Sony Barking Up the Right Tree for their PS3 Linux

Yellow Dog Linux for Playstation 3, featuring E17

Linux on the Playstation 3 (PS3) has been covered before, but the inside story is that Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) has entered in an agreement with Terra Soft Solutions (TSS) to bring Yellow Dog Linux 5 (YDL) to their next generation console, which was actually released today in Japan.

Under basic agreement with SCEI, Terra Soft was granted a unique opportunity to develop and bring to market a complete Linux OS for PLAYSTATION 3. In the development of Yellow Dog Linux v5.0, Terra Soft integrated and enhanced code from Barcelona Supercomputing Center, SCEI , and Fedora in order to offer the following: kernel 2.6.16, gcc 4.1.1 and glibc 2.4, Cell SDK 1.1, 2.0.2, FireFox 1.5.0 and Thunderbird 1.5.0, Nautilus 2.14 … and a suite of Personal Accessories, Development Tools; Sound & Video, Internet, and Networking applications.

This is indeed a fantastic opportunity for the dynamic team behind YDL, especially now that Apple has completed its transition to the Intel platform, leaving behind the Power architecture. But what could have spelled the company’s dismay is now instead referred to by Kai Staats, CEO of Terra Soft, as a potential blessing in disguise, thanks to the exciting Cell architecture.

In fact, YDL 5 will initially be released for the PS3 on its North American launch date of November 17th, with Apple and other PowerPC based systems supported later in the year. The product will be available to the Enhanced members first (Nov.27), later on DVD (Dec. 11), and for download as a holiday treat (Dec. 25).

As a long time YDL user both at work and at home, I am ecstatic to know that TSS has found an exciting new revenue model for their solid offering, with a potentially quite large user base if the PS3 proves to be a success, despite heavy competition from the Wii and Xbox.


Another big winner in this deal is the Enlightenment Project, since their E17 (DR17) desktop manager has been chosen to bring what promises to be a beautiful GUI to the YDL/PS3 combination.

When it came out in 1997, Enlightenment blew a strong blow to many other desktop environments, UNIX based and beyond, effectively delivering features such as window transparency to even modest hardware.

Having unfortunately suffered from project management issues in the past, Enlightenment lost tremendous ground to GNOME and KDE over the years, and I am glad to see the new development team benefiting from this project.

From game console to supercomputer

Provided the Power architecture’s performance in number crunching intensive applications such as modeling and rendering, Terra Soft is also a very strong contender in the scientific and supercomputing markets, thanks to their Y-Bio and Y-HPC products.

Y-Bio is Terra Soft’s solution for the growing life sciences market. Built upon the RPM Linux standard for package management, Y-Bio offers gene sequence analysis applications –tools which help bioinformatics researchers conduct their work with greater efficiency.

Y-HPC is Terra Soft’s cluster construction-management suite for Apple G5 (IBM 970) Xserves. Built upon 64-bit Yellow Dog Linux, Y-HPC offers 64-bit enhancements for code development. In use by the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and University labs nation-wide, Yellow Dog Linux and Y-HPC are a preferred Linux platform for the Power architecture.

TSS is currently contracted by Sony to build of the world’s first Cell-based supercomputing cluster in their Loveland, Colorado headquarters.

So, thanks for complicating my life…

Okay, now that I had narrowed my choices down to either a Mac Mini or Apple’s upcoming iTV for our family room, you’re telling me I have to start over again?

Between the games, the Blu-ray/DVD/CD, flash memory and hard drive, the USB2 ports and now a powerful desktop OS making it a full fledged workstation, I might actually get a PS3 for my home office.

Sorry kids, that’s daddy’s toy! ;)

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