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Sony starts selling Linux kit for PS2

The company hopes that with the kit for the PlayStation 2, hobbyists who tinker with the gaming console can become top-notch game designers.

Sony has begun taking orders for a $200 kit that lets Linux run on its PlayStation 2 video game console.

In an announcement Thursday, the company said it's taking preorders for the kit. The kit is expected to begin shipping May 22, the company said, meeting a deadline it announced at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in January.

The kit includes a 40GB hard disk, an Ethernet adapter, a mouse and a keyboard.

Sony doesn't expect the product to be a mainstream hit but hopes that hobbyists who tinker with the PlayStation can become top-notch game designers. Judging by the 9,626 people who signed a petition for Linux on the PS2, there is significant interest.

"In the future, we hope an army of PlayStation developers takes hold," Dominic Mallinson, director of technology for Sony's North American research and development group, said in a January interview. "We are doing this largely for noncommercial reasons. If it just pays for itself as an operating cost, that's fine with us."

Linux, a clone of the Unix operating system, is most widely used in servers. The software is popular with technophiles and is comparatively easy to move to different computers, so many efforts are under way to move Linux to everything from watches to mainframes.