Once upon a time, the slim PS3s released without them. Then we got this message from Geoffrey Levand at Sony:
The feature of “Install Other OS” was removed from the new “Slim” PS3 model to focus on delivering games and other entertainment content.
Please be assured that SCE is committed to continue the support for previously sold models that have the
“Install Other OS” feature and that this feature will not be disabled in future firmware releases.
Now, we have this:
The next system software update for the PlayStation 3 (PS3) system will be released on April 1, 2010 (JST), and will disable the “Install Other OS” feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models, launched in September 2009. This feature enabled users to install an operating system, but due to security concerns, Sony Computer Entertainment will remove the functionality through the 3.21 system software update.
This has got to be the stupidest move Sony has decided to pull. So we either lose Linux support, or we lose the ability to access to PSN. Sounds like bait and switch to me, doesn’t it? I notice that a bunch of the guys are looking into class action lawsuits, so all the best to you guys, and good luck.