DCI4 almost publically releasedBy Chris Williams. Published: 21st Mar 2003, 04:38:51 | Permalink | Printable
Get a load of this broken and not so broken code!Before you ask, yes this article is a techie one so hold tight and think happy thoughts. Firstly some background: version 4 of the Acorn Device Control Interface specification, or the DCI4 as it's commonly known, is a highly confidential and protected document owing to the fact that it details the low level insides of the RISC OS networking system and the way related modules and device drivers communicate. Ensuring the document's contents are kept a secret provides security through obscurity although it admittely hinders third party software writers looking to develop device drivers.
A discussion was recently started on comp.sys.acorn.programmer after one programmer expressed an interest in writing a PLIP driver and was looking for a copy of the DCI4 document for reference. It was confirmed that the document is confidential and not for public release; we checked this with RISCOS Ltd. and they're still issuing the DCI4 document to interested parties under a standard non-disclosure agreement. Fair is fair, we say, seeing as the document does cover the finer intricacies of the RISC OS networking system and is the kind of information you don't want falling into the wrong hands what with Pace employing RISC OS in their consumer products.
However in an attempt to aid future networking module developers, it turns out Alan Williams (we've just noticed that his website appears to have some crazy stuff on it like the TRMs) has written a DCI4 based driver module for the D-Link DE600 ethernet device and has released the source code under the GPL (version 2). As it "might serve as a useful base from which to write DCI4 drivers", Theo "SSH-Proxy" Markettos is kindly distributing Alan's source code here [drobe mirror]. However there's always a catch or two and here they are:
- Alan admits his code doesn't quite work.
- Plus his code is a horrific mess.
So typical open source quality then but quite possibly worth a peek anyway if you're nosey enough even if the code turns out to be of no use whatsoever.
On the other hand
Alternatively, there's always the EtherY sources [drobe mirror], released by Castle under the GPL and tidied up by Justin Fletcher. The EtherY module drives Castle's 100bT ethernet cards.
Theo Markettos' website
EtherY device driver (which works, funnily enough)
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