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ReactOS Reviewed in Depth 220

Posted by timothy
from the reactionary-seems-a-fair-description dept.
An anonymous reader writes "NeoSmart Technologies has an incredibly detailed (6 long pages!) and mostly positive review of ReactOS, The Open Source Windows. The review covers the goals of ReactOS and how well it meets them, system stability, application compatibility, kernel design and development, and the networking stack. It discusses the use of WINE in ReactOS' kernel and the effect on both its compatibility and development times." For the visual learners, here are some screenshots."
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ReactOS Reviewed in Depth

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am ReactIng right now to the fact the servers are down...
  • Too late? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gasmonso (929871) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:06AM (#15712661) Homepage

    While I find the idea of an open source Windows facinating... is it too late? With Vista coming out soon, many new applications written will only run on Vista because of the new architecture, driver model, etc. ReactOS seems like it will be stuck in the past catering to XP applications/games while Vista goes forward. Since most people already have XP who would use this? Or will ReactOS emulate Vista? No, this is not a troll post, but a legit question.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • Re:Too late? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:11AM (#15712695) Homepage Journal
      While I find the idea of an open source Windows facinating... is it too late?

      At the very least, it will be useful for corporations using current win32 stuff who don't want to migrate to vista when XP eols.

      (similar to samba really only fulling supporting domains close to NTs eol)
    • Re:Too late? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:18AM (#15712734) Homepage Journal
      Look on the bright side, at least ReactOS went somewhere. It may be kind of late in starting, but it was fairly well managed from the beginning. Contrast that with the FreeDows project, the secretive brainchild of a whiz-kid who bit off more than he could chew. The end result? Absolutely nothing.

      At least with ReactOS, it's likely to live on in some form as it's already useful to many people. (Fringe cases or not.) Even if it stays behind the Windows curve, it will be one more product nipping at Microsoft's heels.
      • Re:Too late? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @12:08PM (#15713422) Homepage

        Even if it stays behind the Windows curve, it will be one more product nipping at Microsoft's heels.

        It's not as thought that curve is very steep. When's the last time a new version of Windows added a feature you've actually used? For me, I think it was Windows 2000, and that feature was "not built on DOS".

    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:22AM (#15712747)
      With Vista coming out soon, many new applications written will only run on Vista because of the new architecture, driver model, etc.

      That seems like a really careless statement on your part. Are you saying that virtually all new applications are being written for an OS that you can't even buy for 6 more months? Boy that's sure going to put a dent in the next 2 quarters earning statements for every major software company.

      Oh, and btw, are they writing for 32-bit Vista, or 64-bit Vista?

    • Re:Too late? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TractorBarry (788340) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:23AM (#15712751) Homepage
      If I can run Logic Audio, the Audiowerk 8 driver and Sound Forge on top of it then I'm definitely interested.

      My primary use for my Windows box is for running Windows audio/MIDI related tools and I'd love to have an open source platform to run them on. Especially if I could strip the OS to the bare minimum that's required to run the hardware & software I want to use (i.e. complete control of which services are running, what's started at boot time etc)

      As support for the Windows version of Logic Audio was discontinued I'm even keener to have an open source OS that can run these apps. I'm running Windows 2000 and will not be upgrading to XP/Vista etc. under any circumstances (too many friends/colleagues with too many problems). My current combintaion of Windows 2000 and Logic etc. allows me to get on with making music and I'm happy to stay this way but will have to face the fact that eventually support for Windows 2000 will cease.

      And no I'm not going to switch to a MAC. Emagic pulled the rug from under me once (just after I'd paid for an upgrade) so I Learnnt my lesson the hard way. The only way I will ever buy commercial software again is it it comes with the source so can be supported by third parties/myself when thhe manufacturer decides to take their ball home.

      Of course I'd love to be able to do what I can currently do on my Windows box using equivalent Linux tools bu sadly there is nothing yet to compare to Logic Logic. (and yes I have tried Rosegarden, Audacity, Ardour etc. etc.)

