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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 00_NOP (559413) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:41PM (#4441906) Homepage
    But any kernel hackers interested in Linux on the DC are more than welcome at the #linuxdc channel on freenode/openprojects - irc.openprojects.net. Maybe you know about modems and you'd like to write us the driver?
  • 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 squarefish (561836) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:11PM (#4442028)
      as previosly mentioned here [slashdot.org], you can pre-order an ethernet adapter for the dreamcast at ncsx.org [ncsx.org] for 50 bucks!
      --scroll down about 1/2 way.
      • I followed the link, was happy, then was ... less happy.

        http://hh141.hiphip.com/templates/frmTemplateE.a sp ?CatalogID=4661&SearchYN=N&subFolderID=33

        it says that preorders are closed. :-( What does it mean? They needed 1000 to make a run, will they make a couple more...? Please? :-)

        Your comment deserves more mod points, too.

        • I wouldn't worry about it. Though pre-orders were closed, my sources say that there will be more than enough to go around. Unfortunately, we are still going to have to wait on the production. There haven't been many other details on it, except for the fact that CSI is still collecting payment for the pre-orders.
      • by zaffir (546764) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:24PM (#4442071)
        According to the site, pre-orders have closed. Bummer, right? Well, i mailed them about this a week or so ago, and was told:

        Hello, the production will proceed and we will update our website and customers once we have more news on the ship date. Thanks.

        If this means that there will be plenty to go around, i do not know - but i hope so, seeing as i didn't get a pre-order in on time. I'm betting that major resalers ordered quite a few, though.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Who wants to bet that prices on the original U.S. run of BBAs will stay high (on the order of maybe +/- $125)? For non-hacker-geek console collectors, having a unit that can be proved to be from the original production run (with original documentation and packaging) is preferable to owning a re-release version. Like other collectors, console collectors work on a whole different set of values that nullifies logic.

        Last year, some of the smaller Japanese shops and import game stores still had surplus Japanese stock of BBAs lying about. Those had a resale value of only 90%-100% of retail price on auction sites, because collectors (A) knew about them and (B) didn't want them. Hackers, of course, didn't care, and bought them up at reasonable prices.
        • 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]

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Have a look here [electronsrus.com]. It's coming along...
    • How about a USB port mod? Tie that with the correct linux drivers and that would open up the DC to a HUGE range of hardware including USB ethernets.
    • 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..
  • by Marijuana al-Shehi (609113) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:43PM (#4441920)

    Wow, you mean you can hax0r one of these puppies for 56K dialup access? What's that sound? It's the sound of third-worlders cheering.

  • 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.
    • "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.

      Only an american would look at a programming project, and their first thought be "who can I sue and why?"

    • I think Sega has bigger things to worry about than suing someone for making aftermarket hardware for a system that they don't support anymore.
  • 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)?
    • by Sharkyfour (14327)
      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 SexyKellyOsbourne (606860) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:50PM (#4441948) Journal
    They reverse engineered the DC modem?!

    Soon, hack attacks from Dreamcasts [slashdot.org] will bring every network in the world to their very knees, society will break down, and World War III/Armageddon will erupt, leaving 6 billion dead in its wake, save for the 144,000 virgins (many of them slashdot users) who will be saved by Jesus Christ on judgement day!
  • 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.
  • $199 Wal-Mart PC (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    '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."
    • Re:$199 Wal-Mart PC (Score:3, Informative)

      by monthos (591823)
      Why does it have to be the Open source comminity as a whole trying to compete?. The beuty of The open Source model is that i can do whatever the hell i want with my time and if you like it, you will use it. Its Projects like this that make it more diverse and more appealing. Not many people start there projects as competition to any other company/project, but as something they are intersted in.

      I use the dreamcast as a dumb X terminal, it loads up, and i get X Windows and can browse the web, use irc chat or do email. It works great for that and it serves its point in my home network. Im sure its the same way with other peoples setup or even the little kiddie who knows nothing of computer architecture and programming and just wants to see how different another system running on a completly different CPU architecture is.

