PS3 Firmware 3.21 To Disable “Install Other OS” Feature

By Ishaan . March 29, 2010 . 5:40am


Come this April 1st — no, it’s not an April Fool’s prank — Sony will release firmware update 3.21 for the PlayStation 3, whose basic purpose is to the disable the “Install Other OS” (essentially Linux) feature on the system.


The European PlayStation blog explains this move is due to security concerns, likely referring to the PS3 hack discovered by George Hotz, who was also the first person to unlock the iPhone, allowing it to operate on any network instead of being limited to AT&T.


Making the PlayStation 3 open to homebrew was a feature ex-Executive VP of SCEE, Phil Harrison, was vocal about in particular. During a Slashdot Q&A in 2007, Harrison stated:


“I fully support the notion of game development at home using powerful tools available to anyone. We were one of the first companies to recognize this in 1996 with Net Yaroze on PS1. It’s a vital, crucial aspect of the future growth of our industry and links well to the subtext of my earlier answers. When I started making games on the Commodore 64 in the 1980’s, the way I learned to make games was by re-writing games that appeared in magazines. […]


“So, if we can make certain aspects of PS3 open to the independent game development community, we will do our industry a service by providing opportunities for the next generation of creative and technical talent. Now having said all that, we still have to protect the investment and intellectual property rights of the industry so we will always seek the best ways to secure and protect our devices from piracy and unauthorized hacking that damages the business.”


Those that choose not to update to firmware 3.21 will be restricted from signing into the PlayStation Network and being able to play games and view movies that require the latest firmware. The PS blog suggests backing up any information stored on the “Other OS” partition, as it will not be available following the update.

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  • speedstersonic

    All because one douchebag has to ruin this for everyone. Sony tries to be nice, I liked have linux on my ps3. God I really hate the amount of douchebag hackers this world has.

    • ritchan

      Blaming geohot for this is the wrong attitude. For all we know his hack will open the PS3 up even more in the future than before. Geohot could’ve hacked the PS3 and if Sony weren’t so anal retentive, they would’ve kept it in there. Quite an unexpected move, really.

    • Pusltar

      You corporate apologists make me sick.

      • thebanditking

        Im not seeing a problem with his comment. While corporations are not really capable of being kind, I don’t think this is punishment from Sony either. They are trying to stay ahead of the game. These newer consoles offer us way more then any of the previous generations did in terms of features and content. With that infulx of digital content and services its becomes a bit of a gray area as to who actually owns what.

        Sure you own your PS3 and the disc games you pay for but do you own the PSN? Do you have a right to access it and use its features as you see fit? Once you download a game is it yours or are you simply renting it for an extended period of time (like when the service for this gen stops)? So as a result if you still want Linux you dont have to upgrade, but you also have to accecpt that Sony has changed the terms that allow you to access the PSN and its features. You bought a console not the company or its services, you have a right to use your PS3 to play games, but outside of that you have to accecpt the terms that Sony (or any of them) set to access the extra features.

      • daizyujin

        Corporate apologists are all the rage in the video game fan world. It seems that 90% of gamers will give up their rights simply to appease a company that doesn’t give two sh1ts about your or me. Seems funny to me. But hey, just like my work, don’t try to put logic in a situation where none exists.

    • mirumu

      So you advocate closed platforms remaining closed, and yet want to use open source software? That’s an interesting contradiction.

    • No, I believe he’s simply trying to be reasonable. :P

      • daizyujin

        It is hard to be reasonable when what is being done is hardly reasonable to begin with. Putting people in the situation that Sony is doing by giving them a bullsh!t set of alternatives is disgusting. So one guy hacked the system, big f-ing deal.

        Like I said they should be grateful they have gone this long with little to no piracy as Microsoft and Nintendo sure didn’t have that kind of luck. Punish every single legit customer you have over something one man did that may or may not cause you a problem that will ultimately happen anyways? That don’t sound too reasonable to me. The system will be hacked and there will be piracy, even if Sony takes the Other OS feature out or not.

        • I agree and funny thing is, the hackers never intended to make a PS3 custom firmware till Sonys firmware announcement.

