Installing Debian Linux / Ubuntu Linux on the PlayStation 3 - (PS3)


Ah, the PlayStation 3... people getting shot... people standing in line for days just to get their hands on one.  I noticed a lot of you are trying to install Ubuntu on this badboy, so I am going to show you how to cross-install Ubuntu Linux / Debian Linux on your PlayStation 3 from an existing Linux system.  Please don't moan and complain about having to install Fedora Core 5 onto your PS3 before installing Ubuntu.  I had already installed Fedora Core 5 onto my PlayStation 3 before getting the urge to install Ubuntu, and I'm sure a majority of you have already installed Fedora on your PS3 so it's not a big deal.  You can probably skip section 01 if you are an advanced user thats comfortable with the kboot prompt, as it's a minimal Linux environment with enough tools for you to skip to step 02, but I'm showing you how I got Ubuntu on the PS3 so here we go.

Here are some pictures of my PS3 running Xubuntu:  http://louiscandell.com/ps3/images/

I have no friends and am lonely, so feel free to add me to your friends list on your PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360:

  *  PSNID & Xbox 360 Live Tag:  candell
You know you want to add me... dont lie!

Update: 2007/01/20 - Thanks to bram.sara.nl (replace "." with @) for sending me an email and correcting some typos. Please, feel free and let me know if you see some blatant typos as I was on 72 hours of non-sleep and a 12 pack of pale ale when I typed this up. Thanks!

Update: 2006/12/16 - Thanks for the emails I'm glad I'm able to help out! You can email me at [[>louis at ossh dot com<->Subject: PlayStation 3<]] as its always nice to see who else was able to get Ubuntu / Debian on their PS3!

01 - Installing kboot on the PlayStation 3

These are the items I used:

I went ahead and followed sections 01 - 03 from these instructions:

I'm going to give it to you real quick breakdown here:

Now once you are on the kboot prompt you are within a minimal Linux environment.

02 - Installing a Base Linux Distribution to ease our cross-install of Ubuntu on the PS3

Note:  You can probably skip this step if you are an advanced user as you can do a lot with the kboot/busybox environment.  I'm providing this section as I had already installed Fedora Core 5 on my PlayStation 3 before getting the urge to install Ubuntu.  This will be real quick I promise! :)

Here is more information on kboot if you are interested:

Once you have both the Fedora Core 5 DVD and the ADDON CD burned follow these steps:

Once you are at this step you are ready to install Ubuntu.  Like I said, you can probably skip section 02 if you are an advanced user, but I'm sure a majority of you have Linux already installed on /dev/sda so its not a problem.

03 - Cross-Installing Ubuntu / Debian on the PlayStation 3

I followed the instructions on Installing Ubuntu from a Unix/Linux System but I will show you what steps I followed.  This assumes that you have either repartitioned /dev/sda2 with GNU Parted or have an external USB storage device with at least 500MB for a minimal debian install or  2GB of available space for an Ubuntu desktop as it depends on how you want to use your PlayStation 3.  At this point you should be within your Fedora install on /dev/sda with a working Internet connection, as we are going to install a minimal debian install and then upgrade it to Ubuntu/Xubuntu/Kubuntu... whatever you want.  These are the steps I took.  I'm going to assume your USB storage device is /dev/sdc, so go ahead and change it to whatever comes up on dmesg.  Here we go:

Once done partitioning your USB storage device - you will need to create a filesystem on your partitions You now have enough to start your Ubuntu installation.
Once you are done mounting your partitions you will go ahead and download debootstrap binary from a remote or local Ubuntu mirror, and follow these following steps:

Or you can just be lazy and do the following:

And you are done... either way will work.  I'm just lazy I guess.  I downloaded a xubuntu 6.10 Edgy iso just to have in case I needed it, so you can do so if you like but its not required since it will technically be a net install.

Once you are done with the above then just issue the command:

And sit back and watch the screen fly as a base Ubuntu system creates itself from your hard work.  I would suggest another "beverage" at this point in time and oh maybe some junk food.

04 - Configuring Minimal Install of Ubuntu Base System

I want to get us into our Ubuntu Desktop as quickly as possible and with minimal work, so lets copy the kernel from Fedora Core 5 and use it to quickly get into a GUI we all know and love:

The above will have a 2.6.16 kernel, initrd and modules at your disposal in case you mess something up in the near future and will get us into our Ubuntu Desktop as quickly as possible.

Once done with debootstrap you will go ahead and configure your Base System.

