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The State of ReactOS's Crazy Open Source Windows Replacement

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the still-waters-run-deep dept.

Open Source 208

jeditobe writes with a link to a talk (video recorded, with transcript) about a project we've been posting about for years: ambitious Windows-replacement ReactOS: "In this talk, Alex Ionescu, lead kernel developer for the ReactOS project since 2004 (and recently returning after a long hiatus) will talk about the project's current state, having just passed revision 60000 in the SVN repository. Alex will also cover some of the project's goals, the development and testing methodology being such a massive undertaking (an open source project to reimplement all of Windows from scratch!), partnership with other open source projects (MinGW, Wine, Haiku, etc...). Alex will talk both about the infrastructure side about running such a massive OS project (but without Linux's corporate resources), as well as the day-to-day development challenges of a highly distributed team and the lack of Win32 internals knowledge that makes it hard to recruit. Finally, Alex will do a few demos of the OS, try out a few games and applications, Internet access, etc, and of course, show off a few blue screens of death."

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208 comments

BSOD as a replacement feature? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45400749)

Making it not crash would be moving away from emulating windows, I guess?

Re:BSOD as a replacement feature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45400805)

Making it not crash would be moving away from emulating windows, I guess?

WINE Is not an Emu-- Oh I'm sorry, wrong thread.

Re:BSOD as a replacement feature? (4, Funny)

rjune (123157) | about 5 months ago | (#45400995)

If they're getting BSOD's aren't they about 90% complete?

Re:BSOD as a replacement feature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401101)

This is supposed to be an NT based OS, but a BSOD every time you try to do something unsupported would bring back the feel of Millennium Edition.

Re: BSOD as a replacement feature? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401423)

Every blue screen is not a BSOD. In , the actual BSOD features a binary dump portion that contains presumably debugging info. The BSOD came into being as a feature of Windows NT and has NEVER existed in the DOS derived versions of Windows (3.1, 95, 98, ME)

I ran NT 4 for quite awhile, along with Linux and NetBSD. People who used or ME during that same period should pipe down and stay in their seats at the kids table.

Re: BSOD as a replacement feature? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401465)

The BSOD came into being as a feature of Windows NT and has NEVER existed in the DOS derived versions of Windows (3.1, 95, 98, ME)

Oh, so very wrong. [wikipedia.org]

Re:BSOD as a replacement feature? (-1, Flamebait)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 5 months ago | (#45402021)

Is this 1998? Maybe you should make a DOS joke while you are at it?

Like it or not but the reason why Linux is lower than the margin for error on the desktop is because WINDOWS is stable and LINUX IS NOT. For example here we are about to go into 2014 and the sound subsystem in Linux is still a heap of ass and fail. Pulse behaves like Win 3.1 when it comes to stability, sneeze and it will get crashy, and this isn't counting the piss poor wireless situation, or the fact that you want to break a Linux system all you have to do is update the thing.

Personally I wish the guy all the luck in the world because if he can get a system that is as easy to use and rock solid as Windows 7? Then maybe Linux wouldn't be below JavaME when it comes to userbase. But anyone that thinks Linux is stable is free to take the hairyfeet challenge and post it to Youtube, Go ahead, I dare you, because what you will end up with is a mess of broken. Go ahead and make BSOD jokes all you want but there is a REASON why MSFT can put out the most hated version since MSBob and get more users in a month than Linux has in 20+ years and that is because under the fugly Win 8.x GUI its still a rock solid OS while Linux is still the same, same crashes, same bad design choices, same old same.

Re:BSOD as a replacement feature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45402429)

Actually the reason is that they're a multibillion dollar company that can afford to literally throw money at the marketers until they spur the public* into a "Windows isn't quite as bad as I thought" frenzy. Also, ubiquity. Apple might be suuuper popular now but Windows is still the defacto operating system that Joe Shmoe expects to find on a new computer.

* Minority subset of society who actually cares about what operating system their computer is running.

Re:BSOD as a replacement feature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45402089)

Shit comment, shit poster. I can't say I've seen Windows actually crash to a bluescreen (or any completely unusable state) in the last 10 years.

Re:BSOD as a replacement feature? (1)

dosius (230542) | about 5 months ago | (#45402137)

I've only ever bluescreened any NT Windows on metal once in my life. A couple days ago. Prolly a dying usb port.

