Clone (computing)

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For copying an object in computer science, see Cloning (programming).

In computing, a clone is a hardware or software system that is designed to function in the same way as another system.[1]

Hardware[edit]

The FC Twin famiclone designed to look like a SNS-101. This unit plays both NES and SNES cartridges.

Hardware clones[edit]

When IBM announced the IBM PC in 1981, other companies such as Compaq decided to offer clones of the PC as a legal reimplementation from the PC's documentation or reverse engineering. Because most of the components, except the PC's BIOS, were publicly available, all Compaq had to do was reverse-engineer the BIOS. The result was a machine with better value than the archetypes that the machines resembled. The use of the term "PC clone" to describe IBM PC compatible computers fell out of use in the 1990s; the class of machines it now describes are simply called PCs.

While the term has fallen mostly into commercial disuse, the term clone for PCs still applies to a PC made to entry-level or above standard (at the time it was made) which bears no commercial branding (e.g., Acer, IBM, HP, Dell). This includes, but is not limited to, PCs assembled by home users or Corporate IT Departments. (See also White box (computer hardware).)

There were many Nintendo Entertainment System hardware clones due to the popularity and longevity of the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Hardware remakes[edit]

Examples for hardware remakes are e.g. recent home computer remakes.

A special kind of hardware remakes are emulators which implement the hardware functionality completely in software. For instance the WinUAE emulator software tries to behave exactly like a physical Amiga.

Software[edit]

Software can be cloned by reverse engineering or legal reimplementation from documentation or other sources, or by observing a program's appearance and behavior. The reasons for software cloning may include circumventing undesirable licensing fees, acquiring knowledge about the features of the system or creating a interoperable alternative for an unsupported platform.

In the United States, the case of Lotus v. Borland allows programmers to clone the public functionality of a program without infringing its copyright.

A comparison of in-game screenshots, published in EA's legal filings, of EA's The Sims Social (left) and Zynga's The Ville, demonstrating the similarities in the games' art assets.

Yet the public interface may also be subject to copyright to the extent that it contains expression (such as the appearance of an icon). For example, in August 2012, Electronic Arts, via its Maxis division, put forth a lawsuit against Zynga, claiming that its Facebook game, The Ville was a direct clone of EA's own Facebook game, The Sims Social. The lawsuit challenges that The Ville not only copies the gameplay mechanics of The Sims Social, but also uses art and visual interface aspects that appear to be inspired by The Sims Social.[2][3][4] The two companies settled out of court on undisclosed terms in February 2013.[5]

An example for software cloning is the ReactOS project which tries to clone Microsoft Windows; another example is GNU Octave, which treats incompatibility with MathWorks MATLAB as a bug.[6]

Video games[edit]

Main article: Video game clone

Since the existence of video games, clones of successful concepts and brands were common. For instance, the influential first person shooter Doom lead in 1990s to the creation of a new genre dubbed as Doom clones. In the 2000s the open world action-adventure Grand theft auto inspired the creation of many Grand Theft Auto clones.

Software remakes[edit]

Main article: Video game remake

Remakes of software are revivals of old, obsolete, or discontinued software (e.g. Abandonware).

A good share of software remakes are Fangames of computer games and Game engine recreation made by the fan community as part of retrogaming, to address e.g. compatibility issues or non-availability of the original.

Since the 2000s there is an increasing number of commercial remakes of classical games by the original developer or publisher for current platforms as the digital distribution lowers the investment risk for niche releases.[7] When enhanced in some way (audio, graphics, etc.) than they are called sometimes "High definition" release or "Special edition", an example is The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.[8][9]

Other uses of the term[edit]

Desktop[edit]

Since 2010 clone computing, in the sense of replicating a session on a host computer in a virtual instance in the cloud, has been introduced. This allows the user to have access to a copy of their PC's desktop on any other computing device such as a tablet computer, a personal computer running any operating system, WebOS, smartphones, etc.

The clone computer replicates, runs, and is always available through a series of cloud servers. Unlike remote management software, clone computing has no dependency on the host computer.

Disk cloning software[edit]

Main article: Disk cloning

Disk cloning is the process of copying the contents of one computer hard drive to another disk or to an "image" file. Typically, the contents of the first disk are written to an image file as an intermediate step, and the second disk is loaded with the contents of the image. A cloned drive can replace the original, rather than simply containing backup copies of files.

Cloning software replicates the operating system, drives, software and patches of one computer for a variety of purposes, including setting up multiple computers, hard drive upgrades, and system recovery in the event of disk failure or corruption.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ clone /n./ "An exact duplicate: "Our product is a clone of their product." Implies a legal reimplementation from documentation or by reverse-engineering" from the Jargon File
  2. ^ Griffen, Daniel Nye (2012-08-06). "EA Sues Zynga, But Deeper Social Issues Threaten". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  3. ^ Brown, Nathan (2012-01-25). "How Zynga cloned its way to success". Edge. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  4. ^ Jamison, Peter (2010-09-08). "FarmVillains". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  5. ^ Cifaldi, Frank (2013-02-15). "EA and Zynga settle The Ville copycat case out of court". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2013-02-15. 
  6. ^ 11. Porting programs from MATLAB to Octave "There are still a number of differences between Octave and MATLAB, however in general differences between the two are considered as bugs."
  7. ^ Walker, John (2007-11-22). "RPS Exclusive: Gabe Newell Interview". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2013-06-28. The worst days [for game development] were the cartridge days for the NES. It was a huge risk – you had all this money tied up in silicon in a warehouse somewhere, and so you’d be conservative in the decisions you felt you could make, very conservative in the IPs you signed, your art direction would not change, and so on. Now it’s the opposite extreme: we can put something up on Steam, deliver it to people all around the world, make changes. We can take more interesting risks.[...] Retail doesn’t know how to deal with those games. On Steam [a digital distributor] there’s no shelf-space restriction. It’s great because they’re a bunch of old, orphaned games. 
  8. ^ "The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved November 15, 2011. 
  9. ^ Onyett, Charles (June 2, 2009). "E3 2009: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Preview". IGN. Retrieved November 15, 2011.