      So I for one hope ReactOS goes from strength to strength.
      • History (Score:5, Informative)

        by dpaton.net (199423) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:50AM (#15712940) Homepage Journal
        And no I'm not going to switch to a MAC. Emagic pulled the rug from under me once (just after I'd paid for an upgrade) so I Learnnt my lesson the hard way.

        Actually, Apple bought Emagic and killed the PC version. Emagic didn't really have a choice once they'd been bought. The odds of Logic working on a Mac for a long long time are better than they ever were on a PC. Not to say you should get a Mac, just trying to clarify the history.

        As for me, I'm still pining for the long gone Studio Vision Pro. Gibson...now there's a company to hate.
        • Gibson...now there's a company to hate. Can't agree more there. They are the most expensive "average" instruments I've seen. I work in a guitar store part time repairing guitars and setting them up. I've seen Korean made PRS guitars with the same quality and 1/4 to 1/8 the cost! We have a gibson mandolin that cost $11,000, we also sell two $1,000 Michael Kelly mandolins that are the same construction quality and to me sound better.
          • You do realize that Gibson has a less expensive brand called Epiphone which is just about equivalent?

            -uso.
        • Apple hurt their customers too. I have an emagic usb 2/6 external sound card. Apple stopped updating the drivers for it. I can either run it in XP or Mac OS 10.3 or lower. If I install it in tiger, I get random crashes, lockups and even crashes shutting down! I wouldn't have bought a 300 dollar external soundcard to begin with, but my mother in law thought it was a usb hub :)

          It worked great with iTunes and I love the bass compared to my lame iBook soundcard. All well, maybe i'll use it in linux someda
          • There are a lot of USB and FireWire sound output devices that are plenty good that use CoreAudio drivers. I'm particularly fond of the MOTU stuff. I have some older stuff kicking around that's not supoprted either, but with the mess that was the old driver system, I'm kinda glad to see the new stuff.

            These days I use a USB to optical (TosLink) output adapter that I feed into an old DAC I have laying around. Much better than any of the onboard audio systems I've met, and it gives me total electrical isolation
      • While I do think it's funny that you're so passive aggressive about your applications ("I hate what the companies did to me but will happily use their old applications"), you do have a good advantage in both staying with win2k and ReactOS -- your setup works for you.

        I've got a dual G5 mac and while I've drooled and gawked as the new machines continue to come out, at the end of the day I use my computer and I'm perfectly happy with it. It goes very fast and performs very well for the music needs that I ha

    • Re:Too late? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aymanh (892834)
      It's never too late, NES emulators are still being used to this day for example. Even after the release of Vista, many will still need to run legacy Win32 apps, and when ReactOS matures, I think some users will prefer an actively-developed OS over one at the end of its life cycle.

      Just a thought.
    • Re:Too late? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orasio (188021)
      There is actually no need to change to msvista, because most people won't do it.
      But MS will try and force them to do it. When MS end-of-lifes winxp, they will have a supported replacement.
      Even right now, MS support for XP is no good, for some people who are concerned with security and stuff. With a non proprietary solution, support is a free market, and you are not stuck with the same provider that keep giving you the shaft.
      _If_ ReactOS ever comes to be a viable solution, it would be much more sensible migr
      • Re:Too late? (Score:2, Insightful)

        There may not be a need to go to Vista but most people will do it. ReactOS will never be a sensible migration path. You either stay with Windows or you go to something else. No corporation would go to some OS that is a kludgey combination of both!
        • Re:Too late? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by orasio (188021)
          "_If_ ReactOS ever comes to be a viable solution,"

          There was an emphasized "If" in my post. Of course, is ReactOS is "kludgey", there will be no use for it, but _if_ it isn't, it _will_ be a viable solution.

          The feasibility of a good clone of winxp is another issue completely. Of course, I agree that it's difficult, and that it's not a good idea, but the motivation to d it, of course, is that if they succeed in their huge task, there is in the end some use for the project.

          There are actually lots of places th
        • No corporation would go to some OS that is a kludgey combination of both!

