Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Vision2098 » 2007-8-06 @ 02:36

Yes but what if it's not a source/executable modification, and just an exe wrapper (which would actually make more sense in Valve's case, as they can wrap any binary theirselves without needing source for anything...)

Does the GPL have anything in it disallowing that? I'm not sure, myself.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Vision2098 » 2007-8-06 @ 02:40

Oops I had not seen other posts...

Hmm. I still think a wrapper would be fine, but then again, most of those that are in wide use (UPX anyone?) are GPL as well.

"A small wrapper which contains an unmodified exe" == The exe could simply be temporarily removed from the wrapper on authentication and thus not 'technically' modified. It is the wrapper part that would do the steamclient.dll calls and Steam checking.

And yeah, I'm not arguing FOR Valve/Steam, just putting out a scenario; getting the source for the Steam protection would certainly be interesting darkgamorck =)
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ID GPL Infringement worse than previously thought.

Postby cyt0plas » 2007-8-06 @ 02:57

I was able to spend a little time with the ID dosbox release, and confirm that it is, in fact, a modified derivitive work. It has apparently been linked with the valve steam library. In addition, some of the strings appear to have been obfuscated, indicating some form of packer/obfuscating system.

Copying dosbox.exe to a seperate directory will result in SDL errors. Using a stock SDL, it complains about being unable to load steam. As such, it is a modified version.

Valve would be legally obligated at this point to open-source (under the terms of the GPL) the steam stub against which this was linked. Failing this, they would be committing copyright infringement for commercial gain. Depending on what a court thought about the level of integration present, there may technically be a case for this being a derivitive work of steam and dosbox.

Statutory damages of $150,000 per offense suck, but I would imagine that they would pay them before they open-sourced steam. OTOH, it's quite possible that a court would determine that the level of integration wasn't sufficient to impose a burden to distribute the Steam source code, and then they would have to decide whether or not it was worth it to open-source the stub.

You may want to contact the Software Freedom Law Center. They handle the GPL violation stuff for busybox.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Moleculor » 2007-8-06 @ 03:05

In the end, if they ultimately can't release the source for DOSBox because it would reveal the security measures they use to protect their own games (Half Life 2, for example), then they can most likely simply refund everyone and yank the games. Sad, as I like seeing Steam succeed, but ultimately their well designed system will work things out in the end.

I'm guessing this is just miscommunication and mistakes on SOMEONE's part. Maybe iD, maybe Valve, maybe some unknown third party who's job it was was to get these games working on Steam. It's awesomely fixable though, since Steam forces updates should one be required when you're connected to the web.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby red_avatar » 2007-8-06 @ 04:02

If it's a wrapper, they could just separate the file into a separate loader exe and dosbox.exe and they would be in the clear.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Vision2098 » 2007-8-06 @ 04:11

Very true @ the loader thing, and I would kind of like to see that, since there's no guarantee whoever keeps track of these things will keep the Steam DOSBox(es) updated. At least the loader would let users take some bit of charge.

Heck, the Steam DOSBox was out of date on release for that matter... with issues pertaining to many of these games fixed... AND users being unable to update things on their own. Horrible.

I've not yet tested it but I'm pretty sure you could just rip the game binaries and data and run them in your own DOSBox install but still... that's not really the point here.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Pesch » 2007-8-06 @ 05:46

I just tested it out, and you can run the DosBox executables for each game directly - as long as you're logged into steam when you do it. If you try to run them while you're logged out, then it will open Steam's log in box and make you log in first.

However, and here the interesting thing, you do not have to use the provided DosBox executable to run the games. If you run your own copy of DosDox and run the games from there, they run perfectly fine, regardless of if you are logged into Steam or not.

I'm not really sure what anti-piracy measures they're trying to employ here, but they are pretty bad. All the copy protection for these games lies entirely within the DosBox executable. It really makes me wonder what they were thinking.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby gulikoza » 2007-8-06 @ 05:51

That might be surfing into GPL3 waters...what if somebody makes an executable that only runs on their dosbox binary? :)
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Vision2098 » 2007-8-06 @ 06:18

Pesch wrote:It really makes me wonder what they were thinking.


It's standard Steam fare really; the executable to get launched is what gets DRM'd. Just as with these DOS games you can take the non-DRM'd content (even the original DOS exe's) and use them elsewhere, you can similarly take the data files from other games in steam and use them in any other source ports or anything else you'd like. Oh and use mods on Steam games and all the things like that.

It's simply so the user can't compress the game folder and give it to a friend in a working state. They can't protect downloaded games like these with disc checks, so this is the next best thing.

Hah this makes me wonder if I could copy the folders for some of these games somewhere, and use them with a no-cd crack. I wouldn't doubt it..

edited by qbix. fixed quoting tags
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Pesch » 2007-8-06 @ 06:42

That's the thing though: it's not the game executables that they copy-protected. It's DosBox. They decided that they would prevent people from copying games illegally not by copy protecting the game itself, but the completely free, easily obtainable emulator that runs it. Seriously. That is what they just did.

