Open Source

Sony's removal of Linux support from PS3 upset gamers and the USAF

Sony pulled Linux support from the PS3, upsetting gamers enough that there's a class action lawsuit filed, but it also screwed up some high-profile projects, including one run by the U.S. Air Force.

Ever since Sony made the decision to no longer support Linux with the "Other OS" feature in the new PS3 line, gamers have voiced their frustration. In April, Sony went a step further in angering consumers by announcing that the v3.21 PS3 firmware update would disable the Other OS option completely.

Now, a class-action lawsuit has been launched on behalf of consumers who feel that the removal of the featured functionality that, in fact, made them choose the Sony product over others, represents a breach of the "covenant of good faith and fair dealing" the Sony made with consumers.

More recently, some of the rippling side-effects of Sony's decision are making the news, one of which involves the United States Air Force, of all things. Ars Technica reports that Sony's firmware update messes with a research project that the Air Force set up:

The Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New York picked up 336 PS3 systems in 2009 and built itself a 53 teraFLOP processing cluster. Once completed as a proof of concept, Air Force researchers then scaled up by a factor of six and went in search of 2,200 more consoles (later scaled back to 1,700). The $663,000 contract was awarded on January 6, 2010, to a small company called Fixstars that could provide 1,700 160GB PS3 systems to the government.

While it sounds a little odd at first, at least the USAF was actually trying to save some money, no small matter to U.S. taxpayers these days. Each unit was imaged to run Linux, resulting in a 500 TeraFLOPS Heterogeneous Cluster before the Linux install option was removed. Since the cluster is not hooked into the PlayStation Network, it doesn't need the firmware update, but if units need to be added, repaired or refurbished, Sony's firmware update would make it unusable for the project. There are other academic projects around the country, including one at MIT, that face the same problem.

Credit: USAF

Do you think these other considerations will put more pressure on Sony either to come up with a compromise or eventually change the firmware update? Or will the gamer-anger and class action lawsuit be enough to drive Sony to do some damage control? This company has certainly been on a roll in the PR department, what with the whole copy-protection/root kit scandal of 2005.

Speaking of teraflops, petabytes, and other big stuff...

Okay, that's a bad segue, but I just wanted to follow up on the Ceph filesystem that I wrote a post about a couple of weeks ago. The latest Linux kernel release 2.6.34 came out with Ceph included, along with another filesystem — LogFS, a scalable flash filesystem with a focus on large devices such as solid state drives (SSD) and other flash memory-based devices.

From the Ceph Project page:

Linux v2.6.34, which includes the Ceph kernel client, has been released! This is an exciting milestone for us, and we're pretty happy with the stability of the client code that made it into this release. This should make it easier for people to experiment with Ceph and see how it holds up on a wide variety of systems.

Of course, they also note that it is still experimental and not ready for production environments.

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Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

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