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Doom: The cult shooter runs on a tractor and has a serious background

Exactly what device hasn’t the original Doom from 1993 been made to run on yet? Piano, ultrasound machine, pocket calculator, digital camera – even a pregnancy test, everything was already there. Now tractors are joining this illustrious group.

However, this is less about the need of some farmers to hunt down a few zombies after fertilizing the field, but rather the desire to finally gain more control over their own, expensive work equipment. How exactly these two facts fit together, we will now explain to you.

Demand for free repair of the tractors

The stumbling block is the software used by manufacturers such as John Deere, which many farmers believe is too restrictive and prevents quick repairs to the machines. The principle is already known from normal cars: Only authorized dealers and workshops are allowed to carry out maintenance or repairs.

And that annoys the customers who are already gathering on the Internet and exchanging unofficial repair instructions. Also, the hacker Sick.Codes felt compelled to solve this matter in his own way: through a jailbreak the tractor software, as is already known from smartphones and other entertainment electronics.

In particular, the tractors from the manufacturer John Deere are said to be very restrictive in terms of software.

In particular, the tractors from the manufacturer John Deere are said to be very restrictive in terms of software.

Although this would give the farmers more control over the machines, they would also have to expose themselves to a certain security risk, since opening the manufacturer’s software would of course also undermine protective functions. A risk that apparently many of them would take.

That’s why the choice fell on Doom

But why Doom, the first-person shooter forefather from 1993? Apart from the already mentioned cult status in terms of ports, the game is apparently also a good indicator of the skills of the hacker itself. In an interview with the website, Sick.Code says:

Doom means completeness haha ​​and if I can make Doom work I can make anything work. […] Hacking tractors looked like a massive challenge to me. And as a hacker, I love a challenge, otherwise I get bored.

But the task was not easy. The hacker is said to have spent months tinkering with the tractor software codes before finally gaining full access. He even had to solder his own modules to the main circuit board of the control unit in order to reach his goal.

I started working on it in February and then stuck with it. The hack is very complicated, but it does not involve any modifications to the John Deere software. I just added my own code and open source code from Fedora Linux.

The result can then be seen:

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According to Sick.Codes, the whole procedure could also be solved in the form of a tool in the future to save farmers all the effort. According to an interview with Wired magazine, the undertaking also had a noble purpose for him:

We want farmers to be able to fix their own stuff when something goes wrong, and that also means they are able to fix the software in their tractors and make decisions about it.

Are you a virtual farmer in Farming Simulator 22? If you have already harvested the fattest potatoes, the greenest lettuce and the juiciest tomatoes and are now longing for new challenges, the announcements from the recent FarmCon 2022 in-house exhibition should make you rejoice:

Can you understand the farmers’ desire to have the freedom to make their own decisions about their machines? Or do you think like the manufacturers and say: This software corset is completely appropriate for the sake of security? Let us know what you think about this topic in the comments!

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