Wine and ReactOS are casualties (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45400893)

of the same strategy that Bill Gates developed in the '90s to defeat Netscape, Lotus, and the other leading PC application software vendors.

Microsoft deliberately made the architecture of Windows so byzantine, baroque, and spaghetti-like that even their own in-house staff of tens of thousands of developers could barely make sense of it, let alone outsiders who had their own platforms and APIs to develop and master. Now as the world has pivoted to mobile computing, this '90s strategy is biting MSFT in the butt. Bye, bye Steve! Bet you wish you had a properly designed OS kernel now!

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 months ago | (#45400997)

Microsoft deliberately made the architecture of Windows so byzantine, baroque, and spaghetti-like that even their own in-house staff of tens of thousands of developers could barely make sense of it

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (5, Informative)

somersault (912633) | about 5 months ago | (#45401065)

Apart from when there is direct evidence of malice on Microsoft's front.. of which there has been plenty. They've even been convicted for anti-competitive behaviour.

David Cole and Phil Barrett exchanged emails on 30 September 1991: " "It's pretty clear we need to make sure Windows 3.1 only runs on top of MS DOS or an OEM version of it," and "The approach we will take is to detect dr 6 and refuse to load. The error message should be something like 'Invalid device driver interface.'" Microsoft had several methods of detecting and sabotaging the use of DR-DOS with Windows, one incorporated into "Bambi", the code name that Microsoft used for its disk cache utility (SMARTDRV) that detected DR-DOS and refused to load it for Windows 3.1

( a href=http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/11/05/how_ms_played_the_incompatibility/>source article )

The article continues in that vein for quite a while..

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401075)

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

It is easy to throw that line around. Very often where stupidity doesn't adequately explain the situation.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 5 months ago | (#45401169)

I don't think there is enough stupidity in the universe to account for Windows. By the natural law of conservation of stupidity, Windows must be an intentional act of misanthropic hatred.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (4, Funny)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 5 months ago | (#45401529)

Stupidity is a entropy-like quantity, not energy-like. It isn't conserved, but it can not decrease.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (2)

Sun (104778) | about 5 months ago | (#45402235)

What happened with windows is the least energy path all software takes. It, in fact, takes a huge investment for any long maintained program to not take this path.

It is true that Microsoft, for reasons that had to do with marketing (and also the anti competition, true) took this path quicker than was purely mandated by normal entropy laws. They also defined an "always backward compatible" policy (even when apps use unsupported, undocumented, APIs or side effects), that made it impossible to invest the (quite hefty) price and refactor out the ugliness.

Still, aside from the anti-competitive part (which did not take as big a part as you'd expect), there is no evidence of malice here. Just poor engineering policy and too strong a marketing department.

Shachar

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401181)

If stupidity excuses apparent maliciousness, couldn't an evil genius use it as an excuse?
Your quote is not malicious, but definitely stupid.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (4, Insightful)

ImOuttaHere (2996813) | about 5 months ago | (#45401203)

Anyone remember one of the earliest Windows dev kit? The one that came on 3.5inch floppys. I seem to remember there were 20 of the leetle buggers. And it came with a tall stack of pretty useless books too.

After I realized there were three duplicate functions for each and every action, and that the parameter list was different for the three different implementations, I returned to Unix and swore that uSoft had NO idea what it was doing.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401231)

It's not stupidity or malice. It's backwards compatibility.

Linux developers have the luxury of removing or fixing old interfaces and telling users to either deal with it or fuck off. Windows needs to retain bug-for-bug compatibility with software written back in 1995. What the hell do you expect the architecture to look like, exactly?

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 months ago | (#45401375)

I'd suggest that the choice to retain backwards compatibility for so long is stupidity. And it hasn't even worked very well. These days Linux is more compatible with old Windows apps than Windows is.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 5 months ago | (#45401527)

I'd suggest that the choice to retain backwards compatibility for so long is stupidity. And it hasn't even worked very well. These days Linux is more compatible with old Windows apps than Windows is.

I'd suggest that it has also encouraged businesses to think very stupidly about in-house application development, which is where a lot of the problem is.

Essentially, lots of businesses created some in-house apps 10-15 years ago, which make use of quirks, design flaws, and bugs in Windows XP (or earlier) and IE6. Microsoft sat down to fix the quirks, bugs, and design flaws, only to find that they had to choose between dropping support and pissing off a huge portion of their customer base, failing to fix the flaws, or continuing to emulate the bugs for a decade in some kind of "compatibility mode". They've pretty much chosen a middle road that does a little of all three.