      • It's a noisy son-of-a-bitch compared to real xterms though, isn't it? Things like the NCD/HP/Wyse/Tektronix terminals, IBM Netstations, even my flash-booting VIA C3 PC are all quieter than the DC, if not completely silent (my C3 whispers a bit, and the HP xterm I have rumbles wierdly). Not mention the 800x600 maximum resolution.

        Or is it just my DC that's that noisy?

        I'm not just dismissing it out of hand - I have the BBA, keyboard etc, and did actually try it. It wasn't much fun though.

        I do agree about the 'open source community', and I'll mention that next time the whole OS community gets together for it's strategy meeting.
        • um, its your dc thats noisy, i cant even hear it unless every sound making applience in my house is turned off, even then its a low hum...
          • Huh, so yours doesn't have a fan? Maybe that's a change in the european DC... odd.
            • It has a fan, if it didnt it would be completly quiet, but the fan isnt audable without having your head real close to it. My old monitor only does 800x600 resolution anyways, and the monitor probably makes more noise than the dreamcast. ill admit teh cdrom makes alot of noise when it reads, but i dont run from a cd filesystem so i only need the cd to be used for booting. and it hasnt been shut down in a couple of weeks.
  • not a winmodem... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jacquesm (154384) <j@w w . 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...
    • Re:not a winmodem... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kaypro (35263)
      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:5, Informative)

        by SuiteSisterMary (123932) <slebrun&gmail,com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:04PM (#4442000) Journal

        Actually, would be more accurate to say 'is capable of' running a version of WinCE. It's a title by title basis; the hardware itself doesn't run an OS, only a bootstrapper and a few hard-coded utils to play CDs, change the clock, and futz with the memory cards.

      • It can run Windows CE, but it doesn't by default. WinCE was meant as a way to port games from x86 Windows to Dreamcast easier, and was used a few times. For the most part, though, developers opted to run closer to the metal than WinCE allowed.
      • It uses WinCE for it's web stuff, so yes, it is a WinModem.
        • Re:not a winmodem... (Score:5, Informative)

          by The Vulture (248871) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:41PM (#4442134) Homepage
          Nope.

          The Dreamcast is not inherently tied to Windows CE in anyway.

          I can't really comment on the non-Sega projects for the Dreamcast, since I honestly haven't really followed them, but there are three official IP stacks for the Dreamcast.

          1. Windows CE - This one isn't really used that much. Windows CE was meant mainly as a quick port of existing Windows games. From what I recall hearing, there was a plan to have Windows CE exclusively as the Dreamcast OS (much like the original Dreamcast was supposed to use 3dfx chips, instead of PowerVR), but I think the execs at SOJ (Sega of Japsn) didn't like that idea, hence the SegaOS was made.

          2. PlanetWeb - The web browser that shipped with every Dreamcast, and was available in magazines, was called PlanetWeb, and I believe the company that made it was also known as PlanetWeb. They had the "official" Dreamcast IP stack if you were using the SegaOS - Windows CE was not required for IP connectivity.

          3. I can't remember the name of the third stack, but it was used mainly for broadband related titles. It was developed by a third party, and paid for by Sega of America and Sega of Europe, as an alternative to the PlanetWeb stack (because we wanted source code, and an optimized stack, and PlanetWeb didn't seem to care about that).

          Note that Windows CE, last time I checked (well, while I was working at Sega anyway, and I don't think that they released a new toolkit since then) NEVER supported the broadband adapter, they supported the modem only.

          -- Joe
        • Re:not a winmodem... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Talez (468021) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @07:04PM (#4442401)
          No

          Since another person has kindly derailed your WindowsCE argument, let me derail you on the hardware side.

          The Dreamcast uses a something along the lines of a hardware-accelerated software modem. The Hitachi SH4 that the dreamcast uses has a couple of registers and, IIRC, a couple of instructions specifically for working with the modem so that you don't have to fuck around when you're trying to work with the hardware.

