How to Install Helios Linux on PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Helios Linux is a free Linux OS for the PlayStation 3.  Helios Linux is designed to be a high performance PDF and Image server for Mac, Windows and Unix Web Clients.  The Playstation 3 makes a great platform for Helios Linux, as it supports Sata Hard disk, and Gigabit Ethernet, so it can easily handle a large number of documents, and fast access to those documents.

The PS3 uses a 64-bit Cell processor which runs at 3.2 GHz, is PowerPC (PPC) compatible with 256 MB of main memory, and has performance comparable to a G5 single CPU. The PS3 comes with the NVIDIA RSX Graphics Processing Unit, has a 60 GB 2.5" swappable serial ATA disk and offers WLAN and Gigabit Ethernet for network connectivity. Terra Soft’s Yellow Dog Linux v5.0 is binary compatible with its release for the former Apple PowerPC product line and concurrent support for the Mercury Cell products and IBM Cell and pSeries servers.

Doing the Install of Helios Linux for PS3:

Use the wireless PLAYSTATION®3 controller as an input device for these tasks.                  
1.    Start the PLAYSTATION®3 by pressing the power button. Press the PS button to switch the wireless controller on (the port indicator LEDs must light up) and navigate to Settings > System Settings. Press the  button and then select Format Utility. Confirm with the  button.        

2.    Select Format Hard Disk, and confirm your selection twice. Then select Custom and press the  button.        

3.    Decide whether to allocate 10 GB for the PLAYSTATION®3 or 10 GB for the other OS (Linux). We recommend to allocate 10 GB for the PLAYSTATION®3 system, to have 50 GB for the Linux installation. Confirm your choice with the  button. Then select Quick Format and press the  button. When finished, the system restarts.        

4.    The system reboots into the PS3™ system again.

5.    If you are installing from the Yellow Dog Linux 5.0 DVD:
Insert the Flash drive (e.g. USB stick), which contains the bootstrap loader file "otheros.bld", into the corresponding slot on the PLAYSTATION®3.
If you are installing from the HELIOS Linux Installation CD:
Insert the HELIOS Linux Installation CD.
6.    Navigate to Settings > System Settings. Press the  button and then select Install Other OS. Select Start and confirm with the  button. Then press the  button to go back to Settings > System Settings.
If you are installing from the HELIOS Linux Installation CD skip steps 7 and 8 and continue with step 9.        

7.    Remove the Flash drive from the PLAYSTATION®3.

8.    Insert the Linux installation DVD (or CD-ROM) in the PLAYSTATION®3 disc slot.

9.    Press the  button and then select Default System. Then choose Other OS and press the  button.        

10.    You will be asked if you want to quit the PS3™ system and start the other system. Select Yes and confirm with the  button.
Important:
The system reboots now. After a few seconds, the kboot: prompt appears on the screen. You will then have about 10 seconds to enter the first commands before the system will start in default mode.
Make sure to enter installtext (for YDL) or sh (for HELIOS Linux) before that happens.
If you should have missed to enter the command in time, switch the PLAYSTATION®3 off and on again. You will get to the kboot: prompt again.
Then continue with 4. Installation.        

4. Installation
Note:
The PS3™ OS resides in a secure area which is invisible to the Linux installer. It cannot be modified by the following actions. From this point, use a USB PC keyboard that is connected to the console for navigating through the installer:

4.1 HELIOS Linux Installation CD
What the HELIOS Installer does:
Create partitions and formats the hard disk
"root" partition with 8 GB
Swapping partition with 1 GB
Create data partition with left space – irrespective of the disk size (data partition is preserved as long as the partition layout remains the same, e.g. on update installation or re-install)
Restore the HELIOS Linux Installation system on the root partition
Mount the data partition as "/data"

1.    At the kboot: prompt enter sh to get a shell. This will stop the 10 second time-out.        

2.    To mount the HELIOS Linux Installation CD enter the following command:
# mount -r /dev/cdrom /root
The shell may issue the error message UDF-fs: No VRS found. This can be ignored!
3.    To start the "HELIOS PS3 installer" enter:
# /root/installer
4.    On the installer menu type the character i (for installation) and press ENTER.        

