Here's your Linux-booting PS4, says fail0verflow

Work-in-progress at 'ugly' stage for now

32c3 There's a long way to go before it becomes an “anyone can do this” hack, but games console tinkerers fail0verflow have replicated their PlayStation 3 work, getting Linux to run on Sony's PlayStation 4.

However, as they told the Chaos Communication Conference in Germany, their work is only useful on an older PS4, because the jailbreak vector, present on version 1.76 of the machine's firmware, is patched on later versions (a new machine would be running 3.11).

Nor is the work complete: as the hackers note in their talk (available online here with a longer discussion), 3D acceleration, USB and HDMI audio aren't yet functional and they hadn't yet tested the operating system's access to the PS4's Blu-Ray.

So as not to open themselves to accusations of copyright infringement, fail0verflow is sticking to porting Linux to the PS4, rather than releasing the specific exploits they used to get inside the box.

“If we can get people interested in running Linux on the PS4 over using the native OS, we can redirect efforts away from reverse engineering the original software infrastructure (which is what the piracy guys need, and they inevitably leech off of those efforts) to Linux (which is completely useless for piracy)”, they write.

To get past the PS4's protections, they used an unnamed (and since patched) vulnerability in Webkit, to get at the FreeBSD-based Orbis OS. Other PS4 owners wanting to boot up Linux will have to bring their own exploits, fail0verflow says, but that shouldn't need hardware hacks given what they call PS4's “very wide attack surface and mediocre isolation”.

The source code (available with fail0verflow's slide downloads) is “pretty ugly”, and the group is looking for help with the Radeon DRI driver.

And while the homebrew and indy communities will welcome a Linux-running PS4, El Reg expects that HPC types who have in the past strapped together supercomputing clusters out of games consoles will also be watching the project with interest. ®

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