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The Sony PLAYSTATION 3 (PS3) is based on a 3.2GHz Cell Microprocessor, with 256MByte GDDR-VRAM. The processor is PowerPC compatible. The alliance of (IBM/Sony/Toshiba) who created the Cell processor have been active creating Linux kernel patches for the processor since Linux Kernel 2.6.13. Sony has created kernel patches specific for the PS3 in Linux Kernel 2.6.22, as well as maintaining the GNU toolchain (gcc, binutils etc).

Version: 11.2 Starting with this build, the PowerPC will no longer be supported.

Version: 10.3 & 11.1 The information below is targeted to openSUSE 11.1 while most of it applies for older releases as well

Hardware Requirements

  • A computer to download and copy files on to media.
  • Playstation3 with:
    • USB Keyboard and Mouse (A Wireless USB Keyboard & Mouse is even better)
  • Any of the following recording media:
    • USB Flash or HD drive
    • CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, BD-R, or BD-RE disc
    • If the PS3 has memory card slots: Memory Stick, SD memory card, or CompactFlash.

Note: Just as with any system, having both a keyboard and mouse simplifies things a lot. But it is possible to install with only a mouse, and possibly even simpler with only a keyboard!

Tip: With only a mouse it is possible to copy-paste characters from Help tabs.

Software Requirements

Other OS Bootloader from older releases:


Preparing Media

Download the PPC edition of OpenSUSE and burn it to a DVD or CD media using your favorite burning tool.

Preparing the PS3

Note: Updating your PS3 to the latest firmware is recommended before proceeding

 To keep game settings/progress and downloads do (only tested with latest firmware)
 * Attach an external (USB) drive
 * Select Settings -> System Settings -> Backup.
  • Select Settings -> System Settings -> Format Drive. Create two partitions one for the PS3s normal use and one for openSUSE. Note that you will lose any non backuped game info.
 * Restore backup (same menu)
 Note: When restoring the complete backup messages from PS3 sounds like it will restore the complete disk as it was before the partitioning, but it will not.
 * Remove the external (USB) drive (assuming it doesn't also contain your otheros.bld file).
  • Insert the media that contains the otheros.bld (see technical note below) file structure which should be your OpenSUSE install media but could also be anything. A USB key or drive is probably easiest but in theory any valid media would be fine.
  • Select Settings -> System Settings -> Install Other OS. The PS3 will display the installers it can find. If it can't find the otheros.bld file then your file structure is probably wrong.
  • Click OK to start the installer.
  • Follow the instructions of the Sony installer.
  • To boot into the Other OS, select Settings > System Settings > Default System > Other OS. This causes the 'Other OS Bootloader' to be loaded on every boot.
    To forcefully boot the PS3 back to Game OS hold down the Power button for about 5 seconds or more. With a keyboard you can use the ps3-boot-game-os command to reboot to the PS3 Game OS. Now it's even possible to switch back to Game OS from within petitboot by selecting "gameboot".
  • Caution: Holding down the power button for 5 seconds resets many PS3 settings!

Technical Note

  • During the PS3 OtherOS install step, your media should have the following folder structure. It is a requirement to use single-byte characters only.
  • If for some reason that file structure is not available on your OpenSUSE install media, it is possible to download the Bootloader seperately (see Software Requirements) and it can be installed from a separate media such as an USB key or drive.
  • PS3 bootloader also can be updated from inside OpenSUSE or the bootloader itself with the following command
# ps3-flash-util -w <otheros.bld>



  • Insert openSUSE installation media in the PS3
  • Boot Other OS, select Settings > System Settings > Default System > Other OS.
  • Select the "install" boot option from boot screen and press enter
  • Graphical installer will start, just follow on-screen instructions

  • It is not recommended to enable Online Repositories during installation as the PS3 might run out of memory. Please add Online Repositories *after* the installation using YaST. This no longer applies for openSUSE 11.1 as it utilizes the ps3vram driver to use video memory as additional swap space.
  • It is also not recommended to run on-line update during the installation--checking for the Internet connection is OK. This is especially true for 11.1 as the OSS/Non-OSS are both pointing to the wrong repository (see below).
  • Also, the graphic driver cannot access to H/W acceleration features of the graphic chip (i.e., no 3D) therefore it is best NOT to install KDE4 and use some lightweight window manager. For example, I installed KDE3 then switched to IceWM for day-to-day use. Note that this limitation is for ALL distros NOT just OpenSUSE.

