How to Turn Your Original PS3 Into an Entertainment Computer
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Update to this Hub!
Thanks to Sony's schizophrenic behavior of late this hub is now void because Sony has changed their mind about allowing these changes. Additionally, this hub only works on original PS3's and is not tested on the newer models. Even if you were to succeed in this hack you will not be allowed to access the Play Station Network due to Sony's new policy.
I debated deleting this hub because it is no longer valid, but I felt the info generally useful and I just didn't want to delete this in case Sony changes its mind (Hey! It happens!). Either way, I want to clarify that this hub is not current information.
How to Turn Your Playstation 3 into an Entertainment PC
Sony’s Playstation3 is a computer powerhouse. Its Cell processor is designed specifically to compute the millions and millions of calculations per second that intense gaming requires. So why has no one utilized it as a computer yet? For one thing, it’s apparently illegal to run Windows or OSX (the Mac operating system) on the PS3. But the free alternative Operating System, Linux, can be run, not only legally, but also without voiding your warranty while keeping the consoles functionality as a dedicated gaming machine. So if you want to turn your PS3 into a one stop gaming/home theater pc, here are the steps to do it.
Please note that these instructions are designed to make this process as inexpensive as possible without undermining quality!
Step One: Components
If you plan on upgrading your PS3 for computer functionality, you’ll need a few items. These include…
1) A PS3
2) A copy of Yellow Dog Linux or Ubuntu Linux with kboot (see next step )
3) A larger hard drive (to expand storage to hold more movies/music) [We recommend anything bigger than 80 Gigs. 150 + is better]
4) A small Phillips head screwdriver (if you are upgrading the hard drive)
5) A USB keyboard and mouse
Step Two: Download and Prepare Linux
Now that you have your materials, you’ll need a copy of the Operating System you are going to install. You can use any version of Linux you want, but the best one available to replace and mimic windows is Yellow Dog (all though Ubuntu will do in a pinch). Yellow dog sells PS3's with their operating system preinstalled, but doing it yourself is better of you want a bigger hard drive. Here is instructions to install Yellow Dog on a PS3. You can also download a copy of Ubuntu pre-coded with kboot, but you will have to search for it on the web (Yellow Dog is recommended!). Kboot is a special tool that makes installing Ubuntu onto your PS3 easier, so it’s a good thing to have.
The file you download is a .iso disc image, and so you’ll need to burn it with your favorite burning tool onto a disc so you can place it into your system. We recommend IMG Burn which can be found at : http://www.imgburn.com/ for free.
Step Three: Prepare PS3
BACK UP YOUR SAVED GAMES! I cannot stress this enough. If you do not want to lose all your progress in all your games, you MUST backup your saved games. To do this, insert a USB flash drive or portable hard drive into one of the PS3’s USB ports. Then go into the “System Settings” menu and click on “Backup Utility.” Follow the prompts to back up your saved games. PLEASE NOTE: This will NOT backup your music, video, etc. This will ONLY backup your saved games.
Step Four: Swap Hard-Drives
If you have decided to upgrade your hard-drive for something larger than the PS3’s stock 40/60/80GB hard drive, keep reading. If not, please skip to the next step “Step Five: Install Ubuntu.” To upgrade your hard drive you will need the Phillips screwdriver and hard drive mentioned in the “components” section. You will need a 2.5in laptop hard drive for this purpose.
To swap hard drives:
1) Unplug your PS3 and all input devices.
2) Find a flat, clear surface, preferably a table top or workbench, and set your PS3 on it. Make sure you are grounded before working on your PS3. In order to do this, simply touch any conductive metal surface, or if you are really extreme about grounding, find your houses main ground line and touch it. This way you do not damage your PS3 with electrostatic discharge. If you have one lying around, you may want to use an anti-static wristband, but these are rarely found in the house.
3) Unscrew the single screw on the side of the PS3.
4) Removing the plastic cover and pull out the hard-drive tray. Swap the hard-drives as shown in the pictures, by removing the remaining screws and replacing the original hard drive with your new one.
5) Screw the new drive into the tray again, slot it back into the PS3 and then replace the cover and place the final screw in.
6) Plug your PS3 back in and turn it on. The PS3 will auto-format the new hard drive.
Step Five: Install the Operating System
This is the hardest part of the entire process, but as you will see, it is extremely simple. To begin with, make sure you have a PS3 controller plugged in, and then turn it on. Select “system settings” then “format utility” from the PS3 system menu. Choose “custom” and allot 10GB to the “other os.” Select “quick format” and reboot when it is done. Once the partition is made, the OS can be loaded from the Ubuntu disc. Insert the disc and select “install other os” under the “settings” menu. This installs kboot, which allows the PS3 to install Ubuntu.
After installing kboot, you will need to go back into the PS3 system menu and designate “other os” under the “default os” section. If you don’t do this, you will not be able to load Ubuntu. Reboot the PS3 and plug in a USB keyboard and mouse in place of the PS3 controller. The console will boot using the disc you have burned, and will install Ubuntu. Expect it to take anywhere from 30 minutes, to an hour and 30 minutes.
Step Six: Switching To Game Function
Programs & Games
Now that your PS3 has an operating system, you can add programs. If you wish to play PC games, you may need to install WINE (Windows Emulator), you can also install other tools that are free or very inexpensive. Open Office is a freeware version of Microsoft Office 2003, Mozilla Firefox is an excellent as a web browser, as is Google Chrome. For graphic editing, there is always Inkscape as well.