Hi, just a semi-automatic reply for this classic topic ;-)

>> Is there any way to make some kind of driver that would sit between
>> the application and the actual soundcard (in my case a realtek) and
>> forward what the app is trying to send to the soundblaster to the
>> realtek the right way?
> Yes and no. Yes, because that's possible in theory - but it requires
> to capture ports on which usually the SB card sits, and this requires
> to put the CPU in v86 mode (hence EMM386 is mandatory). And not
> everyone is a fan of v86, or EMM386. Secondly, even though it is
> possible this way, it will work only for realmode applications (since
> v86 mode is an emulation of a 8086...), so it's quite limited
> anyway.

It can also work with EMM386 compatible protected mode software. The
commercial driver of "Sound Blaster Live" and SB PCI does it that way
and the minimal and unstable open source "VSB" virtual sound blaster
does the same: It only emulates SB1, not SB16, as far as I remember.
Also, it only outputs the sound to internal beeper or parallel port
D/A converter (Covox) but you could improve it to be SB16 emulation
with AC97 and HDA output, if you are good at hardware programming
and able to port ALSA or OSS drivers for AC97 and HDA. The latter
has been done before for MPXPLAY for DOS, I believe. Just trying to
remind that solving the soundcard issue IS in theory feasible :-)

> Ultimately, SB is a "standard" that is tied to hardware, so it will
> die sooner or later. The long-term solution here would be to have a 
> universal sound API, and that's all what VESA/AI is about.

A combination of the two would be possible: Make VESA/AI drivers for
modern soundcards and a virtual SB16 which outputs the sound via any
VESA/AI driver, to make old games that only know SB16, no AI, happy.

Games which require SB16 but are not EMM386 compatible will still be
out of luck, but you can run those in "entire virtual PC" context as
long as that simulates SB16. Think about QEMU, VirtualBox, VMWare,
Bochs and similar. With Linux and Windows as host operating system.

By the way: There recently was a big security hole in the "floppy"
of several open source virtual PC solutions, please update if you
are using those on servers. Or at least disable the virtual floppy.

Cheers, Eric

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