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PS3 Linux

Sony, IBM, and Toshiba have ported Linux to the Cell processor. IBM’s developerWorks has published a detailed article about the port. Sony’s Kutaragi has said that the PS3’s HDD will come with Linux installed. That way the PS3 will be recognized as a computer. I think that’s for red tape purposes getting machines across borders, if I remember correctly.

Back to Linux. I don’t like it. It’s too much like Unix. I’ve had to use Linux, and develop on Linux, and it was not a pleasant experience. Linux is antagonistic to people named Henning. Just installing software is often a chore. One of the few things I liked about using Linux is WindowMaker. WindowMaker mimics NextSTEP, the OS developed by Steve Jobs, bought by Apple, and morphed into Mac OS X. Too bad I came home with bruises and lacerations on the day I installed it.

That said, if you don’t try anything fancy Linux can be tolerable. And just for the geekiness factor I think it would be cool to give PS3 Linux a try. I hope when the time comes it’ll have been improved since the last time I used it. Since my PS3 will be hooked up to my HDTV, when I download a trailer for a game or movie, I’ll be able to watch it nicely on my home theater instead of on my 19″ monitor. I’ll also… um… well… there must be something else Linux is good for. But I’m drawing a blank.

I just hope it runs WindowMaker. – Cell Linux port heads for mainstream kernel tree


  1. What distributions have you used?

  2. I’ve used RedHat Linux, AIX, Solaris, and HPUX.

  3. Joe Richards

    When exactly was your bad experience? I tried Linux years ago and couldn’t see the point either. What makes it so damn sexy is that anything can be changed, and everythinbg is totally flexible. It’s like having an old car whose engine parts are all open and ready to play with. Adding stuff doesn’t require you to wait for someone to bring out some expensive software to do exactly what you want, usually it’s just a matter of setting the existing parts up to suit your needs.

    Windowmaker smells of pre-1999 dealings, and frankly, getting and installing software on using APT makes anything else (OS X, Windows) look positively archaic.

    Choose the software, click install, watch it (and the pieces it depends on) download, and install, a few questions later you’re good to go. It knows which bits are required by which software, and will only remove them when the last piece of software that depends on them is removed. So no screwups, spyware, adware, popups, virusses, or any other BS that stops you getting your thing done.

    Most of the time when I bring my laptop running Ubuntu GNU/Linux near anyone who is used to Windows or OS X they end up saying “wow that looks cool, how can I do that????”

    If you want to see what modern GNU/Linux systems look like (there is actually a choice of desktops and looks) take a look at these sites:

    If you’re wondering which flavour of Linux to try first – I would recommend Ubuntu. It’s based on Debian so it has all the APT beauty, and it’s easy to use – in my opinion easier than Windows.

  4. whats wrong with unix? dude what are you talkin about linux can do anything that the other major os’s can do, and it can do some things better (well alot actually). sure there may be a learning curve but you had to learn windows right and most modern distro’s of linux are quite user friendly some too userfriendly with a gui and mimic windows\osx rather well. if you would like to test linux check out mandriva, fedora, or slackware they are very easy to setup and use. if you dont want to install it on your comp try one of the live cd distros: knoppix, austrumi, or puppy all very userfriendly and run off of a cd so you wont nuke your windows install.

    btw linux on the ps3 can only be a good thing( tons of software development could be done and many progs will likely be ported over with little effort which means more choices which is always good. the only real concern is that sony will likely try to lock it down in true sony corp fashion.

  5. Even today I have to occasionally use AIX, Linux Intel/PPC, Solaris, and HPUX for my job, and it’s always a pain. Things don’t work they way I expect. Finding out how to do things you want to do is a chore. I have build problems on AIX I can’t solve. X-Windows just plain sucks. And Unix’s famed “stability” is no big deal either. I rarely need to reboot my Windows XP machine at work. It runs without a flaw.

    I used to use Gnome a lot (but this was several years ago) and nothing was ever where I thought it would be. I’d have to hunt around to find things I needed. Sometimes they were in two places. Text looked aweful. I’m sure that lots of these things are fixed now, but why should I bother? Hardly any of the software I want to run is available for Linux anyway.

    And while I agree that Linux on PS3 would ba good thing, I’d much prefer OS X, a flavour of Unix I can actually live with.

  6. Brandon

    I hate to be “that Linux guy” but I would have to agree with some of these other guys. I tried Slackware 9 a couple years ago and wanted to shoot myself. It was exactly like you said. But most modern distributions are actually very nice and surprisingly user friend for people who have tried older distros. I use Red Hat’s free Fedora Core system now and love it. It is an “RPM based” system which basically just means that installing software is simply a matter of downloading the file and double clicking. Fedora Core also includes most of Red Hat’s graphic configuration tools which means that you can configure pretty much everything through a nice GUI front-end, like control panels in Windows. If you gave Fedora a try, you might be surprised. Most modern distros also use version 2.6 of the kernel which, in my experience, does an incredible job of multitasking and is VERY responsive, like OS X is compared to Windows.

    And you can’t really judge Linux based on experiences with *nix systems in a work environment. I use Linux and AIX at work but usually the systems are older systems that haven’t been upgraded for the sake of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and if you are logging on remotely from a terminal, you are sort of stuck mucking through the command line.