          It's a software modem but not software in the sense that we're used to.
    • If memory serves, the DC actually *does* run an incarnation of Windows CE.
    • While you are slightly correct in your pendantry, some DC titles actually used a form of Windows as their base environment. I do not know if they ever made a modem "driver" for that, but it is possible that this is a true Winmodem. However, more to the point, "Winmodem" is shorthand for "software modem", which this definatly is. Because of that, you can argue that winmodem is the correct term.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        While you are slightly correct in your pendantry,...

        I'm not quite sure what a necklace has to do with the attention to detail shown by the previous poster.

    • i was under the impression that it ran a form of Windows CE of course i read that about 3 years ago or something when the DC was first announced so chances are i'm wrong
    • Re:not a winmodem... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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.
      • *Very* seldom were any DC programs made with WinCE. The PlanetWeb browsers did do it (which is why you see the WinCE SEGA Swirl game on the same disk). However, 99% of all other DC games used the real Katana OS. WinCE was pretty much restricted to crappy ports of PC games- games like Incoming and Wild Metal, if I am not mistaken. The logo on the machine is pretty misleading in that sense. I never saw a good Dreamcast game that was built on the WindowsCE platgorm.
    • Re:not a winmodem... (Score:3, Informative)

      by jacquesm (154384)
      the dreamcast modem uses a DSP of its own rather
      than the main processor which makes it an
      embedded modem rather than a winmodem
      (even when it is running CE which it technically
      can but which most games do not use because
      of the overhead that would bring with it)
    • Winmodem, windows printer, etc. refer to devices which have had their brains removed and use software drivers as a substitute. To save a few bucks, they remove specialized processing from a relatively cheap peripheral and instead use resources of the much more expensive main cpu. Sounds like Microsoft, somehow.
  • 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.
  • 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
    • 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.
      • installation = insert CD and turn on

        Wow, that's great. Slack has the same thing, and you can do it with just your PC. So, I don't see that as making a huge difference, especially since a dreamcast (out of the box) lacks stuff like a keyboard, and a hard drive, a mouse, etc.
      • Well there are distributions like this for normal PCs. You turn on computer boot from CD (setting this in bios is little tricky for newbie). And linux will boot up never (unless told to do swap) touch HD.

        The best of those I have seen is KNOPPIX http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html [knopper.net].

        After boot autodetection will take care of hardware setup. I have tried it on three computers with different hardware, including one notebook (with pcmcia network card) and it worked well. Network settings is autodetected from DHCP. I did not tested winmodem support (I presume it does not work though). KNOPPIX worth trying.

  • 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.
    • I do, for one. And it's not because I have any intention or significant probability of using the thing. It has to do with where the battles are fought. You want the front lines to be safely distant from general headquarters. This doesn't affect RH 8.0, but does affect what I can reasonably expect from RH 8.2 and RH 9.0.
      The recent fun&games with OpenSSL and Apache have convinced me that open source, of whatever breed, is the only feasible way to maintain effective security. It's not that they always handle it the "right way", whatever that means. It's that it will be discovered and handled by somebody, somewhere, somehow. Flame wars and such solve the problem of who watches the watchers. You almost feel sorry for the poor worms.
      I completely agree that millions more people will try Linux by buying Lindows PCs or buying Red Hat, but the scope of the Linux that people will be buying will be determined more by the lunatic fringe doing the battles than by the central soft core. This doesn't open the floodgates. It's just yet another leak in the earthen dam.
    • Speaking of the millions buying Lindows PCs, I ordered one two weeks ago from Walmart, and last night Walmart told me....

      "there is a delay in shipping the item(s) listed below from your order due to availability."

      For the most part I would never have thought that Lindows from Walmart was going to be a big seller, but this statement from Walmart may indicate that it is a good seller and lend credence to your (wishful?) statement of the millions of people trying Linux by buying Lindows PCs.
  • Minor problem... (Score:5, Informative)

    by baboyer (109846) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:13PM (#4442036)
    I know people here hate patents, but everyone should note that any modem driver written for this thing is going to infringe on a rather large number of patents. You've never seen such a mess of patents until you've looked at all the compression and error correction routines needed for a full software modem.
    • Patents? What patents?? I dont see no stenkin patents.

