Sony announced today that it plans to release a Linux developers' kit for its PlayStation2 console.
The development kit, 'Linux (for PlayStation2) release 1.0', includes an internal 40GB hard disk drive for the console, ethernet adapter, Linux kernel 2.2.1, computer monitor adapter, USB keyboard and mouse and other software, said Sony in a statement.
This means that any PS2 owner could get a triple-purpose computer that plays high-quality games, is a DVD player and limited PC for, potentially, well under £500.
The kit is initially geared towards the Linux development community and will allow full access to the PlayStation2 runtime environment and systems manuals.
A beta version of the development kit was made available in Japan in the middle of 2001 and is currently being used by 7,900 domestic developers, said Yoshiko Furusawa, a spokeswoman for Sony. The kit went on sale as a result of pressure from the Japan Linux Association, which compiled a petition, signed by 7,000 members, to demonstrate support for the concept of Linux on the PlayStation2.
"Since we released the beta version we have been receiving feedback and many requests for the kit so we decided to make it more widely available," she said. Since the beta kit went on sale in Japan, the company has received related enquiries from 28,000 people.
On top of running computer applications written for Linux, PlayStation2 owners who are Linux enthusiasts can also create original Linux programs and applications designed to run on version 1.0 of Linux for PlayStation2, the company said.
Because it is targeted at games developers, the kit won't be available in stores. Sony will be selling it on the web and has dedicated websites www.playstation2-linux.com and (www.ps2linux.com) for Linux for PS2 to handle customer queries and to support the development community.
Orders will be accepted via the websites from February with delivery scheduled for around May. Expect to pay around £180 plus VAT.