  7. Nothing wrong with being “that Linux guy”.

    One of my best friends is a Unix diehard, but still get along fine. 🙂

  8. That red tape thing is exactly the stuff I’d have to pull to get a console. My dad’s an anti-gamer, and the only reason I have a decent graphics card is because my uncle gave it to me. I really wouldn’t get any console that I couldn’t just transfer my PC HDD to and go anyway, though. I don’t want to have multiple machines. I want, and will hold out ’till I get a full purpose, flexible, awesomely powerful, and intuitevely structured machine. I may end up starting my own company and making my own in ten years. If that’s what it takes, so be it.

  9. I think the fact that linux is so flexible will make it the best operating system to use for the ps3. Linux(Unix) is much more stable than Windows for one and I don’t think sony would just rebuild a normal existing version of linux and throw it on the ps3. I remember back when I used Red Hat there was an update program that would automatically download and install all the updates for the system. If anything they would re-design the gui and make it much more user friendly, or at least, thats what I would do.

  10. For me it all hinges on ease of use. Mac OS X does a good job of hiding its Unix origins. And I like that. If Sony want to make Linux for the PS3 popular, then ease of use is #1.

  11. I used to use Windows a lot (but this was several years ago) and nothing was ever where I thought it would be. I’d have to hunt around to find things I needed. Sometimes they were in two places. Text looked aweful. I’m sure that lots of these things are fixed now, but why should I bother? Hardly any of the software I want to run is available for Windows anyway.

  12. Uh, okay.

  13. Brandon

    So what OS did he used to use before that Windows threw him off so much?

    Anyway, I also hope that the version of Linux on PS3 is user friendly (with so many user friendly distros available, it had better be) but even if it weren’t, I don’t think any programmer in their right mind could resist the opportunity to program on what is essentially an 8 core processor running at 3.2 GHz. I have a feeling the price tag is going to hurt though.

  14. He was just parroting my post complaining about Linux.

    Kutaragi has hinted that the OS would be included on the HDD.

  15. Brandon

    I meant for the PS3 in general. People say it will be pricey but how pricey is pricey, you know? Given its specs and features (mainly that it will run Linux and includes development libraries,) I think I would buy it regardless but I can’t imagine it really taking off if people couldn’t pick up a base system for less than $400 or so.

    And speaking of PS3. Since it is supposed to be backward compatible with PS2 and PSX games, has anyone mentioned how old memory cards could be attached to the new system? There doesn’t appear to be any port for it.

  16. No, that’s the problem. The Xbox 360 suffers the same problem. What good is backwards compatibility if you can’t port your saves as well? Hopefully someone will create a memory card -> USB adapter.

  17. Sproggg

    3 words for copying gamesaves from memory card to USB flashdisk:
    Action Replay Max

    THAT was easy, no?

  18. Sounds like a good idea. But the reviews on the Amazon website don’t sound promising.

  19. Brandon

    Hadn’t thought of that. The currently available version of AR Max for PS2 lets you copy between memory cards and USB flash drives and if PS3 supports USB devices, you should be able to copy your USB drive backups to the PS3 hard drive.

    So what doesn’t sound promising?

    And getting back to the topic of this blog post, has there been any word on whether PS3 Linux will be based on any particular distribution or what version of the kernel is will use? I know the PS2 Linux kit was a pretty “bare bones” distro and used a pretty outdated kernel (2.2 when 2.6 was already out.)

  20. If you have tried any current release of linux you would be so suprised how far it has come. It runs flawlessly and all devices are recognized instantly and without a hitch. If you use a distro such as ubuntu you don’t ever even need to touch a terminal. You don’t even need a terminal to install 90percent of programs. do some research. Linux could be made perfect for ps3 with the right touch.

  21. I have seen nothing to indicate what distro the PS3 will use. However, IBM, Sony, and Toshiba have announced dev tools for the Cell processor, including a distro of Linux. I betcha that’s the same one. Gotta look that up… 🙂 Gosh, it’s the subject of this article!

  22. i think that PS3 will run a specially built version of linux. since a keyboard won’t be included i’d imagine user-friendliness is top priority. should be pretty good as i’d imagine it’d be using openGL as well. this might mean a port or two from PS3 -> x86_64 linux. here’s hoping.

  23. Hello,
    While I respect your opinions about Linux, I have to say that they don’t seem to be very objective. The fact is, Linux has many useful purposes. Some of these purpose are surfing the web, e-mail, IM using yahoo, msn, ICQ, etc., watch DVDs and listen to music, do home work/ job work using available office suites like, host internet and other network services using some of the most respected software available, and much more. The one thing that I can complain about when it comes to Linux is its lack of good games, but being how we are talking about Linux on a PS3 this factor is completely eliminated IMO. I do hope to see a Windows port on Xbox360, and if Linux on PS3 and Nintendo Revolution takes off we likely will, but to say that Linux is only usfull for “watching game and movie trailers” is false, and to make it look like a $300-$400 super computer that runs Linux is a bad thing is crap.

  24. If your experiences with Linux have been good, then more power to ya. But I’ve found that for me, every time I have to use Linux for anything it’s a painful experience.

  25. Great idea! I use Linux on my PC, it is great OS, great idea, great people. Since I’ve heard about linux on PS3 I’m considering buying PS 3.

  26. Whoa .. using Linux as an OS is way better than some buggy hacked up Windows-crap \o/

  27. Hi… I can pretty much understand that linux is not interesting for everybody. Either you are a computer enthusiast, then linux wont be so much of a pain, or you want an easy to use machine, then windows will be the choice. Either way linux on the ps3 is definitely making the thing interesting. I myself consider buying the ps3 just because of the linux on it / capability of running it with linux. And for the linux discussion, it’s true packet management has become better. I use Debian on my machine and the apt-get is wonderful. And other distros are picking the issue of packet management up as well. Never had problems with my machine. In my opinion too, linux is a cool thing and made computers a lot more fascinating.

