Sony's Decicion to Remove Install Other OS - What a Mistake, DNS Work Around for PSN Access

Sony, let me tell you something: this is one fight you cannot possibly win. You saw what happened with the PSP. People started releasing firmware hacks for it and after that, it was over. Removing a very useful feature, a feature that I’ve already paid for, is not a very wise move on your part. You’ve angered the same gods that brought down hellfire upon the PSP. Geohot has said not to upgrade because he is looking into a safe way of upgrading and not losing “Install Other OS.” Let’s hope that works out.

Sony gave people who still want to use features they have paid for two options:

  1. Install 3.21 and forever lose the ability to install Linux as a guest operating system. This goes against what Sony had already promised just about a month ago.
  1. Don’t install 3.21 and lose these features:
* Ability to sign in to PlayStation Network and use network features  that require signing in to PlayStation Network, such as online features  of PS3 games and chat


* Playback of PS3 software titles or Blu-ray Disc videos that require  PS3 system software version 3.21 or later


* Playback of copyright-protected videos that are stored on a media  server (when DTCP-IP is enabled under Settings)


* Use of new features and improvements that are available on PS3  system software 3.21 or later

As your can probably guess, none of these features play out too well. I either lose Linux or the ability to play games and connect to the PSN. Well given that I’ve already got the games that I want (God of War 3, Metal Gear Solid 4), I really don’t see a reason to continue purchasing PS3/PSN games especially since Sony has alluded to new games and movies requiring a firmware upgrade. That hurts Sony since they make the most money on video game purchases from what I know. Unfortunately, as it seems to have turned out as demonstrated by the PSN outage a month or so ago, a few of my downloaded games require an active PSN connection of some sort (Marvel vs Capcom 2 - I’m looking at you). More money I threw away to Sony? Well…

I came across this work around to get your PS3 logged back into the PSN. I do not like the idea of using someone else’s DNS to do something I can do, so I sat down on this night that I cannot sleep and got to work setting this up locally. I run my own DNS on my router through the awesomeness that is OpenWRT so all I needed to know was the starting off point. The DNS article talks about having a wild card dns entry for

*.ps3.update.playstation.net

but was unable to do so since *.example.com doesn’t seem to be a valid host entry. What I need to do now is figure out exactly what host the PS3 is trying to resolve. For that, I added “log-queries” to the OpenWRTs /etc/dnsmasq.conf, restarted dnsmasq and started the syslog daemon. Using the command

logread

I was able to determine that the host being requested was

Jan  8 14:47:38 openwrt daemon.debug dnsmasq[22608]: query[A] fus01.ps3.update.playstation.net from 192.168.0.103

where 192.168.0.103 is the IP of my PS3. Since I do have a server in the house, running Ubuntu/LAMP, I set the host entry on my OpenWRT to read:

192.168.0.101  fus01.ps3.update.playstation.net

where 192.168.0.101 is the IP of the machine running Apache. So far, so good. Since the article says that the PS3 makes a web request to a text file, next thing I need to know is what is the path and file the PS3 is asking for. This is simply done by tailing your webserver’s access.log file. Doing what, and trying to connect to the PSN gives me an entry in the log file from my PS3 looking like this:

192.168.0.103 - - [06/Apr/2010:23:57:50 -0700] "GET /update/ps3/list/us/ps3-updatelist.txt HTTP/1.1" 404 235 "-" "PS3Update-agent/1.0.0 libhttp/1.0.0"

as well as a message on the PS3 telling me I should upgrade my PS3. No, no.
The 404 in that line means the PS3 (again with the IP 192.168.0.103) is asking for /update/ps3/list/us/ps3-updatelist.txt and it is not found. Simple enough: I go into my server’s webroot, create the needed directories, create an empty ps3-updatelist.txt file and try connecting to the PSN again. This gives me a different error message of “An error has occurred. you’ve been signed out from the Playstation Network” or whatever that most helpful of error messages said. Success! Something new, and I like when new things happen. The Playstation must not have liked the empty ps3-updatelist.txt file. A simple Google for “ps3-updatelist.txt” returns, for me anyway, a URL to what seems to be the exact file and it’s contents. The problem is that the url is:

http://fus01.ps3.update.playstation.net/update/ps3/list/us/ps3-updatelist.txt

and if you remember, we edited the DNS for this host to point to our local web server. Thankfully, Google has a cache option!

Using Google’s cache returned this text:

US

Dest=84;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=84;ImageVersion=0000a20e;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://dus01.ps3.update.playstation.net/update/ps3/image/us/2010_0401_3a08ef6164a7770ae3e7d5b9f366437a/PS3UPDAT.PUP;CDN_Timeout=30;

The exact text we need to be in our ps3-updatelist.txt. A simple change of the key CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion’s value from 3.2100 to 0.0000 gives us:

US

Dest=84;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=0.0000-;
Dest=84;ImageVersion=0000a20e;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://dus01.ps3.update.playstation.net/update/ps3/image/us/2010_0401_3a08ef6164a7770ae3e7d5b9f366437a/PS3UPDAT.PUP;CDN_Timeout=30;

Note that I did not change the second occurrence of 3.2100 but it seems to work fine for me. That is probably the version number that appears when you accept to go through the update process. Either way, pasting that into my file on the webserver grants us access to the PSN and my sweet sweet copy of Marvel vs Capcom 2.

The only drawback is that I’ve only put in one host entry for the PS3 to check. If it randomly goes through a list of other hosts to try to get the update list, I may have to add those too.

Note that this method does not get you around upgrading. Future Playstation 3 games and Blu-ray movies may force you to upgrade. I suggest not buying those anymore if you don’t want to be forced to upgrade. Or just wait for Geohot to come through. Also this method does not help with piracy. If you’re looking for that, I suggest you go elsewhere. This has never been about piracy. I don’t want it to come to that.

As for if I’m ever going to upgrade? I don’t know. Maybe one day if any other good games come out. God of War 4? Metal Gear Solid 5 or 6? A re-released Final Fantasy 7 :)! I love having all those cores available to me to play around with with Linux and the PS3 and I rarely have time for games as is. I do have a huge library of games that have not been touched yet so I can finally start going through those I guess. Or finally start using my Wii and 360 again? That many cores on the Playstation 3 something I can’t easily replace with another small form factor computer. Hell, even a regular computer doesn’t give me all that parallel processing ability. The Cell processor is awesome in that regard. I really don’t want to give that up due to Sony’s short sight.

Sony, let’s talk for a minute. I’ve always been a huge fan of yours. Everyone mocked but I persevered for reasons such as “Install Other OS.” I was a PS3 early adopter (which really is what earned me the mocking). I had a Playstation 1 and Playstation 2. I looked forward to the PS3 from the days of the rumors of a prototype new Playstation being rolled around that was 9 PS2s running in parallel. It has become, literally, the most used device in my room. All my media is played on it. I use it for games since I presume the 360 is going to red ring as soon as I turn it on. I use the PS3 for computing. It was the most awesome of devices. Removing “Install Other OS” as well as the PSN screw up that locked me out of Marvel vs Capcom 2 for a weekend has basically destroyed my faith in you. I get that I am the minority in your business plan. Not many people used the “Install Other OS” to install Linux. Hell I wonder how many people tried to install Windows. But in this case, the minorities are not the people you want to piss off. C’mon Sony, rethink this move. I want to believe again.

UPDATE Just found this article about users who have upgraded to 3.21. Sony, please realize that this is a mistake and revert!