Ever since it launched in 2006, one of the neater features of the PlayStation 3 has been its ability to run operating systems other than its own. Like Linux. Next month, however, the console will ditch that compatibility.
On April 1, Sony will release the next firmware update for the PS3, bringing it to v3.21. It seems the sole purpose of this update is to remove the "install other OS" feature from pre-Slim models of the console. SCEA's Senior Director Corporate Communications & Social Media, Patrick Seybold, says the move is "due to security concerns".
He also says that disabling the feature "will help ensure that PS3 owners will continue to have access to the broad range of gaming and entertainment content from SCE and its content partners on a more secure system."
Of course, Sony is quick to point out the install is "optional", but then, if you refuse to upgrade, you'll no longer be able to sign into the PlayStation Network or play any PS3 games (or Blu-Rays) that require v3.21 (or higher). So no, for many people, it's not really optional.
This of course doesn't affect owners of a "Slim" PS3, as the feature was never present in that model in the first place.
People who already have Linux installed and choose to receive the v3.21 update should move any relevant stuff somewhere else, as they "will not be able to access that data following the update".
The "security" reason is an interesting one, given that, around the time of the initial announcement of the PS3 Slim losing Linux support, Sony promised that "this feature will not be disabled in future firmware releases".
We've asked Sony for clarification on just what the "security concerns" are, and will update if we hear back.