Post Installation

Video Resolution Fix

The default resolution of the PS3 under OpenSUSE Linux is too small to be usable and the normal tools (sax2) do not work. The solution is to modify the kernel boot parameters by modifying the file /etc/kboot.conf adding the values video=ps3fb:mode:4 as follows:

openSuSE="/dev/ps3da5:/vmlinux initrd=/dev/ps3da5:/initrd quiet panic=42 sysrq=1 video=ps3fb:mode:X"

Where 'X' is a value selected from the following table:

YUV 60Hz 1:480i 2:480p 3:720p 4:1080i 5:1080p
YUV 50Hz 6:576i 7:576p 8:720p 9:1080i 10:1080p
RGB 60Hz 33:480i 34:480p 35:720p 36:1080i 37:1080p
RGB 50Hz 38:576i 39:576p 40:720p 41:1080i 42:1080p

So for example, if you want 1080i at YUV 60Hz, the line would look like this:

openSuSE="/dev/ps3da5:/vmlinux initrd=/dev/ps3da5:/initrd quiet panic=42 sysrq=1 video=ps3fb:mode:4"

For overscan (fullscreen) mode, add 128 to the mode value.

To turn dither mode on, add 2048 to the mode value.

For some reason, the above change will not take effect (at least in 11.1) if done at the installation time (changing boot loader option)

Install PS3 Specific Packages

The ps3-utils package is available for OpenSUSE. You can easily install it with

# zypper install ps3-utils

Do not install the kernel-ps3 package. This is only a "bootstrap" kernel for the early part of the ps3 boot process. For 11.1, this is automatically done during installation process.

Adding additional repositories

  • For 11.1, OSS and Non-OSS point to the wrong repository ( instead of Use Yast/Add-on Products to add these:

Use YaST/S/W Repositories to disable the OSS and Non-OSS repositories pointing to The Update repository seems to be correct even though it is pointing to

  • Unfortunately, not a lot of packages (rpm) are built for ppc architecture but it is recommended to add Packman as many goodies can be found there (e.g., video/audio codecs, enhanced-version of many applications, etc.) The list of additional repositories is here including Packman:

Pick a mirror site near your location and use Yast/Add-on Products and S/W Repositories to add Packman repository. Once you have the desire repositories setup, it is time to run the update (YaST/S/W Management, click on Package, All Packages, Update is newer version available).

Even though you now have the correct codecs, you probably cannot play video on your PS3 as the video driver only provides basic graphic capability.
  • Adobe has not provided a flash library used for web video such as youtube therefore, you need to install either GNASH or SWFDEC. However, I have never been able to play video on youtube with neither gnash nor swfdec and the problem may be caused by the video driver?

Known Problems

General issues

  • The kernel tries to autodetect the best resolution for your screen. In case you end up with a black screen and your monitor is out of sync try pressing '1'. This will switch the resolution to 720p. However, this will not affect the kernel you are going to boot via kexec. In case you want to manually specify a resolution append the following to the kernel commandline "video=ps3fb:mode:<X>", where <X> specifies the video mode you want to use. [0 <= X <= 42]
  • During install the resolution might not be large enough to display the buttons at the bottom of the install stages. Pressing ALT-N works as "Next" even if the button is not visible. This also applies to the user creation screen but you must fill in the the default user with password before the button will work.
  • If you're having trouble with audio (no sound) please check that your audio device is enabled (try alsamixer). In case that doesn't fix your problem please check that your account is in group "audio". To check this open yast, go to "Security and Users" and select "User Management".
  • The PS3 seems to be a bit picky when it comes to various kinds of DVD media. In case you encounter random freezes during installation or DVD is not recognized by the PS3 try a different brand of DVD media.
  • It's no longer possible to install/run openSUSE 11.0 with firmware >= 2.5. The ps3vram driver crashes during installation and in the system. If you have an installation and want to get it running again you need to remove the function enable_ps3_vram_swap in /etc/init.d/boot.swap.
openSUSE11.1 has a fixed ps3vram driver that works with firmware 2.5 and above!
  • If you do not repartition in the game os before booting to the otheros, you will not be able to start ps3-boot-game-os. That means you cannot go back to game os but with the 5s power button method and loose some ps3 settings (tested with ps3 fw 2.53 and opensuse 11.1 dvd otheros.bld).
  • Do not use lvm for the root filesystem even if /boot is on a separate partition. The bootmanager petitboot does not support this. Using lvm for other mountpoints like /usr or /home is ok.
  • There are situations where an external keyboard/mouse may stop working. If this happens to you, try disconnecting unneeded USB devices before booting. In my case, a wireless keyboard stopped working after login when the Singstar microphones were also plugged into the PS3. --DiskCrasher 20:14, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

More Troubleshooting


Other Distros on PS3

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