate with us and other PlayStation fans about how to bring great ideas to life. Those 100′s of people who post comments, are your town herald. Why not engage them, why not mention what is going to go away and solicit responses on what should replace it, is it Divx 7, is it Boxee support, is it a better flash experience and the restoration of real Hulu support?

If that isn’t good enough, look at the top requested items on Share – Cross Game Voice Chat, Software Emulation for PS2 games, Auto-Syncing Trophies. Take things a step forward by creating a timetable for when these features will be added (if possible).

All eyes are on Sony now, and they have a real opportunity to do something here and spin this to their advantage, but will they?

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30
Mar 2010
POSTED BY Allen Tyson
DISCUSSION 26 Comments
  • mornelithe

    Sorry Allen, people can be all up in arms about this as much as they want. But, it's folks like Mr GeoHot himself, that brought this on. It sucks that Linux won't be usable anymore, but (and I own a fat 60g) I don't blame Sony. It wasn't Sony using Linux to find exploits in the PS3, was it? And let it be a lesson to the future also, don't go playing around with Sony's gizmo, or face the very real possibility that you may in fact, cause the removal of a feature that's been available since launch. In which case, people should hunt you down and tear you limb from limb (a brief pause to stare blankly at Mr Geohot).

  • http://twitter.com/st0rmbr1nger MarkG

    Meh, the only people shouting and ranting are the handful of people that used it, and an Army of clueless idiots being lead into battle by Microsoft shills.

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  • nemesit

    it's ppl like you mornelithe that should be teared apart. you should learn that sony is bad (remember the rootkit they installed on quite some pc's for security reasons and such) if you believe removing advertised features (that by the way made the ps3 export cheaper as it was exported as a pc and not a console) is ok then you seriously got no brain in your head.

  • nemesit

    it's ppl like you mornelithe that should be teared apart. you should learn that sony is bad (remember the rootkit they installed on quite some pc's for security reasons and such) if you believe removing advertised features (that by the way made the ps3 export cheaper as it was exported as a pc and not a console) is ok then you seriously got no brain in your head.

  • The_Seventh_Taylor

    The comparison the author makes between removal of SACD Support and the withdrawal of Other OS Support is very flawed: Sony removed SACD from *new models* introduced at lower price points late 2007. The OS analogy here is the introduction earlier this year of the PS3 Slim which lacked the option to install another OS. The installed base of consoles was left unaffected then, and there was very little outcry.

    Now Sony retroactively almost forces the other OS out of the devices already owned by consumers. That's a very different thing that hasn't happened with SACD playback or PS2 compatibility: users who install v3.21 will still have or lack these features depending on what they bought originally.

    If that changes with future system software updates there will very likely be another uproar (and I suppose class action lawsuits too).

  • lol, what

    …In what way?

    If anything, people should be holding this guy responsible for what he did.

  • evorlet

    Meh.. The other OS feature isnt that useful unless you are a super nerd.
    Im tech savvy. I installed it, i played around with it, I got the dualshock to sync. I couldnt get he internet to work properly. It was ok… but most people already have a computer.

    when people are going to buy a ps3, they arent really looking for linux system

  • don

    If geohot didnt post someone else will. That still would not have resolved the problem. Its like saying if we chop this guy hand off for stealing no one will steal right , well wrong again. The death penalty doesnt stop people from stealing cheating and killing. I know its a extreme situation but that how it is in the real world.

  • http://www.digitalgod.co.uk/ DigitalGod

    I use otherOS to drive the console as a server come mediacentre when not playing games, allowing playback of formats and access to data that would otherwise be not allowed on the native PS3 partition.

    The PS3 had a flaw, Geohot found it, but it hasn't been exploited, and Sony doing this will not stop it being exploited. You can't stop something purely because there is a chance it can be hacked, otherwise, as the old arguement go, you could arrest all women for potentially being prostitutes. It doesn't add up. Sony have approached this from the completely wrong angle, a symptom they are renowned for, and all it will do is result in lost PS3 owners. I wanted a console I can play games on, and can be a server come mediacentre. I have lost that, and Sony will have lost a customer, in all aspects, games and blu-ray sales.

    I'm sure in business terms they think its worth that risk, but they have alienated a small percentage of their user base, in a move that would be considered pushing the boundaries of legality around sales of goods act (in the UK). I'll stick to video streaming in future and the M$ console, at least that is getting better and better. Goodbye Sony.

