No more Linux for the PS3

I almost bought a Sony PS3 specifically so that I could use Linux on it. Now, I’m glad I didn’t, because Sony has announced that in an upcoming firmware release they’re going to remove support for alternate operating systems. The official explanation for the removal of this feature is “due to security concerns”, but no specific security concerns have actually been mentioned yet.

My guess is that this is a move to protect the security of Sony’s bottom line: by removing this feature they no doubt simplify their code base, and can streamline development and testing of future firmware versions. It’s certainly Sony’s perogative to add or remove features they feel they can and want to support, but it’s a crummy move for people who rely on that feature. To be fair, it’s unlikely that more than a very small percentage of PS3 owners actually take advantage of this feature, so even though public outcry might be loud on gadget and tech blogs, the real world effects will be pretty minimal.

More to the point, though, I think this is showing us the impermanence of modern computing devices. The device you buy today won’t be the device you’re using in two years, because updates and feature enhancements will be released to change how that device works. Generally, those updates and enhancements add or improve functionality, but there’s nothing stopping a company from removing less-used features. “Buyer beware” seems like an ill-fitting warning in this light: it’s not that the device doesn’t do what you need it to at the time of purchase, but rather that it might not do what you bought it to do at some indeterminate later date, and you as a consumer have no way of knowing that in advance.

Via Kotaku.