          • daizyujin

            What is even more funny to me is the fact that it seems no matter what device comes out from a PS3 to a microwave it seems the Linux crew wants to get Linux running on it in some capacity. So by taking out the official means, all they do is encourage hacking by the Linux community which may open yet another can of worms. I want to see it happen now just for the irony of it.

          • So, in other words, you WANT the PS3 to be hacked. I think we can see why you’re making such a big deal out of this. They just removed the way that it has been, so that piracy is not an issue for the moment. It’s really funny how, while I initially didn’t think this was a good thing, the more you post, the more you’re making me side with Sony.

          • It will happen.

            @Charles Lupula
            Hacking doesn’t equal piracy.

            Sony could’ve handled this differently by just plugging the holes in the firmware that allowed hackers in, instead they got rid of a feature altogether, so now the only way to get Linux on the PS3 and keep it up to date is by hacking it.

            They’re honestly asking for a hacking community on the PS3. The way I see it, if Sony wants to fight piracy they should invest in better software instead of just taking the easy way out.

            I mean look at the browser, it’s using an outdated version of the Flash Player with many exploitable holes if hackers figure out how to exploit that what’ll they do disable the browser altogether or just plug the hole in Flash?

          • thebanditking

            This is why hackers make me laugh. The simpletons that they are actually think they have a right to hack and steal just because they bought a product. I hate to break it to all you “1337 speakers” out there but nothing and I mean nothing entitles you to steal or alter the products you buy to allow them to work in ways that then manufacturer did not intend. If Sony allowed the PS3 to be hacked how long before hackers start stealing credit card info or other personal information? There is no honor among theives, despite his intentions Geohot’s hack, if released would be misused. Why should Sony have to release countless patches to keep up with hackers when they can just lock them out? They made the right choice.

          • malek86

            @thebanditking: that sounds a bit harsh. Would you say that Nintendo should just remove all SD support from the Wii so they don’t have to deal with homebrew anymore?

            Besides, I owe a lot to the community. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be playing games of any region on my Wii.

        • I’m going to have to disagree here. They’ve always maintained that the ability to install Linux on the system was their way of doing their bit to encourage upcoming talent, but that, if it threatened their system, they’d do away with it.

          This is why I made it a point to post Phil Harrison’s Q&A. They don’t owe us anything. Every hacker knows full well the consequences of releasing their hacks online.

          • malek86

            I wonder about that though. Wasn’t the PS3 hack story released online well after the Slim came out?

      • Reason? On the Internet?!? Heretic!

  • malek86

    It’s never a good thing when they remove a feature. Especially because someone might have seen it as reason to buy the console.

    Also, is it even possible? Removing a feature that was specifically pointed out to you at the time of purchase? That would be like Nintendo suddenly removing all SD support because of homebrew concerns. Could they legally do that? Removing support from the Slim was one thing, but a firmware update that removes a feature that was originally there… and such update is basically mandatory too.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      More than possible and more than legal. Falls under the umbrella of “we can adjust the terms” lingo or whatnot you many times previously ‘agreed’ to when clicking yes to TOS.

      • mirumu

        That depends on where you live to a degree. The laws of some countries don’t allow the changing of terms and conditions post sale. I know here in New Zealand a EULA cannot violate certain rights automatically granted to the consumer in law, and one of those is that the product must match the description in the advertising.

        Of course Sony will probably use the “You don’t have to update” argument, but a PS3 without access to the PSN isn’t especially appealing.

        • daizyujin

          It also depends on the fact that one could state that Sony’s alternative it gives you is also not really viable as either option significantly degrades the value of your purchase.

          “If you want your fridge to continue to work, you don’t have to update the firmware but then you have to unplug the water from the ice maker.”

          It sounds like a silly thing but think about it. They are giving you two alternatives, neither of which is to your benefit and the only one loosing out is the consumer for specifically no other reason than to protect their corporate interests. I think it might be hard for a EULA to stand up to that point.

    • thebanditking

      Thats the thing its not mandatory. Back in the day you bought a console to plug into a TV and play games and until this generation thats all most of them did. Even the PS2 had multiple firmware updates but since they were only done at the factory you never had to upgrade, because the main reason you bought one was to play games. These extra services and features are bonus incentives for those willing to accecpt the terms set by the manufacturer, thats all there is to it.

