Doom now runs on John Deere tractors thanks to right-to-repair activists

Doom running on a tractor isn't just a cool hack, it's a political statement

(Image credit: Sick Codes)

Hackers have gotten Doom up and running on the computer system that powers John Deere tractors, and it’s far more than yet another Doom hack – it’s a new volley in the right to repair fight.

Right to repair (opens in new tab) refers to a broad consumer push for corporations to stop locking down the computer systems that control many aspects of modern products. The movement has been especially notable in agriculture, as farmers want to be able to repair their own tractors and other equipment without relying on authorized repair services, just as they could with older, analog equipment.

At the DefCon security convention this past weekend in Las Vegas, a hacker who goes by the name Sick Codes presented a talk revealing a way to jailbreak a number of John Deere computer systems, demonstrating a way for farmers to get access to those systems. As quoted by Wired (opens in new tab), Sick Codes had a pretty simple message: “Liberate the tractors!”

To demonstrate the exploit, Sick Codes with the assistance of a modder called Skelegant. Together, they crafted a custom version of Doom set in a farm field with a rideable tractor.

Playing Doom on a John Deere tractor display (jailbroken/rooted) at @defcon pic.twitter.com/ih0QUTGNuSAugust 14, 2022

While Bethesda hasn’t weighed in on right to repair, it seems that somebody there is a fan of the hack. The official Doom account retweeted (opens in new tab) Sick Codes’ video with the message “that tracks.”

Doom creator John Romero has compared the game’s influence to Dungeons and Dragons, and at this point it’s hard to argue otherwise.

Doom will run on anything, from pregnancy tests to moldy potatoes, provided you can find a hacker willing to make it happen.

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