5.    The installer will now install the HELIOS Linux.        

6.    As soon as the installation is complete the system will automatically reboot to the Linux login prompt. Log in with user root and password ps3.                
4.2 Yellow Dog Linux 5.0 DVD
1.    At the kboot: prompt type installtext (text based installation) when using a standard TV, or install (graphics mode installation) when an HDMI monitor is connected, and press ENTER. You may also toggle with the TAB key between these two possibilities. Note that you have to enter your choice within 10 seconds, otherwise the installer will start in graphics mode (X Window System).

The following procedure uses the text based installation (installtext command). The graphics mode (install command) works basically the same as the text mode.        

2.    A welcome message appears. Confirm with OK.        

3.    Select the desired language from the scroll list and confirm with OK.        

4.    Select the desired keyboard encoding from the scroll list and confirm with OK.        

5.    A warning appears that all data will be erased while initializing the hard disk. Confirm with YES. Remember that the PS3™ OS resides in a secure area which will not be affected.        

6.    From the Partitioning Type menu select Remove all partitions for <selected drive> and confirm with OK.        

7.    A warning appears asking whether you are sure to remove all partitions. Confirm with YES.        

8.    You are asked to review the partition layout and apply modifications. You can deny with NO.        

9.    Now enter a root password, re-enter it for confirmation. Confirm with OK.        

10.    The system retrieves installation information and performs a dependency check.        

11.    Confirm the Installation to begin dialog with OK to start the Linux installation.        

12.    Now the installation starts while showing several progress bars and windows. Note that this will take about one hour.        

13.    Once the installation has finished, the DVD is ejected and the Complete dialog appears. Then select Reboot and press the ENTER key.        

14.    After the system has rebooted type ydl480i at the kboot: prompt and press the ENTER key.        

15.    Unless you have a special interest in setting up the keyboard, network, printer, etc. configuration, you can leave the Setup Agent dialog with Exit.        

16.    For use with an analog TV AV connection log in to the Linux system as "root" and view the boot configuration file "kboot.conf":

# less /etc/kboot.conf
(Click here to view the complete "kboot.conf" file.)        

17.    Connect an Ethernet cable to the console (WLAN does not work under Linux). If a DHCP server is available on the network the system will get its network configuration automatically.

18.    Enter the following command to have the IP address displayed. An SSH remote login will now work:

# ifconfig eth0
The output is similar to this:
eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:19:C5:7B:C8:A2
inet addr:172.16.3.235 Bcast:172.16.3.255 Mask:255.255.252.0
UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1
RX packets:8159 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:27564 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:490186 (478.6 KiB) TX bytes:6836194 (6.5 MiB)
Interrupt:160                
Handy Tips
Shutdown:

a) Press the power button for a few seconds until you will hear a "beep". Linux will shutdown.

b) On the Linux shell enter the command shutdown -h now.

Boot back into PS3™ Game OS:

a) If the PLAYSTATION®3 is powered off, press and hold the power button until you will hear a second "beep".

b) If Linux is running, enter boot-game-os on the shell.

Note:
You can enable Linux again via: Settings > System Settings. Press the  button and then select Default System. Select Other OS and press the  button.

Setting up your Video Out

The "ps3videomode" command shows current video settings such as resolution, frame rate, color space, etc., and switches them dynamically.

Usage:

ps3videomode [options]

Options:

–help,-h
Print this message

–video,-v <ID>
Set video mode ID

–full,-f
Use full screen mode

–dither,-d
Use dither ON mode

Video mode IDs:

0: 
automode

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

VESA
11: 
WXGA
12: 
SXGA
13: 
WUXGA

p=progressive
i=interlaced

Full screen mode:
<video mode ID> + 128

Dither ON mode:
<video mode ID> + 2048

If no arguments are specified "ps3videomode" displays the current video mode.

Example:

ps3videomode -v 3 -f (720p; 60Hz in full screen mode)

Notes:

  • VESA resolutions are only valid for the HDMI port. The signal from the HDMI port supports the RGB color space regardless of the video mode ID.
  • Do not change the display resolution while sound is playing.
  • Do not change the display resolution on the X Window system. If you did, you need to restart the Xserver, because the current "ps3fb" driver does not use a fixed size frame buffer. It is required that line_length of frame buffer is used as a fixed value to realize a changing resolution via X.
  • If you want to boot Linux in a specified video mode, you may use kernel parameters.