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Linux for PS3

© October 2006 Anthony Lawrence


Is it really news when Terrasoft announces that it will be supplying Linux for the PS3?

I mean, sheesh, you can't even buy a PS3 yet. On the other hand..

Is this going to be the road by which the insidious penguin infiltrates the households of god-fearing folk who otherwise would have nothing to do with anything not blessed by Saint Bill himself? Will it be the children who innocently and unknowingly introduce this scourge?

Did I say scourge? Excuse me, it's that darn Microsoft Mind Control widget that I accidentally downloaded while doing some research at their site. I thought I had gotten rid of it, but no, those warm "I love Bill" feelings keep welling up. Hold on, I'll switch over to a secure VMWare machine..

Ahh, that's better. And this really is cool beans (or whatever the kids are saying now). It's good for the 'rents:

"Well, Johnny, it's either a computer or a gaming console - you can't have both. What? The PS3 is both? Well.."

and of course it's good for the kiddies (except the Microsoft Kids).

Apparently the distro will be based on Fedora Core 5 and will be de-fanged, civilized, homogenized and tamed so as not to frighten anyone:

A simple installer enables absolutely anyone to install without instruction. Post-install, the default suite of applications presents an intuitive, self-guided means of exploring Linux without the confusion of multiple applications in the same family. An Advanced installer mode enables selection from greater than fifteen hundred packages, as is expected from a complete Linux distribution.

It's supposed to be using the Enlightment E17 Desktop (read a review of that at Enlightenment 17 Review). I'm more of a command line holdout, but if they say it's neat-o, I'm sure it is.

Well, my next computer won't be a PS3, but maybe someone else's will be.

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Sat Oct 21 22:40:52 2006: 2548   drag

Well ya.
The install will be simple. Since all PS3's are completely identical all you have to do is install on one, work as well as you can to make the hardware be perfect then image it.

The hardest part with a Linux install is getting all the hardware to work. With the PS3 all of it will be done with pre-configured defaults. For most people the hardest part is going to be downloading and burning the ISO image, unless they buy the software.

But E17 is new stuff, very beta and I don't know of any major distro supporting it yet. The wisdom of taking a unproven desktop environment and then distribute it to Linux neophites is a bit questionable. I understand why they choose it.. it's very fast and clean and has all the eye candy. They better do a good job of beta testing it though, plus it's essentially just a window manager and not a real desktop environment yet.

The problem with using a full on Gnome desktop like provided by Fedora Core is obvious also... The machine only has 256 megs of RAM. It would work, but it wouldn't be very snappy. A more practical choice would be to use XCFE4 which provides the basic functionality people expect from a desktop system, but will run well in 256 megs of RAM and uses GTK libraries which is shared with most common applications people will be using.

But oh well.

I figure Linux on the PS3 would be pretty common for teenagers and such. If I just bought a PS3 when I was a kid I would install it just for curiousity. It would be a novelty thing to do why my new toy. Especially if one of those big gaming magazines came out and talked about how cool E17 is, then I would expect a quick uptake. Weither or not that will translate to perminate uptake of Linux is unknown...

The only other time people tried to do this sort of thing was back in the day with the early Ataris and Commodore 64.. It worked out for the Commodore since that became the number one selling personal computer of all times, but the computer world is a very different place now.


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