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View Full Version : Using a PS3 as a general-purpose computer -- worthwhile?



j_factor
12-25-2007, 03:16 AM
I've been contemplating Linux on PS3. I don't currently own a PS3, and my only computer is now on life support and in need of a replacement.

In short, are there any big downsides to using PS3 as a computer? Obviously you can't run Windows, but I'm not really concerned about that so much. At a glance, the system has a hard drive, CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive, and multiple USB ports (and less critically, bluetooth, wi-fi, and flash card reader). Four USB ports is enough to attach a keyboard, mouse, printer, and external CD/DVD burner. I could easily hook up the system to a monitor with an HDMI to DVI cable. Price-wise it's pretty good too, as any PC significantly cheaper would be the absolute lowest bottom-of-the-line crap that I probably shouldn't even consider.

But this sounds too simple/easy/good to be true, especially since I never hear anyone talk about using a PS3 in such a fashion. There's got to be some kind of catch... right?

UniHamachi
12-25-2007, 11:03 AM
The only thing I can think of (other than the software limitations in using Linux), is printing, only because of the question, where does the printer go?

I already have a PC hooked up to my TV, but I do like the idea of one more gadget. At this point though, maybe next year.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_for_PlayStation_3

walrusmonger
12-25-2007, 11:12 AM
The PS3 can accept printers through its normal XMB "OS" for printing out pictures you have saved on your hard drive, so that isn't an issue ;)

The PS3 computer sounds like a good idea if you also want to use the PS3 as a PS3 and not just a computer, which I hope you do. I wish I could tell you more about the PS3 as a linux computer, but I never bothered to try it out. Maybe some linux forums would have guys that can tell you the pros/cons of doing this?

UniHamachi
12-25-2007, 12:15 PM
Actually, it was more an issue of where to physically put the printer, since it needs to be connected via USB. I'm sure most of the printers have linux drivers.

DeputyMoniker
12-25-2007, 12:23 PM
I'm sure most of the printers have linux drivers.

My sister had an HP that I couldn't get working for her on XP. I moved it over to the Unbuntu (Linux) system and it was as simple as connecting it. I dont know anything baout the PS3 Linux build but if it's as good as Unbuntu, and I have my doubts considering how good unbuntu is, then you shouldn't have a problem.

j_factor
12-25-2007, 12:30 PM
The PS3 computer sounds like a good idea if you also want to use the PS3 as a PS3 and not just a computer, which I hope you do.

Yeah, I do. I don't want a PS3 that badly just as a game console, but I would definitely use it. It would also become my primary DVD player (with the upscaling and all) although I really don't care about blu-ray. Ideally, I would track down a 60GB unit and also use it for the upscaling of PS2 games.


I wish I could tell you more about the PS3 as a linux computer, but I never bothered to try it out. Maybe some linux forums would have guys that can tell you the pros/cons of doing this?

Hmm... maybe I'll check that out.


Actually, it was more an issue of where to physically put the printer, since it needs to be connected via USB.

Not an issue as the PS3 would simply take the place of my computer on a desk where I already have a USB printer. :)

j_factor
12-25-2007, 12:34 PM
My sister had an HP that I couldn't get working for her on XP. I moved it over to the Unbuntu (Linux) system and it was as simple as connecting it. I dont know anything baout the PS3 Linux build but if it's as good as Unbuntu, and I have my doubts considering how good unbuntu is, then you shouldn't have a problem.

Apparently, there are actually multiple PS3-compatible Linux distributions, including a version of Ubuntu. I wouldn't know which distribution to use, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

phreak97
12-26-2007, 08:07 AM
im interested in knowing your findings, please do post any information you find.

Borman
12-26-2007, 08:36 AM
Easy to find Ubuntu for PS3:
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/PlayStation_3

That guides a little old as it features 7.04, but an updated guide was made:
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Ubuntu-7-10-on-PS3-73272.shtml

The only downside is the lack of GPU support through the PS3, but really, everything seems to work great with the latest Ubuntu (which Ill have to install over break sometime heh)

segagamer4life
12-26-2007, 10:14 AM
I too have pondered this question, the other point I was mulling: what games could this run if you do make it a PC. I mean, I wonder what the graphic capability of the Ps3 would translate to in a pc video card, so what games could you run in linux on a PS3, could you in fact use it as a super gaming machine or just an expensive word processor?

Flack
12-26-2007, 11:13 AM
The PS3 runs Linux in a hypervisor, which means you don't have access to all the PS3's processing power and I believe none of the graphics (RSX) chips. I have read that the original Xbox handles divx videos better than the PS3 running Linux, but I don't know that first hand.

Here's a great article from Eurogamer that talks about installing Linux on the PS3 and what it can and can't do:

http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=70611

According to that article, they were able to get MAME up and running. In that article they installed Fedora, but I'd go with Ubuntu myself. In fact, I'm going to make an effort to do that sometime this week. I just need to dig up a USB keyboard and mouse.

