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Windows badness, and VirtualBox goodness
2007/02/11 21:31:29
linux software

Just don’t ask why, really, but (under the influence of my wife) we bought a AverMedia Hybrid (DVB-T + Analogue) + FM Radio USB 2.0 box. It’s a nice little USB device, and it also has composite and s-video input, audio input, and a remote control.

And of course it works under that proprietary . Then we realized it has rather serious issues with the composite-in being a bit slow (both slow frame rate and sometimes laggy).

As a Linuxer, naturally I then tried the device under Linux. Only just halfly expected, there is no driver for Linux yet. That’s no better way to spend your holidays overseas? I decided to spend a little on looking into the possibility to reverse engineer the windows driver.

Doing things on windows is always painful. Though I got one of the windows USB sniffer working, it wasn’t as convenient as doing things on Linux. So I went for using QEMU booting into windows and capture all the USB traffic. Unfortunately, windows (xp) crashes (classic BSOD style) while installing the device driver. I thought for a second, maybe it’s QEMU not emulating something that is needed?

Someone on #bochs pointed me to VirtualBox, so I gave it a go. Still out of luck though, windows xp crashes at the exact same spot. Damn.

On the bright side, I have discovered VirtualBox – yet another virtualizer for x86 hardware, and it’s pretty awesome:

  • (On this Pentium M 1.6GHz laptop) VirtualBox is much much faster than QEMU (with kqemu) for, well, running windows xp.
  • It has a GUI frontend for setting up VMs. As much as I prefer text/command-line based apps, a GUI frontend does help new users to try things out a lot.

Having said that, VirtualBox (currently anyway) is not entirely open source. It has two editions. And the version I tried was the one with those closed-source features. On the other hand they did say “some of these features will eventually be made available with the open-source version as well”.

So, no, I didn’t go very far with the reverse engineering. It’s usually a painful and time-consuming process. I did have some of the USB traffic sniffed and logged under windows, but I haven’t done much with them yet.

I have some more photos and info of the device here, including photos of it pulled apart.

one comment to “Windows badness, and VirtualBox goodness”

Robert "Ruedii"
2008/02/23 05:16:29

You may want to try disactivating kernel acceleration if you have it on. I’ve heard it somehow causes many driver installs to fail for unexplained reasons.

Short of that you can install the driver in boot mode, image the partition and then switch to QEMU or VirtualBox to run it.

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