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Old 05-05-2019, 08:07 PM   #1
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Farmers hacking tractor firmware to survive...


I think john dear learned a thing or two from apple:

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/a...inian-firmware

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Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware
A dive into the thriving black market of John Deere tractor hacking.

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To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers throughout America's heartland have started hacking their equipment with firmware that's cracked in Eastern Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums.

Tractor hacking is growing increasingly popular because John Deere and other manufacturers have made it impossible to perform "unauthorized" repair on farm equipment, which farmers see as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time.

"When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don't have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it," Danny Kluthe, a hog farmer in Nebraska, told his state legislature earlier this month. "Most all the new equipment [requires] a download [to fix]."


The nightmare scenario, and a fear I heard expressed over and over again in talking with farmers, is that John Deere could remotely shut down a tractor and there wouldn't be anything a farmer could do about it.

"What you've got is technicians running around here with cracked Ukrainian John Deere software that they bought off the black market"

A license agreement John Deere required farmers to sign in October forbids nearly all repair and modification to farming equipment, and prevents farmers from suing for "crop loss, lost profits, loss of goodwill, loss of use of equipment … arising from the performance or non-performance of any aspect of the software." The agreement applies to anyone who turns the key or otherwise uses a John Deere tractor with embedded software. It means that only John Deere dealerships and "authorized" repair shops can work on newer tractors.

"If a farmer bought the tractor, he should be able to do whatever he wants with it," Kevin Kenney, a farmer and right-to-repair advocate in Nebraska, told me. "You want to replace a transmission and you take it to an independent mechanic—he can put in the new transmission but the tractor can't drive out of the shop. Deere charges $230, plus $130 an hour for a technician to drive out and plug a connector into their USB port to authorize the part."

"What you've got is technicians running around here with cracked Ukrainian John Deere software that they bought off the black market," he added.


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Kenney and Kluthe have been pushing for right-to-repair legislation in Nebraska that would invalidate John Deere's license agreement (seven other states are considering similar bills). In the meantime, farmers have started hacking their machines because even simple repairs are made impossible by the embedded software within the tractor. John Deere is one of the staunchest opponents of this legislation.

"There's software out there a guy can get his hands on if he looks for it," one farmer and repair mechanic in Nebraska who uses cracked John Deere software told me. "I'm not a big business or anything, but let's say you've got a guy here who has a tractor and something goes wrong with it—the nearest dealership is 40 miles away, but you've got me or a diesel shop a mile away. The only way we can fix things is illegally, which is what's holding back free enterprise more than anything and hampers a farmer's ability to get stuff done, too."


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I went searching for one of the forums where pirated John Deere firmware is sold. After I found it, I couldn't do much of anything without joining. I was sent an email with instructions, which required me to buy a $25 dummy diagnostic part from a third-party website. Instead of the part, I was sent a code to join the forum.

Once I was on it, I found dozens of threads from farmers desperate to fix and modify their own tractors. According to people on the forums and the farmers who use it, much of the software is cracked in Eastern European countries such as Poland and Ukraine and then sold back to farmers in the United States.


Among the programs I saw being traded:

John Deere Service Advisor: A diagnostic program used by John Deere technicians that recalibrate tractors and can diagnose broken parts. "It can program payloads into different controllers. It can calibrate injectors, turbo, engine hours and all kinds of fun stuff," someone familiar with the software told me.
John Deere Payload files: These are files that specifically program certain parts of the vehicle. There are files that can customize and fine-tune the performance of the chassis, engine, and cab, for instance.
John Deere Electronic Data Link drivers: This is software that allows a computer to talk to the tractor. "The EDL is the required interface which allows the Service Advisor laptop to actually communicate with the tractor controllers," the source told me.

A reverse engineer who goes by Decryptor Tuning, who I met on a forum, told me they distribute programs that are "usually OEM software that is freely available but must be licensed."
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Old 05-05-2019, 08:38 PM   #2
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Re: Farmers hacking tractor firmware to survive...


What does that do to any warranties, does JD win in the end?
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:05 PM   #3
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Re: Farmers hacking tractor firmware to survive...


It seems like the corporations themselves are driving the dark web.
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:48 PM   #4
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Re: Farmers hacking tractor firmware to survive...


Cars are going to go this way as well - you don't own software, you own a license to use it and anything with a computer anymore is getting similar licensing agreements written.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:22 AM   #5
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Re: Farmers hacking tractor firmware to survive...


As long as most people continue to buy the product it will become the norm.

No need to talk about it.
The US is going to self destruct.
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Old 05-06-2019, 01:06 AM   #6
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Re: Farmers hacking tractor firmware to survive...


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Originally Posted by ron45 View Post
As long as most people continue to buy the product it will become the norm.

No need to talk about it.
The US is going to self destruct.
What do you do when you need the product and all of them have the same issue?

Even now, good luck finding professional software (cad, photo editing, even accounting) that doesn't need a subscription and the user has no control.

Can't always blame people.
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Old 05-06-2019, 10:00 AM   #7
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Re: Farmers hacking tractor firmware to survive...


It's why I'm holding on to my old cars and trucks as long as I can.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:53 PM   #8
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Re: Farmers hacking tractor firmware to survive...


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It's why I'm holding on to my old cars and trucks as long as I can.

Same here. My car was purchased new in 2000 and I have no intention of getting rid of it.
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Old 05-06-2019, 03:43 PM   #9
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Re: Farmers hacking tractor firmware to survive...


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Same here. My car was purchased new in 2000 and I have no intention of getting rid of it.
I'm also trying to avoid too many "Anti-theft" theft devices, aka chip keys.
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:24 PM   #10
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Re: Farmers hacking tractor firmware to survive...


Didn't the vehicle industry start out the same way with ECM fault codes originally proprietary? Didn't it take legislation (or the threat of) to open them up?
Going on old and shaky memory here.
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