Saturday, April 3, 2010

Other Operating System

I own a PS3, which on balance is a fantastic piece of kit. I really don't watch BluRay movies much, but I play a lot of games and I watch a hell of a lot of TV, mostly streamed off the network from my PC (and shortly from my media server once I get one set up).

For anyone who still watches broadcast telly - you have no idea how fantastic on-demand TV is. Watching a season of something to catchup is just bloody brilliant, and movies on demand just can't be beat either. Of course, this being the UK, it's virtually impossible for me to legitimately pay for a service that provides the experience I currently enjoy (either streamed via my PC, or directly to my PS3). I'm sure it'll arrive in the next couple of years (most likely in some form similar to Hulu and Netflix ).

I also enjoy listening to Spotify - i'm incredibly close to being a paid-up subscriber. If I could get it on my PS3, then I'd pay tomorrow. (and by PS3, really all I mean here is "on my telly box what lives downstairs").

Fundamentally then, I have a supercomputer acting as an audio and visual media server connected to my lovely big plasma, and all is (very nearly) good.

All i'm really missing is a VNC connection back to my PC, and a few other nice web utilities. I should be able to do most of this via the PS3 browser, but in daily use it's great for - well, browsing, and not much else. It's certainly not functional as a web platform - crappy flash support, no HTML5, etc. What it does have (for the next day or two!) is the ability to install another operating system (basically, some flavour of linux).

Finally biting the bullet last week, I prepped my PS3 for installing Linux so I could use a decent browser, get VNC support, and all the other pleasures of a proper operating system on my tellybox. I forked out 50 quid for a nice mini bluetooth keyboard/trackpad combo. I really was super-looking-forward to this.

And then just before April Fool's day, Sony decide to remove support for Other OS.

If only this was an April Fool story. It might even have been mildly amusing.

The justification appears to be that Sony are worried about piracy on their console, and consider the ability to launch another operating system a security risk. What they seem to have missed is that although there is an outside chance that this could be used to break the security on their platform, there is a very large installed base of users who actively run Linux on their machines for a variety of reasons, pretty much all of which are perfectly legal and reasonable (for example, academic research).

So, I've gone ahead and installed Linux before I take the plunge and remove the ability forever from my system, just to see what I'll be missing. Shame on you, Sony. Most definitely not shiny.

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