      • mirumu

        Newer disc-based games will require the firmware updates in order to run. Suggesting it’s not mandatory is facetious at best.

  • i just use my ps3 for playing and watching vids from my ipod, so i this doesnt really bothers me :D

    • daizyujin

      Till Sony decides that this feature cuts into their PSN movie sales and decides to remove it. After all that is the real reason that PS2 BC was removed and if you believe otherwise, you have been drinking too much grape koolaid.

      • Ereek

        You’re the slippery slope argument is generally a very weak argument in philosophy?

        • Going by his logic, eventually, Sony will remove the ability to play games.

        • Ereek

          Oh dear, “you’re aware.”

        • daizyujin

          ??? are you asking me a question? And who is debating philosophy?

          • Ereek

            You’re using the slippery slope argument, that automatically puts you into the “philosophy” end of the argument.

            You can’t predict the future. No one can. You’re making baseless accusations and sound extremely paranoid. You sound like the people who are saying “The healthcare bill will cause America to fall to anarchy!”

          • daizyujin

            At least my first post could be read. And besides I am not “paranoid.” Perhaps they will do it, perhaps they won’t. The point is once somebody renigs on a promise (they did say Other OS would not be removed from phat models) you can no longer believe a damn word they say. If that is philosophy then fine.

            1. The point is not baseless, they have proved they are willing to outright lie. Not trusting a lair is not paranoia, it is using common sense. They said PS2 bc would not be removed, they have a very real financial reason to remove it and lets be honest, that is the only reason Other OS is being removed.

            2. If you knew me, that point about the health care bill, yeah, well lets just say that is the dumbest thing you have probably ever said because it couldn’t be more wrong.

          • Ereek

            Relying on ad hominem is not getting you any points towards your argument. I find it incredibly difficult to take you seriously when you attack me not once, but twice. In the future I’d suggest actually attempting to refute my argument rather than attacking the person disagreeing with you. This is especially amusing because you made a big deal about morals in your first post.

            You said it yourself, Sony has a financial reason to remove it. Apparently, corporations aren’t allowed to make money? I don’t remember Sony making any official statement saying “we will never remove the secondary OS capabilities.”

          • And the movies i watch arent brought in PSN

          • daizyujin

            Precisely what I am saying. They might figure if they remove the ability to play your “other content” from “other devices” that it could drive sales of their own store content up. It isn’t rocket science.

            Of course that would be stupid, but then again so was pushing a feature as a selling point of your console then removing it out of fear.

  • Jirin

    Boo consumer freedom!

  • Chow

    I admittedly never used it for more than one day. And when I installed it, I couldn’t use it properly because I was trying to use it on an SD display, which sort of made it impossible for me to locate “OK” buttons when I brought up most control panel windows. I always meant to go back to it after I got my HDTV back in October, but I couldn’t remember the password or login I used for it, and was intending on just installing it all over again. I guess this means I won’t after all.

    Furthermore, I guess this also means in order for me to get that extra ten gigabytes back from that partition, I need to backup everything on my HDD again to reformat the whole thing to remove the partition. XP

  • daizyujin

    We can debate this from a legal standpoint all we want but it doesn’t change the one most important thing, morally this is wrong. You buy a product being specifically told you can do something and then it it ripped out from under you. The other sad thing is this shows that they can and are willing to take out any feature they see as a threat. How long before they remove bc from 60, 20, and 80 gig models because they see the ability to play old games as a threat to their sales? They could say they won’t, but then again, after this who will believe them?

    • Why would playing old games be a threat to their sales, as you know, if I go to Gamestop right now and buy, say God of War for PS2 new, Sony still gets my money?

      • daizyujin

        Think a little deeper. The feature was removed so people would stop playing games they already owned on PS2 and graduate to purchasing PS3 software. It was a feature to push PS3 sales at the start, once it was shown to not be needed, it was discarded.

        • Like those PS1 games that never had their backwards compatibility removed, right? Ooooh. Where can I get a tinfoil hat too? I wanna be into silly conspiracies too.

