Now that the PS4 has been hacked to run Linux, SteamOS is an inevitability – ExtremeTech
During last week’s Chaos Communication Congress event in Germany, console hacking team “fail0verflow” showed off their most recent project: a PS4 Linux port. After finding exploits in the PS4’s firmware, and making over 7,000 changes to the kernel, the team was able to achieve a mostly functional Linux environment. And once they get 3D acceleration working properly, many existing Linux games should work with little hassle.
The folks at fail0verflow are already well-known in the homebrew community for their work on the PS3, Wii, and Wii U. And while it may seem like this is just a repeat of their past success, the team is approaching the PS4 differently. Instead of releasing the specific exploits they’ve discovered, fail0verflow is focused almost exclusively on the Linux port. Why? They’re sick of their work being hijacked by pirates.
Since the PS4’s OS is a modified version of FreeBSD, and the browser is WebKit-based, the team posits that it’s trivial for any motivated party to find exploits in the open-source codebases. And by avoiding release of their own exploits, they’re effectively distancing themselves from the legal and ethical issues surrounding game piracy. If you take the group’s statements at face value, homebrew and existing Linux games are the clear priority here.
However, the team’s first major public demonstration features a Game Boy Advance emulator running what appears to be a ROM-hacked Pokémon game. Emulating decade-old games is different from facilitating piracy of recent releases, but it sends a mixed message. If the team is so concerned about being affiliated with pirates, demoing an emulated Nintendo game on a PS4 is an odd decision.
Putting those sticky issues aside, fail0verflow’s PS4 Linux port is exciting from a technical perspective. Based on what’s explained in the video embedded above, the PS4’s custom hardware is significantly different from a standard PC, but it’s close enough to make the project feasible. There’s still much work to be done to get 3D acceleration fully functional, but the dev team is certain that it’s an attainable goal. If everything goes as planned, we can expect to see 3D games running reasonably well in less than two years.
Once all of the major hurdles are cleared, it should be relatively simple to get SteamOS to work on the PS4. A $350 Steam Machine certainly sounds appealing, but you’re almost certainly better off buying a real Steam Machine or building your own low-cost gaming rig. There are bound to be some compatibility issues, and the jailbreaking process could put your PS4 and PSN account at risk. Only serious tinkerers need apply.
Interested in getting your hands dirty? The fail0verflow team is currently looking for help — especially with the Radeon DRI driver. If you have low-level expertise you’re willing to share, you can reach out on Twitter or on the team’s IRC channel (#f0f on EFNet).