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Dreamcast Modem Is Reverse Engineered 149

Posted by timothy
from the dialup-fever dept.
00_NOP writes "The hobbyist's favourite console - the Dreamcast - comes with one of those braindead Winmodems that have made it very difficult for those on the active DC development scene to use. But now all that is about to change. Thanks to a find on the internet and some heavy duty hacking - real modem support is almost here. This is fantastic news for the Linux and the NetBSD teams and for *nix advocates everywhere - as immediately millions more people could access these OSes and use them in a meaningful way to get online etc. Don't forget - four million plus of these things were sold in North America alone!"
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Dreamcast Modem Is Reverse Engineered

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  • by Klerck (213193) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:45PM (#4441930) Homepage
    But wouldn't it be smarter to develop the driver in a clean-room environment? That is without any reverse engineering or especially the use of documents that you probably aren't supposed to have? Frankly, it just seems like you're looking for a lawsuit.
  • Where's the hack? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:47PM (#4441939)
    "Thanks to a find on the internet and some heavy duty hacking"

    Since when is DOWNLOADING A DATA SHEET considered a hack (or even reverse engineering)?
  • $199 Wal-Mart PC (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:52PM (#4441957)
    'nuff said.

    It's free software and the developers can develop whatever they want... I just know someone at Microsoft must be LOL over the waste of time projects that the open source community does instead of truly trying to compete. "While they're busy... Hah hah hah Getting a software modem in a GAME CONSOLE hah hah hah, oh my god, I'm gonna die laughing, we're putting the finishing touches on the next version of DirectX that will revolutionize gaming."
  • not a winmodem... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jacquesm (154384) <j@NOsPAm.ww.com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:53PM (#4441959) Homepage
    The dreamcast modem while not using a serial
    interface does not qualify as a 'win' modem
    because that implies the dreamcast is running
    windows, which it certainly doesn't...
  • by hillct (230132) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:03PM (#4441998) Homepage Journal
    OK, so 4 million dereamcast consoles were sold in the US alone. Ang I have to say, it's cool that you can now use CD linux and FreeBSD to get online with this hardware, but where does the contributor of this article get the notion that this will significantly increase the userbase Linux of FreeBSD. Somehow I seriously doubt that any new adopters of Linux or FreeBSD will be so balzy as to choose to do their first installation on a DC console just because they have one. Certainly, logic dicates that the vast extreme majority of DC *nix users were already *nix hobbyists.

    --CTH
  • Math? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scott1853 (194884) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:14PM (#4442038)
    as immediately millions more people could access these OSes and use them in a meaningful way to get online etc. Don't forget - four million plus of these things were sold in North America alone!"

    Let's make some basic assumptions that the Dreamcast owners with the desire and/or technical expertise to setup Linux on the console comprise about 0.01% of the DC owners. 4,000,000 * 0.0001 = 400. Given that the market for basic Internet appliances consists of Christmas/birthday presents for mothers/grandmothers, and that they require the simplest and most basic of functionality, and that no ISPs are going to support the boxes, there will probably be about 4 of these modified DC systems to ever be utilized and will belong to EE students and be used for a final project.

    The only exception will be an MIT or Berkeley student that will cram it into a stuffed animal and use it as a webserver/router, thus getting the story posted on /. and the DC box burnt to a crisp.
  • by thoolie (442789) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:22PM (#4442066) Homepage
    Not to be negative, but i don't think that this is going to go very far (as stated earlier). BUT, and it is a big BUT, if some company could start bundling a easy to use Bootable Linux w/ drivers for internet and a nice little GUI, i think people would buy the DC (With keyboard & mouse) (all for under 100$), and use it for net surfing, it would be a great, easy to use, net station. Hell, i would even buy one for my grandma!
  • by MyHair (589485) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:34PM (#4442107) Journal
    Somehow I seriously doubt that any new adopters of Linux or FreeBSD will be so balzy as to choose to do their first installation on a DC console just because they have one.

    installation = insert CD and turn on

    Right?