          Further down the road, the only supported MS OSs will be laden with DRM and anti-piracy "features that may well refuse to run for whimsical reasons. You may not be able to buy a licence for a vintage MS OS at all. So it may be a solution a corporation, and not just a geek in his basement, could use for running legacy apps, especially under virtualisation.

    • Re:Too late? (Score:3, Informative)

      by smallpaul (65919)

      With Vista coming out soon, many new applications written will only run on Vista because of the new architecture, driver model, etc

      Many applications only removed Windows 98 support this year. Applications can't target Microsoft's latest and greatest immediately. They have to target the installed base for several years.

      • Re:Too late? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Helios1182 (629010)
        Which means we may see applications that use the proper user privileges at last. Gone are the days of running as an "admin" under 98. Now companies should be able to expect user level rights and write code that respects them.
    • Re:Too late? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bazorg (911295)
      Since most people already have XP who would use this? Or will ReactOS emulate Vista? No, this is not a troll post, but a legit question. This question is as legit as that one that shows up frequently around here: What are the good reasons for people to upgrade to Vista? Having WIN32 compatibility without getting the DRM,and inside properly protected userspace are good enough reasons to want ReactOS instead of Vista...
    • Not soon enough! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DigitAl56K (805623)

      A free Windows-compatible OS which is not encumbered with all kinds of DRM, backdoors, phone home security updates, Internet Explorer, has native support for all the device drivers that Windows supports, and means that I don't have to learn Linux / migrate all of my current software practices? How can this possibly be too late?

      Personally I'd far sooner consider ReactOS than any of the other much touted Linux alternatives. Will that buy me brownie points on /. ? Maybe not, but it's probably true for most p

      • Sure, you can run your open source Windows or Linux OS. But you can't view any of the new DRM media without Microsoft. Of course, even with Microsoft, you can only view the new media when and where they let you. Open source software is only half the answer. Without open content, people will still be compelled to remain a Microsoft slave. Creative commons content is as important as open source software at this point in the war against the Evil Empire.

        Very soon, DRM media will include documents created

    • Re:Too late? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slashdot@NOspam.gmail.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:43AM (#15712882) Homepage Journal
      is it too late? With Vista coming out soon

      ReactOS started as a win95 clone, and yet it incorporates features in Windows XP. It can as well be extended to support vista features (and as we've seen, Vista still has a lot of the XP kernel code). IIRC there's a feature request in ReactOS for virtualization.

      I hope that with the recent events happening in Europe, Microsoft will be forced to document the API for Windows Vista, so ReactOS can be more competition.

      Most people DON'T need the latest advancements in the Windows OS, they just want it to do their spreadsheets and letter writing. Many of those still use Win98, they don't have the money to upgrade to XP, and with the support dropped for 98, they might as well conform the perfect userbase for ReactOS.

      And with the ghost of Genuine Advantage approaching, i think ReactOS will make its debut just in time. When it's finished, the people who are using pirated copies of XP will probably switch instantly.

      Because, why stick with a (buggy and virus-prone) pirated version of Windows, when you can have a legal one, for the same price (free)? :)
      • Re:Too late? (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:57AM (#15712988) Journal
        ReactOS started as a win95 clone, and yet it incorporates features in Windows XP

        Not really. It started as an NT4 clone. Then they started adding features only found in NT5 (Win2K) and now they're also adding things in NT5.1 (WinXP). Note that they still don't have a full drop-in replacement for NT4 though. Not to knock the ReactOS team; there aren't very many of them, and what they have achieved is incredible.

        Cloning operating systems seems to be a popular pass time in the F/OSS community. We have UNIX clones, a Windows clone, an Amiga clone, and even a BeOS clone. It's a shame no one is working anything VMS or QNX-like though...

        • Re:Too late? (Score:3, Informative)

          by middlemen (765373)
          It's a shame no one is working anything VMS or QNX-like though...

