How to make a clone?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by pjkelnhofer, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. pjkelnhofer macrumors 6502a

    pjkelnhofer

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    #1
    I posted this in another forum (where admittedly things are getting of topic), I am hoping some one who knows more than me about such can explain it to me.
    A clone question for some one who understand these things better than me: Would it be possible for a company to reverse-engineer the chip (I believe it is the Boot ROM or the BIOS) that makes a Mac a Mac and not just another PPC computer. If so could they then start making OS X compatible computers without Apple's blessing? Isn't that how Compaq made the original IBM clones?
     
  2. krimson macrumors 65816

    krimson

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    #2
    i believe it would be a copyright violation to reverse-engineer the BIOS.
     
  3. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #3
    It would not be possible legally. I think that you will find a clause against reverse-engineering anything electronic.

    As I recall, Phoenix created the BIOS per IBM specifications. It wasn't much different than what was required for a CP/M machine, except that it was 8086 code instead of 8080 code. Phoenix then sold a functionally-identical BIOS to Compaq and whoever else wanted it.
     
  4. pjkelnhofer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    pjkelnhofer

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    #4
    Am I wrong about Compaq and IBM then, or have the copyright laws about such things changed? Also, does that mean all Windows bootable PC's have essentially the same BIOS and are the specifications about how it operates freely aviable, or do Dells, HPs, etc. each have to invent their own independent BIOS and if so how do they keep it all compatible with an OS that some one else (MicroSoft) creates.

    I have been trying to research these things on the web today, and all the reference I have found to the IBM/Compaq story may or may not be urban/internet legend.
     
  5. pjkelnhofer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    pjkelnhofer

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    #5
    Some more research seems to confirm that the team that original broke the code of the IBM BIOS did it by reverse engineering it. Essentially looking at everysingle thing it did and making the making something to those specifications.
    So my question remains, have laws change to keep that from happening today?
     
  6. strider42 macrumors 65816

    strider42

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    Feb 1, 2002
    #6
    its been done actually, though not recently. The original macs were , for reasons I can't remember, not available in some places. I think it was brazil, I can't remember. So someone there reverse engineered the apple rom and built clone macs and sold them there for years. Doesn't happen anymore because macs are sold there now and apple stomped it out.

    As for PC's, i thought PC BIOS was nowadays created by someone a third party more or less, with tweaks made by each manufacturer. I remember reading something about the next generation PC bios being worked on and its built in DRM stuff. I think I read about it at arstechnica.com, so maybe checking through their archives can bring up some useful info.

    edit: here's the arstechnica article I was thinking of: http://arstechnica.com/news/posts/1065288859.html

    Seems BIOS is made by several parties who then license it to the manufacturers. Of course, the BIOs is different than the apple rom. The equivelent on a mac is open firmware.
     
  7. tpjunkie macrumors 65816

    tpjunkie

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    #7

    Beat to me to it! :p

    Anyway yeah, you'd need a mac ROM and firmware loaded onto the computer in order to build a mac clone...if you own a mac, it may be legal to obtain a copy of this information from your mac, (probably voiding your warrantee)...so yes, it could be done. However, this is copyrighted information, so you wouldn't be able to do anything with your product, except use it for yourself.
     
  8. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    #8
    Buy this...

    http://www.pegasosppc.com/tech_specs.php

    or

    http://www.mai.com/products/Mainboard.htm

    open firmware product, (aka CHRP or PowerPC Platform).

    Run this...

    http://www.maconlinux.com/

    Because that's as close as you'll get.

    ---

    On a side note Mai Logic has already signed up with IBM to produce a PPC970 Northbridge chip of their own... so the PowerPC Platform is still moving forward.

    And you can expect IBM to finally move past the again old PPC604e and leap to the PPC970 in their CHRP-based workstation line.

    The big question is when will Amiga release the PPC-based OS 4.0 and actually start shipping Amiga OS machines instead of Linux boxes (and will they move to PPC970 or to x86).
     
  9. strider42 macrumors 65816

    strider42

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    Feb 1, 2002
    #9
    I just remembered an article I read a while back about a guy who made is own G4 system using a salvage G4 motherboard (whcih he needed for the apple boot rom obviously). Thats as close to a clone as you can get.

    a related note was the guy who was going to make and sell a headless mac system shaped like a pizza box sort off using salvage or refurbished parts. This probably wouldn't have violated any copyright laws or anything, but apple still managed to stop it from happening (threatened his suppliers perhaps)

    There was also a company that was going to buy G4 systems, overclock, but them in a new case and super cool them to make an uber mac a few years back. The company never did deliver on that promise and instead shipped overclocking kits that basically consisted of a few resistors and isntructions.
     
  10. pjkelnhofer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    pjkelnhofer

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    Boston
    #10
    I had no idea such a thing existed. So theoretically I could buy one of the Motherboards, get and PPC distro of LINUX and the run Mac on Linux. And have a computer that essentially ran OS X natively with the the Boot ROM? Amazing.

    Any idea why the Mai Logic Board so much more expensive than the Pegasos?
     
  11. pjkelnhofer thread starter macrumors 6502a

    pjkelnhofer

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    #11
    But where to get the G4 salvage board?
     
  12. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

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    May 19, 2002
    #13
    Generally it's probably not, but Mai doesn't really sell to the public -- the price is for their "development board" -- which is probably similar in price to Motorolas.

    You'd still need to find somebody that was selling the board or packaging it into a system.

    I think Eyetech is selling a mildly modified Teron board as the AmigaOne (but it's basically just a Linux PPC right now).

    http://www.eyetech.co.uk/
     

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