The problem is, this has only encouraged a mentality within businesses to think of application development as a one-off project. Management thinks, "Oh, well we'll just pay some programmers to develop a business-critical application, and then we'll be done with it. We'll get rid of the programmers, and the application will just keep working forever, because Microsoft will keep supporting all these whacky design choices." This is a very dangerous way of treating software development. Sooner or later, you're going to have to update your app. If you treated it as a one-off project, then you end up with a decade-long backlog of bugs that were never fixed, and a lack of any expertise because you've gotten rid of all the original programmers.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (1)

armanox (826486) | about 5 months ago | (#45401567)

I think you meant to say open source developers. Plenty of projects (X and Wayland, for example) don't care about legacy compatibility, it is just in their way...

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 5 months ago | (#45401259)

Microsoft deliberately made the architecture of Windows so byzantine, baroque, and spaghetti-like that even their own in-house staff of tens of thousands of developers could barely make sense of it

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

... but don't rule out malice.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (4, Interesting)

akirapill (1137883) | about 5 months ago | (#45401337)

I think it's actually a little of each. Look at the apache POI project [apache.org] for supporting microsoft document formats in enterprise java apps. from wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

The name was originally an acronym for "Poor Obfuscation Implementation", referring humorously to the fact that the file formats seemed to be deliberately obfuscated, but poorly, since they were successfully reverse-engineered.

The other acronyms in the project, such as HSSF (horrible spreadsheet format) are equally revealing.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401349)

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

...except when it comes to coercive authority (government). In that one special case (coercion), never attribute to stupidity what can be explained by malice.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (2)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 5 months ago | (#45401719)

I think "stupidity" is too strong a word. A person of average intelligence wouldn't be capable of managing a project that large. "Mediocrity" might be closer to the truth.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (1, Funny)

alexhs (877055) | about 5 months ago | (#45401857)

A person of average intelligence wouldn't be capable of managing a project that large.

You never heard of Longhorn, did you ? :)

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (2)

daboochmeister (914039) | about 5 months ago | (#45401827)

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

However, remember that any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401119)

Why would Ballmer give a shit about anything?
He only became CEO in attempt to make it look like he was doing anything until he got "fired" so he could retire with a stupid amount of money.
Steve won. He never lost anything.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401199)

<blockquote> Now as the world has pivoted to mobile computing, this '90s strategy is biting MSFT in the butt. </blockquote>

Has it?? This mobile bandwagon really needs to slow down a bit.

Repeat after me: MOBILE DEVICES ARE FOR CONTENT CONSUMPTION!! MOBILE DEVICES ARE FOR CONTENT CONSUMPTION!! MOBILE DEVICES ARE FOR CONTENT CONSUMPTION!!

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401313)

Pretty much, you're right. Nobody I know uses mobiles for "computing". They use laptops or desktops (or servers, oh my) for that. But that's pretty obvious from the way marketing emphasizes screen size/resolution. That doesn't make any difference to your computing.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (1)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#45401363)

I don't know, I see a lot of people doing actual work (including content creation) on iPads.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401431)

Jesus, man, if you're going to live in a cave for five years then come post to Slashdot, at least try something insightful instead of this bread-dead philistine "X is only for Y purpose" bullshit. I guess the arguments as to *why* mobile devices are "for" content consumption are so vapid and cliched that even a five-year cave dweller wouldn't dare post them, so we get this distillation instead. Bravo.

Re:Wine and ReactOS are casualties (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401473)

No they are not. Well. Not all of them. Most of them are used that way I agree.

Look at the popularity of both blue tooth keyboards for iPads (which I see in virtual every meeting) and Galaxy Notes. The desire for a PDA (/a tablet that creates a subset of content) still exists

commits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45400901)

That is quite a lot of commits, but then I suppose it would need a lot if it is going to be bug for bug compatible!

Does it come with a Ballmulator? (4, Funny)

fey000 (1374173) | about 5 months ago | (#45400907)

Will there be a Ballmer emulator as well? I could use one of those in my stock market crash simulator.

Re:Does it come with a Ballmulator? (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 5 months ago | (#45401237)

I can make something yell "Developers!" 37 times, make terrible decisions, and even throw chairs (as errors), but how do you simulate the sweat?