And now the very proprietary and very valuable Steam copy-protection code exists within a piece of open source software that was used under the GPL. Unless they used a wrapper, I suppose. But if they were that clever, then why did they screw up so badly everywhere else?

On top of that, the copy-protection accomplishes nothing. Contrary to what you suggested, you could very easily zip up the games and send them to a friend, since the copy-protection exists only in the DosBox executable.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Vision2098 » 2007-8-06 @ 07:31

Oh again I'm not arguing in Valve or Steam's favor, just explaining what I know... I don't agree with or like it one bit =)

And yeah you could zip the DOS games up and send them to someone but I don't think it's meant to be a full-on piracy stop; I really do think many steam games could be sent to friends along with a no-cd crack and work exactly as intended...

They're just banking on stopping casual/easy piracy. A large majority of users would have no idea where to start with DOSBox. Even down to replacing the protected DOSBox binary with the official one from here.
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Re: ID GPL Infringement worse than previously thought.

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-06 @ 09:31

Thanks cyt0plas. That is very interesting. It matches what Qbix saw yesterday - that it definitely was not the stock 0.70 version of DOSBox that Steam used.

*** Merged with existing id/Steam thread ***
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-06 @ 09:40

As someone said on /. : It looks like DOSBox development will be nicely funded this year.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby rarefluid » 2007-8-06 @ 09:50

Maybe someone should fire up a diassembler and take a look at what the exe does. :) But especially cyt0plas' experiments seem to show that this is a modified version of the sources, not just a wrapper.
To resolve the issuse they could've just distributed an unmodified exe with their launcher opening up possibilities for easy DOSBox updates and user interaction. Seems to me that some people at id/valve didn't do their homework properly.
...find some video captures of old DOS demos here...
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby Harekiet » 2007-8-06 @ 10:18

Can you people just calm down already. It's been like what 1 or 2 days after this thing has been released and people are already bitching about legal action or damage payments. It's not like we're losing money or whatever, it's euhm free software. There's lot's of open source programs being used for commercial ends.
Sure it's nice to be mentioned somewhere but even then there's no obligation to do so.
GPL violations can easily be sorted out in time if they just add or remove the necessary files.

On a different note you could ofcourse wonder why ID is still milking their age old dos games, might give the fans something for free after all this time. But okay that's their right to do so.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby wd » 2007-8-06 @ 12:23

Binary file comparison shows that they are using the 0.70 release executable
and added a wrapper. Means they did not modify the sources, just for clarification.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-06 @ 12:33

I am perfectly calm. As I said earlier:
The forums are busy now. I will sit tight until Monday-Tuesday when the people at id Software will be back in the office. By then I expect some comment. If none is forthcoming, then I will hit my e-mail button.

A kind of answer has already come forth: An Steam-update has put the missing TXT-files in the hands of the (Steamed) DOSBox users. The wrong versions of the files, but it was a quick response from Steam on a Saturday and with a little more time on their hands I am sure they will be able to update with the original 0.70 files.

Next will be to see how it goes with the source distribution thing. And what the deal is with extra Steam DLL that DOSBox goes looking for. We need to give the bean-counters at Steam some time to get their act together, to maybe contact Qbix, Harekiet and wd with an explanation and suggestion on how to move forward.

When this happens, or if nothing happens at all, then it will be up to Qbix, Harekiet and wd to decide what to do. And for us to lend our support and time to their effort.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby MiniMax » 2007-8-06 @ 12:37

Harekiet wrote:On a different note you could ofcourse wonder why ID is still milking their age old dos games, might give the fans something for free after all this time. But okay that's their right to do so.

We went over this some months ago. Back then I said (and I still do) that I think publishers are holding back on freeing their games because they see a bright future for these "simple" games on handheld devices like PDA's and mobile phones. But that is a totally off-topic so if you want to discuss this, please either find the old thread or start a new one.

Edit: I am being kind today. Here is the abandonware thread:
viewtopic.php?p=103567
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby canadacow » 2007-8-06 @ 14:13

wd wrote:Binary file comparison shows that they are using the 0.70 release executable
and added a wrapper. Means they did not modify the sources, just for clarification.


And if DosBox were LGPL, just making a wrapper would indeed be fully in-line with the license.

I agree with Harekiet though.... we can never have too much rationality in this exercise.

And personally I think it's great that DosBox is being used and distributed to make classic games available on Steam. This is the beauty of truly free software. I would simply request that Steam uphold their part of the bargain and respect the requirements of what makes software free (in both the beer and speech senses!)

<ironical>
So, in light of Harekiet's response, I've taken the liberty to:

1) Contact the EFF
2) Contact the Free Software Foundation
3) Retain my own lawyer
4) Draft a Cease and Desist letter to iD, Valve, Valve's customers, their friends, family and pets.
5) Bought a 10 million dollar estate using the eventual settlement as collateral.

Anyone think I'm reacting too quickly?
</ironical>
Last edited by canadacow on 2007-8-06 @ 14:36, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Steam (Valve) using Dosbox for its "id Super Pack"

Postby wd » 2007-8-06 @ 14:19

Just to avoid confusion you should mark the ironical posts as such, canadacow ;)
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