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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 certron (57841) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:43PM (#4441917)
    While it is a great thing that the modem now works (better?) I would think an ethernet connection would be more exciting.

    OK, pretend I'm not complaining, since I only just bought my dreamcast, and and trying to figure out what to do to make a good dreamcast linux cd.

    Can someone figure out how to make a broadband adapter that doesn't cost $150 on ebay? Or even one that does, but doesn't cost $150 to make? (Step #n. Profit!)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:50PM (#4441949)
    You can find better stuff in other peoples garbage. Recently I found a PB 705 in some guy's garbage pile -- 2 gig disk, cd rom, Lucent win modem, 64M, S3 SVGA video, Win 98, and Cyrix PR 300. Run Linux, BSD, Windows, whatever. Why would I want an odd ball Dreamcast? You can find better stuff in the garbage.
  • Fanatic Groups (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gabrill (556503) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:55PM (#4441970)
    This reminds me of the many intelligent and resourceful people that shored up the Amiga movement. It's fine for a hobby, but I don't think it will ever amount to much.
  • Re:not a winmodem... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kaypro (35263) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:57PM (#4441975)
    It actually runs a modified version of WinCE. Whether or not this supports/refutes your argument, I'm not sure. Anyone else?
  • Re:not a winmodem... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:04PM (#4442003)
    Actually, Winmodem has come to be a generic term to describe modems that don't have an onboard DSP to do the MOdulation and DEModelation and simply rely on the host CPU to provide the DA and AD conversion. As such, no winmodem is truly a serial device as it merely emulates a COM port as a pseudo COM port.

    And yes...the DC did run Windows. While most games were built using the Katana libraries and dev kit, several games and applications (web browser included) actually ran on Windows CE. As a matter of fact, the basis for the first "illegal?" homebrew applications was to strip down namco museum (A WinCE app) and use it as a WinCE base. Of course now there are free development libraries available that are not intruding on Segas intellectual property.
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:09PM (#4442020)
    My first thought was "who cares", but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was the right reaction. Yes, the DC may be "the hobbyist's favorite console" but it isn't going to get millions more people to try Linux or BSD. Millions more people will try Linux by buying Lindows PCs, or buying RH 8.0 in a store (with a bit of luck on their HW platform during the install).
    I mean, coolness points for reverse-engineering the modem, but this won't open some Open Source floodgate.
  • Shouldn't matter... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Corfe (246685) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:10PM (#4442022)
    but, how many people who have a DC now have gone and bought a PS2 or X-Box?

    If you still have the dreamcast, it doesn't matter if you've bought the PS2 or X-Box - use the PS2 or X-Box to play games, and use your dreamcast for a browser! Unless you've sold your old dreamcast, but come on how many people do that? Almost as many as those who bought used Dreamcasts I bet :)
  • Perhaps that now that they reverse engineered this particular DC modem, they find that it shares some similarities with all the other PCI winmodems out there.

    Being the case, it wouldn't be that hard to get all those unsupported modems working on Linux. It sure would help a lot of people.
  • by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @06:27PM (#4442291) Journal
    The ethernet adapter has been working fine for a while, Marcus Comstedt(sp?) even had a disk you could burn, swap to a game, and the game would be sent over the network. It took a few hours, but it worked. More info on Marcus and the DC scene in general here [mc.pp.se]
    This is the same guy that ported SNES9x to the dreamcast..just when I finally got past my tetris attack addiction..
  • Wouldn't work (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Froobly (206960) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @07:53PM (#4442522)
    Light gun games worked by quickly flashing the bounding boxes on the screen different colors when the trigger was pulled, so that the gun could easily decide whether the player "hit" (pointed the gun at the right color) or "missed" (pointed the gun at the wrong color). Since I don't think the light gun can support all that many colors, it would be impossible for it to tell which icon the user shot at.

    Now the Namco GunCon on the other hand, would be perfect for such an interface.
  • by NoahsMyBro (569357) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @09:07PM (#4442860)
    Actually, I have spent a lot of time following Dreamcast doings on various videogame-related websites & newsgroups, and my understanding is that the after-market BBAs were NOT compatible with the BBA-enabled games. The difference in value is not solely du to lesser collectability.

    Why (or whether) the games don't simply use a hardware-abstracting driver, thus allowing the use of any standard IP connection, I don't know. But it was made clear to online Dreamcast enthusiasts that the Asian BBAs would not allow Dreamcast players to play their BBA-compatible games; it was only useful for ethernet networking for other reasons (hacking/hobbyist pursuits). I don't know if they were compatible with the Dreamcast web browsers.

    Once I learned the above, I didn't bother pursuing one myself, even when I found one for under $50. With the new units coming out at ncsx, I'm curious to find out if the above holds true for them, or even if it was ever true to begin with. It certainly doesn't seem likely.

    google groups are great! [google.com]

    another reference [google.com]

  • So... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The Fanta Menace (607612) on Monday October 14, 2002 @02:06AM (#4443935) Homepage

    Were holders of this document under an NDA prior to its escape onto the net?

    And if so, does that mean it's illegal to use it for this purpose in some jurisdictions?

    Or alternatively, if not ... does that mean we could get insiders to sneak out documentation of any device that we don't have drivers for and then legally code drivers for them?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 14, 2002 @08:46AM (#4444889)
    The Dreamcast is surviving thanks to hobbyist programmers writing emulators, VCD players, MP3 players, and probably more. What I don't understand is why port an actual OS to this device? As people here have mentioned, it has no hard drive. Out of the box it doesn't have a keyboard or mouse (but are available at most Software Etc/Gamestop/Funco store). It already has a Web Browser with e-mail. What possible good would it do to run Linux on it? The load times would probably be atrocious. I can't see using any type of word processor as the VMUs won't have to room to hold documents.

    What is it with some of the people in the Open Source community? Why must they try and put Linux on every device that happens to have a microprocessor? Linux on PC, Linux on Mac, Linux on Dreamcast, Linux on X-Box, Linux for PS-2 (which is an off-the-shelf product, but still), Linux on PDAs. What's next, retro machines? Linux on Amiga? Linux64 for your Commodore? Linux on your Tandy Model III? Appliances? Will I have to log in as ROOT on my toaster to change the temperature settings? Stop the madness before it goes to its illogical extreme.

It's time to boot, do your boot ROMs know where your disk controllers are?

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