ReactOS takes an initiative (3, Informative)

jeditobe (2701857) | about 5 months ago | (#45400915)

ReactOS takes an initiative and gets part of its kernel rewritten in c++
Aleksey Bragin, the project coordinator writes [reactos.org] :
"Monstera is a new implementation of a memory manager (along with a cache manager) compatible with the ReactOS kernel at source code level and providing the same binary compatible Native API through a lightweight wrapper. Monstera is implemented in a subset of C++ programming language. ...
Key ideas:
1. Object oriented language for object oriented kernel. When NT was implemented, C++ wasn't that good.
...
4. Don't drift away too much. It's still based on NT architecture, but think of it as if Microsoft Research would decide to reimplement NT in C++ for fun."

Re: ReactOS takes an initiative (0)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 5 months ago | (#45401963)

C++ wasn't that good.

True, but now it's even worse.

For every new good thing about C++, there are a dozen new gotchas.

ReactOS is a good name (2, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#45401127)

You know that Micro$oft will "react" quite badly to this. It's one thing to be Linux where the look and feel is totally different, but if you manage to get a reverse engineered solution for Windows even close to viable, the long knives will come out.

I foresee one of two things happening... 1. The project fails because it is TOO large for the possible gains it could provide and takes too long to get working. 2. The project is successful but M$ kills it by FUD and actual legal action. Both of these are equally possible. If the second option happens, I give them about a snowballs chance of going head to head with M$ and coming out with a commercially viable Windows clone.

Good luck storming the castle boys!

Re:ReactOS is a good name (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401329)

M$ already tried. They failed.

Re:ReactOS is a good name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401515)

So what you're saying is Microsoft did some investigating and determined RectOS wasn't a real threat to them.

Re:ReactOS is a good name (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401487)

Microsoft can't FUD a project that targets computer professionals (system administrators, programmers, etc). FUD requires an incompetent audience. Computer professionals, on the other hand, can make up their own minds. For example, Microsoft has been waging a FUD campaign against linux for 15 years. It works on Joe Consumer, but it certainly doesn't work on Joe Administrator and Joe Programmer, and that's why linux is now dominating nearly every computing market except the "desktop" (home consumer) market.

Re:ReactOS is a good name (2)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#45401491)

The ReactOS project is very likely OLDER THAN YOU...

Re:ReactOS is a good name (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#45401581)

I seriously doubt it.. I'm older than Bill Gates..

Re:ReactOS is a good name (4, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#45401927)

And yet you write like a 15 year-old...

Nothing you've said about it hasn't been repeated innumerable times, over a decade ago.

Re:ReactOS is a good name (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#45402187)

And yet you write like a 15 year-old...

Ouch... That hurts dude...

Seriously? I'm an electrical engineer turned programmer, I'm lucky I *can* write..

Re:ReactOS is a good name (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#45402263)

Ouch... That hurts dude...

To make things worse, someone modded-up my little rant, in agreement, almost immediately. Nothing I can do about that.

Re:ReactOS is a good name (4, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 5 months ago | (#45401537)

3. States targeted by the NSA find it more viable than switching to linux, fund it to completion, and most of the world stops using Microsoft's version.

Re:ReactOS is a good name (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 5 months ago | (#45401733)

ReactOS is attempting to reimplement an OS that is EOL'd and 10 years old. I dont know that Microsoft cares too much.

the long knives will come out.

Good luck with that, clean-room reverse engineering is legal.

Re:ReactOS is a good name (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#45402157)

clean-room reverse engineering is legal.

But patent infringement is not.

Just remember that all M$ has to do is portray a believable story that using something is possibly a problem for the user. It's called FUD, and in this case would be easy.

Re:ReactOS is a good name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401739)

I give them about a snowballs chance of going head to head with M$ and coming out with a commercially viable Windows clone.

Free software doesn't go "head to head" with proprietary software. They don't play on the same field.

ReactOS could very well become the "DeCSS" of operating systems -- technically "illegal", but nevertheless immensely popular.

It's possible that legal obstacles could prevent ReactOS from ever being sold as a stand-alone product. But that doesn't mean that it can't become a hugely successful FOSS project.

Re:ReactOS is a good name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45402139)

You are most certainly an idiot on all levels.

- Microsoft has had a long time to do something harmful to the project, but it hasn't happened.