          • daizyujin

            Conspiracy theory? Really? You are an idiot. Jesus Christ what has this site come to?

          • There’s no need to insult people and go off raging like that. Don’t do it again. There are plenty of ways to get a point across more calmly.

    • thebanditking

      Home brew is fine as long as it does not involve stealing anything, which as we all know is the main reason people create home brew software. So that in their small minds they can “rebell” against the big bad corporations, its pathetic. At their core every hacker and pirate is nothing more then a whiny teenager who thinks the whole world owes them something, if you want to prove your programing prowess then become an indy developer.

      • “which as we all know is the main reason people create home brew software”

        Really? That’s something we all know? Wait… is this a “fact”? I’ve mainly made home brew games, but you know… I guess I should spend my time making proper home brew… Thanks Bandit King. Hey… Nice name!

  • While I’ve only ever met one person who used Linux on their PS3, I think this is a pretty bad deal. Unfortunately, thanks to Geohot and his backdoor PS3 hacks, via the OS, Sony have pretty much been backed into a corner. The choice is allow more and more people to start exploiting the OS option or to piss off the people who legitimately do use it. Piracy is rampant on the PSP and it would kill a large portion of their business if that happened on the PS3. I don’t like this, but I can’t blame them. As the old expression goes, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

    • daizyujin

      Piracy is rampant on all other systems BESIDES the PS3. They should be amazingly grateful they have had this long with relatively nothing. The only way to keep people from pirating their games is to just not release them and since that isn’t really an option it is time they pulled their heads out of their asses.

      • I don’t see a solution in your reply.

        • daizyujin

          I don’t have to give one. Oh wait, you had no other way to knock this post like you did “ALL MY OTHER ONES!”

          Pull your head out of your ass too.

      • “Amazingly grateful”? As if their own talent had nothing to do with this, despite them being nice enough to actually include Other OS in the first place? The PS3 is the only system to include homebrew functionality out of the box. No, this is their niceness coming back to bite them in the ass, as (judging by Harrison’s quote) they probably expected would happen sooner or later.

        • malek86

          I doubt “niceness” is the right word here. Someone says that Sony only included Linux support because the other 2 companies that produced the Cell processor (Toshiba and IBM, with IBM being the most involved of the three) had asked for it, probably for easy access for different purposes. Remember they are also the ones who submitted patches to enable Cell support in Linux kernels… IBM has always been a staunch supporter of open source (while Sony doesn’t seem to care much). However, now that IBM has changed their attitude in regard to the Cell processor, Sony doesn’t need to do that anymore, and so decided to do away with a feature that was potentially dangerous.

          Another popular reason, is that UE laws say that only console games can be taxed, while computer games can’t be taxed. Therefore, having Linux support on the PS3 (and the PS2 before it) allowed Sony to call it “a computer”, and thus avoid those taxes. Although I think it didn’t work, otherwise they would be keeping the support.

          • daizyujin

            Its useless man, Ishaan, Charles Lupula, thebanditking, and Ereek are so bent on Sony being able to protect itself that they don’t see that what they are doing is

            1. Only taking our rights away to use our machine the way we were TOLD WE COULD by removing a feature that was advertised


            2. The system WILL BE HACKED with or without the removal of Other OS. Like you said, this only encourages it. And yes guys, I actually want to see the system get hacked again. It serves them right for believing it is ok to renig on a promised feature and for being so stupid as to believe that doing so will actually accomplish anything. You steal something from me that I use by giving me a bullsh1t alternative? I don’t care what happens to you. I will just sit back and wait to laugh my ass off when it happens…..

            AND IT WILL HAPPEN

    • thebanditking

      Hackers and pirates ruin everything. The few ruin it for the many, and it is for this very reason that I consider them some of the lowest forms of life on this planet.

      • daizyujin

        You care too much about the welfare of an industry that the world could do without man.

        Murders, rapists, armed robbers, wife beaters, etc. Calling pirates and especially hackers “the lowest forms of life on this planet” is ridiculous. I know lowlifes, I spend my days trying to get lowlifes to pay their child support. That is a lowlife.

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