  28. someone said that ps3 will not have a keyboard, well it has usb ports and u can connect one to it. u can even connect printers, a mouse, cd/dvd burners. btw ps3 is awesome!!! it’s as good as a 3000 dollar cpu with all the stuff in it and its like a computer/tivo(dvr)/videogame console/dvd player(1080p) and comes with component cables and a built in wireless adapter for online play. and btw, everyone who says that linux isn’t user-friendly, its cuz linux used to be that way, but the recent OSs of linux are a lot more user-friendly, even more than windows. lot of people just think that it’s hard to learn cuz they have probably been using windows their whole life and are used to it. so ps3 is better than almost any pc and on top, it has all the other stuff. if you wanted to make a pc as powerful as ps3, it will cost atleast $3000. btw, ps3 is 128-bit and the linux OS will support it. you could even transfer files from a windows pc onto ps3 using an ethernet cable or a usb or online and watch videos, listen to music and everything on ps3. also, since ps3 has 2 outputs, you could watch ur recorded shows from ps3 on one tv and play games on one. plus, the graphics are awesome!!! some people say that ps3 is too expensive but if u have one, u dont need a pc, a dvd player, or a dvr and even if it was just a console, it’s still worth howmuch it’s gonna cost – probably $500

  29. Using Linux is very easy, certainly no harder than Windows or OS/X. The difficulty is in the installation and configuration. I presume Sony will include an embedded version which will come pre-installed and will require (or allow) little or no user configuration and will automagically update itself off the Internet. Such a system will be mush easier to use than a Windows PC with it’s requirements to install drivers, security updates, anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and updates etc.
    If the PS3 came with an email client, Firefox browser, OpenOffice Office suite, a F-spot photo album management program, GIMP image editing software, Audacity audio editing software, Kbear FTP client, and chat and IM clients, a video/DVD/Bluray players, and a Tivo style video recorder, CUPS/kprinter (print system), SANE (scanner), mp3/ogg players, RDP, VNC, and NX remote desktop clients etc – then I would happily dump my home PC for a PS3 for $500 since these are all I need to do on a PC. Add a Bluray player, and Tivo style functions and games, and you have a real bargain.

  30. A TiVo style recorder would require some kind of hardware add-on to hold a TV tuner.

    I can’t really imagine what I’d use Linux on the PS3 for, except for MAME. I have a PC that I use all my PC-like functions for.

  31. fred flinstone

    u can get USB tv-tuners the size of thumb-drives now that can even do HD. problem solved.

    IMO linux is good for specific tasks, windows is good for all-round. some linux distros seem a lot easier to potter around on than windows..

    atleast it solves one linux problem- games!

  32. Penguin champion

    Hey hey. Listen people I started using linux in 97, and i intially had trouble with it. Then I did something incredible, i read the documentation that came with it. I found it no harder to learn then a commodore 64, an apple IIc, MS DOS, Win 3.1, Mac OS 7.0, or Windows 95 (which xp is still basically the same as). You need to learn the functionality of any new software whether it’s cad or controls for a video game. As I learned linux more everyday i would see another thing that windows constricted me on. Now I don’t have a windows box in my house, though I constantly do things here for windows machines at work. Windows is easy to you because you have gotten through your learning curve as the product developed. If you had been a mac guy you would say windows was a pain. Windowmaker wouldn’t be my first pick for a desktop, yet i have alot of faith in sony’s choices. Remember when shipping with a movie dvd player seemed a controversy on the ps2. Approach this hardware with an open mind, it may just turn out to be your computer of choice.

  33. It all depends on the flavor you first tried out I guess. I got my start in Linux with Knoppix, and I absolutely loved it.

    I would DIE on some GNOME RPM-based system, but Kubuntu is like home to me. KDE’s array of programs is great, because of the unified interfaces.

  34. Real programmers use UNIX/Linux, full stop.

    Every competent programmer I’ve ever met who has tried programming under UNIX/Linux uses UNIX/Linux full time. Including me — and I used to be a die-hard Visual C++ fan.

    Working on a Windows computer now feels like doing woodwork using my sister’s tools, as opposed to the fully stocked workshop I have at home in the form of my Linux system.

  35. There is a learning curve for Linux, but that’s due to most users basically being raised on Windows.

    You know what I was taught in sixth grade computer class? QBASIC. Talk about useless. (Yes, it may be considered a worthwhile introduction to programming, but read on…) And then in high school I took some totally worthless “learn to use Windows 98” CD course (basically stuff that anyone who has used Windows for more than a week should know).

    So, why not teach kids in school how to use a UNIX console? The majority of the issues with the difficulty in running a Linux OS would be solved that way. And for those users who would never end up using Linux, you can’t tell me that learning QBASIC would be more useful than, say shell scripting.

    So, politics aside, I’m glad Linux will be shipping with the PS3. I know how to use it just fine. (note that I use BSD, because it seems a bit faster/more stable than Linux. I’m sure that I’ll be able to set up NetBSD on the new system, if I so desire.)

  36. Leon: them’s fightin’ words!

  37. I too find it funny when people mention Linux and just talk about the desktop GUI, tsk, tsk.

    My Netgear ADSL router runs linux. Doesn’t mean it’s running a distro.

  38. faethor

    Just scrolling through your comments gives me a certain strong smell of FUD, you probably picked out the names of whatever unix variants you’ve quoted by trawling Google to gain a struggling tech credential, one I may point out you slaughtered with your initial blog posting.
    I work with enterprise HP-UX & Red Hat Linux systems daily, then use Fedora & Debian at home.

