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Air Force feels afterburned as Sony clips the PS3's Linux wings

Tim Stevens
May 13, 2010
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When we learned that the Air Force was buying 300 PS3s we knew it could mean only one thing: all-night HAWX LAN party. But, when the order came through for 2,200 more, it seemed something more serious was afoot, and sure enough the armed force that aims higher was aiming to use them as a cluster for high-def video processing. Naturally that's quite dependent on the machine's Linux capabilities, capabilities that Sony has, of course, since disabled. You might think this doesn't matter, since the units will never play games and so don't need the distro-disabling firmware update. But, hardware fails, especially when stacked as close as these units are and, according to the Air Force's Research Laboratory, Sony takes the liberty of applying the latest firmware even to refurb'd units. In other words, this is one cluster that's bound to fragment and not even Louis Gossett Jr. could bring it back together. Dramatic re-enactment after the break.





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