- The fact that you have to use M$ in every other sentence paints you as a massive fanboy - it doesn't make you look intelligent.

- We generally don't accuse people of something until they've actually done it. I guess innocent until proven guilty is only applicable when it's you?

Mindless comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401137)

What a waste of a carrier...

God's Temple (1, Funny)

TempleOS (3394245) | about 5 months ago | (#45401141)

I made God's Temple, just like Solomon. I have a 100,000 line of code cap forever. I will always break backward compatibility for perfection. Mine is 64-bit, ring-0-only.

Re: God's Temple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401341)

solomon = 3 x sun in 3 different languages: sol, om, on.
solomon is not a person, unwashed profane.

Just ignore it. (5, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#45401147)

It's an oddity, but why do we care about this project anymore? It started out back in '96 to be a clone of Windows 95. Then it was switched to be an NT4 clone. And every few years they update the website to say it's to be a clone of some newer version of Windows.

Meanwhile, it's still pre-alpha, (barely) runs on almost no hardware, and runs almost no programs. Wine is in a far better state. And in recent years, Windows' dominance has even been severely undermined by Android, providing a real, viable alternative OS that happens to be free and open source. And Linux has long since usurped it as the #1 server operating system. So after a couple decades of delays with almost no progress to be seen, ReactOS is on the verge of outliving its usefulness, before it ever started. Sort-of like GNU HURD for Windows fans.

There's plenty of open source OS projects out there that /. doesn't report on twice a year. Let's make ReactOS one of them!

Re:Just ignore it. (3, Informative)

Pav (4298) | about 5 months ago | (#45401207)

The NT4 kernel is the base for 2000/XP/Vista/Win7/Win8/Win8.1

Re:Just ignore it. (1)

FreonTrip (694097) | about 5 months ago | (#45401323)

Only in the sense that the Linux 2.2 kernel is the base for modern Linux distributions. A lot of work's happened between here and there.

Re:Just ignore it. (1)

Pav (4298) | about 5 months ago | (#45401489)

Not really... the Linux APIs are fluid, but Windows are much less so (at least not the core ones). That's not to say you don't get new ones.

Re:Just ignore it. (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#45401417)

The NT4 kernel is the base for 2000/XP/Vista/Win7/Win8/Win8.1

No, the NT6 kernel is the base for Win Vista/7/8/8.1. Of course that was based on the NT5 kernel from 2000/XP/2003. And that was based on the NT4 kernel from NT4.0. And the NT3.5 kernel is the base for NT4. And the NT3.1 kernel is the base for NT3.51.

And all of this has absolutely nothing to do with what I said. Regardless of what was based on what... ReactOS keeps changing their targets, and not getting anywhere.

Re:Just ignore it. (3, Insightful)

unixisc (2429386) | about 5 months ago | (#45402217)

I thought that the kernel changed b/w 7 & 8. Regardless, at this point, ReactOS can simply target XP for a win32 OS and 7 for a win64. No need to target 8. In the past, they may have targeted NT one time, 2000 another time and XP yet another. Now, they should just freeze 2 targets for XP & 7, and focus on just 2 deliverables.

Re:Just ignore it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401533)

The NT4 kernel was the base for Windows NT 4. The one that had a minimum RAM requirement of 12MB. This kernel is now 17 years old.

The NT 5 kernel is the base for 2000/XP (and Server 2003)..

The NT 6 kernel is the base for Vista/Win7/Win8 (and Server 2008).

Re:Just ignore it. (5, Insightful)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 5 months ago | (#45401611)

Wine is in a far better state.

You know that both projects share a lot of code, right? Wine is in a better state because it's solving a smaller problem, and everybody (including ReactOS) is focusing on that smaller problem.

We may need ReactOS in the future for the same reason we need DosBox now. There is a huge amount of code that targets Win7 or lower, and won't be ported to the braindead, sorry, NEWER versions.

Re:Just ignore it. (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#45401707)

We may need ReactOS in the future for the same reason we need DosBox now. There is a huge amount of code that targets Win7 or lower

Wine will do that job just fine... You only need ReactOS if you *want* to use video/audio/chipset/etc. drivers written for Windows.

