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.