PS Vita needs Linux (Hear me out!)

Discussion in 'PS Vita - Hacking & Homebrew' started by TheOverseer, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. TheOverseer
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    TheOverseer Advanced Member

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    The PS Vita is a fantastic device. But one thing that I think would make it absolutely phenomenal, is if it had support for KEXEC into Linux (kinda like OtherOS from PS3). It has ample power to run it, both processor wise and has more than enough RAM to run smaller distros. But the real thing that would make it amazing is...

    Imagine the PS Vita TV and it's tiny size. It has it's own USB port, which can be used for file transfers and/or storage. It's fanless, has bluetooth, but even more importantly...it has an Ethernet port.

    This means, that with a little tinkering, the PlayStation Vita TV could be comparable to an extremely cheap single-board computer, and handle tons and tons of little tasks, like ARM compiled game servers, a basic web server, or even (if it could run similar stuff to the pi and kept the gpu hardware decoders), something like KODI.

    The PS Vita/VitaTV being able to run Linux would be revolutionary in the world of small computing. I think this should be looked into.
     
  2. Tom Bombadildo

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    I forgot
    There are a lot of reasons that the Vita doesn't have a Linux port.

    The main problem here is that all the drivers would likely have to be written for Linux to even run at all, let alone run well. The Vita uses a lot of custom hardware, we can't just pop a Linux distro on it and call it good. This would take a considerable amount of time, knowledge, and testing before it'd be even remotely stable like a Raspberry Pi would be. Not to mention the Pi is more readily available, is cheaper, doesn't require a specific firmware to hack, has all the support in the world, etc etc.

    Linux on the Vita would be nice, but unless you want to dedicate months, if not years, to writing drivers and porting it over, I don't think a full-scale Linux distro will ever show up.
     
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  3. TheOverseer
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    TheOverseer Advanced Member

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    I've looked at the Vita's hardware spec. Does it really use that much more required custom hardware than other consoles and devices? I guess what I'm trying to say is, I get why the PSP didn't have it, for example.

    But devices like the Wii, DS, the original Xbox, Xbox 360, use equally as obscure in many cases if not more obscure hardware than the PS Vita, and each of these received a Linux port. So I guess I'm asking what makes the PS Vita more custom than these other devices, considering it uses a modification of "off the shelf hardware" (sort of, ARM isn't off the shelf really) for many essential functions?
     
  4. Tom Bombadildo

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    I forgot
    Those Linux ports on the consoles you listed were extremely bare bones (except for the original Xbox, but that's because it was basically a PC in a console shell anyways), they couldn't do any of the things you listed as wanting to do in the Linux distro itself. OtherOS on the PS3 is a different set of circumstances, because Sony did all the work already and wrote the software required.

    Those things can be done with homebrew, because the original OS has all the necessarily software components (for the most part, anyways) to run those homebrew, but Linux requires some way to communicate with the various hardware...which has to be custom written.
     
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  5. Lilith Valentine

    Lilith Valentine GBATemp's Wolfdog™ ☠️Grunt☠️

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    Now I personally think Linux should be installed on everything with a screen.
    But I don't think the Vita is hacked nearly deep enough to allow Linux to really do that much with it. Plus it would most likely be more of POC like Linux on the 3DS and less of a practical usage.
    I would still like to see it on the Vita, but I think the Vita scene still needs more work to get there.
     
  6. TheOverseer
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    TheOverseer Advanced Member

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    To be fair, I didn't personally want to run Kodi. I thought it'd be an interesting usage, but I felt other users would enjoy that more than I. For me, being able to boot into a Linux that is semi functional and could run a few programs...Firefox or K-Meleon, Java, and could functionally use an Ethernet port would be more than enough in my opinion to explore the idea.

    I do understand the difficulty in what you said though. I guess I just felt by looking at the several installations:

    (Xbox 360)
    (Wii)

    That while they are missing obvious things... (The biggest being 3D Acceleration, the GPU driver is the most annoying one)

    They are functional, but essentially just missing 3D acceleration to speed up usage, and missing the hardware decoders for video. And while those decoders would be useful, running something like Apache or ARM-Java, or a basic web browser doesn't require these types of functions, right?

    Obviously Kodi would be out of the picture, but that was fine to begin with. I didn't even feel that was it's best usage, just the most publicly usable one.

    Or am I still not understanding very well?

    I will admit though, the DS one was a terrible example. It truly is minimal at best.
     
    Last edited by TheOverseer, Jul 14, 2017
  7. Lord M

    Lord M GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    phenomenal with 444Mhz CPU? Maybe 10 years ago or more...
     
  8. Kotomine Kirei

    Kotomine Kirei GBAtemp Regular

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    Is the PS Vita's hardware structure close to that of the PS3 or PS4?
    If so, would it not be possible to use the information from the Linux ports on those systems as a foundation for a PS Vita port?
     
  9. dsionr4

    dsionr4 Gbatemp's Shonen Character

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  10. Psionic Roshambo

    Psionic Roshambo GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    The Vita would be a nightmare for Linux... Two of the biggest catches in running Linux even on PC hardware is network drivers and video drivers...

    Those chips are probably custom, so it would have to be reverse engineered and that's not a trivial task.

    Just suffice it to say you might see Linux on the Vita someday as a proof of concept as someone already mentioned but using it would be another story.

    Just buy a cheap Android TV box and if you shop around you can find them that support installing Linux on them native with working drivers and all the goodies working.

    Edit: Another thought, it would be cheaper to just go for an Android box... You can buy lots of storage on them via SD or MicroSD cheap these days, if you wanted to get the same storage on the Vita better dig out your wallet. :(
     
  11. InsaneNutter

    InsaneNutter GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    Now I do agree a fully functional Linux port would be pretty nice and i'm all for stuff like this, however I can't honestly see someone putting the effort in to make it happen when we have cheap hardware like the Raspberry Pi 3 ($35) and Raspberry Pi Zero W ($10) that would outperform a PS TV.

    In the early / mid 2000's Linux on consoles somewhat made sense, as cheap hardware with enough power to run Linux wasn't exactly readily available, even then I wouldn't say the experience has ever been amazing, usable would be a fair summery.

    The Raspberry Pi 3 has double the ram (1gb) a quad-core ARM processor, 1080p x264 hardware accelerated video playback, WiFi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB 2 all for $35.

    It has also has official ports of
    • Ubuntu
    • Debian
    • Fedora
    • Arch
    • FreeBSD
    • Windows 10 IoT
    • And a lot more.

    I have Linux on my 1.76 PS4 and to be honest my Raspberry Pi is currently more usable, the PS4 wins at x264 video encoding and stuff that needs raw CPU power however.

    You could get a Raspberry Pi Zero W for $10 and likely have a better experience than what would be possible on the PS TV, i'd love to be proved wrong though.