Sony’s recent decision to change their m…

Sony’s recent decision to change their mind about allowing people to run alternate operating systems on their PS3s (dubbed the “Other OS” feature) is problematic: on the one hand, it seems an obvious parable about trusting a closed system that can be changed by fiat.

This is an issue for people like the Air Force and an NCSU Professor, who built distributed super-computers out of PS3s. See, Sony (as do all console manufacturers) sells the console for below cost and makes it up with profits on game sales.

However, if you buy a bunch of PS3s and no games, install Linux with the Other OS feature, and start trying to cure cancer with your super-computing cluster, you’re losing Sony a bunch of money.

The same reason that the idea of a PS3 supercomputer is an attractive idea, that you get abnormally-cheap and powerful hardware, is exactly the same reason that Sony probably removed the Other OS feature: it was hemorrhaging them money.

Of course, there does seem to be an obvious solution to this: sell PS3s with the Other OS option enabled for a high enough price that Sony still makes money and people with significant investment in PS3 computing clusters like the USAF can keep their clusters running.