Last December a group by the name of fail0verflow showed a demo of Linux running on a PlayStation 4. Since then, the group has been working hard to continue the progress they have been making. This past Monday they dropped a big release that enables users with the technical know-how to launch the Linux kernel on the PS4.
Fail0verflow announced on their twitter, “We've released the PS4 kexec-style code to load the Linux kernel from Orbis OS,” and linked to a github repo containing their work. As described in the tweet, this code is similar to the Linux kexec call that allows users to directly boot into a new kernel from a running system. This means it is now possible to use an exploit in the PS4 kernel to get Linux running on the hardware.
The one thing that fail0verflow has not released is the actual exploit used to run this code. Fortunately, an exploit in the console’s kernel was recently leaked to the public. While the leaked exploit isn’t everything you need to get things working, it is a really helpful starting point. Even with this help though, there is still a lot of hoops to jump through to get it fully working. For starters you need the have an unupdated PS4 with firmware 1.76, compile the necessary code, use the webkit userland exploit to run the leaked BadIRET exploit, then finally execute the kexec-like code to run the Linux kernel.
Although this release is very impressive and rather interesting, there isn’t much that can be done by running Linux on the PS4. Right now there are a lot of things not functioning properly, but there are improvements being made to things such as USB and 3D. If and when all of the kinks are worked out, running Linux on PS4 would still essentially be turning the console into an overpriced PC, which isn’t very practical.
While so far there isn’t a lot being done that affects the average gamer, there is still a tremendous amount of progress being done in the PS4 hacking scene. One day, we will hopefully see modifications made to the PS4’s operating system that enable game modifications and homebrew, but until then there is still a lot of progress to be made.