PS3 Linux Fix and RSX Woes

December 20th, 2007 by Crusader

The latest firmware update for the PlayStation 3 game console from Sony Computer Entertainment, version 2.10, broke compatibility with some Linux kernels, causing boot failures:

As of PS3 firmware version 2.10, the GPU command buffer size must be at least 2 MiB large. Since we use only a small part of the GPU command buffer and don’t want to waste precious XDR memory, move the GPU command buffer back to the start of the XDR memory reserved for ps3fb and let the unused part overlap with the actual frame buffer.

Fortunately, (thanks Onken), Sony’s Geoff Levand has published a patch:

A frame buffer bug was introduced into the ps3-linux.git tree on Aug 17th. It was fixed Dec 17th. Any kernels with this bug will not boot on firmware 2.10. The bug only effects systems with firmware 2.10 (and later). The bug is not hit with older firmware.


The kernel sources used for CELL-Linux-CL_20071023-ADDON has this bug.

This older version of kboot should work:

You’ll most likely need to update your installed (second stage) kernel also.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Unfortunately, the version 2.10 firmware also blocked the method hobbyists had been using (video)to access the NVIDIA RSX GPU, leading PS2DEV to speculate on the implications:

I understand that Sony might want to keep access to the 3D aspects of the hardware for exclusive use by PS3 commercial games. However, what is the danger of allowing homebrew developers access this hardware? Is Sony concerned a developer will create a great homebrew game and sell it through a different channel? The market for “otheros” developers is so tiny that it would not be worth while. It would actually be an opportunity for Sony to potentially pick up and improve some small games ready for the Playstation Network. The reasons to allow access are numerous. Developers will create a better experience when using Linux, create great demos that explore the hardware’s capabilities and maybe create some basic games. None of these things are threatening to Sony’s core business.

It’s been gratifying to see official Linux support from Sony for the PS3, but it would be exceedingly disappointing if they were indeed actively blunting efforts to improve the platform.

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