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The DBox is a DVB satellite and cable digital television integrated receiver decoder (set-top box). They were distributed widely for use with Pay television channels. The DBox-1 was the first DVB-capable receiver to be produced and distributed in large quantity. It was commissioned by the Kirch group's DF1, an early German provider of digital television that later merged with Premiere. The hardware was developed and produced by Nokia though later also produced by Philips and Sagem under license.
The combination of third-party developers and network connectivity which facilitates card sharing, makes DBox2 (and the DBox2 based Dreambox) use particularly common among enthusiasts and those who intend to obtain services without payment. It also enables the receiver to store digital copies of DVB MPEG transport streams on networked filesystems or broadcast the streams as IPTV to VideoLAN and XBMC Media Center clients.
In 2001, following the bankruptcy of Kirch Media, production of the D-box ceased. However, there continues to be a large number of devices traded second-hand (often using online auction sites) and fairly high prices are paid because of the ability to gain services without payment. For this reason, there are also a significant number of, mostly German language, web sites and forums devoted to the devices.
Linux on the Dbox-2
Since 1997 an alternative operating system has been available for the predecessor of the Dbox2, the Dbox. This was DVB98 (later DVB2000), developed by a single programmer. Despite programming the hardware directly using machine code, DVB2000 is superior in many respects relative to the original software.
For the DBox2, an effort was created to port the Linux operating system. This is now the most popular choice. Installation involves first putting the box into its debug-mode, a mode intended for internal development. It is then possible to take a backup copy of the original operating system (including vital micro-code images for the MPEG decoder chipset) and flash an image based on Linux to the device.
In addition to the Linux kernel and drivers, a significant amount of code is needed to allow the DBox2 to function as a digital receiver. This code is all maintained under a single open-source project - TuxBox. There is, however, a choice of user-interfaces that can be used, the most popular being Neutrino and Enigma. Enigma is also used on the Dreambox.
The Dbox2 has grown in popularity among home hobbyists due to the ability to use softcams to enable it to decrypt channels without the need for the physical access card to be present in the box, or with the use of a pirated key, without any card at all.
Originally DBox2 use and development was limited the Germany and Austria, the market area of Kirch Media. Enthusiast groups outside Germany have however developed localized software versions for the DBox2 in Finland and the United Kingdom, usually buying their boxes over eBay.
A "MultiCAM" module can be attached to the internal com port (disabling the internal modem) to enable the card readers to support multiple conditional access cards. Software support exists for many CA systems, including Conax used in Scandinavia
The DBox2 does not have a hard disk or other internal storage. Modules have however become available for attaching IDE hard drives and SATA hard drives and MMC and SD flash memory cards. Support for these is included in some software distributions.
An infrared keyboard is optionally available. Originally, the dBox was designed as a "multimedia terminal", with applications such as pay-per-view ordering, e-mail, and home banking in mind so support for a keyboard was a design consideration.