Playstation 2 Linux kernelloader (ps2dev)

Kernelloader is a bootloader for PS2 Linux and other PS2 operating systems. The current state is:
- Linux can be started. Graphic, USB, network, hard disc, game controllers and memory cards are working. CDVD can read PS1 CDs, PS2 DVDs and video DVDs.
- USB write access on slim PSTwo is unstable. It is recommended to use the Linux Live DVD instead of a USB memory device.
You can put all files on a USB memory stick and load "kloader.elf" with Action Replay Media Player or FMCB (Free Memory Card Boot).
Then you select the kernel "vmlinux" from the USB stick.
You can also select the initrd "initrd.gz" from the USB stick.

Please help stopping Sony!

Project page at sourceforge
Download at sourceforge

More information for Playstation 2


Why do I need it? Isn't Linux already available for Playstation 2?

You can run Linux on a playstation 2. Sony released a commerical loader for Linux years ago. The full source code was not released. You need to buy the DVDs. This is a free Open Source solution. Sony's Linux Toolkit doesn't support the slim PSTwo. Kernelloader has support for slim PSTwo, but it is not fully stable. Linux is running stable on the fat PS2.

How can I install Linux on my Playstation 2?

Here is a description: How to install Linux on a hard disc (old description, only for fat PS2).
For slim PSTwo users and beginners I recommend the Live Linux DVD. With USB you will have much problems with slim PSTwo (see Blackrhino USB install with Kernelloader). To get around the problems you can mount a Windows share (samba).

How can I test Linux on my slim or fat Playstation 2?

In the download section is a Linux Live DVD image available. You can burn it on a DVD-R. This is working with slim PSTwo and fat PS2. You don't need a modchip to use this DVD, because it is a video DVD and not a data DVD. You need to start a loader for homebrew software before inserting the disc, because otherwise it will play the video on the DVD. The DVD video is only visible on a PAL TV and not on a NTSC. The Linux will work on both PAL and NTSC. The network is configured by DHCP, so you will need a DHCP server. If you used kernelloader before, you will need to delete the file mc0:kloader/config.txt or remove the memory card from the first slot.

Why is the live linux system on a DVD and not on a CD?

The playstation 2 prohibits reading of burned CDs and DVDs. Only burned video DVDs can be read without a modchip. So the files need to be stored on a DVD video disc, even if it fits on a CD. Modchip users may be able to burn it on CD and create a Linux Live CD for PS2. The source files can be removed and the large disc file can be shrinked.

How can I connect my PS2 to a VGA monitor?

Sony's Linux Toolkit included a VGA cable. This is only working with monitors supporting sync on green. The kit is no longer available. It is possible to buy adapters to get it working. There is no soldering needed. You need to buy the following adapters:
- The offical PS2 or PS3 component cable (e.g. example, the example may not be high quality, you should buy a high quality cable (golden connectors)).
- VGA to RCA Component RGB Cable (e.g. example, this is a long example, but the cable should be as short as possible).
- 3 x Female to female RCA adapter (e.g. example)
I don't get paid by any resellers, so choose your own reseller.
Both cables have connectors with the same colour (red, green and blue). You need to connect the RCA with the same colour.
For LCD monitors you may need another adapter to convert VGA to DVI.
Don't forget to check if your monitor supports sync on green.
You need to switch kernelloader to VGA mode by pressing R2 several times (at least 3 times).
Since kernelloader 2.5 you can press the F2 key on the USB keyboard.

Hardware Compatibility

Playstation 2 Model Type Status
V1 - first model
NTSC should work, sound is not auto detected.
NTSC working, sound modules should be auto detected and working.
NTSC working, sound modules should be auto detected and working.
SCPH-30001 R
NTSC working, sound modules should be auto detected and working.
NTSC working, sound modules are auto detected and working.
PAL working, sound modules are auto detected and working.
NTSC working, sound is not auto detected since this version.
PAL working, sound is not auto detected.
PAL/NTSC The configuration problems are fixed. This should work since kernelloader 2.1.
Sound is not auto detected.
SCPH-7000? - slim PSTwo
PAL/NTSC USB working fully stable with Linux kernel patch, network is working (at least since kernelloader 2.0)
Sound is not auto detected.
The live DVD should work in all regions since kernelloader 2.7.
V14 and higher
and higher slim PSTwo
PAL/NTSC USB only working unstable with Linux kernel 2.4 patch, network is working since kernelloader 2.0
USB seems to be stable with unfinished Linux kernel 2.6.
Sound is not auto detected.
Kernelloader 2.6 or higher is recommended.

Software Compatibility

Software Type Status Link
Live Linux DVD for Playstation 2
Linux 2.4
Linux distribution based on Blackrhino working - easy use - for beginners
The small version includes ISO images for all regions, but no source code and packages.
It is recommended to use the newest kernelloader.
Download at sourceforge
Sony's Linux
(for Playstation 2)
Linux 2.2
Commerical Linux distribution working, CDVD not working with Linux 2.2. Linux Distribution can't be installed, because DVD is not detected. You need to extract sony_ps2_linux_toolkit.7z. Website has been closed. Mirror at sourceforge.
Sony BB Navigator Kernel
Linux 2.4.17_mvl21
Operating System Kernel working Download
Blackrhino Free Linux Distribution (Debian) working Website has been closed. Mirror at sourceforge: Base image and development files
Updated Kernel
Linux 2.4.17
Operating System Kernel working Archive is currently not available.
NetBSD Unix-Like Open Source Operating System Booting with an SVGA cable since kernelloader 2.3 (Stable since 2.4). Tested without file system. Limited to SVGA. PAL, NTSC and DTV are not supported by NetBSD. Website
Redboot Bootloader of ECOS not working Download
OpenWRT Free Linux Distribution for routers working Forum
Linux 2.6 Operating System Kernel Graphic, USB, network, game pad, internal HDD, RTC, memory card and frame buffer/X-Windows are working. Sound is disturbed, because it is too slow. CDVD is not working. Test files
Debian 5.0 mipsel Free Linux Distribution Installation is for experts. Working slow and stable with Linux 2.6.
The URL in /etc/apt/sources.list needs to be changed to

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