Yesterday I bought a breathtaking DVD game — Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy — which appeared to be too heavy for my laptop. Unfortunately, even though my desktop PC has the cutting-edge video card and tons of memory it is relatively old and has no DVD drive. At first I tried creating a disk image and mounting it as a virtual drive, but the attempt spectacularly failed because of StarForce copy-protection system. It just refused to recognize the disk even though the key perfectly matched. Eventually I was able to find the solution (credits go to Kate for her sensible suggestion) — mounting the remote DVD drive.

It comes that Windows is able to mount a SCSI device over the network as if it was locally attached in such a way that no application sees the difference. For this you need an iSCSI server and a client. The server is installed on the side with the resource (DVD drive in my case) and the client is on the other end where you need it.

I don’t know much about iSCSI servers, but one that I came across almost instantly was Alcohol 120% DVD / CD backup software. It has tons of tools, but all that is needed for the surgery is a scalpel and their iSCSI server module. You tell it what to share; it does all the rest.

In the documentation they suggest using Microsoft Software Initiator as a client. You see, it’s all very standard. I had to tune my firewall a bit to let the “spice flow” and then mounted the drive without a hitch.

The last trick was to disable an existing CD-R/RW drive to make the game protection see the correct (iSCSI) device. The direct solution would have been in disconnecting the drive physically, but it’s quite troublesome as you imagine. The alternative is in using specialized software for this — StarForce Nightmare. I’m not a pirate — yes, no wooden leg — but sometimes I use these tools to make things work. It simply casts some spells on the data buses to let you disable a chosen ATA drive without opening the case. Sounds right!

Now, here’s the summary of what was done:

Doesn’t look overcomplicated when it’s done, heh. Hope I felt the same when I was fighting with StarForce in the midnight.

Hope it helps someone!