PS3 Linux Installation

PS3 Linux Installation

This blog was originally published on October 8th, 2007. It was published on TypePad and can be found here.


**Installing Linux on the PS3 was a relative no brainer. Really, I was tremendously impressed with just how much work Sony put into making the PS3 a Linux installable device. For anyone out there who has hacked and or installed Linux on their original XBox or AppleTV you'll agree with me what a sight for sore eyes an X-Windows desktop can be on your HDTV.

I'd even hazard to say that installing Linux on my PS3 was the EASIEST Linux install I have ever had ever. This from a guy who has installed Linux hundreds if not thousands of times. Why was it so easy you might ask? Two words...Wireless Support. Full fledged WiFi support. No ndiswrapper/broadcom garbage. Fully functional, use your PS3 as a sick wireless access point WiFi. That being said, getting WPA to work is a total bitch. And I use the gigabit ethernet port to connect to the rest of my home gigabit network. WPA and my own proclivities towards gigabit aside, full wireless support in Yellow Dog Linux was the main contributing factor in my choice to install YDL on the PS3.

Yellow Dog Linux a proud purveyor of a Red Hat/Fedora derived distro will probably sound pretty familiar to all those old PowerPC Apple Computer owners out there. For a long time YDL was the only game in town if you wanted to get Linux running on your Mac OR you wanted to have access to rpms compiled for the PowerPC you would buy YDL and their support. In fact the PowerPC market is still a major market that YDL develops for. As near as I can tell PS3 and PowerPC are the only markets they develop for. This of course has become somewhat more onerous since Fedora, Gentoo, and Ubuntu used to distribute PowerPC based distributions.

Based upon TerraSoft's (The company that produces YDL) expertise Sony contracted with the TerraSoft to produce a full Linux distro tailored towards the PS3's hardware. At some point near launch Sony backed away from the deal, and didn't advertise YDL as the distro of choice for Sony. It would be interesting to find out why this happened, but as near as I can tell it created a relationship between Sony and TerraSoft. It appears that TerraSoft has an open line of communication with Sony, which has facilitated the support of such things as Wireless in the most recent YDL 5.02 release.

I downloaded the Yellow Dog Distro using Terra Soft's Download Page I burned the .iso to a DVD and then printed out the TerraSoft Yellow Dog installation Guide. The guide was well written and easy to understand.

Once you have downloaded and burned the DVD, you have to transfer control of the PS3 to the Yellow Dog Linux Installer.

Insert YDL into the PS3 From the GameOS menu, select: Settings ==> System Settings ==> Install Other OS Your PS3 will now scan the DVD for the bootloader installer and bootloader. Confirm discovery of "/ps3/otheros/otheros.bld". Press "X" on the controller to start the installation. The PS3 screen blanks while pulling files from the DVD. You must now select "Other OS" in order to install YDL: Settings ==> System Settings ==> Default System ==> Other OS When prompted to boot Other OS, select "Yes". The above step appears to cause some confusion. What the above 7 steps are doing is telling your PS3 that there is another operating system on the PS3. The /ps3/otheros/otheros.bld is what is called a boot loader. It is what allows you to choose the "Other OS" option in the PS3's System Settings, and it is what boots your computer from the Yellow Dog Linux DVD in the next step.

Installing the actual Linux OS is very simple and very similar to any other Red Hat Linux derivative. You choose the Language and Keyboard, you partition the hard drive, choose a root password, and whamo you have a PS3 installing a shiny new Linux system to its hard drive. The installation process takes an hour or two, and I used this chance to go to bed.

When I awoke the next day, the PS3 was ready to be rebooted. After rebooting, the system required some basic configuration, and it then booted into a full fledged X-windows session running the E17 Enlightenment window manager.

The first problem, I encountered was that I didn't have network connectivity. I had plugged in an ethernet cable into the back of the PS3, but according to the Graphical Network connections utility, it said that only the Wireless network card was found. I looked around the utility and did not spot anything relating to WPA, so I fired up and looked for a solution to connect to my WPA enabled wireless network. After a little bit of looking, it appeared that configuring WPA on the PS3 was quite difficult, so I decided to try to get the preferable ethernet network working. After a little bit of searching, I find the following instructions on the TerraSoft Web Site.

Switch Back to a Wired Connection With the hyper-visor limitations and controlling which network connection is active, it is not easy to switch between wireless and wired connections and impossible to have both on line at the same time. This procedure is more technical then setting up the wireless and requires some technical knowledge of how Linux works and using the command line. If you are unsure of any steps please seek assistance from a experienced Linux user.

Open the Network configuration manager (Yellow Dog logo > Applications > Applications > System Tools > System Config > Network Delete "Sony PS3 Ethernet Dev" under the hardware tab Close the Network Configuration manager, confirm with "Yes" and then "Ok" Open a Terminal window Type "su -" Enter the root password when prompted Type "rm /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0" Type "rm /etc/sysconfig/networking/devices/ifcfg-eth0" Restart networking by typing "service network restart" Type "killall dhclient" Rebuild /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0 from scratch if in doubt use this default (type "nano /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0" to edit the file) DEVICE=eth0 BOOTPROTO=dhcp ONBOOT=yes

Push and hold "Ctrl" then push "x" Push "y" to save changes to the file hit Enter to confirm to save to that file name Type "cp /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0 /etc/sysconfig/networking/devices/ifcfg-eth0" Type "service network restart" This editing of network scripts reconfigures your system to use eth0 (the main gigabit ethernet nic) instead of eth1 (the wireless nic).

After the Linux powered PS3 received an IP address, and was connected to the Internet, I then set about installing all of the most needed software for any respectable HDTV connected Linux box. Namely Mplayer and VLC. I knew that the PS3 had yum so I fired up yum and searched for VLC and mplayer. Neither were found. I knew this had to do with yum repositories. I knew that the repositories pre-installed with the system did not contain the VLC or mplayer packages. A quick Google Search resulted in the following TicTech2 article. The article suggested adding the following repositories to /etc/yum.repos.d direcotory. a. ydl-extras.repo [ydl-extras] name=YDL Extras baseurl=file:///media/CDROM/ gpgcheck=0 enabled=0

b. Fedora-Extras.repo [fedora-extras] name=Fedora Extras gpgcheck=0 enabled=0

c. livna.repo [livna-stable] Fedora Compatible Packages (stable) gpgcheck=0 enabled=0

d. freshrpms.repo [freshrpms] name=FreshRPMs enabled=1


Once done, you can now download VLC and mplayer. Both of which do a fine job playing media stored on the PS3 or connected to across the network via NAS storage. Neither can play DVDs from the PS3's DVD drive. It appears that the DVD drive is hardware locked. But I haven't been able to confirm this with anyone. I have asked this question to many YDL boards, as well as Sony PS3 boards, and no one seems to no the answer. Ill update this as soon as I hear something.