The Best PC is The One You Have….or Homebrew?

Time for a little tale.

When I was growing up, I didn’t have the money for a computer. My mom and I shared a super chunky Gateway laptop until our little family had enough money to buy a dedicated desktop for the family. Though I was born in the early 90s and didn’t get to lay claim to experiencing the cool days of learning to program BASIC etc, I did get to eventually learn Linux later on via awesome communities. More on that later.

When you don’t have hardware to learn computing on, what do you do? It was once said that necessity is the mother of innovation, and I can definitely claim that as true from my childhood. If you don’t have your own PC, use a borrowed one to prep other hardware you DO have to become a PC! Hack it till you make it!

A Walk Through Memory Lane

It wasn’t until I had more powerful electronics that I tried homebrewing everything, but I had fun memories of doing some mods to my PSP, Wii and Nintendo DS. Many hours were poured into seeing what cool applications from various homebrew marketplaces would run on modified or exploited gaming hardware, not to mention the various hours I poured into Halo/Legend of Zelda/Mario games as a kid. I recall even using my Wii to make our printer wireless at one point, using the Homebrew Channel and some apps…though I can’t remember what I ran to do it.

Further tinkering would lead to me learning about what Yellow Dog Linux was, and then modding a friend’s PS3 to run it. 15+ years later on in my life, this would lead to me discovering the beauty and wonder that is Fedora Linux, my daily driver for most of 2020 as well as the beginning of 2021. Check out my script to get you going after a stock install of Fedora Gnome here, btw.

Around the time I was in late Elementary or early Junior High- between grades 5 and 8, to those across the pond- I recall receiving a mid-level HP desktop at that time. I ended up using that for quite a few yearst, but forget the model. Many games, like the now-community-revived Battlefield 2142, were played on that…even if the framerates were low.

image by @felipepelaquim on unsplash

Modern Day Consoles Aren’t The Same

Nowadays it seems that there are less reasons to own a console. Back in the days of the PS1-PS3 and Xbox to Xbox 360, consoles were a custom bit of kit. Custom processors and boards made for the sole purpose of running games well. Yes, you could get barebones Linux running on a thicc PS2, or homebrew a PS3 to run Yellow Dog in a custom form, but these days…these days consoles are just PCs. PCs that lock you into the ecosystems of Microsoft or Sony. Do you buy your games digitally? Well, you’ll only ever be able to play those on the console you bought them for unless you have something like Game Pass or subscribe to a cloud gaming service.

These days, I see more people homebrewing their PS4 or Xbox One so they can run PC games or get pirated copies of console games to run, due to the increased price of AAA titles without a quality control to match. Most of what I’ve found out there, is pirating related more than it is pushing the limits of what custom-hardware consoles can do or run. Fed up with console lock-in, a buddy of mine, wanting to get into cheap console-like PC gaming is looking into building a GamerOS box. Another bud is going the Shadow pc-streaming route.

I guess the upside to everything being a PC these days, is that perhaps future generations will be able to hack around with anything they want more easily! From some brief research, it appears there’s already some work on grabbing the firmware files for the PS5 and someone already got Linux running on the Nintendo Switch, opening the door to any modern apps on there. All I know is that I’ll definitely be interested in the future of getting full-on Linux or Windows running in places you wouldn’t expect it, when we see future hardware come out.

Let me know if you found this short life story interesting or not, as I have more project-related posts planned for the future. Thanks!

Originally published at https://www.s31bz.com on January 22, 2021.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alex Seibz

Alex Seibz

I love Linux and tinkering with all things fun