Playing video games on your office phone

So IT has your computer locked down, but if you’re lucky enough to have this model of telephone you can still play video games while at work. [AUTUIN] was at the thrift store and for just $8 he picked up an ACN videophone on which he’s now playing video games. We don’t know what magical second-hand stores sell functioning electronics of this caliber  but you should never pass up an opportunity like this.

It turns out the phone is running Linux natively. After some searching [AUTUIN] found that it is possible to telnet to a root shell on the device. Doing so he was able to figure out that the phone uses standard packages like ALSA for the Audio and /dev/input/event0 for the keypad. It even includes an SD card slot so he loaded one with a Debian image and used pivot_root to switch over to that OS. At this point the phone is his to command and of course he loaded up a video game which you can see in the clip after the break.

Comments

  1. asmecher says:

    Thanks for the write-up!

    A couple of quick notes: I’m not just loading up a video game, I’m writing it. It’s very much a work in progress but the video shows where it’s heading.

    Also, I’m not the only one to come across one of these at a thrift store. Some of the guys at http://www.pbxinaflash.com/community/index.php?threads/acn-iris-3000-videophone.8620 have gotten theirs in similar circumstances. It seems like the phone has overpromised and underdelivered, and if someone isn’t pleased with the service, the phone is otherwise useless to them.

    • Hitek146 says:

      Can the built in keyboard be used instead of an HID keyboard, using some sort of translator that accepts tapping the number keys like texting on an old cellphone? Is HID mouse supported in the kernel? Also, did you try to load an X GUI, just to see if it would load?

  2. D. Winn says:

    You’d be surprised what you can find at the thrift store. I scored a functioning 1st Gen Apple TV for $5 at my local Goodwill.

  3. Travis Kneale says:

    I have about 4 of theses in the closet that i got for nothing. I was messing with them but i never found the telnet shell.

    Also for anyone who wants to knwo theses are about the most troublesome dam phone you will have ever used. Reboots every few days, Calls simple not going though etc.

    So great use for one:)

  4. jstylen says:

    Awesome! I have been frequenting that exact thread for a while now after finding one of these at the local salvation army (They had two, a friend has the other one) So far all I have done with mine is follow the instructions in the tread to unlock the thing and use it with an asterix server running on my Raspberry Pi. I’ll have to try this when I get home from classes :D

  5. jstylen says:

    Ha ha, double posting here but just saw this comment “Thrift stores are dangerous places to go; my powers of self-discipline can only be tested so far.” I can definitely relate…

  6. Pixel_Outlaw says:

    I’ve been looking at this for quite a while. I picked up one of these at a thrift store myself. I took a gamble thinking it was probably Linux based and therefore expandable. I was able to ssh in using root “root”. I always meant to get something like X11 up on the thing. It would be a riot to take to college with a small usb keyboard and usb wireless adaptor. You could have a very odd laptop to take notes on. My motto is “If it can run Linux turn it into a general purpose computer”

  7. asmecher says:

    Pixel_Outlaw, it won’t be without challenges — the kernel is a little cranky and parts of it violate the GPL, so it would be difficult to upgrade it e.g. to include USB HID, which OTOH is missing. However, the framebuffer works just fine and you can probably work around the parts the kernel is missing in userspace.

  8. Coda says:

    Most of the places I’ve worked at would instantly fire me if they knew I’d hacked my phone. OTOH, I got away with hackintosh’ing my T60 laptop for 2 years so I can’t complain :-)

  9. Erik Johnson says:

    I found a pair of these at a local thrift as well, but paid $20 (for the pair, new in box). After researching them I also found them to be running Linux so I snatched them up. I have yet to play with them though, good to know the rooting is easy!

  10. vonskippy says:

    Next hack – jumping the queue at the Unemployment office.

  11. mziwisky says:

    Watched the video and was impressed that [asmecher] apparently got his game running while still allowing incoming calls to gracefully interrupt his play. Then read his writeup and realized those robocalls are actually PART of the game, and he’s using the phone as an interface! I love it!

    • asmecher says:

      This is one part of the project that I’m *really* excited to push forward. In my dreams, it has some kind of voice recognition and you have to talk to a stubborn automated agent.

      • asmecher says:

        Also: think multiplayer.

      • mziwisky says:

        Stubborn automated agent — nice! Don’t just frustrate your players by making them navigate the cubicle maze, but also by making them navigate the phone menu system maze! In the same vein: maybe a touchtone-based menu where you need to press 4 to get to where you want, but find that the 4 key is “broken.” Then you call your office IT department and their menu says “To issue a service request for your telecom system, press 4…”

  12. anyone says:

    seriously bullshit for this thing being $8. This is as much bullshit as those “I just walked outside and saw this” reddit posts.

  13. HackJack says:

    The fact that you can login via telnet as root with NO PASSWORD indicates this is either a prototype or a product that is an epic failure.

    • asmecher says:

      The password’s not echoed to the prompt, but there is one. It’s in that pbxinaflash.com thread. Not all firmwares seem to have the same means of access, but as far as I can tell, all have been rooted somehow or other.

  14. jsngrimm says:

    A Linux powered desk phone??? BRB im going to goodwill!

  15. Nick Tracy says:

    Just found one at goodwill myself today. what a neat little treasure. only 7 bucks. i just happened to see it hiding behind a giant printer from the 90’s. i thought it was odd that a POTS phone would have a big screen and camera on it. then i realized it was much more then that. Looks like i have a new project. I wanna try and reverse engineer the whole thing to see if I can come up with better software for it. Hopefully some of the work that has already been done will help. However, I’m fairly new to Linux but have been coding with C since windows 95. always wanted to create my own kernal from scratch.

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