    HP-UX… unpredictable, how is running a command or creating/running a ksh script or using SAM unpredictable?… that also goes for any unix variant, just read the man pages.

    ..prefer OSX style of unix… do you mean BSD?

    …installing software is hard… use the package manager instead then, they all have one.

    …Hardly any of the software I want to run is available for Linux anyway….. use the package manager!

    PS3 is unlikley to package a ‘distro’ as such chaps, it’ll be an embedded style Linux, you know, bare bones Cell prossessor kernel with the essentials for the X server, media formats, network, DRM, no compiler, automounting, USB support, etc.etc…. and a custom spanky front end.

  39. You can believe what want, though I don’t appreciate you calling me a liar. I’ve used Linux, and for several months (not just a one-off) and I didn’t like it. Face it – not everybody likes Linux.

  40. Wow.. Faerthor just gave linux users a bad name.

    Henning, if you don’t like Linux that’s grand. I can understand your reservations: I use SuSe and I find that even with YaST2, installing things I download is difficult, as there’s no function to download the packages it’s missing if it needs them. So even RPMs aren’t perfect, although in the absence of a user-friendly alternative to installing, I’ll stick with them.
    I’ve trawled the net looking for a jargon-free guide to using make/install, but I still don’t get it. That’s ultimately the problem with Linux, although as a user I still defend that it’s the best OS on moral principal and usability: During development of a new “User-Friendly” distro, the programmer comes to a stage where he says “Of course the user knows how to write shell scripts, even my grandmother could do shell scripts”, and from there it’s just like the rest.
    Having looked at Ubuntu, I’m going to try installing it to try it out. Although I do a bit of Java, I’m not looking for a development platform, I’m looking for a home computer.
    And that’s why I’m looking forward to the PS3: Inclusion of Linux on a major gaming platform may mean that games producers write for the Linux distro installed on the PS3 rather than directly on the PS3 firmware, and that is a springboard for useability: Once there are games for Linux, people will start considering it more, and incentives for programmers to write friendly frontends will hopefully lead to better Linux.
    So yea, Linux on the PS3 should be a great boon.

  41. Well, when the PS3 comes out, I’ll be taking another look. Here’s a link you guys might find interesting:

    Kawanishi Talks Homebrew Linux PS3 Development

  42. BTW – PS3 wont be running Linux as the base OS. Linux will be running on top of Cell OS, as an operating system (according to Kawanishi in the article). Linux is great too. Those who think it is difficult to setup/install haven’t tried Ubuntu.
    Personally, I don’t use it cuz I prefer KDE to Gnome, so Kubuntu would be my obvious choice.

  43. Linux is a great, general purpose OS. Stability is rock solid. Linux is the sole reason XP is anywhere near as stable as it is today. Those that say Linux is not stable either don’t know what they are talking about or had broken hardware. Those that say X stinks are truly confused as to the state of technology. Simply stated, even as old as X is, Microsoft still doesn’t have a technology which can even come close. Most importantly, it’s always important to remember X is a protocol! Most people that complain about X have no idea what they are even talking about; only parroting what they heard some other zealot repeating.

    The other factor to consider is Linux is not Windows. Period. Contrary to popular myth, Windows is not “intuitive”. Time and time again, case studies have always shown this to be true. The problem with Linux is people with a Windows bias (background) come to Linux and wonder why it doesn’t work like Windows. The reason, the user failed to adjust their perception and assume it should work like Windows. If you can let go of your Windows bagage, Linux can be a wonderful desktop experience.

    One of the best things about Linux, if you’re a tech head, is most distributions come with what would cost some (very low-ball figure) $10,000+ dollars worth of software; that is, if you were to get the same functionality with Windows. Linux’s best attribute is it’s a programmer’s delight. And this is the reason Sony has been talking about including it as an OS. That is, it opens the door for an active developer’s community while providing a rich user experience. Keep in mind, most (all??) PS2 games were developed on Linux. The developer kit for PS2 includes a hard drive, pre-installed with Linux.

    Long story short, if you can let go of your internal voice which says, “This doesn’t work like Windows”, then you can easily enjoy a Linux desktop. If you can’t, then you probably won’t be happy. In the final analysis, remmeber, this is a game console; anything beyond gaming is gravy! 😉 You can enjoy it not. It’s up to you.

  44. Oh…lastly, Cell is the CPU not an OS. Linux runs directory on top of the CELL CPU. This means it has access to all of the multivector pipelines. The toolset is freely available from IBM.

  45. Six years must have seen many many improvements to Linux, then.

    I’ve used Windows 3.0/3.1/95/98/NT/XP, DOS, BeOS, Mac OS 6-9, Mac OS X, and several Unix’s. And I used to use Linux all the time about six years ago. And it was frustrating! Similar functionalities were in totally different places. It was hard to find what I wanted. The GUI was unpolished – something only a mother could love. Installing software was a pain. (Oh, this package requires this other package. Install that. Oh – it requires these other packages – install those. Gaaaa!) Saying that I’m coming from a Windows mindset and I just have to change how I think just isn’t enough. I picked up BeOS easily enough. Mac OS 9 easily enough. Mac OS X easily enough. But the fact that Linux was built by a bunch of programmers only interested in their own little corner of the universe, without an over-arching vision, was clear and simple to see. Linux was a hodgepodge of ideas all smacked together, and I make no apologies in claiming this. That’s how I felt at the time when I was using it, and nobody can tell me my experience wasn’t frustrating. It was. And you can’t tell me it was because of my Windows mindset either – I’ve used plenty of systems, and none were as annoying as Linux.

