Sony to block Linux from all PS3 systems
Sony has announced that a new firmware upgrade for the PlayStation 3, to be released on April 1st, will remove the "Install Other OS" option from all versions of the console. The announcement in the company blog cites "security concerns" as the reason for the removal.
The "Install Other OS" option allows users to install Linux on the Sony console, a capability which Sony did not support on the new "Slim" version of the PS3, released in August 2009. At the time Sony explained that adding the feature to the "Slim" PS3 would have added to development and support costs, but assured developers that the feature would not be removed from previous models of the PlayStation 3.
The ability to install Linux had allowed some groups to sell clusters of the games console and run software which made use of the Cell processor for computation. PS3 clusters have been used, for example, for cracking cryptography.
Linux and other operating systems on the PlayStation 3 run within a managed hypervisor which limits access to the physical hardware to prevent hackers from tampering with the console's content protection features. Although Sony do not specify the precise reasons for the removal of the other OS feature It is possible that the company has found, or been made aware of, vulnerabilities in the hypervisor implementation that allow the content protection to be compromised.