    I doubt this will push Linux into world domination, but a newbie somewhat curious about Linux and owning a Dreamcast may get a Linux CD from a friend and drop it in.

    What is the number one problem for Linux newbies? I believe it is hard drvie partitioning.

    While the average geek knows that booting a live filesystem Linux CD our computers doesn't pose a danger, a newbie might not realize that. But there will be no psychological barrier to putting just another CD into their Dreamcast.
  • Usefulness? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xenofalcon (605906) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @06:24PM (#4442274)
    And in other news, about 5% of the owners of the 4 million-odd-machines know what a software modem is, let alone that their Dreamcast has one.
  • by Sharkyfour (14327) on Monday October 14, 2002 @03:08AM (#4444120) Homepage Journal
    I sooo tempted to mod you down, but since you've already made it to +5, someone else would quickly come along a undo it, so it wouldn't be worth my modpoint.

    Anyway...

    "Thanks to a find on the internet and some heavy duty hacking"

    I'm guessing that "find on the internet" is the downloading of the datasheet they found. I really, really doubt they consider that hacking. Most likely the "hacking" they did is doing whatever reverse enginerring was needed to make the info in the datasheet useful, and the actual process of writing the driver. Since the software being written right now is really just to get the job done, it most definatly qualifies as a hack according to The Jargon Dictionary [astrian.net].
  • by ronfar (52216) on Monday October 14, 2002 @11:07AM (#4445674) Journal
    I've been noticing that the Dreamcast can do amazing things lately. For example, I recently downloaded FrotzDC and burned a FrotzDC disk of my entire Infocom Classics collection to play on my Dreamcast. It works amazingingly well. You can save games to the Dreamcast VMU, and it works with the official Dreamcast keyboard.

    I also downloaded the Dreamcast version of SCUMMVM. Unfortunately, the only LucasArts games I own are for the Atari 800 (titles like "The Eidolon" and "Rescue on Fractalus") so I had to order "Day of the Tentacle" for testing purposes. (SCUMMVM looked pretty impressive with free demos, though.)

    I haven't tried to set up a SarienDc disk (old Sierra games) for the Dreamcast yet, though I'll probably do that today.

    Oh, I also burned one of the MP3 players to a disk, and can use it with an MP3 disk I made from CDs I own.

    It is a lot easier to get on the Net and Read email or go to certain Web pages with a Dreamcast than with my PC or even my laptop. The ability to just turn the thing on or off as opposed to going through a long boot up process, and then a long powerdown process is a big plus.

    I think that the best software upgrade for the Dreamcast that I could think of would be a fully functioning version of Mozilla. I don't mind PlanetWeb, but it has limitations as a Web browser.

    People who are knocking the Dreamcast here are kind of stupid. Yes, the Dreamcast is a failed videogame system, but as a cheap hobbiest computer system it is really great. (Of course, it has a lot of great games, too, but that is besides the point.) Messing around with a Dreamcast and seeing what makes it tick is fun. Does anyone around here understand the concept of hacking for fun? I see a lot of comments that "this isn't going to help Linux/FreeBSD" destroy Microsoft, as though the entire purpose of Linux/FreeBSD were to define itself as an alternative to Microsoft.

    When I was a kid, owning a personal computer was about having fun. Somewhere along the line (probably about the time IBM and Microsoft noticed "there's profit to be had") the fun got sucked out of owning a PC and the majority of PCs became clones of a single architecture. The moment that happened, for me was the day that my dad bought an "upgrade" (laugh/chortle) for my Atari 800 in the form of an 8088XT. This machine simply screamed "I am no fun," everytime I sat down to use it.

    Dreamcasts are fun to hack. More fun than most of the other consoles which are backed by organizations that are actively resisting any kind of hacking. So, when ever I read people saying, "Why are you hacking a Dreamcast? Hmmph, waste of time." I get the idea of a stogy, boring person who really doesn't like computers at all but sees them as a means to some end.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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