At the DefCon security conference in Las Vegas, an Australian hacker called Sick Codes presented a jailbreak for John Deere Tractors. And of course, the first thing he did was to get Doom up and running (as reported by Wired and spotted via Eurogamer).
Despite the fun nature of this hack, the reason behind it is actually quite serious. Right now, across the US, there is an ongoing battle between hardware owners and manufacturers over the "right to repair". And this is also true of the farming industry.
As Sick Codes tells Wired:
“Farmers prefer the older equipment simply because they want reliability. They don’t want stuff to go wrong at the most important part of the year when they have to pull stuff out of the ground. So that's what we should all want too. We want farmers to be able to repair their stuff for when things go wrong, and now that means being able to repair or make decisions about the software in their tractors.”
Motivated to provide a jailbreak, Sick Codes sourced numerous generations of John Deere tractor control touchscreen consoles to find bypasses to John Deere's dealer authentication requirements. Eventually, after many months of trying, he was successful, tricking the device into believing it was being accessed by a certified dealer. This gave him an opportunity to go deeper with another timing attack.
According to Sick Codes on Twitter, the New Zealand-based Doom modder Skelegant also helped to get the game running on the farming machinery, with the pair opting for DeHacked Doom as "gz doom was a mission". And of course, the version they got running was appropriately farm-themed, with Doom Guy riding a tractor through a field of wheat.