Xerpi is a PSVita developer that likes to push the console’s boundaries by making the seemingly impossible, possible. Earlier this year, he was able to create a USB screen streaming plugin for the PSVita and now, he’s working on getting Linux to work on the same device!
What is its current state?
Currently, Linux on the PSVita is at a pretty early stage and work is still being done on getting essential system components to function. From what could be discerned, this effort is split into two parts namely the Linux Loader and the kernel itself.
Getting Linux to run adequately, especially with drivers for certain hardware components, on the Vita won’t be a piece of cake but Xerpi does like a good challenge!
The Linux Loader is a kernel plugin that allows code to run at the lowest levels and places the Linux kernel image and device tree into the memory. Currently, this plugin uses UART0 for debug information.
Part two of the effort is getting the Linux kernel itself to run correctly on the PSVita. Very recently, Xerpi has been working on a fork of the Linux kernel to which he’s added support for some Vita hardware. Recent commits include:
Support for UART console debugging
Initial SMP (Symmetric multiprocessing or in other words, ability to use more than one core of a CPU) support
Initial L2 cache support
As of right now, there are no binaries to download but you’re free to compile stuff yourself but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’d better avoid doing that as this stuff could potentially damage your PSVita in its current state!
Why would I want to run Linux on the PSVita?
With little doubt, the question on many people’s mind when hearing of Linux on the PSVita is “Why?”. Well, there are various reasons that I could think of and a few of these are:
Having access to a more modern browser since the one bundled with the PSVita’s system software is lackluster at best
Lighter Linux distros, like Lubuntu, could probably run somewhat well on the Vita and they would greatly increase its potential!
That being said, the device’s 512MB RAM could be a bit of a problem here
Ability to play numerous open-source games that didn’t get a native port to the Vita
On the PSTV (which has the exact same hardware as the PSVita minus the screen), you could probably do some pretty cool stuff as it could be used as a mini PC that could do desktop stuff like development, word processing and more
Perhaps access to Android applications if this effort leads to Android running on the Vita. While RAM may be an issue, it must be stated that older versions of Android like Android 4.4 and 5.1 run somewhat well on devices with half a gig of RAM
Obviously, for the above reasons to hold, a lot of hard work needs to be done so don’t expect to be running fully fledged Linux distributions anytime soon if ever. You also shouldn’t hold your breath on getting Android running on the Vita as getting that to run is more of a headache than getting traditional Linux distros to run.
Furthermore, writing drivers for certain hardware devices, like the GPU, may be close to impossible so you shouldn’t expect all hardware capabilities to work if Linux on the Vita ever gets to a state usable by regular end-users!
While Xerpi is known for doing some pretty amazing things, it must be noted that getting Linux to run on the PSVita is a pretty daunting task so you seriously shouldn’t be expecting a fully working Linux distro on the Vita any time soon.
That being said, few if any of us ever thought that screen streaming over USB was possible so who knows, maybe Xerpi will surprise us all again but until then, don’t pester the guy by asking for ETAs!
I'm a girl that's liked technology from day 1. Mostly interested in the PSVita/PSP scene but I've always modded my stuff when it's possible, that is :)Contact me via DM at @KawaiiAuroraA on Twitter if you have any questions/concerns about my articles or if you have any article requests.