          FreeVMS exists at http://freevms.free.fr/indexGB.html [freevms.free.fr].
          • I saw that page a while ago, and it seemed a bit dead. Looking at the mailing list archives, it seems that the last traffic there was two years ago. A shame; it could have been an interesting project.
            • Re:Too late? (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward
              You guys are looking at the wrong place - there's multiple copies of the FreeVMS pages and mailinglists, incuding the above (very out of date); it seems that they're really badly organized in that aspect. You should be looking at http://www.systella.fr/~bertrand/FreeVMS/indexGB.h tml [systella.fr] . The newest FreeVMS (0.2.11) is just a month old, and *is booting on real hardware*. Check the freshmeat entry, it's usually up to date.
        • And Hurd has been working on a microkernel approach for the last... twenty years. Seems some designs lend better to distributed development than others. Or perhaps it's merely a matter of organizations, with Cathedral central designs underperforming Bazaar like organizations.
    • Are you kidding? As soon as it supports the major Windows Apps without crashing, I'm switching. I'm still running Windows 2000 and I cringe at the thought of upgrading to XP, and Vista sounds even worse!
    • Do you just keep cutting and pasting this message over and over every couple of years?

      When Wine first started:
      "While I find the idea of an open source Windows facinating... is it too late? With Windows 95 coming out soon, many new applications written will only run on Windows 95 because of the new architecture, driver model, etc. Wine seems like it will be stuck in the past catering to Win3.11 applications/games while Windows goes forward. Since most people already have Win3.11 who would use this? Or will W
    • No, this is not a troll post, but a legit question.
      http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]


      Could you at least put that link in your signature block instead of every post? I and others turn off signatures for a reason, and you force us to look at your signature each time you do this. You already have that listed as your website, so it already appears in the header of your post.
  • Ars is less positive (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:06AM (#15712665)
    Ars Review [arstechnica.com]

    They basically say it runs Firefox and Solitaire, but that's it. "Lots of promise, but needs work".
  • BSOD too... (Score:5, Funny)

    by William Robinson (875390) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:07AM (#15712669)
    It has BSOD too [neosmart.net]

    Now I call that 100% compatible;)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The one time i plan to read the article the server is down who would of thought it.
  • by joe 155 (937621) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:11AM (#15712691) Journal
    If you want screenshots then you can get them from the official site... http://www.reactos.org/de/screenshots.html [reactos.org]
  • ReactIIS (Score:5, Funny)

    by _Pablo (126574) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:11AM (#15712692)
    Doesn't look like their build of ReactIIS 1.0 is quite up to the load...
  • by frik85 (951295) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:19AM (#15712737) Homepage
    Official ReactOS Website:
    http://www.reactos.org/ [reactos.org]

    Screenshots:
    http://www.reactos.org/?page=screenshots [reactos.org]
    http://www.reactos.org/?page=tour [reactos.org]

    About ReactOS:
    http://www.reactos.org/?page=about [reactos.org]
    http://www.reactos.org/?page=about_whatisreactos [reactos.org]

    Downloads (LiveCD, InstallCD, VM images):
    http://www.reactos.org/?page=download [reactos.org]

    Compatibility Database:
    http://www.reactos.org/support/ [reactos.org]
    • Now, if only they could get compaitbility for DirectX and NVIDIA chipset/graphics drivers, I'd switch immediately. Honestly, I'm seriously LOOKING for something, ANYTHING, other than Windows that is open source, but that will let me play games.
  • The fonts! (Score:2, Funny)

    by karji (114631)
    Why didn't they use Microsoft's fonts?
    • Re:The fonts! (Score:3, Informative)

      by jesuscyborg (903402)
      Why didn't they use Microsoft's fonts?

      Uhm, because Microsoft's fonts have a restrictive license that prohibits them from being included in a Free OS.
      • Uhm, because Microsoft's fonts have a restrictive license that prohibits them from being included in a Free OS.

        Huh. Really? I wonder what I just emerged last month? [gentoo-portage.com]
        • Re:The fonts! (Score:3, Informative)

          by lee7guy (659916)
          What part of being included is hard to comprehend?

