The PS2 Linux Server

Not everyone thinks the PS2 Linux kit is good at everthing. Here Mario Pacheco outlines his use for it -- as a server. This is in response to an article that appeared on O'Reilly's website ...

I think one reason Sony describes the LINUX kit for the Playstation 2 as "Enthusiasts only" is that, quite simply, most people don't really know how to be effective with server side OSes (their forte).

I myself run LINUX on a PS2 kit and usually I get a response like, "Wow" then followed by, "What good is it?" or "Do you have a monitor, keyboard and mouse attached to it?"

The reality is, LINUX on the PS2 is far more useful as a "dedicated server" vs. something you might want to run desktop applications. You elude to this in your article but it seems you never quite explicitly say it. Perhaps you don't feel this way but the reality is, with the limited memory, once you start running something like a browser, it gets slow fast, even if the server is displayed elsewhere through the X Window System.

I have put my PS2 running LINUX to good use in two ways. For starters I compiled Apache on it and have exposed it to the web. I usually place files that I want accessible to myself while I'm situated somewhere other than home. This just surfaced this past week as I started with a new employer and wanted to snatch my usual tools.

The great thing about this is that since LINUX on the PS2 is running MIPS code, "security through obscurity" is very much in action. I think hackers would be hard pressed to crack such a server instance. Incidentally when looking at my WEB logs I would see on a daily basis a deluge of URLs which were clear attempts to compromise Microsoft IIS.

Secondly to stream music. I use the following PERL script to stream MP3s to myself:

If you construct the appropriate file (PLS file) and open it through WinAmp ( WinAmp will connect to the PS2 (that's running this script) and the PS2 will stream music to your WinAmp instance (presumably as you sit far away). I used to do this with my old employer, i.e. stream music from home to myself as I sat at work.

Both are perfect examples of the PS2 with LINUX providing lots of utility. The barrier of entry of course is that many younger people that have been exposed to computers in the past decade have no notion of pseudo-dumb terminals. Namely they're completely clueless about interacting with computer systems from afar (command line et al).

In my case I compiled OpenSSH with the gcc compiler rev that comes with the LINUX PS2 kit. In a nutshell I never interact with the PS2 except over the network.

-- Mario Pacheco

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