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Yellow Dog Linux is PS3’s White Knight? |

So it’s official. Yellow Dog Linux will be available for the PS3 at the PS3’s launch. Details are a little bit sketchy, because we don’t know it it’ll be freely downloadable or if you’ll have to pay. But either way, Linux is coming to the PS3.

It’s strange to see such an open operating system being made available for the PS3, when Sony has been trying to hobbly any creative use of their PSP handheld gaming system. Linux for the PS3 would allow for the PS3 the exact kind of thing Sony has been trying to prevent on the PSP. Of course, that hasn’t stopped people from finding back doors to allow homebrew applications to run on the PSP. Frankly, I think that Sony should give up this effort and make the PSP an open platform, like the PS3 looks to be.

What will this open platform do for the PS3? Personally, I think that it could make a huge difference to the PS3’s success. Imagine running MythTV on your PS3 – wouldn’t that be cool? It’s doable as long as USB 2.0 is fast enough to act as a conduit for a TV signal from a tuner device. Which it is. The only problem, of course, is that you can’t be recording a TV show while playing a video game, because you’ll have to reboot the machine into the native OS to play the video game.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Sony has basically invited the world to come to the PS3 and write applications for it. When Ken Kutaragi said that the PS3 will be a PC, people mocked him saying “Ha! Will I be able to run a spreadsheet on it?”. Well, yes, yes you can! Linux has a lot of applications that will be recompiled for running on the PS3. This will invite a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have chosen a PS3 to buy one. In the short term, this might be a problem for Sony because they lose money on every console sold and there’s no guarantee that these people will also buy games (the moneymaker). But Sony has a history of quickly going from making a loss on their consoles to making a profit. So I don’t think it’ll be too long before the PS3’s sales will add to Sony’s bottom line instead of subtracting from it. And I think that lots of those will be because of Linux.

PlayStation 3 to run Yellow Dog Linux

[Edit: more on Yellow Dog Linux for the PS3 from Ars.]

  • Darrin

    There’s a good article about Yellow Dog on PS3 at

    “YDL 5.0 will ship with 2 DVDs for $49.95” and will quickly be avaiable for free download.

    Supporting a full-blown Linux OS like this is awesome. However, I really wish they added more RAM. 256MB is much smaller than even budget PCs. Other than the RAM, the PS3 has everything to be a full fledged PC. That is really cool to get the capability of a full blown Linux PC with a PS3. That’s huge!

    “Linux for the PS3 would allow for the PS3 the exact kind of thing Sony has been trying to prevent on the PSP”

    Sony has been a strong proponent of hobbyist development for a while. They’ve actively supported hobbyist development on PS1 (Net Yarouze) and PS2 (linux). On PSP, they support hobbyist developed Flash titles (and realistically, Flash is the biggest platform for hobbyist game developers).

    There is a lot of press about Sony actively preventing other PSP homebrew which I don’t fully understand. Sure, the overwhelming majority of PSP “homebrew” is ported emulators or other copyright infringing software, but why can’t Sony provide some kind of controlled hobbyist dev environment? I’m sure they have a reason that I just don’t know about.

  • The PS3 has 256MB of “regular” RAM and 256MB of video RAM, but AFAIK, both can be used for video, and both can be used as regular.

  • ehandlr

    I’ll prepare to purchase My Yellow Dog PS3 version of Norton… but this is good news indeed.

  • I’m very excited to see what linux will be like on the PS3. 2 DVD’s worth for the Linux OS …. wow, that will take a huge chunk of the 60 GB HD.

  • With Linux there are typically lots of extras that you don’t need to install.

  • Tom

    Just as a bit of additional info I came across- it appears as though YDL is completely separate from the XMB- it’s just an application the XMB links to; you also can’t run something you made on Linux via on option on the XMB. The reason behind this is to prevent a bad app on Linux completely messing up the rest of your PS3, which seems reasonable to me. BTW, YDL has apparently being optomised to run with:
    – kernel 2.6.16
    – gcc 3.4.4 and glibc 2.4
    – Cell SDK 1.1 (part of what PS3 developers use to create games)
    – 2.0.2
    – FireFox 1.5.0 and Thunderbird 1.5.0
    – Nautilus 2.1.4
    … and a suite of Personal Accessories, Development Tools; Sound & Video, Internet, and Networking applications.

  • What I dont understand yet is, why they dont use GCC4… Ok, its not yet mandatory for a major part of software (Linux is quiet good at backwards compatibility), but I’d like to see some upgrades sometime. Maybe a PSUbuntu. That would ROCK (I really learned Linux from Ubuntu, but started with SuSE (I mean, as a German, I need to support them, right?)).

    And, to show some comparisons. Debian ships on 15 CDs, or 2 DVDs (sarge, the unstable version is again much bigger). My usual Linux installation is about 2-3GB (except games, which are on a different partition) and I can do everything I need!!

    And MythTV will ROCK! I mean, Pinnacle already released an HDTV USB 2.0 stick (DVB-S2) which is not yet supported in Linux, but is sure to come.


  • TommyGun090

    I’m don’t know anything about linux. What is it and what does it allow you to do? I just don’t know.

  • Linux is an operating system, like Windows of Mac OS X.

    It’s meant really for those that want a lot more flexibility and don’t mind a few rough edges. (My opinion only.) Personally, I don’t like it. I think that both Windows and Mac OS X are both much better as far as user experience goes.