Poor Linux Performance on PS3

When news about Linux support on PS3 was coming in a few months earlier, honestly, I was excited a little too much and started saving money for my console. A home computer running on a 9 core processor is no doubt a drooling proposition for any tech enthusiast. I even drew up a plan to use my PS3 as:

  • my main computing machine (I can happily relegate the Centrino to my Wife)
  • media center after installing mythtv on it (using a USB tuner)
  • and as a game console too.

Now that news about actual performance of Linux on PS3 has started pouring in, there is very little to cheer about.

  • The architecture is such that Linux cannot take advantage of all the cores in the system
  • The system compares in performance only to a low end G5
  • Initial reviews and comparisons do not show a better gaming experience than the XBox360.

So what next? Without second thoughts, I quickly dropped my plans for a PS3 and decided to build a media center PC over the weekend. And what a fun filled weekend it was! My Windows XP Media Center PC coupled with a Samsung 940BW wide screen has suddenly changed the TV viewing/multimedia experience at home! I have detailed post coming up later today with full details on how I built a Windows MCE PC from scratch.

Ubuntu on PS3?

Now that it is officially confirmed that you are free to install any OS on PS3, it is time to save some money and buy one as soon as it is launched here or when someone starts selling it on ebay. Going by Sony’s past track record in India, it is unlikely that it will be in showrooms before the end of 2007.

Ever since I read about the Cell processor, I always wanted to get hold of a PS3. The cell based PS3 is likely to be very powerful in terms of processing heavy duty stuff like media encoding, which I often do on my laptop. The 9 core processor will be a refreshing change to the x86 based computers that we have been using for a while now. Though the official Linux is going to be Yellow Dog with enlightenment, I think hardly anyone will go for it. Ubuntu is likely to win the race here, closely followed by Fedora core. (Unforunately, Mandriva stopped shipping PPC versions of there distro sometime back). Interestingly, IBM is already shipping a Cell based general purpose computer with Fedora pre-installed!

This strategy of Sony comes as a big surprise, considering their continued efforts to thwart homebrew development on the PSP.

Sure, exciting days are ahead!

Update (28-Dec-2006): Here are some instructions for installing Ubuntu on PS3.  Warning: Not for the faint of heart.