Your PS4 is about to, unofficially, see many, many more video games available to play on it. Fail0verflow, the hacking collective that broke the PS3’s encryption and champions homebrew games, has just announced they’ve got Linux working on a PS4, and that SteamOS should “just work” once they resolve the driver issues. But will Sony tolerate Valve on their turf?
Sony has something of a thing for Linux. Before they got all humorless about it, the PS3 could run Linux, both as a bid to make it a PC and as a way to create little development kits for gamers to experiment with. The PS4, officially, has no such functionality, but it’s close enough to a standard PC that Fail0verflow is engineering a custom Linux kernel for it.
Not completely, mind you: The team has made more than 7,000 modifications to the Linux kernel, and they’re still figuring out the HDMI audio and 3D graphics acceleration. The latter in particular is giving them some trouble, but they report it’ll be months, not years, before it works. Interestingly, they’ve learned a few weird things about the PS4 along the way, like the fact that the hard drive uses USB standards to communicate with the console and that Sony might have been experimenting with a custom controller port before sticking with USB connectors.
Still, if you know what you’re doing, you can try out Fail0verflow’s code right now, and once the driver issues are done, that means SteamOS. The only question is how long Sony will put up with it before they take steps to shut it down.
Sony has been oddly quiet about all this, although one suspects they’re fixing the exploits that let you run this code as we speak. The main question is how they’ll see it. Fail0verflow’s work could make pirating games easier, but even if it doesn’t, in theory you could play AAA games on Sony’s console without buying a PS4 game, and thus leaving Sony out of the royalties loop.
If Sony’s smart, they’ll get ahead of the game and just start talking to Valve about bringing Steam, in a limited fashion, to the PS4. But for now, they’ll have to figure out how they want to deal with industrious hackers bringing more games to their console, whether they like it or not.