    Of course, there have been six years worth of Linux development since then, so I’ll have to see what Linux is like on my PS3 when I get it. But six years isn’t that long when it comes to designing an operating system, and I can’t imagine that all my frustrations have been fixed.

  46. “Six years must have seen many many improvements to Linux, then.”

    “…and several Unix’s.”
    Most unixes seem harsh compared to a moderm Linux install; including most modern Unix installations.

    “And I used to use Linux all the time about six years ago. And it was frustrating!”
    I don’t know what capacity you used Linux, but even six years ago, Linux was easier and more polished than many available Unix systems. Like most things to consider, the devil is in the details. 😉 Accordingly, I can’t offer a blanket statement that you will be happy with Linux today. This is because there still exists a user base to which I still would not recommend Linux. On the other hand, there exist a llarge user base to which I would.

    “The GUI was unpolished – something only a mother could love.”
    Even six years ago, there were many options. Some were primative yet functional. Others were pretty and powerful. I would hazzard a guess you have something like fvwm or fvwm95. Both are light yet functional. Niether of which come anywhere near a poor reflection of what a typical Linux desktop looks like today. In fact, today, Linux has enough flash to *easily* ohh and awe Windows users. If you’re an OS/X user, you can still find enough flash with Linux to at least hold your interest. Simply stated, comparing the modern Linux desktop with a desktop 6-years past is link comparing XP or OS/X with Win3.1. It’s simply not a fair comparison. Please adjust your expectations accordingly. 😉

    “Installing software was a pain.”
    These days, installing software is easier on Linux than it is for Windows; while I’m making some distribution assumptions. In fact, these days, installing Linux is easier than installing Windows. This of course, assumes you don’t have crappy, low-end hardware, which tends to be low-end junk, yet functional, “centric” to Windows. For example, one Mandrake I can type, “urpmi x”, and x and all dependants are automatically downloaded and installed. For Redhat, “yum x” and the same happens. For Debian, “apt-get x” and it’s downloaded and installed; including dependants. So-on and so on. Easy as pie. Seriously, unless you’re using odd-ball software, it’s easier than Windows. And yes, GUI tools to do the like also exist if you’re command line shy.

    “But the fact that Linux was built by a bunch of programmers only interested in their own little corner of the universe”
    First and foremost, Linux was built by programmers for programmers. This hasn’t been true for some five of six years now and it’s been polished since then. These days, corporations have spent both time and money to adjust this for a much wider audience. If you’re expectations have not been adjusted, then they are no long accurate to say the least. Having said that, I still do not think Linux is ready for every user. It is, however, ready for many, many categories of users. Most of the computer industry agrees. In a nut shell, are you an AOL user? If the answer is no, then Linux should not be ruled out.

    “inux was a hodgepodge of ideas all smacked together”
    Like it or not, that’s Unix not Linux. That’s why Linux/Unix is so much more powerful than Windows. At the same time, with power comes complexity. You can hide much of the complexity (ala OS/X), but don’t for a second believe this is a negative.

    “I’ll have to see what Linux is like on my PS3 when I get it.”
    Don’t get me wrong, Linux on PS3 may be a wonderful thing. Then again, Sony is fully capible of screwing it up completely. I too am very interested to see what they offer as a Linux solution.

    “But six years isn’t that long when it comes to designing an operating system”
    Actually it is. Linux is pretty much the fastest moving OS of any general purpose OS available. From a Linux perspective, 6 years is eternal. You need to remember, many libraries and/or applications are considered dated only after months. While others advance at a slightly slower pace. As for the OS its self, even MS is having a hard time keeping up with Linux. Bluntly stated, the Linux kernel offers far more capability than XP does to this date and has for years now. Yes, there are still some rough spots, but it’s seriously doubtful you’d even know abou such features or have a need. Heck, Redhat alone, in six years has had three or four major releases plus many minor update releases. Each major release always constitutes significant growth and evolution of Linux. Again, this is RedHat alone…this ignores Suse, Mandrake, Debian, etc….etc…etc…

    So, please have an open mind (it sounds like you do) and let go of past frustration. As with most new releases of anything, I’m sure there are new frustrations to discover (linux or otherwise). So, let’s sit back and see what Sony does do…who knows, maybe they’ll actually do something right.

  47. Very interesting Greg. When I get my PS3, I’ll definitely be checking out Linux. I wonder what window manager it will include? Which do you currently prefer? I’ve use KDE and Gnome and WindowMaker in the past. Each have their strengths and weeknesses.

  48. OK, if your view of Linux is 6 years old, no wonder you’re getting flamed up and down. Unlike WIndows, Linux has changed a lot in the last 6 years. 6 years ago, the Linux desktop was about as mature as Windows 2. Imagine someone saying they’ve used Windows and hated it, but then it turns out their opinion is based on their usage of Windows 2!

    Red Hat Linux 8 (2002) was the first good-looking GNOME desktop. In fact I changed my theme on Fedora Core 5 (2006) from the new default back to bluecurve (the theme that debued with RH8).

    I’ve been using Linux for 8 years and went through my share of dependency hell. But I’d say in the last 3 years or so, usability has increased by several orders of magnitude. When they got yum working right in Fedora Core 3 or 4, dependency hell was reduced significantly.

    I will admit though, that if your application isn’t in their yum repository, things get tough.

