I’ve been wanting a cheap Big Endian RISC machine, and of course I want to do it on the cheap! From a few tips it seems its possible to re-activate the ‘otheros’ feature of the PS3, and get the newer ones running Linux!
There is a LOT of warnings about breaking your system, bricking things, so of course I’m not going to buy something nice, and I found this beauty on eBay
What a beauty! Only £23 with shipping! The way inflation is going its like McDonalds money.
Anyways a mere 3 days later, and it showed up!
The cover promptly fell off, and I was a bit worried. I hooked up the power, and the red light came but but it didn’t turn on. The power switches are these weird sensors, and it looked like the power one was pushed in. I guess its more of an antenna rather than closing a circuit, so I genitally bent it apart, and it sprang to life. There was no video, but it did chirp pretty loudly so I assumed it was working. I figured there was no disk, so I found the process to reset the video (turn on, holding power and it’ll power off. Power on again, and wait for it to do 2 chirps while holding power down, then let go, and it’ll hopefully lower all video to minimal levels on both composite and HDMI. And yeah, it sprang to life!
The PS3 had version 4.50 loaded, and the first step to bringing back otheros was to update to 4.90. The last version that had otheros was 3.16, so sadly it’s long gone.
Updating was pretty uneventval.
But now starts the real fun.
It’s scratched pretty bad, but you can make out it’s a CECHK03.
, meaning it’s NOR type flash. This matters as the launch devices used NAND, and a heck of a lot more too! And of course totally incompatible. So yeah be careful!
So the first thing to do is to patch the flash. And shockingly this is VERY very easy… It’s so scary it’s easy! Just open the browser after you’ve flashed to 4.90 and go to
Yep it’s a web browser exploit that should terrify you.
Using FLASH buffer overflows we’re going to reprogram the FLASH. WOW could you imagine a world where iPhones ran Adobe Flash?
From the web page, it’s a snap to backup the flash to USB, and then you can download and merge the flash patch right from the UI
With the image loaded and merged, we can now re-flash the PS3.
It’s really this easy.
Now you need to power it off.
Next up is to install the Evilnat CEX 4.90 hacked firmware. It’s pretty simple, much like the production image, it installs from the XMB after copying the file to USB in the appropriate directories. I downloaded “CFW 4.90 Evilnat Cobra 8.4 [CEX].rar“.
And now you are a reboot away into modified OS
There was a bunch of users, and installed games, I removed the users, deleted the games, and formatted the disk. I’m not going to be playing games anyways.
Now it was a bit more things to do.
Partition the flash, and re-program it again with the otheros support. And then now finally you can boot to the BusyBox ramdisk.
I’ll have to touch on this part a bit more, it’s involved, and again you can brick your PS3. If you worry about it, now is the time to do it, as many are being sold effectively as garbage.
For the heck of it, I exploded out an old Red Ribbon ISO, and was able to ‘live image’ boot it from USB.
So this gets me part of the way here.
The next thing to figure out is if I can downgrade the OS to something where I can partition part of the hard drive for Linux. And how to get that installed.
So I’m going to have to leave it here, at least for my usage case I may have to just be happy using the slow USB for the root filesystem. I’m pretty sure when it comes to partitioning the disk you need the lower OS version to do so. Obviously for me I can leave it there if it runs, as I don’t care about playing games on this one anyways.
Which I’m sure won’t be as bad once I turn off X11 and everything ‘nice’ for a user.
Also you probably want to get a PS3 controller, as at any point you need to do a recovery you need to be able to hit the ps3 button. And that’s where I am currently stuck, but not bricked.