There are plenty of USB docks but the couple I have experimented with present UDB/pseudo devices in place of legacy ports like com and parallel. More modern applications can work with those just fine for something simple like printers.

However I am working with software that is used to interface with airplanes that was designed with MSDOS 6.22 and Windows 98. I have been lucky and using Dell Latitude E-Series laptops that support this legacy dock...

Legacy E-Dock

I am looking into updating these laptops and it does not appear that newer models have a similar legacy dock. So USB would be the easier route to go but I need the replicator to present the ports as true physical ports to the OS so that they can be passed to virtual machines.

1 Answer 1


This cannot exist. If it's connected via USB, then it's connected via USB, no matter what it looks like and only software could provide the illusion of a "physical port".

Actually, I think I missed an important pat of your question: The old software runs in a virtual machine, so all you need is for your virtual machine to expose the USB-connected ports as physical ports of the virtual machine.

So the answer is still that "this is a software problem", but at least one that should be easy to solve. I have no idea which virtual machine software you're using, but at least Qemu on GNU/Linux provides options like -parallel dev: redirect the parallel port to char device 'dev' to do exactly what you're asking for.

  • That would be a shame if it was true but as long as there was an appropriate driver I don't believe that is the case. Either way if you have a technical reference to back that up I would appreciate it.
    – Matt
    Oct 22, 2015 at 14:19
  • 2
    @Matt: Which part of a driver is not software?
    – Stefan
    Oct 22, 2015 at 14:21
  • I was only using vmware player for this. I could check to see if it supports similar functionality. I would have assumed that the driver tells the OS what hardware it has so in theory the driver can present whatever it wants. Thanks for the information.
    – Matt
    Oct 23, 2015 at 15:00
  • If he needs to use an exotic parallel port device this won't work - actual PC parallel port controllers supported many operating modes other than Centronics which likely won't be supported by a typical general-purpose USB adapter. Frankly, I'm not even sure if a virtual machine could do this with real parallel ports.
    – Random832
    Oct 26, 2015 at 18:36
  • IIUC his virtual machine runs some old ms-dos program which only knows how to print to a printer connected over the centronics port. If that's what it's about, then Qemu-style simulation of a parallel port should work fine.
    – Stefan
    Oct 27, 2015 at 1:01

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