Gaming inside Sandboxie?

Discussion in 'sandboxing & virtualization' started by Carbonyl, Feb 16, 2011.

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  1. Carbonyl

    Carbonyl Registered Member

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    I'm currently wondering about the possibility of using Sandboxie to isolate and play games. To be more specific, many games come with forms of DRM that I don't agree with. SecuROM, for example, installs many files and null registry entries that are hard to remove after their purpose has been fulfilled. It blacklists programs from running. It updates itself silently, and installs itself initially without notifying the end user. All of these things make me uneasy about allowing it onto my machine. However, I appreciate the developer and publisher concerns about piracy, and I understand why sometimes DRM needs to be packed into a game.

    What I'm hoping to do is find a good compromise, wherein I can install a game into a fresh Sandboxie sandbox and allow the DRM to do its thing, but keep it completely isolated from my system's registry and system files. I'm not entirely sure how best to do this, though. Can I install the entire game into the sandbox? Will I likely encounter problems because the installation process might need administrative privileges, or might 'call outside' of the sandbox to try and access other processes? Will installing and running such a game inside the sandbox truly prevent unwanted alterations to my registry?

    And, perhaps most importantly, once I'm done with the game, can I just choose to delete the sandbox contents and dust off my hands, secure in the knowledge that everything's been swept away, with nothing lingering?

    I'm not sure of exactly how to proceed along these lines, but since everyone here is really knowledgable on the topic of Sandboxie, I was hoping I could get some opinions on how best to proceed, and what settings to use for whatever fresh sandbox I create. I've asked over at the Sandboxie forums, but I don't want to hassle Tuzk over and over again with questions :) I'm running the latest version of Sandboxie, and I'm using Win 7 Professional (x64).

    Sorry if this is a rather stupid or vague set of questions. Any information anyone could provide would be a huge help. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. bo elam

    bo elam Registered Member

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    Hi Carbonyl, I don't have any experience with games since I don't play any
    but you should not have any problem installing the game sandboxed as long
    as no drivers need to be installed. Try it on a default settings sandbox and
    don't check drop my rights, otherwise it wont work for sure. The default
    settings will, probably, allow the game to be installed but also will allow
    the game to call home. The game can read your registry but it wont make
    changes to your real registry so when you delete the sandbox, you are
    back were you started.
    Like I said, I have never installed a game but it should work.

    Bo
     
  3. Carbonyl

    Carbonyl Registered Member

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    Thanks for the input bo elam! I went ahead and gave it a test by installing Crysis into a new sandbox with mostly default settings, though I disabled drop rights. I had to install as UAC administrator, but after that everything went smoothly. Strangely enough, Crysis wasn't able to interface with the Windows Firewall, which prevented its calling home, but didn't block installation or running of the game. Additionally interesting is the fact that I was able to leave Process Explorer running (as I always do) while playing Crysis. I've never been able to do that with any SecuROM protected game in the past!

    I'm pretty sure the registry stayed clean, too, though I admit to not knowing what keys to search for. Overall, though, things seemed to have worked. I'll have to keep testing to ensure that everything went well, but at this point it looks promising. Thanks again!
     
  4. BoerenkoolMetWorst

    BoerenkoolMetWorst Registered Member

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    Hi, nice results, I'm not a big fan of securom either :D

    Did you notice performance difference compared to outside the sandbox or haven't you tried to run it outside?
     
  5. Carbonyl

    Carbonyl Registered Member

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    It's certainly not a fool proof solution for things like online activation limits, but in terms of keeping the files and registry of my system clean I think it might do the job!

    In terms of a performance difference, I admit that I haven't had the guts to allow Crysis to install or run outside of the sandbox. I launched the installer right off of the DVD in its own sandbox, and haven't let anything out since (even forced the folders to execute in the sandbox). I don't really have a point of comparison in terms of performance, because of that.

    I only had enough time to play about 10 or so minutes last night, but I will say that the game was amazingly smooth playing at maxed detail levels. I didn't get into a serious firefight, or benchmark anything, though. I can collect more data this evening, but overall my initial impression is that the performance hit (if any) is minimal!
     
  6. bo elam

    bo elam Registered Member

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    Next time you install the program sandboxed you can verify that your
    registry is not been accessed by the game when you open Sandboxie
    control, right click on the game exe, click Resource access and if you
    click registry access you ll see that your registry is not been accessed
    by the game.

    Bo
     
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