  • name

    so its fine to remove a feature WE PAID FOR?
    how would you feel if you paid 1K for a item on release than a few years later they removed a feature that you regularly use?
    i paid to use linux on release, so dam in hell im going to get it!
    if not sony owe me my 1000 bucks back!

  • name

    apology for being so caustic, but $ony have really, really, REALLY! pissed me off with this.
    i use linux on my ps3 every day to do my OS2 assignments and homework since my lappy does not agree with linux.

    im taking my 60GB back to sony style where i bought it and demanding a refund, and if they refuse its off to the courts we go!
    i rang them today and gave them a ear full, what help that was!
    last time i checked it is illegal to advertise and sell a product with a particular feature than remove it!
    i thought that was false advertising!
    i thought that was illegal, o, yeah, sorry its $ony were talking about, sorry i forgot their above the law!
    whats next?
    removing WIFI!

  • http://twitter.com/raidroid Erkan

    What's meaning this?

    http://www.twitpic.com/1ch9wq

  • http://www.moneyclaimonline.go.uk/ Andy

    Already suing them for the cost of a second PS3, to retain my online access. Its easy to do in the UK, and only costs £25. I paid for both online access, and other OS, they can't just make me chooses between them. What next, an update to remove the web browser, or the ability to play blu ray films? No, they are wrong, and I will win my case (About £300, the cost of a second PS3, on which I will apply the update)

  • http://www.moneyclaimonline.gov.uk/ Andy

    Wrong. I paid for the feature, I want it. Is it your opinion that Sony can remove any feature they choose? Just because you may consider this a minor feature, that does not make it any different from removing the ability to play games or play DVD's. They will pay may small claims court claim. I urge others to also sue for the cost of a second PS3. It only costs £25, and all you need to do is fill in a simple form explaining what they have done (Making you choose between Other OS or The ability to play games online, both features that have been paid for)

    • Anonymous

      Actually, it’s not opinion, it’s fact. If you read the EULA, they retain that right. You bought the product, and you agreed to the EULA. Complain as much as you like, but you bought into their system, you bought into their way of doing things. George Hotz ruined something for everyone, and now you’re up in arms because Sony’s utilizing the power they have under the EULA agreement, to attempt to curttail piracy, and cheating which is now rearing it’s ugly head on the PS3, because of that access?

      And yeah, for people complaining about paying X for repairs…seriously, you’re going to take…Sony, to court, over a miniscule amount of money. On your own…yes, I’m sure that won’t hit your finances in the slightest. Have fun with that. The one bright side, is that most of the people who have a problem with paying a pittance of a repair bill, are kids, and are no real threat in actual legal circles.

  • mrQ

    haha sony are idiots this will just cause the hackers to go into over drive.
    Im still runing 3.15 and i and i can play online and sign into the store still why because of the proxy server lol

  • Outsider_Looking_In

    Good article. The one thing it failed to mention is that it is not possible to run pirated games via the Other OS hack. What is so special about the hack, is that it gives hackers the ability to view the inner workings of the PS3. From this knowledge, a proper hack will be developed that can run on all consoles.

    So, when a way is discovered to run homebrew on the PS3 (and it will happen), people will not need the Other OS feature to do so. Hence, Sony removing this feature does precisely nothing to improve security. Hackers have access to it, and they will not upgrade. Once they've learnt all they need to know, even they will not need Other OS access.

    All in all, a very puzzling update from Sony. They'll eventually realise it was a mistake. For the moment, I believe they honestly think they're doing the right thing. It's a shame they've generated so much community ill will though.

  • Ah-kin

    Everyone who want to stop Sony from doing more damage to us loyal customer…. This will not only effect minorities but instead majority's PS3 user. Become member of a group on Facebook, where we can put a fight before we give up! Your are doing youself and we other a favour. On this group you can discus about our thought about this bullshit and also I and other would be happy if you spread the word of this group, to your friend or ppl you know are upset about Sony removing the Other OS feature.

    This might become something you don't care but let me say this at least…. You might make Sony think they can do what the hell they want, since there is not enough fuzz about it and than who know maybe they make us pay for playing online!

