It should be made clear that this is only the official capability with which the original device launched. No doubt, hardware hackers and homebrew enthusiasts will continue to crack open and own their systems any which way they please.
As Ben Kuchera at Ars Technica explains, the feature is being stripped in an upcoming, voluntary firmware update. Voluntary if you want to continue to be able to connect to Sony’s online services, play Blu-ray discs and in general get what you paid for out of the console. The reason given is security but I suspect that it has more to do with support and other costs. It is consistent with Linux support being dropped in the newer, slim version of the console.
Kuchera’s cautionary is worth heeding. Consoles more so than most appliances are susceptible to this sort of sweeping change against which you as a gamer have little or no recourse. Sure, Linux support probably didn’t even factor into the calculus of most folks who purchased the system but it is a major change to be made under the thinnest pretense. We are right to wonder what other changes may came down the pipe for such heavily controlled devices in the future.