So I was messing around with my PS3 this week. I decided I wanted to finally take advantage of it as a media center, since my laptop is getting too full with movies, home videos and photos.
Much to my dismay, there's a whole lot of people asking how to use Linux to convert videos for the PS3, and not a lot of success out there. Finally, after several days of trial and error, I've gotten it down pretty good, encoding all of my home videos and movies to h264 format.
First off, I did replace the weak 20Gig drive in my PS3. It's actually quite easy. The drive in the PS3 is a standard SATA laptop type drive. If you want to backup your current drive, simply go under Settings->System Settings->Backup Utility and use a decent size flash/pen drive to do it (I was able to back mine up onto a 4Gig USB pen drive). After the backup is done, open the side (you're responsible for this if it breaks your system, not me), and change out the drive with your new one, and power up. It will ask if you want to format it, choose "Yes" of course. Then use the same utility to restore your data (saved games and such).
So, now on to the encoding part. This ended up being extremely easy, but there was a lot of missing information I had to figure out. First, you will need the avidemux program. On my Ubuntu 8.04 system, this was available from the universe repository (apt-get, synaptics will find it by default).
Start avidemux and open your video. Go to the Auto menu and select "PSP (H.264)", use the 720x480 video mode when the dialog box pops up. This isn't it though. Next, select "Configure" under the Video section, change the encoding to "2 Pass - Bitrate" mode. Close the configure dialog. Click the "Format" dropdown, and change it to MP4.
That's it, now click save, and let it process. You will get nice, compact, high quality video suitable for your PS3.
WAIT. This is the part that I have yet to find. When transfering your video to your PS3, you will need to follow some key steps, else the PS3 wont "see" it on your USB device. Your USB device should be fat32 formatted. On the device, create a directory called "VIDEO" (all caps, no quotes). This is where you will copy your video files to. This part took me awhile to figure out. If you have videos you want to group together (an "Album" in PS3 speak), create a subdirectory in "VIDEOS" (e.g. "VIDEOS/Action Movies/") and place your videos there. You can then copy this entire "Album" together.
Well, that's it. Hope I saved you a lot of time and frustration.