Linux for PlayStation 3

Linux for PlayStation 3

The PlayStation 3 is capable of running Linux as well as other operating systems if installed on the console's hard drive. Many distributions are compatible with the console. Any Linux operating system has access to 6 of the 7 Synergistic Processing Elements [ [ SPE Access] ] ; Sony implements a hypervisor restricting access to the RSX. IBM provides an introduction to programming parallel applications on the PlayStation 3. [ [ IBM's introduction to programming parallel applications] ]


Since the start of the 2000s, Sony has used the fact that the PlayStation 2 can run Linux in their marketing. They promoted the release of PS2 Linux Kit, it included a Linux-based operating system, a USB keyboard and mouse, a VGA adapter, a PlayStation 2 network adaptor (Ethernet only), and a 40 GB hard disk drive (HDD).

Originally Sony stated that Linux would be Pre-Installed in the PlayStation 3's hard drive. The plan was scrapped for unknown reasons and current units do not include Linux pre-installed. However, Sony has included an option in the XMB menu to install other operating systems such as Linux. [ [ Playstation Manual (How to)] ] Sony has been quoted in an interview stating, "It was fully intended that you, a PS3 owner, could play games, watch movies, view photos, listen to music, and run a full-featured Linux operating system that transforms your PS3 into a home computer." [cite web | url=;title;0 | title=Yellow Dog Linux launches for PS3|accessdate=2007-08-29]

Soon after the PlayStation 3 launched, Sony released "Other OS" in a PlayStation 3 System Software firmware up-date that allowed booting into Linux from the hard drive or from a Live CD that the distributor's kernel would boot making it possible to run on the PlayStation 3.


Linux supports PlayStation 3 since kernel version 2.6.21, so no patches or modifications are required for it to run. There is also a user friendly Linux add-on CD for the PS3 including support for Fedora 8 and other operating systems that already claim to install natively on the PS3. However, there is currently an issue with the latest kboot provided by Once the user has pressed enter to continue with the default action, the usb ports are de-registered on some systems. A work-around was created and is available on the PSUbuntu site [ [ Ubuntu on a Playstation 3 » kboot] ] .
* [;a=summary The latest source for the PS3 kernel]
* [ Linux add-on CD for PS3]


Debian [cite web|url= |title=Debian|Live for PS3|accessdate=2007-03-04] , Fedora 8 [cite web | url= | title=PlayStation 3 Spin | accessdate=2007-10-07 ] , Gentoo [ [ Gentoo] ] , OpenSuSE and Ubuntu [ [ Ubuntu] ] can be run on the PlayStation 3. [ [ How to Install another OS (w/voice over)] ] Yellow Dog Linux for the PlayStation 3 was first released for the PS3 in late 2006. [cite web|url=|title=Yellow Dog Linux launches for PlayStation 3|date=2006-11-27|first=Emma|last=Boyes|publisher=gamespot|accessdate=2006-11-30]


Versions of Ubuntu up to 7.10 have been ported to the PS3 platform [] . The installer cannot run in Live mode when running in 480i or 480p video resolutions, but it offers an alternative installer (text-based) that will install a fully functional Ubuntu operating system. It is possible to have an external USB hard drive attached to the PlayStation 3 during install and choose to mount that as the home folder.

The current 8.04 (Hardy Heron) release of Ubuntu is incompatible with the PS3. However, efforts are in place to ensure the upcoming 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) release will work.cite web |url= |title=UbuntuPS3 - Ubuntu Wiki |accessdate=2008-09-29 |publisher=Ubuntu Wiki |date=2008-08-06 ]

Ubuntu includes well-known GNU/Linux components such as Apache, PostgreSQL, and Python. The distribution also includes user applications, such as the Mozilla Firefox Web browser,, Evolution, Rhythmbox, Pidgin, and GIMP.

Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian and relies on the Apt Package Manager, using .deb format. Through successive versions of Ubuntu every 6 months, more hardware support is added frequently. As a result, Ubuntu supports accelerated graphics hardware out of the box, although some other hardware components will not function properly without modifications to the kernel.

Yellow Dog Linux

Yellow Dog Linux 5.0 (now up to 6.x) was one of the first Linux distributions to run on Sony's PlayStation 3 platform. [ [ IGN: Yellow Dog Linux 5.0 Hands-on ] ] It is designed specifically for HDTV so users with SDTV will have to use the commands 'installtext' and 'ydl480i' to be able to install and run. []

Yellow Dog Linux includes well-known GNU/Linux components such as GCC, as well as other free/open-source technologies such as Apache, PostgreSQL, Python, Webmin, and XFree86. [cite web |url= |title=Packages Included with Yellow Dog Linux |accessdate=2008-05-12 ] The distribution also includes user applications, such as the Mozilla Firefox Web browser,, Evolution, Rhythmbox, MPlayer, Pidgin, and GIMP.

Yellow Dog Linux is a derivative of Fedora and relies on the RPM package manager. Through successive versions of Yellow Dog Linux, Terra Soft Solutions has invested heavily in implementing support specifically for Apple and IBM hardware. Digital audio has been verified to function properly, however, the Nvidia graphics card is not supported beyond framebuffer mode. In addition, some other hardware components will not function properly without modifications to the kernel. WiFi functionality via the Network Manager is also not fully supported and must be entered manually via the Network Configuration tool, or in some cases, through the command shell. [ [ Yellow Dog Linux 6.x Hardware Support Page] ]


OpenSUSE 10.3 is the first version of OpenSUSE to run on the Sony PlayStation 3 platform. OpenSUSE is an open source version of SUSE Linux, which is owned by Novell.

It runs either KDE or GNOME by default, as selected by the user at install time, so it should be considered more resource-intensive than Yellow Dog Linux or other Enlightenment / XFCE based distributions.

PlayStation 3 specific installation instructions for OpenSUSE can be found [ here]


Fedora may also run on the PlayStation 3.

PlayStation 3 installation instructions for Fedora may be found at the following location: [ Howto: Install Fedora 8 on a Sony PS3]

RSX Homebrew

Linux on the PlayStation 3 allows for a huge range of homebrew programs to be developed and is entirely and completely sanctioned by Sony. Although the Cell's performance is more than enough to handle most media requirements or render complex 3D graphics, it does lack the teraflops performance of a contemporary GPU's texture fetching hardware. For this reason many complex games aren't possible on the PlayStation 3 through Linux as access to hardware acceleration in the RSX is restricted by a hypervisor.

There have been developments in enabling access to the RSX through the Linux kernel and the X Window System [ [ ps3:rsx [psDevWiki ] ] . Still in the early stages of development, the workaround allows Direct Memory Access (DMA) to the RSX memory to get images there.

If one wishes to use the RSX in Linux then it is recommended that one does not upgrade one's firmware to 2.10 or higher. This has the effect of restricting access to the RSX chip.


External links

* [ PSUbuntu] - How to install Ubuntu Linux on a PlayStation 3
* [ How to Install Gentoo on PS3]
* [ Howto: Install Fedora 8 on a Sony PS3]
* [ PS3 Linux World - Your Guide to Linux on the PS3 ]

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