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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.]