Just complete it (2)

unixisc (2429386) | about 5 months ago | (#45401671)

Good point, but this project, if successfully implemented, is more likely to catch on than the gazillion Linux distros out there, given that:

  • - One of its goals is to be compatible w/ the Windows device driver model
  • - No software needs to be specifically written for it - rather, its goal is to run standard win32 software
  • - Being open sourced, it would be a godsend for any number of companies stuck on Windows and not wanting to migrate to Windows 8

Only thing I think - this project should have 2 parts - one for win32, another for win64. The former should aim to be an FOSS XP, while the latter should aim to be an FOSS Windows 7. After all, Windows 7 loses some of its XP compatibility, which is why you have things like VirtualPC from Microsoft. In this case, just make the 2 completely separate, and let one run win64 apps on the 7 clone, and win32 apps on the XP clone. That way, one is also likely to meet the resource constraints of the OS.

They do need to have a proper team and a realistic deliverable target. And remember, they won't be playing catch-up w/ Microsoft, since Windows 7 is good enough, so they won't need to make an FOSS Windows 8. Once the FOSS 7 is made, they'd have done a good chunk of the work. Anyone can try to be a Red Hat to this software, and that alone will make them competitive w/ Microsoft.

Re:Just complete it (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 5 months ago | (#45401761)

I've got a bunch of machines at home, including a Fujitsu Stylistics ST-4121 which I'd install this on if it were workable for just a few apps:

  - FontLab
  - Creaturehouse Expression
  - FutureWave SmartSketch
  - Autodesk Sketchbook
  - Macromedia FreeHand/MX

The only one of those w/ a credible opensource equivalent is Fontlab (FontForge is workable for most projects I've used it on) --- unfortunately, I'm not finding a reasonable replacement for my Stylistic --- I need:

  - slate format (mislike hauling a keyboard around)
  - Windows compatibility (for the afore-mentioned apps)
  - decent battery life (I use extended batteries and carry a spare)
  - daylight viewable display

That last is the killer --- I'm not seeing daylight-viewable displays these days outside of the ruggedized models (which are quite pricey).

William

Re:Just complete it (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#45401837)

more likely to catch on than the gazillion Linux distros out there

But is it more likely to catch-on than Android?

The former should aim to be an FOSS XP, while the latter should aim to be an FOSS Windows 7. After all, Windows 7 loses some of its XP compatibility

They're targeting XP. There was a 64-bit version of XP, too. Re-targeting Windows 7 is exactly the kind of thing I expect them to do, but is a horrific and pointless idea all-around.

And you're still pretending this two-decades old project is going to go from pre-alpha to stable, tomorrow. In reality, they should be targeting "Windows 19" right now.

And remember, they won't be playing catch-up w/ Microsoft, since Windows 7 is good enough

And Windows XP was "good enough" before it...

Anyone can try to be a Red Hat to this software, and that alone will make them competitive w/ Microsoft.

Microsoft's relevance is quickly fading, so it's nothing to emulate. And copying/following someone else's platform is an inherently unwinable battle. Just ask Digital Research how their MS-DOS clone worked out, for instance...

Re:Just complete it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45402327)

There really wasn't a 64-bit version of XP.
2000 = NT5.0
XP = NT5.1
2003 and "XP64" = NT5.2
It really should've been been called Windows 2003 Workstation x64, because that's what it is.
Kernel version, service pack level, driver compatibility.... it's identical to Server 2003, different from XP.

Re:Just complete it (2)

unixisc (2429386) | about 5 months ago | (#45402341)

Android is a different market altogether. Let's not pretend that it's gonna take over the desktop.

For good enough, we're talking about markets that have critical mass. XP-64 never had critical mass. So only a win32 should be targeted @ XP. For win64, Windows 7 is where it's at, so any win64 projects should target Windows 7. We've all seen the market reaction to Windows 8, so this project would do fine by ignoring it altogether.

A company that does this would be doing one of any number of ReactOS distros, and be working w/ what's out there, not w/ Microsoft itself. They'd be working w/ customers who want to stay either w/ XP or w/ Windows 7, and would have a substantial market to work w/. They'd not be trying to convert people from Windows to AcmeOS - they'd be trying to help an installed base of Windows users who don't want to move to something else.

Re:Just ignore it. (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 5 months ago | (#45401681)

I don't know. I feel like it's an interesting project that deserves some attention. It'd be great if the project got some support and reached a usable state, but it seems like they're learning interesting things-- both about Windows itself, and about the process of trying to reverse-engineer a complex system. Personally, I'm willing to have an occasional /. story that isn't very relevant so long as it's interesting.

