I planned on installing Linux on my PS3 some weeks ago, but only in the christmas holidays did I find the time to do the task. And I intended to journal my experience and write a guide so other users can have the joy of Linux on the big screen too, and don’t have to work a whole night to get everything working.
Note: For this guide I will assume you have the latest PS3 firmware upgrade installed, which changed some wifi stuff so all the updateing at the end of the guide is nessecary.
You can install Linux on your regular PS3 harddrive, or you can opt to first upgrade the harddisk.
Things needed for the hdd upgrade:
Note: It doesn’t matter which version of the PS3 you have they all have the same type of harddrive in it.
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Flathead screwdriver (a fingernail or knife or other sharp object will do too)
- 2,5″ SATA harddrive with either 5400rpm or 7200rpm
Things you will need to get Linux running:
- A PC with internet connection
- CD-Rs to burn the image files
- Storage media with a few hundred megabytes space, formated with FAT32 (a regular USB stick works best)
- USB keyboard and mouse (wireless ones with a receiver so they only need 1 USB port together work best for the PS3 versions with only 2 USB ports)
- Some time
I bought a Samsung 160 gigabyte 2,5″ SATA drive with 5400rpm (which is quite slow for todays standards but the regular PS3 disk has the same rpm so I’m on the safe side when it comes to power consumption or heat spread). Changing harddrives on the PS3 is extremly easy, all it requires is a regular Phillips head screwdriver.
Note: Before you change harddrives on the PS3 you should back up all data you want on the new disk to an USB stick or external drive. Backup can be done via the built-in backup utility to backup the contents of the whole disk. If you don’t have enough external storage space, you can back up individual game saves and data via the XMB in the game menu, under the entry Game Data Utility and/or Game Save Utility.
Also, of course, the PS3 should be powered down full via the switch on the back before you attempt to change the drive.
The first step is to remove the plastic cover from the hdd tray located on the left side of the system. Use a flathead screwdriver, your fingernails, or something else which is flat for this:
Next you have to remove the blue screw which holds the tray in the case:
After that flip up the metal handle on the caddy and move the it to the front of the PS3 with the handle to dislodge it. Then you can remove the caddy with the drive in it:
Use your Phillips screwdriver to remove the 4 screws holding the harddisk in the tray, and exchange the old one for the new one:
After that just put the 4 screws back in, slide the caddy into the PS3 and move it back with the handle to connect it, put the blue screw back in and finally put the plastic cover back on.
You’re now ready to boot with your new disk!
The system will ask you to format the drive, just use quickformat for this.
Now you are ready to begin with the Linux installation steps!
First things first: Download the XUbuntu PowerPC LiveCD iso file and burn the iso to a CD-R using your favourite burning program (if you don’t know how to burn iso images, refer to the Ubuntu Help forums).
In the PS3 menu navigate to the system settings and start the Format Utility, and choose “allot 10GB to the OtherOS”. After that insert the XUbuntu disk and choose “Install OtherOS” in the system settings menu. Confirm to restart the PS3 and you will be greeted by the kboot boot loader.
Protheus wrote an extremly detailed installation guide in the PSUbuntu forums so I’m gonna skip the whole procedure here. Just do what he does in the guide step-by-step (although you could and should skip the “compile your own kernel”) and you will be fine. The guide also details how to update your kernel so the wifi which broke with PS3 firmware 2.0 will work again in Linux.
But another problem arrived with the 2.10 firmware - Ubuntu wouldn’t boot anymore. So after you upgrade the kernel as described in Protheus’ post, follow the instructions in the next guide.
AliasXNeo wrote a detailed guide how to update your kernel once more so it works with the 2.10 firmware again, again, follow the guide step-by-step.
Once that is finished you will be able to boot into your newly installed Linux system on the PS3! Now you will have to configure your wifi or use a regular LAN cable so you have net access on the box. Firefox comes preinstalled with Ubuntu so once you have your network configured you can surf the web. You’ll probably want to play sound files and movies now, so just install VLC media player using the command sudo apt-get install vlc from the terminal.
So there you have it, a working Ubuntu Linux on your PS3. You can play movies, dvds, mp3s, surf the web with a real browser opposed to the PS3 one, and do everything that you can in Linux that doesn’t need more than 256MB RAM (so SNES emulators and the likes will run fine, but 3D apps probably won’t).
And to finish this guide, a screenshot from my working system (don’t mind the crappy quality of the movie in VLC, that’s normal when screencapping movies, windows media player shows just a black window on screencaps), click the image for a better quality one: