Use Ubuntu on your games console

If you're a fan of gaming then you might be interested to learn that Ubuntu can—with some effort—be installed on the latest range of games consoles, such as Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3, and even the Nintendo DS Lite handheld console. All of this is strictly unofficial, of course, and supported by "homebrew" communities who enjoying hacking hardware and software. As such it brings with it the possibility of damage to the existing console software if you don't know exactly what you're doing.

Running Ubuntu on consoles is usually done more for fun and educational value rather than actual utility, although a handful of users have reported turning their games console into streaming media servers. Unfortunately, the use of consoles in this way is something the manufacturers dislike and frequently update the system hardware to make the task impossible (at least until somebody figures out how to bypass it!).

There isn't space here to describe the often extremely lengthy steps describing how to install Ubuntu on the consoles. Instead you should visit https://help.ubuntu.com/community/PlayStation_3, to learn how to install it onto a PS3, or http://forums.xbox-scene.com/index.php?showtopic=595543 to learn how to install it onto an Xbox 360. To install Ubuntu on the Nintento DS Lite, visit http://dslinux.org. It's worth noting that Google lists many guides written by other community members which can often be worth trying.

Although Ubuntu will install multimedia playback codecs upon demand, the actual software it installs resides in a legally grey area. Much of what the software implements is protected by patents in countries that allow software to be patented, such as the United States of America (currently European Union countries do not allow software patenting).

Nobody is entirely sure of the implications of software patenting on open source codec software, as used under Ubuntu. If it's an issue at all it'll likely affect those creating and distributing the codecs, rather than those who download and use them.

But if you simply don't like the idea of using the codecs but still want MP3 playback, you can install the Fluendo MP3 codec. Just use Synaptic to search for and install the gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3 package. Once it's installed MP3 playback should work straight away in Totem and RhythmBox.

Fluendo is a multimedia software company that, in an egalitarian spirit, licensed MP3 patents for the use by all the Linux community. The only issue is that the codec is one-way only—it will only decode, and can't be used to encode MP3 tracks. However, I strongly advise that you use Ubuntu's built-in Ogg Vorbis encoding for future ripping of music tracks. Ubuntu is setup automatically to use this. It is very similar to MP3 in both audio quality and file size results.

See also Tip 65, on page 125 to learn how to install all the codecs you'll ever need, although these may suffer from the issues mentioned above.

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