Updated & extended; most, though not all, foul language excised. My correspondence with retailer John Lewis has been added to the Comments.
When I read this post on Slashdot yesterday...
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.
... I just clocked the date and went back to sleep. But not without some stress. I was perfectly aware, after all, of the very real threat posed to Sony's business model, by the recent work of iPhone hacker George "GeoHot" Hotz, in circumventing the Playstation 3's hypervisor, gaining full memory space, direct-to-kernel and device driver ring 0 access, and ultimately promising the RSX GPU.
More than that, I was now looking forward to DMA pipeline programming just the curmudgeonly but venerable 150 GFlops Cell processor myself (today's Core i7 975 offers just 111 GFlops by comparison), even though aware of corporate eyes watching with poisonous contempt, laying their plans to move against their own honest customers.
With all that DRM breaking, should I be worried about this Slashdot post, claiming that on April Fools' day, Sony will remotely shut down my entire home OpenOffice.org? Without my consent? Without more than half a week's notice? Well, I also had in my other pyjama pocket, this recent (month old) personal guarantee from Sony Computer Entertainment America's principal software engineer, Geoffrey Levand:
Please be assured that SCE is committed to continue the support for previously sold models that have the "Install Other OS" feature and that this feature will not be disabled in future firmware releases.
In the event, sure enough, I awoke today to a chorus (thanks, Google) of more than six million voices, all confirming Linux's imminent removal from my PS3; and the furious backpedalling rattle in my head, of Levand's "The text above was provided to me by SCE management"...
The Rig, Posing
Just in case you don't believe that I run my evil multinational business empire on PS3 Linux: here is our entertainment centre, oblique, home office.
The speakers are normally a room apart, but they'd recently been moved in close together for a photo shoot connected with an unrelated article on audio standards. The main thing you will observe, I hope, is my meticulously maintained PS3 Linux desktop, where as you can see I'm presently engaged in patient composition of my measured response to the latest Sony news.
What we are finding more and more, in this era of devices infected with strong DRM and phone-home functionality, is that not only do we no longer control our own devices to any reasonable level, but that we are also subjected to the summary cancellation of sundry features after the sales transaction has been effected.
How many customers of Amazon's Kindle ebook reader were convinced to buy because of the automatic audio reader functionality? In the blind and partially sighted community, I suspect a significant proportion. Yet Amazon allowed itself to be blackmailed by the disingenuous and thoroughly, hatefully stupid Authors' Guild, to redact this feature after the contract of sale.
Caveat emptor. If you deliberately buy DRM, if you invest in devices that are defective by design, then like me, you're just a mark - you deserve all the pain that you get, and more, because your meek acceptance of this crap brings it down, inevitably, on everyone else.
By Grabthar's Hammer, by the Suns of Warvan, I Shall be Avenged!
This time I really mean it. I will never buy another Sony product of any kind. Not even a CD, a game, a movie DVD or a Blu Ray.
Or at least, I'll do my level best not to. But I'll eventually fail. After all, if I could really forswear all future transactions with the Sony Playstation Network, deny myself every future Sony game, boycott all mandatory Blu Ray updates and all BD Live content, and so on... then I'd be able to yank out the devil machine's ethernet wire, dodge the update, and keep using my Linux solution.
However that would reduce my plastic toy to just a Linux box, and a very mediocre, deliberately impaired one at that. Remember, we gave Sony our money, on the written understanding and agreement, that this technological DRMfest would also serve as an up-to-the-minute games console and media centre.
As one commenter put it: "It's like they sold you a table, then cut off two legs." Yes, that's it, exactly. This is evil of the kind for which Sony is justly famous. Once more (sigh), we must get the lawyers involved.
Oh, yes. There will be lawyers.