Sony inspires ire over Linux ban

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Company will remove OS option from Playstation 3 this week.

Sony has garnered the ire of open source and user rights groups with a recent decision regarding Linux on its gaming platforms.

The company said earlier this week that it would be removing the option to run Linux on versions its Playstation 3 (PS3) console released prior to September 2009.

The feature had been popular with Linux enthusiasts as well as groups looking to use the PS3's Cell processor for general computing tasks.

Dubbed "Other OS," the hypervisor tool allowed users the option of creating a drive partition on which a Linux build could be installed and run. As of Thursday, however, the feature will be disabled.

The company said that the new version of its firmware would be released on that day and would be required for users looking to use the console's online features such as internet multiplayer features and the online Playstation Store.

Sony said that the move was prompted by security worries, arguing that the partitions put the console at risk of damage and data loss.

Not long after the announcement was made, user advocacy groups spoke up on the matter. In a posting issued on Tuedsay evening, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) accused the company of deliberately removing features from its console and downgraded machines users had already paid for.

"Sony is effectively downgrading PS3s already sold and in the hands of consumers, when you bought it, it could play games, play Blu-ray discs, and run GNU/Linux," wrote EFF senior technologist Peter Eckersley.

"After April 1, it's an inferior product."

Researchers are already seeking to develop a way around the ban. George " GeoHot" Hotz, the researcher who as a teenager unlocked the Apple iPhone, advised users not to install the firmware update and said that he would be looking to develop a workaround for the new restrictions.
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