    Here is the link

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=108458319
    mf

  • some guy

    What funny is nobody give a shit about running Linux on a ps3. Unless their are effected personally. For example pc games and DRMS, most Consul gamers did not care. Since most of Sony customers are just gamers they will not care about loosing this feature. Unless Sony tried to make people pay for online then they would care, but that not likely to happen.

    The main reason I don't like Sony corps is because they took away backwards compatibility. I almost decided to get one in-till they did that. Now though I just hate blue Ray disc so it Ultimately does not matter to me anymore.

    I say if you want to run Linux get a computer. But if you must Hat PS3 Hate it for the no backwards compatibility issue with ps1 and ps2 games. I'm fixing on getting a ps2 I will be happy with that.

  • disappointed

    The problem I see with removing Other OS
    1) Deceit – used as a carrot stick to sell PS3s early on
    2) Trust – I paid for a feature set that can be removed at anytime; comply or loose PSN access.
    3) Collective punishment – removing a feature due to one person's experiment
    4) Weak reasoning – evil hacker's will always find a way to wrongdoing. Just because you don't know about it doesn't mean is not happening. Well, now is public and a workaround available quickly

    The right thing to do is to apologize and put the feature back. At the very least provide a discount coupon to everyone who had Other OS and registered the PS3 — you have the serial numbers

  • Kahndale

    I am an programmer and loved my ps3 because they allowed us to use the hardware that we bought with other software that we get to choose. The other guys wont, this update was done in an attempt to stop piracy. Funny this is the kind of thing that incites piracy of a system. Here is the good part, the community that Sony has made mad are the ones that could and will crack the ps3 and start burning the games when blu-ray burners drop in price. Not a very smart thing to do. Plus to the guy who said many people have a pc in there home, many people do not have a computer of this caliber in their home at all. The PS3 Cell processor will run circles around the Intel i7, the only limiting factor would be ram amounts for the system. The power of the system was proven when an MIT instructor calculated PI in record time. I kind of wonder if that had anything to do with this also. Many of us that have the other os installed are using it like it was meant to be we like the extended multimedia features and being able to move files to any pc or device in the house. I never under stood the instant gratification of an executives decision to be rid of something because the new thing were trying to push is better. the question many consumers should be asking and not just to Sony but to other companies as well is “what was wrong with the first version that it needed to be changed?” Decisions like this one many many times backfire in the companies own face look at the Dreamcast !!!! Sony is just becoming the new Sega in my opinion. Do I need to go into Laser disk and the psp????

  • Kahndale

    I am an programmer and loved my ps3 because they allowed us to use the hardware that we bought with other software that we get to choose. The other guys wont, this update was done in an attempt to stop piracy. Funny this is the kind of thing that incites piracy of a system. Here is the good part, the community that Sony has made mad are the ones that could and will crack the ps3 and start burning the games when blu-ray burners drop in price. Not a very smart thing to do. Plus to the guy who said many people have a pc in there home, many people do not have a computer of this caliber in their home at all. The PS3 Cell processor will run circles around the Intel i7, the only limiting factor would be ram amounts for the system. The power of the system was proven when an MIT instructor calculated PI in record time. I kind of wonder if that had anything to do with this also. Many of us that have the other os installed are using it like it was meant to be we like the extended multimedia features and being able to move files to any pc or device in the house. I never under stood the instant gratification of an executives decision to be rid of something because the new thing were trying to push is better. the question many consumers should be asking and not just to Sony but to other companies as well is “what was wrong with the first version that it needed to be changed?” Decisions like this one many many times backfire in the companies own face look at the Dreamcast !!!! Sony is just becoming the new Sega in my opinion. Do I need to go into Laser disk and the psp????

  • http://twitter.com/Moshalas Gareth Prentice

    And so removing OtherOS has hurt the PS3 very badly. For the PS3 is now completely hacked and its only a matter of time before torrents of Angry Birds and other new games appear on the Internet

  • Bry4nfury

    Angry birds?… well in retrospect this post was predicting the future. Sony lost all of its user data and the ps3 is open as never before… if they had ignored hotz back then and kept otherOs… probably the ps3 and psn would still be secure

  • Bry4nfury

    Angry birds?… well in retrospect this post was predicting the future. Sony lost all of its user data and the ps3 is open as never before… if they had ignored hotz back then and kept otherOs… probably the ps3 and psn would still be secure