Running dongled app on Apple Intel box
April 20, 2006 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about running Windows on an Apple Intel laptop. Unfortunately one of the apps I use needs a hardware dongle on the parallel port. So I'm wondering whether one can attach a USB/parallel adapter, attach the dongle to that (maybe requires a gender bender) and have the app see the dongle that way. Or is the interaction between the app and dongle too low-level for that? Any help would be appreciated. I can't quite bring myself to buy an intel apple, buy windows xp, load it all up, and then find out I'm SOL. Thanks in Advance.
posted by thayerg to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
The way those dongles work is often pretty primitive. The app will periodically send out some bits, the dongle will perform some secret operation on them, and the app will make sure the bits were changed correctly.

I think your cheapest test would be to get a USB/parallel adapter (I've never seen one myself) and see if your app works through it and the dongle on a regular PC. I imagine that if it works on your PC, it will work on a Mac running Windows.
posted by landtuna at 11:34 AM on April 20, 2006

If you have access to a PC, your app, and your dongle, you can try this out right now. Hardware-wise, I'm pretty sure MacBook Pros are virtually identical to other Core Duo laptops out there, so the USB interfaces should be indentical.

If you can get your setup working with a USB-parallel on an existing PC, it should work on a MacBook Pro.
posted by todbot at 11:35 AM on April 20, 2006

have you tried it with your current PC? if it doesn't work then you just have a USB parallel port adapter to return, instead of an entire laptop, software which you probably can't return if opened, and the adapter.

alternatively, have you asked the company if there's an updated dongle? some companies that require them (Quark comes to mind, though my last experience with them was a long time ago) would have several different kinds of dongles you could use, so they may have a regular USB one.

I wouldn't think the app would be accessing the parallel port in any sort of "weird" ways.. there's not a whole lot there to exploit, really. but don't hold me to that.
posted by mrg at 11:36 AM on April 20, 2006

If it's legal in your local jurisdiction, you could search the web for a crack that lets you forego the dongle (and which would probably work under the Boot Camp virtualization.)

Producing or distributing such a thing is definitely illegal in the U.S. under the DMCA; just using one is probably illegal, too, but that's less clear to me.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 12:12 PM on April 20, 2006

USB to Parallel adapters that have a 25 pin DB25 port instead of a 36 pin Centronics port are rare, so make extra sure when you go looking for one. USB to Parallel adapter may not work anyway, since they're generally made just for printers and act as a USB Printer Class device. I don't know for certain about that; they may work.

A PCMCIA or ExpressCard parallel card would be a real parallel port and most likely work, but the slot on a MacBook is ExpressCard/34, while the adapter I linked to is an ExpressCard/54.
posted by zsazsa at 12:28 PM on April 20, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I like all the ideas suggested. I couldn't find any expressCard/34 parallel printer adaptors. I'm going to contact the software vendor--support forums are a joke but I may not be the first person to have this question.
posted by thayerg at 2:25 PM on April 20, 2006

You know, I'm willing to bet that if you took your question to the Genius Bar at your local Apple store they would probably let you try it out.
posted by ssmith at 5:20 PM on April 20, 2006

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