  49. Meh, i like debain – purely for the dependancy problem.
    My fav Dist is gentoo, but i tend to find myself using ubuntu the most as the useability is top notch, especially dapper drake. 100% grade A dependancy free (currently the only OS to fully support my laptop out of the box :D)

  50. Very interesting debate – makes me wanna share my transition from windows to linux.

    Being over 30 I grew up back in the days when people were fighting over Amiga and Atari – end eventually Windows 95. Back then I was on the Amiga side as I found the Amiga OS the most flexible. Everything could be hacked, twead and manipulated – if you know how.

    This flexibility is exactly the same thing that I like about Linux and that Windows lack. I guess what I’m trying to say is, that if you like to customize your work environment then Linux is your best choice. Not two linux desktops are the same – I for one havent seen two linux users with the exact same desktop. On the other side there is all my windows friends – all they ever change is there wallpaper…

    But the feature I like the best with KDE is the multiple protocol implemented in the file I/O. This means that _any_ kde program which uses the KDE file manager will allow the user to access a file through SFTP, SMB (samba), FTP and ofcurse the local drive 🙂
    No need to install a 3’rd party (S)FTP program to first download the file, edit it and then upload it again.
    And now you can even mount remote SFTP addresses as local drives using LUFS – and it’s free. I saw a similar function for windows made by some 3’rd pary – and it was rather expensive compared to the 0$ fee on linux.

    So stop dreaming about a world with cheap OS prices and inexpensive software – because it is all ready here and it’s yours for free.

    Join the Linux revolution and leave the sinking boat (Windows) behind.

    And if you like 3D on linux, then download this live CD and fasten your seatbelt cuz it is gonna knock your socks off.

    Fedora has a similar project called aiglx – which will turn the existing X desktop into a fully viable openGL desktop. Windows is no way near this level of flexibility when it comes to desktop environments.

    And to top it all off there is the elusive lookingglass project by sun

    again light years ahead of Bill Gates wildest dream…

    And it all costs 0$

  51. “I’ve use KDE and Gnome and WindowMaker in the past.”

    I’m actually running Mandrake 2006 (64-bit edition) right now. I’m using a stock KDE desktop; with focus following mouse (once you get used to it, everything else is slow, cumbersome and tedious). I normally run gnome. Both are pretty good.

    Having said that, both KDE and Gnome are actually desktop environments and not window managers. The default WM for gnome is metacity. I forget what the default for KDE is. I forget because I’m not running it.

    At any rate, the latest version of E is actually pretty nice. While E is actually a window manager, it’s rich enough to fall somewhere between a window manager and a complete desktop environment.

    As I use Linux for work, I don’t customize anywhere near as much as I did years ago. The first Linux kernel I ran was 0.6.7 (the latest is 2.6.17); so tweaking and customization isn’t what gets me out of the bed anymore. 😉 I am a programmer, system administrator and network administrator. With the sole exception of a few games, I exclusively use Linux as my desktop (both home and work). I enjoy playing NWN ( and AAO ( on Linux. Many other games I enjoy on Linux include Wesnoth (, freeciv (, and Scortched3D (, Alien Arena. Then again, these days I don’t have the kind of time to play like I did when I was younger. Nonetheless, if PS3 becomes a programmers platform, expect many of these games to be available for it too. BTW, check out the links, many of those games are available for Windows too.

    As Morton pointed out, these days Linux has many, many, many features available while Windows users can only dream about. Right now, the only thing stacked in Windows’ corner is drivers (32-bit; Linux has far, far more for 64-bit), games, and the fact that it’s the defacto standard.

    If you are curious, there are a number of distributions which offer “live cds.” This means you can simply pop the CD in, boot of it and test drive it. Do keep in mind that when running on CD, everything is slow because the drive is much slower than a hard drive. Nonetheless, you can still get a decent test drive. Some of them, assuming you have an nvidia video card, even come with some nice 3d games to play too. So, if you’re feeling bored, download and give it a try. You might just be pleasantly surprised. Best of all, if you have questions or want help, feel free to check out one of a billion IRC channels for the specific distribution and/or application to which you have questions.

  52. Hmm. Six years ago I was using Windows 2000. That’s not much different than Windows XP, really. Why should I expect Linux to have changed that much more drastically? Maybe it has, and that’s why I say I’ll check it out on the PS3!

  53. “Six years ago I was using Windows 2000. That’s not much different than Windows XP, really. Why should I expect Linux to have changed that much more drastically?”

    Because unlike Microsoft, the people involved with Linux are interested in innovation and improving the state of the art. Contrary to popular myth, Microsoft has never innovated. In fact, I dare you to name three technologies MS has innovated. Microsoft stinks as a technology company. They have some of the woest technology available. Having said that, they are one of the most effective marketing companies in the history of man, fueled by their unethetical and obvious illegal practices. Basic economics dictate the best product is not what wins. Thus Microsoft continues to do so with a combination of anti-competetive behaviors (which continue today), lobbiests (one of the most active), good-ol-boy politics (the way most big business functions), and backroom payoffs (were never able to prove).

    Having said all that, despite your statement that little has changed between Win2000 and XP, nothing could be father from the truth. Simply stated, Linux has cost Microsoft big time and vast internal changes were required to keep Microsoft from losing significant mind and market share. As a result, XP now offers a firewall, stability has vastly increased. Of course, performance has actually gone down since Win2000 is almost every category which matters, but Microsoft hides that behind newer hardware improvements.