By typing "ubuntu on ps3" in Google you'll get a bunch of install guides to choose from. This seems like a pretty straight forward one:

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Ubuntu-7-04-on-PS3-52699.shtml

Juganawt
12-26-2007, 10:13 PM
the biggest catches are the Ps3's measly 256 mb ram, and the fact that almost none of the legacy hardware can be used through linux without hacking apart the machine. To really use Linux effectively on PS3, you need to buy a cluster of 3/4 PS3s all running in tandem...which is more pricey than getting a cheap PC.

for $600 (the price of one 60gb PS3), you could get a decent PC for day to day activities.

Just looking at Dell's website (the first website I checked), here's a little PC that's not only more powerful than PS3, but also cheaper.

Dell Inspiron 531 - $499

Windows Vista Home Premium
Dual Core Amd Ahtlon X2 4000+ Ghz Processor
250GB SATA Hard Drive
1GB Dual Channel DDR2 667mhz RAM
16x Dual Layer DVD+RW Writer
Geforce 6150 SE PCI Express graphics card
7.1 integrated sound card

If you shop around I'm sure you could find an even better PC for the same price as a crippled PS3-based system. It's simply not worth getting a PS3 for this kind of work if you're not really interesting in the console aspect of the system.

Borman
12-27-2007, 02:34 AM
The CPU isnt as limited as you think, see this article:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,140064-c,gameconsoles/article.html

j_factor
12-28-2007, 01:02 AM
Here's a great article from Eurogamer that talks about installing Linux on the PS3 and what it can and can't do:

http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=70611

According to that article, they were able to get MAME up and running. In that article they installed Fedora, but I'd go with Ubuntu myself. In fact, I'm going to make an effort to do that sometime this week. I just need to dig up a USB keyboard and mouse.

By typing "ubuntu on ps3" in Google you'll get a bunch of install guides to choose from. This seems like a pretty straight forward one:

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Ubuntu-7-04-on-PS3-52699.shtml

Thanks a lot for the links. It sounds like Ubuntu is a lot easier than Fedora. I guess I'll probably go with Ubuntu. Let me know how that goes for you when you try it yourself.


for $600 (the price of one 60gb PS3), you could get a decent PC for day to day activities.

Just looking at Dell's website (the first website I checked), here's a little PC that's not only more powerful than PS3, but also cheaper.

Dell Inspiron 531 - $499

Windows Vista Home Premium
Dual Core Amd Ahtlon X2 4000+ Ghz Processor
250GB SATA Hard Drive
1GB Dual Channel DDR2 667mhz RAM
16x Dual Layer DVD+RW Writer
Geforce 6150 SE PCI Express graphics card
7.1 integrated sound card

If you shop around I'm sure you could find an even better PC for the same price as a crippled PS3-based system. It's simply not worth getting a PS3 for this kind of work if you're not really interesting in the console aspect of the system.

I'm looking to get a used 60GB PS3. They aren't $600; they were originally that price, and then they dropped to $500. Now they're out of production, and I know they're slightly scarce. I have seen some systems, especially on Amazon, priced way high. But I know that with a little patience I could get one for $400-450 easily. For that price, I could get a PC, but it would definitely be nothing special.

Basically, I just really need to throw out the PC I have now. The way I see it, for $400ish I could either get a basic PC, or a PS3. I know there are some bargain bin PC's for $300 but they're such crap that I don't want to consider them. So anyway, if the PS3 can do pretty much everything the $400 PC can, then I can get both a computer and a next-gen console for my money. But if it's crippled and lame, like Linux on DC or PS2, then obviously it's not a viable option. I created this topic to see if I could find out if PS3 Linux functions well enough to become my main computer. From the sound of it, it does. From there all there is to do is weigh the pros and cons of getting a PS3 versus a regular PC at around the same price. As far as I can tell, they are:

PC Pros:
CD & DVD burner standard (most likely)
Windows gaming (although certainly not anything advanced)
Larger hard drive capacity

PS3 Pros:
Plays PS3 games
Plays PSX and PS2 games with upscaled resolutions
Plays Blu-ray movies and reads BD-ROM discs

Barring unforeseen difficulties, the PS3 sounds a better option for me. Gaming barely counts as a pro for the PC as a PC in that price range will suck for gaming (and a nice, $2k gaming rig is out of the question), and I don't care much about hard drive capacity as I don't use up space as much as most people (and I can always get another drive later anyway). That leaves the CD/DVD burner as the one big pro for the PC. I can just buy a USB burner to get around that issue. I don't really care about blu-ray, but there are some nice-looking PS3 games in the pipeline, and the upscaling backwards compatibility is a really nice feature IMO.

Borman
12-28-2007, 02:14 AM
If you want more storage capacity on the PS3, just replace the HDD! Or use an external. Just about any of the right size and speed works internally, easy to find, and cheap! And CD DVD burners are cheap enough, just buy an external one and use it in linux for 25$ or something on ebay.

j_factor
12-28-2007, 09:57 PM
I've thought of something. How would I get audio out of my PS3 if I have it connected to a monitor? All I have are standard speakers. I mean, the PS3 doesn't have a headphone jack, does it? I don't really want to be forced to buy some sort of Dolby speaker system when I really don't care.