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First post, by fargo

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Microsoft cooperated with a Canadian company in 1987 to release a localized version of MS-DOS 3.30 (Arabic). The operating system supports MDF and CGA cards with Arabic ROM fonts. It can also load fonts into memory for Hercules+, EGA and VGA cards.

An archived copy can be found here: https://archive.org/details/msdos-330-ar . This copy doesn't boot. It displays an error message saying "Security Device failure" as it needs a parallel-port dongle.

I compared the files with a regular DOS 3.30 (English) and found that protection was implemented in IO.SYS file. Replacing the IO.SYS file with one from the regular DOS version allows the localized OS to boot, but breaks the locatiolizaion features such as changing charset and loading fonts.

I tried tracing the IO.SYS execution while booting, using QEMU and GDB, but couldn't figure out how to bypass the dongle protection.

Reply 1 of 3, by Jo22

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Rank l33t++

Whoah! That's an awesome find! 😁 These dongles apparently were very common in the 80s/early 90s.
Ironically, they motivated pirates even more to "fix" software using it.
Software companies never learned, it seems.
I'm really curious, too how the mechanism works. Just a bunch of diodes/resistors? a flip-flop? an EPROM? a microcontroller?

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 3 of 3, by Caluser2000

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Here is the thread Fargo started over at the vcfed forums- https://www.vcfed.org/forum/forum/technical-s … rotected-ms-dos

My understanding is that dongles were primarily used in high end applications, such as Art Works for RiscOS like this one:


  • 20210606_164449.jpg
    File size
    533.08 KiB
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception

There's a glitch in the matrix.

Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.