I'm partial to GNU Emacs, but you might be a vi, vim or nano type of character so just to make this as easy as possible do the following:

The above command has you in your new Ubuntu system in its infant state.

At this point you will configure your /etc/fstab file.

Here is a basic one for me:

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
# file system mount point type options dump pass
/dev/sdc5 / ext3 defaults 0 0
/dev/sdc3 /home ext3 defaults 0 0
/dev/sdc2 /boot ext2 defaults 0 2
/dev/sdc1 none swap sw 0 0
proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
sys /sys sysfs defaults 0 0
/dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy auto noauto,rw,sync,user,exec 0 0
/dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom iso9660 noauto,ro,user,exec 0 0

###### /etc/fstab done
Once done configuring your /etc/fstab file you can manually mount each filesystem once you are chrooted into your Ubuntu System, or you can automatically mount them.  

The above game me some errors, so I made sure that both /proc and /sys were mounted.  Check to see if they are mounted by seeing if there is anything in them:

If /proc and /sys are not mounted then you will manually mount them like this:

Once done, you will configure your keyboard, networking, timezone, locales, install a kernel and all that good stuff so you can boot up into your Ubuntu desktop and kick some butt!  I'm sure you're probably tired of being in the CLI and we do need a kernel, but remember we copied over the 2.6.16 kernel from our Fedora Core system, so lets get into our Ubuntu System and then start customizing and tailoring our system to our specific needs:

You can download a kernel if you like, but I'm sure you would rather be inside your Ubuntu Desktop as quickly as possible, so just use what I've given you and go from there.

05 - Installing The Xubuntu / Ubuntu / Kubuntu desktop

Congrats as you've made it this far!  At this stage you have a choice of installing whatever desktop you like.  You can either install the Ubuntu, Xubuntu or the Kubuntu desktop at this stage of the install.  You will want to issue one of the following commands depending on what desktop you want.  I went ahead and installed Xubuntu, as I'm more of a CLI type of person.

Once the above is done you are finished.  You should be inside your Ubuntu Desktop, but what is this... it looks like a big block party and everything is so large and in charge!  Not to fear... you just need to do a few more things to make everything fit inside your Ubuntu Desktop.

Now go ahead and reboot.

06 - Using kboot to boot up Ubuntu Linux

You can save boot kernel parameters in /etc/kboot.conf file so you can automatically boot into Ubuntu vs. Fedora which is still installed in /dev/sda.  This is what I type @ the kboot prompt when I want to use Ubuntu on my PS3:

$ kernel=/dev/sdc5/vmlinux initrd=/dev/sdc5/initrd.img root=/dev/sdc5

I press enter and wait 10-15 seconds and voila... into my Ubuntu Linux Distro!

07 - Configuring /etc/X11/xorg.conf and ps3videomode to make everything look great.

The first thing you are going to notice when you go into your new Ubuntu Desktop is everything is so large that you can't really get much done.   You will need to either download the ADDONN iso to your harddrive or pull out the ADDON cd you burned earlier and used with the Fedora Core 5 install and install a few things.  I'm going to assume you burned the ADDON iso onto a CD so go ahead and put it into your PS3 and mount that sucker up, or you can download the files needed from here:

$ cd ~
$ wget http://www.louiscandell.com/ps3/files/cell-linux-cl_20061110-addon/ps3pf-utils_1.0.9-3_powerpc.deb
$ wget http://www.louiscandell.com/ps3/files/cell-linux-cl_20061110-addon/vsync-sample_1.0.1-5_powerpc.deb
$ dpkg -i ps3pf-utils_1.0.9-3_powerpc.deb
$ dpkg -i vsync-sample_1.0.1-5_powerpc.deb

You should now have ps3videomode installed on your system.  Before you go any further, you should do CTRL+ALT+F1-F6 to get into the CLI.  Log in as root and:

$ kill gdm
$ kill Xorg

You should be back to a black screen with no purty colors... the horror!  

Make your life easy and just download my xorg.conf file:

  *  http://louiscandell.com/ps3/files/xorg.conf

Go ahead and check out this chart:

  *  http://www.louiscandell.com/ps3/doc/PlatformSpecificUtilities.html

And find which ps3videomode option applies to your situation.  I have a 720p/1080i capable HDTV so I type the following:

$ ps3videomode -v 3
$ gdm

That alone gets me into a nice sized desktop!

This should be enough to get you going as I have spent quite some time writing this up vs. trying to get sound out of my speakers, but I'm off to install some emulators to test out some um... yeah. :)

I'll continue this later.  Please let me know of any corrections.