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Connection to hardware?

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I've been learning C++ for awhile, and how have become interested in the networking and physical (ports, etc.) aspects of the computer. I searched google for resources on networking and stuff, but they weren't much help...basically what I'm looking to do is 1) learn networking and 2) learn how devices and stuff physically connect to the computer, and how to monitor, change, control, etc. those connections (obviously I can control my printer with printer software, but I mean how to write my own). do you know of any good resources or have any advice yourselves on this?

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If you actually want to get down to a low level and control things you pretty much have to write a device driver in most(all?) modern OSes. Windows won't let you access things like that without going through their API, which in turn speaks to a driver. Direct hardware accesses are pretty much reserved for what are called "Ring 0" processes, such as drivers and the OS. Applications run at a higher ring. This is the way modern OSes are set up.

You could experiment a bit with such things in a DOS type environment, but the windows Dos prompt won't cut it. Perhaps DosBox or Bochs(emulators) would be sufficient but I'm not sure.

Its great that you want to know about this stuff. But I'd have to say that Sockets programming is about as close as I ever want to get to the NIC/Modem!

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