Sony is to remove the option for PlayStation 3 owners to install their own choice of operating system. The feature had already been cut from the new “slim” model but will be removed from older machines as well on Thursday when a new firmware update is released.
At first glance, it might seem baffling that anyone would want to install Linux on a games console. However, doing so not only meant effectively accessing computer features at a comparatively low price, but it allowed people to make use of a 128-bit processor with six usable cores, which is a set-up you aren’t going to find on a home PC.
Harnessing this power had been a key part of some high-power processing work, including a demonstration that the encryption algorithm at the heart of the Secure Socket Layer system used for secure websites was no longer unassailable.
Sony has said the move is due to “security concerns” but has not elaborated further. Given the timing, it may well be a response to a hacker’s claims in January that he had found a way to access the machine without restriction and run pirated games. The wording of Sony’s announcement gives the impression it’s come under pressure from games manufacturers to shut down a possible route to piracy.
Technically, it’s not mandatory to install the new firmware update. Few would choose that option, though, as it would mean losing access to online gaming; some games, Blu-ray movies and streamed content would also stop working.
For those who have added another operating system, you’ll need to backup any data stored on the relevant partition of the hard drive as it will be wiped out by the update.