          Downloadable after installation doesn't qualify as included.
          • Fair enough, but that's a semantic line of division that wasn't readily apparent in the original post. However, even given that definition of "included," the distinction only matters is you sell copies of the product for profit:

            Reproduction and Distribution. You may reproduce and distribute an unlimited number of copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT; provided that each copy shall be a true and complete copy, including all copyright and trademark notices, and shall be accompanied by a copy of this EULA. Copie

  • by Anonymous Coward
  • Ya but... (Score:2, Funny)

    by keith_nt4 (612247)
    Will it run LiteStep

    No, LiteStep

    I said...litestep...ah forget it.

  • by martinultima (832468) <martinultima@gmail.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @10:45AM (#15712900) Homepage Journal
    Kind of a rhetorical question, but I'm kind of wondering if any reviewers have actually tested it on a real machine, rather than VMware, QEMU, etc. I've been watching it since 0.2.3 or so, and I've actually started toying around with 0.3.0-RC1 on a spare machine I have – Compaq DeskPro EP6000, PIII-650, 64MB – and have found that with, say, Notepad and Firefox running it's quite stable. Kept it up for around half an hour before I just got bored and shut it off. Doesn't yet support my video card or network, but it's still pretty nice.

    My own review is on the ReactOS forums if anyone wants to know exactly what it's like – no pictures, because I haven't installed any screenshot or image manipulation software yet, but anyway... http://www.reactos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=20166 [reactos.org]

    Anyway, just thought I might point out that it works on real machines just as well as, or in some cases even better than, on a virtual machine.
    • "Anyway, just thought I might point out that it works on real machines just as well as, or in some cases even better than, on a virtual machine."

      You've had much better luck than me. I've tried it on several older physical machines (Mendocino and Coppermine stuff, as well as an Athlon) and it hasn't worked yet...Either it craps out during the installation or it blackscreens when I try to boot it. I try again with new versions or different hardware occasionally, because most of the time (that is, every time I
  • by GodWasAnAlien (206300) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:02AM (#15713017)
    I think a big step for Wine would to be able to run the ReactOS desktop.
    Then a Wine Desktop could be running in its own virtual terminal.
    One could also create a Wine/Linux distribution, to create another free windows development/run environment.
    A Wine/Linux distribution would use Linux drivers. This currently would have an advantage over ReactOS,
    as ReactOS is limited to use blob windows drivers, or a few open source drivers.

    If you can successfully run the ReactOS desktop in Wine, please share. I have tried it a few times (running ROS exploerer.exe desktop in Wine), but it is not quite usable.
  • Win98 EOL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by owlman17 (871857) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:26AM (#15713169)
    If ReactOS were only a little more stable, all these people http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/11/ 0218250 [slashdot.org] could easily make the switch almost painlessly. Compared to Linux its almost a drop-in replacement for 98.
  • ReactOS is GOD... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:40AM (#15713249) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, you can run most driversets! I've found it very useful (Emulators run awesomely, most of my games, too!) and very, very, VERY fast. Because of the striped down Kernel there's less CPU being used by the OS, freeing up more for other applications (Games, oh yes, GLASS)

    Seriously, by the time vista comes out, People may very well start ditching Microsoft and start using ReactOS. I intend to once the next release of ReactOS comes out, at least for a nice long trial for major testing.
  • by bigredradio (631970) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @11:47AM (#15713306) Homepage Journal
    This is great. I just got Debian installed! I used ReactOS, then installed the free version of VirtualPC from microsoft, then installed Debian Sarge. Now I can use nano instead of that crappy notepad.
  • by Clazzy (958719) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @12:25PM (#15713496)
    Would it not be highly advantageous to allow the running of Linux binaries as well? I don't have a great deal of knowledge on the subject, but wouldn't it be relatively easy to implement something like this because it's open-source code?
  • Jumping from page 3 to 4 of the article I got

    This Account Has Been Suspended
    Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible.
    BR Which is a shame as it was a good read and very interesting (as I had not previously heard of ReactOS).

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