    Long story short, you can play the doubter’s game or you can go download any of a dozen live CDs available and give them atest drive. It’s up to you. As I clearly spelled out before, if and when Sony does something with Linux does not mean it will be representative of what Linux really offers. Sony has a long track record of royally screwing up a sure thing. Again, as I said before, we’ll see if Sony can actually do something right.

  54. Maybe I should say that little that affects me has changed between Win 2000 and XP. I don’t use XP’s new skinning feature, so my XP looks much like 2000. It operates much like 2000, and I have to say that it doesn’t seem any more or less stable. Win 2000 and XP have both been VERY stable for me. I use my own firewall, so XP’s firewall utility actually annoys me.

    Oh – I believe you about Microsoft. Just because I use Windows every day at work doesn’t mean I want to! As a matter of fact, I just bought a new laptop, and it’s my first Unix based machine ever – it’s a MacBook.

  55. spinnaker

    People are different. My friend, great programmer, hates Linux ’cause he wiped bootmanager
    out while installing it. I love Linux, aspecially Arch, but I still use Windows for webdesign graphics. I have also PowerBook. I love it. Apple’s desktop solutions are copied by Windows Vista or Novell’s XGL technology for Linux. If only it was cheaper and more GNU…

    I think PS3 Linux won’t be a full featured Linux distribution, more like Windows Media Center. Easy to use and non Open Source.

  56. ipn1nj4

    Linux has changed quite a bit and has improved in many respects. Its still not for everyone unfortunately.

  57. Joe Rolles

    Linux is the best OS actually available. Period.
    I use it all the time. Thank you Linus Torvald ! Thank you man !

  58. so … anybody heard about a distro that will work on ps3 ???
    … and what about pixel shader on linux … any distro that support that ?!?

  59. Tretzet

    Linux as a Unix clone has 1 potential flaw in it: It’s an OS designed for engineers!!! It was not designed for a home user.

    You want examples, well you have the worst directory structure never conceived. Yes, you could hide it simply using KDE, Gnome, etc. but sooner or later you will have to deal with it.

    Maybe, there by the 2234, somebody will take care of this and then, yes, could be a serious competitor of Windows EOTWE (End Of The World Edition).

  60. spinnaker Says:

    May 31st, 2006 at 6:47 am
    …I think PS3 Linux won’t be a full featured Linux distribution, more like Windows Media Center. Easy to use and non Open Source.

    Non open source? …

  61. MaxRocket

    My first real experience with linux was about a year ago when I set up Gentoo on my homebuilt pentium4. Even with an intimate knowledge of the hardware it took me about a week (evenings after work) to read and understand all the documentation and configure the kernel the way I wanted it. Ultimately I switched back to Windows b/c there was no support for my onboard sound (or plug-and-play) and I didnt have money for a sound card. THEN I realized it would take about 5 hours of heavy cpu time to pull and uncompress 8 gigs of archived data (.rar from CDs) that only took 10 minutes under Gentoo with the same hardware! Conclusion: if there was a distro preconfigured for PS3 hardware (and every ps3 had the same hardware) i would probably never need m$ again. And I think anybody else who bought a PS3 would also find windows obsolete. From here to Japan that would make a LOT of users lose their faith in Windows. As far as Mac is concerned “proprietary” is a word I never liked.

  62. Well I love my new MacBook! It’s easy to use, but has the power of Unix underneath.

  63. The IBM developer Linux Cell emulator, (RedHat) is mainly for writing code that uses the SPEs, which I think is what Linux on the PS3 will be all about.

    The Linux desktop will only be running on the single core PPC chip, so you’d be better off with an old MAC G5.

    If you want a power box, waiting for a port to the triple core XBOX 360 would be a better option.

    The Linux power tools that would be useful would be command line ones for networking, configuring and monitoring your online experience. Who needs the overhead of a GUI for this sort of work anyway.

    Back in ’84 I used to use a Colour Sun workstation with a standard PARC WIMP interface, and I used the icons as drag and drop filters and elements for my applications. All menus were popup using the third right button, and the mouse was a proper Marcel Wein design, optical on a small gridded pad that could be used for tracing, and the correct combination allowed Z axis rotation. The screens were all 19 to 21 inches, so pull down menus would have meant a loss of productivity time in excessive mouse travel.
    I still find a modern Windows or MAC system to be a poor semi functional less productive and slower implementation.

    In an enterprise situation, one of the main advantages of UNIX/Linux is the cron table and the shell, which allows the power user to automate all repetative tasks. This doesn’t sell hardware, licenses or employ more staff, but it saves the enterprise a lot of money.
    The added advantage of Open Source is that no matter what the advances are in the OS or system libraries, one can recompile older programs to run on the new system.

    For those of you who like Window Maker may I suggest the hackable Live Linux CD from

  64. ****! I really want this this to come out already. For 599.99 I am going to have one killer flipping desktop!

    When the Playstation 3 comes out, I’ll be pitching my Athlon. I would easily pay $5000 for Playstation 3 and not regret a single cent of it.
    I’m sure that soon after the release of PS3, packages are going to start poring into the Gentoo project and I will have all the software that I need. Screw Sony’s PS3 Linux.

    **** man, I will be able to do the most rediculous **** with this thing. I’ll be able to encide audio several, if not hundreds of times faster than the optical drive can read the disc! Do you realize the oppurtunity Sony has given us all with the fantastc hardware?

    I bet i could transcode 4 hours of video from MPEG4 to Divx in 2 **** minutes! Too bad I wont be able to write to the disc fast enough to get that performance.
    PS3 is my next desktop…

    [Henning: thanks for the comment, but I’ve edited out the bad language.]