Also, the potential value that WINE can't provide is if they can reach a level of running with good driver compatibility, i.e. if you have some old unsupported hardware with a Windows-only driver, there's the potential that you could use that driver and thereby still use the hardware. Sure, it's a very niche use, but I think it was part of the intention of the project.

Re:Just ignore it. (1)

jdavidb (449077) | about 5 months ago | (#45402033)

I think it's cool and I still care, even if everybody else wants to ignore it. It may never get anywhere, but I like to know that it's going on and hear the status twice a year or so. Same for GNU Hurd, although I don't think I've heard much about them in at least five years.

Also, while I'm sure Android is challenging Windows' dominance overall, it doesn't seem to be doing so on desktop machines in my office, so it's still a reality for me. I doubt ReactOS will be done in time to change that during my career, but it's nice to know it's out there.

Re:Just ignore it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45402207)

Computing resources are much higher than back when ReactOS started as well. These days, if I want to run a Windows program in Linux on x86 hardware, I can just start up a virtual machine on Linux with a complete install of any version of Windows that I own and have zero compatibility issues. There is a little overhead because of the virtualisation, but the OS and programs on it run natively and it is much easier than trying to use emulators or "not"-emulators like Wine. I play plenty of Windows-only games with my Linux box through a VM starting from day 1 of release. I use virtual machines not only for games, but also sandboxing and testing, because having to reboot the machine to load up one of 5 different versions of Windows or one of 3 different Linux setups or one of 2 BSD setups to test something is silly. That, and I can have multiple VMs running at the same time if I want.

The only thing I see going for ReactOS is that it is trying to be a free version of Windows, so you wouldn't have had to pay for a copy if you want to run Windows software without compatibility issues inside a VM or otherwise. However, since it is ostensibly not Windows, ReactOS will always have compatibility issues with Windows software. Doubly so if Microsoft continues to stay alive and keeps moving the goalpost for them. And if ReactOS does decide to only go as far as Windows 2000, or whatever, for compatibility, then it would eventually be barely better than an emulator for old software.

Wow, this is still around? (1, Interesting)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 5 months ago | (#45401195)

Gotta hand it to the guy, he's got some tenacity.

A spin-off of a previous attempt to clone Windows 95, development started in early 1998, and has continued with the incremental addition of features already found in Windows.*

[*] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReactOS [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wow, this is still around? (4, Insightful)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 5 months ago | (#45401379)

It took FreeDOS forever to get to version 1.0, and it is widely used to solve issues involving old hardware. Often used in systems which control machinery.

Re:Wow, this is still around? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#45401561)

It took FreeDOS forever to get to version 1.0,

FreeDOS got to BETA releases in 4 years.

ReactOS is still calling their code "alpha" after two decades, and even that's being too kind...

Re:Wow, this is still around? (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 5 months ago | (#45402349)

There's a small difference in how complex DOS is vs. Windows.

Re:Wow, this is still around? (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#45402427)

There's a small difference in how complex DOS is vs. Windows.

Yes, but FreeDOS also didn't have a project like Wine to start from. And if pre-alpha in two decades sounds good to you, just WHEN do you expect to see a nice, stable ReactOS release? Will we still be able to find 32-bit computers, or will this be after the heat-death of the universe?

samba tng ported to w32 (4, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | about 5 months ago | (#45401269)

reactos was the real reason why i ported samba-tng to w32, using mingw32 to compile it up. worked absolutely great. unfortunately you cannot effectively run samba-tng/w32 under windows (without changing the port numbers) because the ports 137, 138, 139 and 445 as well as the critical NamedPipe services are already occupied... by microsoft's implementation of SMB as well as microsoft's implementation of the critical MSRPC logon services (LSASS, NETLOGON and so on) without which it would be flat-out impossible to even log in to the box in order to see if the services were running!

likewise unfortunately because wine has had to implement MSRPC (completely independently), although it would run successfully you likewise would have to change the MSRPC pipe service names as well as the TCP and UDP port numbers of the endpoint mapper (port 135) because wine has had to implement \PIPE\winreg, \PIPE\srvsvc and many others which are *also* implemented in samba-tng.

