Making Old Hardware New Again Page 2

WiFi problems

YDL starts reasonably quickly on a PS3, and a wired network connection should present no problems, but connecting to a WPA wireless network doesn't work out of the box.

To get it working, download and extract wnettools.py from this file and use it to overwrite the file with the same name at /usr/lib/python2.4/site-packages/wicd/

Then reboot the PS3, log in as root, and edit /etc/wicd/manager-settings.conf by changing 'signal_display_type = False' to 'signal_display_type = 0'

Once you save this change and reboot again, WPA should be working.

By default, YDL alternate install boots to the Enlightenment desktop manager, but it's a simple matter to switch sessions from the login screen to Gnome if you prefer. You can also install and run KDE. The server version does not install a GUI.

Alt text
Enlightenment desktop running
on LCD TV at 720p

Alt text
Gnome desktop running on LCD TV at 720P


Download Ubuntu install images from:

Installing Ubuntu on a PS3 requires an install disk and a working Ethernet connection. It takes well over an hour. It seems much slower and less responsive than YDL, and WPA does not work at this point.

Is it worth it?

Getting Linux running on a Mac (assuming it doesn't have the mystery CPU fault) or a PS3 is a fairly painless process that should take about an hour. Buying new hardware is an inexpensive alternative, but if you have old, unused Mac or PS3 hardware lying around, and you think it is reliable enough for the job you have in mind, it's certainly worth sticking Linux on it and taking it for a spin.

Paul Rubens is an IT consultant and journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.

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This article was originally published on May 21, 2009
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