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The Sony PlayStation 3 has an interesting feature that allows users to install a third-party OS, through the PlayStation 3 Open Platform. (

The PowerPC build of Ubuntu can easily be made compatible with the Cell processor so it can run on the PlayStation 3.


This is an big opportunity for Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular to gain some userbase, and introduce Linux to a whole new group of users: Gamers. This is good to popularize Linux as a gaming platform.

It can also help make the PS3 more than just a games machine, making it suitable for Desktop applications as well.

But Fedora Core 5 is currently becoming the top PS3 Linux distro. See for details. We must work to instead make Ubuntu the best distro for PS3.

  • Warbo: Why "must" Ubuntu be the best PS3 distro? I agree it would be great to have Ubuntu working seamlessly on the PS3, but what is this about 'competing' with Fedora Core? The Free Software community works together, so Ubuntu and Fedora Core are more partners than competitors. The point of Free Software is giving the users rights, and if they choose to use Ubuntu then great. If they choose to use Fedora Core then that is also great. The real competition is non-Free software, so petty squabbles amongst our ~4% desktop userbase is nonsensical when Microsoft has over 90%, and stand for many of the things our community believes are wrong. The only reason I use Ubuntu instead of Fedora Core is because I prefer Dpkg and the Ubuntu community. The Open Source idea applies too, since we are not competing, we are working together for the benefit of all the users to create the best systems possible. I personally think that Ubuntu moving into the PS3 arena should be very cautious. I would hate to see an up-and-coming distro with PS3-specific functionality and innovation fail because everyone decides to use Ubuntu instead.

  • AlwinGarside: I agree. And it wasn't me that put that line there btw. Wink ;-) Anyway, we should work together with the PSLinux community as much as possible to learn all the details about running Ubuntu on the PS3. Once Ubuntu runs properly on the PS3, then the users themself will discover wich one is more suited for their needs (and technical skills). See them as "Colueges", not "competition". Ubuntu and Fedora aren't targeting the same userbase. We just need to make sure PS3 users discover wich one is the most suited for their needs.
    One thing though: If Fedora becomes the most popular PS3 Linux distro, then people new to Linux might try that first, not have a really good experience doing so, and then give up on Linux. In that case it is of interest for the Linux community as a whole if Ubuntu becomes the "top" PS3 Linux distro. ;-)

If we support the PS3 soon enough:

  • we'll fix more PS3 compatibility-related issues than the competition
  • we'll build "critical mass"
  • and we'll have a better chance of becoming the top distro on PS3.

Use cases

David wants to do more with his PS3 than just play games... So he connects his HDMI-compatible monitor and USB keyboard and mouse and installs Ubuntu to make full use of his 1+ TeraFLOPS powerhorse.

Jack wants to play homebrew and/or open source games on his PS3. He installs Xubuntu so he can discover a whole new range of original and free games like Warsow, Tremulous and Planeshift.


This specification covers preparing a patched Linux kernel package (linux-image-ps3?) compatible with the PS3, preparing a patched kboot image, and writing documentation that will explain users how to install Ubuntu on their PS3.


All the information about running Linux on the PS3 can be found here: This is a recommended read for anybody that wants to help out on this feature!

The Linux kernel on the PS3 runs on the top of a hypervisor. Devices and other system resources are virtualized and Linux device drivers are added in the patches made available by Sony so that they can work with virtualized devices.

The Linux kernel has access to some devices directly (e.g. USB host controller). Other devices are virtualized by the hypervisor and device service is provided via hypervisor call. For example, storage service hypervisor calls are available.

Sony provides a special "Other OS Installer". This installer installs a patched kboot boot loader onto the PS3's Flash ROM. This kboot image must be prepared specificaly for Ubuntu.


The following things need to be done:

  • Patch and compile a PowerPC kernel build optimized for the PS3.
  • Patch and prepare the kboot bootloader image.
  • Write proper documentation on how to install Ubuntu on the PS3

Sony has provided patches for Linux 2.6.19 and kboot.

We could just patch the main Ubuntu kernel sources but I don't think that would be very good idea since I have no idea if the PS3 patches introduce any recessions.

In any case, the Sony developers are working with the Linux kernel developers at having these patches included in the kernel source.


Unresolved issues

  • Compiling kboot
  • Patching and compiling Linux kernel for PS3

BoF agenda and discussion


PS3Compatibility (last edited 2008-08-06 16:26:02 by localhost)