Ubuntu 7.10 on PS3

Installation guide and first impressions

By on December 8th, 2007 12:10 GMT
Today, you will learn how to install Ubuntu Gutsy (as a second operating system) on your PlayStation 3 gaming console. For those of you who think for a second (and who are scared) that this will replace their PS3 operating system, well you guys are wrong, because this will NOT erase your PlayStation 3 native operating system (called XMB) and it will run as an alternative OS on your PS3 console. Ready? Are you excited? Let's go!

Things needed:

1. An USB flash drive or a Memory Card (PS3 can read only SD/miniSD Memory Card, Memory Stick PRO (Duo) and CompactFlash). Or, as an alternative, you can use a portable hard disk with FAT32 filesystem on it.

2. An USB keyboard and mouse attached to your PS3.

3. Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) PS3 ISO image, which you can always download from Softpedia. You will need to burn this ISO image on a blank CD with your favorite CD/DVD burning tool.

WARNING:
Be aware that if you continue, all the saved games, game data, bought games, downloaded demos, PlayStation Home settings/installation and any data (music, movies, pictures) saved on the hard drive of the PlayStation 3 will be permanently ERASED. However, the PlayStation 3 settings will NOT be lost. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you back up immediately any saves of your games, hard drive movies, pictures, music or PlayStation Home data on a removable HDD device or USB stick! The bought games or downloaded demos can not be copied, but you will be able to re-download without the need to buy them again, as they are stored on your PlayStation Network account.

Prepare your PlayStation 3 for Ubuntu:

You will need to partition the PS3 hard drive, otherwise you will not be able to install Ubuntu. Power on your PS3, Log in and go to "Settings -> System Settings", scroll down until you find the "Format Utility", press X on it and go to "Format Hard Disk" (last option). You'll be asked if you want to format your hard disk, so press "Yes" and then you must choose a partition setting for the hard drive. Select the "Custom" option, then select "Allot 10GB to the Other OS" entry and do a "Quick Format". When it's done, reboot your PS3.

The KBoot installation:

As I don't have an USB flash drive, I've used an external hard drive for this operation, and it worked like a charm. Create a folder, on your USB stick (drive), called PS3, and inside this folder create another one called OTHEROS. Put the otheros.bld (otheros.bld for PlayStation 3) file in the OTHEROS folder. Now, go to "Settings -> System Settings -> Install Other Os" and hit X to detect and install KBoot.

Boot and install the Ubuntu PS3 Live CD

Are you wondering how to access what you've just installed above? Go to "Settings -> System Settings -> Default System" (press X) and select "Other OS". You'll be asked if you want to quit your PS3 system and start the other OS (of course you do), so choose "Yes" and wait for the PS3 to reboot. You should attach the USB keyboard and mouse to the PS3. In a few seconds, you will see "Ubuntu PS3 KBoot Loader" text on the top of your screen. Insert the Ubuntu PS3 Live CD in your PS3, type install and wait for the Live CD to load.

In a few seconds, you will see that sexy wallpaper of Ubuntu Gutsy and the installation wizard will appear. Follow the installation steps from here if you don't know what to do.

Go back to the PS3 OS

To get back to your PS3 OS, restart Ubuntu and, at the KBoot prompt, type:

boot-game-os

and hit enter. Wait for the PS3 to reboot and you'll see the XMB (PlayStation 3 operating system).

Conclusions

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon has greatly been improved for the PS3 hardware. It can now recognize all the components of your PS3 console, like the Blu-ray unit, the Gelic network card, USB and Bluetooth ports, and the sound system! Even if the installation part takes around 40 minutes (four times longer than on a regular PC), Ubuntu proved to be quite fast on the PS3 console. From the screenshots below, you will see that I can listen to music, watch movies and even transfer files from my BlackBerry, via Bluetooth. However, as I don't have a HD Ready TV, I can't really enjoy Ubuntu on my PS3, that's why the screenshots are so small!

Pros:

- It will recognize all the hardware components of your PS3 console.
- It runs quite fast.
- Easy to install.

Cons:

- The installation takes too long. About four times longer than a normal PC installation!
- When you want to reboot Ubuntu, it will actually shut down. I don't know why it does this, maybe it's a problem that happened only to me.
- You must have an HD Ready TV in order to do something useful in Ubuntu. With regular TVs you will have a 576x460 resolution and you will not see the entire window of most applications!

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Ubuntu 7.10 on PS3
   Ubuntu 7.10 on PS3
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