Sony have announced details of the changes for the next PlayStation 3 system update, that includes plans to completely remove the "Other OS" support that has allowed PS3 owners to run a Linux install on their console.
The next system software update for the PlayStation 3 (PS3) system will be released on April 1, 2010 (JST), and will disable the “Install Other OS” feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models, launched in September 2009. This feature enabled users to install an operating system, but due to security concerns, Sony Computer Entertainment will remove the functionality through the 3.21 system software update.
In addition, disabling the “Other OS” feature will help ensure that PS3 owners will continue to have access to the broad range of gaming and entertainment content from SCE and its content partners on a more secure system.
You can view the complete release over on the official playstation blog
The announcement is undoubtedly a thinly veiled attempt to curb the recent hacking attempts of George "Geohot" Hotz, the Internet hero famous for his iPhone unlocking efforts who has recently been making some progress
in the quest to get unsigned homebrew code running on the PS3
Of course the change won't affect owners of the newer slim PS3's as "Other OS" support was never made available for them (despite there being no technical reason why it couldn't have been), but this news does come after Sony had already reportedly confirmed
"that at least the feature won't be removed from older models which are already working"
From Geohot's blog:
The PlayStation 3 is the only product I know that loses features throughout it's life cycle. Software PS2 emulation, SACD playback, and OtherOS support are all just software switches you can flip. It's unbelievable you would go and flip one, not just on new boxes you are shipping, but on tens of millions already in the field.
It's a disappointing move no doubt, but it's hard to blame a company from protecting their interests when the majority of their users probably don't know or care about the features being removed.
Console modding is still a very legal grey-area and despite most people feeling they should have the ability to do whatever they want with the technology they own and some laws that actually outlaw things like region-locking devices, many countries (including Australia) do restrict the sale of some of the equipment and software required to perform such unlocks. The reason being, that unlocking for other software unfortunately due to it's very nature also enables piracy.
For PlayStation 3 owners that want keep their future modding options open, Geohot is recommending that you do not update your PS3 console to v3.21 when it is released. This will of course mean that you won't be able to access the PlayStation Network, access any of the new features they provide in future updates or play any future titles or Blu-ray discs that require the later software version. That is, until the hackers figure out a way to get upgraded to v3.21 without losing the OtherOS functionality.
Who knows though, perhaps it's all just an elaborate April Fools joke.