Sony releases a new system software (firmware) version 3.21 for PS3 (PlayStation 3), which controversially remove a feature from PS3, namely OtherOS that allows another operating system to be installed on the PS3. Once upgraded and installed with firmware v3.21, PS3 no longer has the ability to access the partition of “Other OS”.

The move to disable and remove the “Other OS” feature is probably to preempt the hackers from successfully crack the PS3 to play unauthorized (aka friendly, copied, illegitimate or pirated) games. Been the only game console and even machine in the world currently still uncrackable, Sony may want to plug any potential loophole to maintain that reputation too.

While user can choose not to upgrade PS3 to system software version 3.21 (either by not taking updating action or deny the upgrade request), Sony imposes a penalty for system still on firmware earlier than version 2.31 – user will lose access to PSN (PlayStation Network). In other word, those not upgrading to firmware v3.21 will not be able to log into PSN for online gaming. There is also no PS Store, no VidZone, and no PlayStation Home.

The new system software v3.21 may not be required by everybody, or even anybody, as it does not add any feature nor improve functionality significantly (other than ambiguous improvement to quality of some downloaded PS software from PlayStation Store and fix to MP4 playback security vulnerability), yet it removes a feature which may be important to some gamers. PS3 owners who decide not to upgrade for any reason, such as to continue to have OtherOS facility, yet still want to connect to PSN without firmware v3.21, workarounds and hacks is now available that enable PS3 with firmware version older or earlier than version 3.21 to connect to PSN successfully.

First workaround, provided by Aaron on rvlution.net is a very easy hack to access and sign into PSN, without upgrading PS3 to firmware version 3.21. All the “old” PS3 owners (such as those on firmware 3.15) should do is to customize the network settings from XMB (XrossMediaBar). Under the option for DNS name-servers, select Custom, and enter the following IP address as the Primary DNS:

67.202.81.137

The DNS server above is a custom DNS resolver setup by Aaron, which specifically hijacks and directs any IP address resolution request for *.ps3.update.playstation.net to a local web server, which serves a custom hacked updatelist.txt file (see next page for example of hacked updatelist.txt) for all regions that tells the PS3 it’s up-to-date (by reporting requiring firmware version 0.00). PS3 will check the required firmware version against its own, which is always higher, and thus upgrade is not required, and hence can connect to PSN for online gaming.

The second workaround makes use of Logan5 Proxy Tool, which is designed to intercept DNS request from PS3 to Sony to serve a hacked verification file, based on concept above. Logan5 Proxy Tool will act as both proxy server and web server for the PS3. The advantage of Logan5 Proxy Tool is that PS3 owner can run the program on a Windows machine himself or herself, without having to rely on other’s DNS server.

Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to use the Logan5 Proxy Tool:

  • Download LG5tool.rar.
  • On a Windows system, run LG5tool.exe.
  • On “Logan5’s tool/2009” window, check the “Firmware Update” box.
  • Then click on “Start Proxy”. A IP address of which DNS server is run will be shown as “Your IP”.
  • On the PS3 navigate to “Network Settings” -> “Internet Connection Settings” -> “Custom”.
  • Choose between “Wireless” or “Wired”.

    Note: For wireless connection, make sure the PS3 is already connect a the access point (AP). Else, click on “Scan”, select the wireless connection to connect to, then confirm the network name (SSID). Finally, confirm the security choice and enter the user name and password to connect.

  • Choose “Automatic” for “IP Address Settings”.
  • When prompted to “Set DHCP host name”, choose “Do Not Set”.
  • Choose “Automatic” for “DNS Setting”.
  • Choose “Automatic” for “MTU”.
  • Choose “Use” when prompted for “Proxy Server”.
  • Enter the IP Address showed in LG5Tool.
  • Click “Enable” for UPnP.
  • Test the connection to PSN, and if working properly, sign into PSN and uncheck the “Firmware Update” box.

Here’s a video clip on how to use Logan5’s Proxy Tool to bypass firmware version check of PS3.

Tip: If encoutering error about MSWINSCK.OCX not registered (especially in Windows Server 2003), find and copy the MSWINSCK.OCX to %Windows%\System32 to fix the error.

However, do note that bypassing and skipping the firmware upgrade is only a temporary solution. When a disc game that requires newer version of firmware is required, gamer will be forced to upgrade anyway.

For PS3 owner with Linux machine, there is a workaround too:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Change directory (cd) to an empty directory of your choice.
  3. Type and hit Enter:

    wget http://switch.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/ettercap/ettercap-NG-0.7.3.tar.gz

  4. Type and hit Enter:

    tar xf ettercap-NG-0.7.3.tar.gz

  5. Type and hit Enter:

    cd ettercap-NG-0.7.3

  6. Type and hit Enter:

    ./configure --enable-plugins

  7. A bunch of configuration checks and options should scroll by, once completed, at the bottom, should look like this:

    Functionalities:

    Debug mode …………. no
    Plugin support ……… yes
    Passive DNS ………… yes
    Perl regex in filters .. no
    Iconv UTF-8 support …. yes

    Note: If it fails at any time, due to a dependancy issue, install it (a simple yum/apt-get install XYZ usually does it). And, if Plugin support is no, re-install libtool.

  8. Type and hit Enter:

    make

  9. Type and hit Enter:

    make install

  10. Type and hit Enter:

    cd /usr/local/share/ettercap/

    Note: If the cd command fails, try cd /usr/share/ettercap/ directory instead.

  11. Use any text editor (such as vi) to edit etter.dns file. In etter.dns, add: download-prod.online.scea.com A ApacheIPAddress.
  12. Turn on and boot PS3, connect an Ethernet cable, and configure the network to access the Internet.
  13. Type and hit Enter:

    ettercap -T -Q -M arp -i eth0 // // -P dns_spoof

    Note: If your Ethernet adapter is not at eth0, change it to eth1 or what it’s named.

  14. Wait 30 seconds for the process to complete, and then try to access PSN from PS3. Output on PC should look like: dns_spoof: [fus01.ps3.update.playstation.net] spoofed to [67.15.88.46].

Note: Workaround for Linux above depends on a web server hosted by third party.

The hacked updatelist.txt which exploits a loophole in PS3 verification system to bypass firmware version check. What PS3 does what locate the “Dest” line which matches its region, and checks if the installed ImageVersion is lower than the one in the line of text or not. When using updatelist.txt, the answer is always negative.

Dest=83;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=83;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

Dest=84;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=84;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

Dest=85;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=85;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

Dest=86;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=86;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

Dest=87;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=87;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

Dest=88;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=88;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

Dest=89;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=89;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

Dest=8A;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=8A;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

Dest=8B;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=8B;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

Dest=8C;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=8C;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

Dest=8D;CompatibleSystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100-;
Dest=8D;ImageVersion=00000000;SystemSoftwareVersion=3.2100;CDN=http://www.mydigitallife.info/;CDN_Timeout=30;

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