  65. Just wanted to say that my computer illiterate little sister installed Linux on her laoptop by herself from a CD I sent her half a year ago and she still uses it.. Alot has changed since the dark ’90s my friend.
    That was ubuntu, and the only help she got was downloading EasyUbuntu and Automatix.
    Now if sony sets it up properly it could be a pretty good desktop, look at OSX, it’s unix and works pretty good don’t it?

  66. before switching operating systems remember to do your homework. i did and i went from using windows to using freebsd. what people don’t understand is that there is a huge difference between unix/linux and windows. of course its not going to work the same but that doesn’t mean its hard. that just means the obvious….its different.

  67. From what i have heard, you can run Yellow Dog (ew) with enlightenment DR17, which is known for some nice eye candy.

    To top this off, I’m sure with the correct drivers and such you could run XGL which would make one killer desktop especially if you can manually set what processes hit what processor.

    For instance, run XGL w/4 virtual desktops, and on each desktop run a vmware instance on a different processor. There may be memory constraints to this, but the point is that you *can* have different os’s running on top of linux if need be.

    just my couple cents

  68. wow, what a long lived thread…

    AIX, RH7-ish, HPUX… you cannot compair these to a modern “desktop” linux distro like FC or ubuntu. it’s like saying “oh I used windows 3.1, it was so hard to use, had to edit all these text files, man windows is so useless”. Linux really has come a long way, in some ways even furthur than OSX seeing as some things that come with OSX started life on Linux (“windows networking” for one major one, no, it’s not based on samba, it IS samba).

    Sony won’t ever release a linux distro for PS3, and they don’t need to. the perfect fit seems to me to be Xubuntu with the xfce desktop which is GTK based and so not ugly like CDE, runs comfortably in 128Meg ram (cold boot to desktop with genric kernel including offical nvidia drivers is under 80Meg ram used), and debian based so there is a metric-fsck-ton of ppc apps already compiled and waiting.

  69. “Back to Linux. I don’t like it. It’s too much like Unix. I’ve had to use Linux, and develop on Linux, and it was not a pleasant experience.”

    You’re entitled to your opinion.

    “Just installing software is often a chore. ”

    As stated earlier:
    Mandrake/Mandriva urpmi
    Gentoo emerge
    Debian/(*)ubuntu apt-get install
    Redhat yum ????

    “That said, if you don’t try anything fancy Linux can be tolerable.”

    I don’t know I run a dns, mail, http, ssh server all on my computer and host several .com/.us sites from here. I’d say that’s pretty fancy. Something that would cost me $100 for a dedicated server only costs me $10 for a static ip, and whatever electricity I consume.

    I have access to 100% of my files 100% of the time anywhere in the world with an internet connection, and putty/winscp installed. Cost $0.

    I can surf the web, check my email, shut down my gui convert video to just about anything, and the best part is its free.

    I don’t have to run a virus scanner, because most of the viruses for linux are not active.

    “I’ll also… um… well… there must be something else Linux is good for. But I’m drawing a blank.”

    Linux is *really good* at saving you money.

    I don’t want to complain about windows maker, but there are better desktop environments out there. Like KDE, and GNOME. Of course I might try it again next week, and decide I like it. The times I have tried it I didn’t really like it either.

    Going back to windows is difficult. There are so many things that I have set up just so in linux that are impossible in windows. Like the ‘focus follows mouse’ feature in KDE. ALT+Left-Click any anywhere on the window and I can move it. Right click any window and make it “on top” The list goes on.

    There are so many little things that do exist in linux that don’t exist in windows a simple ps -Al gives me a list of running processes that I can easily ps -Al > process.txt and email/print process.txt.

    I guess I shouldn’t get so defensive about my os. I was searching for information on PS3 linux, and this site was #2.

    I thought it would be some information on the ps3 having linux, but it really was a blog about 1 guy who tried linux, and didn’t like it.

    Bottom line Linux is a free OS.

    *** Erm grabs his tinfoil hat.

    There isn’t any ‘keep tabs on the customer’ code like IE has. *It logs every url you visit, and you can’t delete them by normal means.* Outlook keeps a copy of every email you send. Windows Media Player logs every song you listen to. M$ Word Files are fsked up too. From what I understand you can ctrl+z to see what the author was typing before they actually typed it all – I could be miss informed –

    If all this “spy ware” exists inside M$ products what’s inside the kernel?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if M$ has a files list on 90% of it’s users.

    M$ has gone into small countries and basically said if you don’t pass this law, we’ll pull our tech jobs from your country.

    There are more reasons to run Linux than just the price. Freedom and big brother come to mind.


  70. Bullfinch

    Why dont someone start a ps3 distribution?

    I´ll start one once i get home from my vacation in the US

  71. Yeah alot of linux distros now port with tools that alow for software to be installed wth more ease than in windows or MacOs. I recomend that you try running Freespire; the interface once you make some changes is beutifull and there is a tool called CNR which stands fo Click ‘N’ Run that downloads, installs and configures software on its own plus the OS install is desinged for N008Z.

  72. vista vs linux (the 3d experience):

    sadly i purchased vista and hated it (nothing works well and awful slow its like going back to win 95 but a bit prettier…), so now am a full time Ubuntu linux user and love it (didnt know linux got so good).

    if a picture is worth a thousand words, a vid is worth a million ??

    vista didn’t steal ideas from Mac ??

    anyway did you purchase a playstation 3 yet ??

    how was your ps3 experience ?

    here’s a vid on linux on the play 3 doing cool stuff (more can be searchable there are dozens of em)

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