      Since I cant see them, I guess I cant infringe them, eh?
  • 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 Otter (3800)
      ...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.

      And while I've got it booting, I'm still trying to pick up a keyboard for less than $10 total on eBay [ebay.com].

      So, it's only 3 right now.

      • Re:Math? (Score:2, Funny)

        by scott1853 (194884)
        I was right, it would take someone very geeky. Like one of the first 3,800 people to get a /. account :)
      • http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item =1387597606
      • The funcoland by my house has the keyboard for less than $10. Stacks of them. I'm sure most used video game places do as well.
      • Forget the keyboard. Get the PS/2 (the port, not the game console) adaptor.
        It will allow you to connect a regular pc mouse or keyboard to the DC.

        Where?
        Lik-Sang [lik-sang.com], of course..

        oh.. wait.. Microsoft [slashdot.org]... Right..

        Seriously.. what's the speed on those gamepad sockets? Anyone tried to map them as an USB port?
    • Damn. This sounds like the same logic found in the "BSD is Dead" posts.

      I feel sorry for the idiot moderator who actually modded this up. The sad thing is that the BSD is Dead sounded convincing at first. This doesnt even come close, yet +5
  • by Wakko Warner (324) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:15PM (#4442044) Homepage Journal
    ...the light gun for the original "Nintendo" entertainment system has been reverse-engineered for use as a pointing device by the Linux-On-Useless-Crap team! Way to go, fellas!

    - A.P.
    • Actually, somebody did make a driver for the Nintendo Power Glove. Search Slashdot. It made it here.
    • Wouldn't work (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Froobly (206960)
      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.
      • Speaking for the great majority who love having all the humor in the world flattened by technical explanations, allow me to thank you.
      • What's preventing them from flashing the screen of your monitor?
      • Actually, I think it might have been able to tell which bounding box you shot. Now, this is all from half-assed memory of my old NES, but I think it flashes the bounding boxes in order, so it knows what you hit by when it registers the hit. Although, I could be nuts.


        -J

      • That's not quite true, light guns and pens work by tracking the raster as it scans the screen so long as there is suffcient brightness, it should work regardless of colour, its simply a timing issue. The reason you see flashing in the screen is to ensure there is enough brightness for the sensor in the gun to work, you could just turn up the brightness on your monitor. Light guns work best on slow scanning screens (TV's and tube type projector TV's) something like that will not work on an lcd screen or an lcd projector. There are ways around this, for instance you could use an IR laser to scan the target area, use an IR sensor in the gun and hey presto you have a flicker free display that you can use a light gun with. I guess if you were going to do that you may as well setup a camera pointing at the screen, fit your light gun with a laser pointer and use the camera to track where your gun is firing, it would most likely be easyer to setup and look a whole lot cooler plus would make targeting a whole lot easyer :)
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mod this whatever way you want, I don't care, but I just have to say W00t!!! This is a great day for Dreamcast lovers.
  • ...there are many hardware accelerated winmodems aroud and they are heavily used in pcs (mainly laptops) and there are actually drivers for linux for most of them around. however, they are all semi-proprietary (meaning that at least some part of them is not open source) since writing a codec (using a dsp or not) for a 56k modem is a tough problem. there was a lot of discussion about it on the linmodem mailing list [linmodems.org] and the conlusion was that it's non trivial.

    i'd be happy if this problem could be solved for the dreamcast but i have some serious doubts since it's been around with popular pcs for some time now and noone has solved it yet.
  • Four million? (Score:3, Informative)

    by exceed (518714) on Monday October 14, 2002 @12:42AM (#4443592)
    Don't forget - four million plus of these things were sold in North America alone!"

    And who is really going to run a *nix variant on them except for a few hardcore geeks?
  • So... (Score:2, Interesting)

    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
    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.
  • 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.

  • partycle: I seriously do need a vacation from this
    package. I actually had a DREAM about introducing a
    stupid new bug into xbase-preinst last night. That's a
    Bad Sign.
    -- Seen on #Debian shortly before the release of Debian 2.0

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