the amount of cross-over between samba, wine and reactos at the core fundamental networking level (much of NT's design was based around networking and RPC services, even when run as a stand-alone system), is just crazy. especially when you consider that it takes about 250,000 lines of hard-core intensive c code just to get even the _fundamentals_ of MSRPC correct. it's been over twelve years so i've had to stop letting people know about the duplication of effort and just let them get on with spending their time learning the hard way that they're working on exactly the same thing... without sharing any effort between them.

there's some absolute golden nuggets in amongst the wine/reactos code. periodically - every few years - i have a go at extracting the DCOM implementation from wine - to build a stand-alone GNU/Linux + w32 DCOM library. the last person who tried that called it "TangramCOM". he forgot to commit some critical bits to the repository (such as the IDL compiler). if anyone's ever worked with DCOM at a high level (using e.g. python) you'll know that it's just stunningly easy. DCOM was - still is - why microsoft has been so insanely successful after all this time. the equivalent in the MacOS world is ObjectiveC, which achieves similar results (without the networking) at the compiler-level which is pretty ambitious and nuts but highly effective all the same.

ahh, what can you do, eh?

Re:samba tng ported to w32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401959)

Might have misunderstood you but the Apple Objective-C system supports DO over TCP/IP.

I even recall an old NeXTSTEP programming example called "Remote Spot" that created a server and clients would connect. You could drag different colored spots around (and each others spots).

If I recall correctly, DO over TCP came back into OSX around 10.2 or so.

Re:samba tng ported to w32 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45402127)

Lkcl feels like Don Quixote, but he is right though. Vote'm up.

Not sure who the target audience would be. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401327)

When Windows is used in the enterprise it's used generally because the stake holders buy into the commercial software model and have beliefs that systems backed by giant companies (be it Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, etc...) provide less risk. When a project ends up in flames at least they have a lifeline to call. Well, that is the perception. We know it doesn't really play out like that most of the time. If you're a stake holder in the other camp (lean start up, et al) then you're on an Linux based open source stack and taking advantage of the maturity of that open ecosystem. So I don't know where this would fit. I guess I could see Oracle or IBM funding it and trying to grow it to a point they could offer it as another option. Outside the enterprise Windows is just a walking dead OS.

Re:Not sure who the target audience would be. (3, Insightful)

unixisc (2429386) | about 5 months ago | (#45401815)

This is more of wishful thinking than anything else. Despite the fiasco over Windows 8, Linux is not taking over the market. People are just going for pirated Windows 7 wherever they can get them.

If this project is completed, & reasonably bug free (comparable to Microsoft), then it would be far more successful than Linux. After all, you have a bonanza of both win32 apps from XP, and win64 apps from Windows 7. The project just has to accommodate both of these - currently, it's just targeting the former. Once it's done, PC vendors would preload their PCs w/ it, slap on any commercial software they can bundle w/ it, like say QuickBooks, and then sell it in the market. Or users would download & install it, and be off to the races. After all, just about all the commercial software out there (talking about laptops, not phones or tablets) are Windows.

We have seen the success of Red Hat. Similarly, any company willing to hire developers to maintain a distro of this OS can do wonders. After all, most installations out there today are Windows, and anybody who doesn't want to be dragged kicking or screaming to Windows 8 or Server 2012 could, if this were available, go w/ it. Since it's FOSS, they have the option of hiring Windows devs and maintaining the OS in-house. Or, if there was a Red Hat like company doing this, they could get their OS & service from them. Such a company would not have to push their OS the way Red Hat would have to push Linux.

Re:Not sure who the target audience would be. (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 5 months ago | (#45402251)

Not to sound too much like a Micro$oft fangirl, but the primary reason that Windows still dominates the enterprise sector in desktops and productivity is because Microsoft is about as good as predicting what businesses want as Apple is good at predicting what individuals want. The Outlook/Lync/Sharepoint integration is simply well executed, and I can't think of any combo of FOSS that can perform in a business environment in quite the same way. "Hey, so and so uploaded the wrong version of a file. He's yellow and unavailable for IM, I'll go send them an email. Oh wait, his calendar says he's out to lunch until two. I'll wait until he's back and ping him them." Ten seconds of time to determine the best course of action. And time is moneyl.

Did MS blatantly steal a lot of that stuff from other companies? Of course. Did any of the other companies integrate everything quite so seamlessly? Nope.

ReactOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45401443)

Sounds like a MORE useless version of WINE which is itself useless. Sort of like a remake of the Trabant. An interesting exercise but ultimately pointless.

PDF available? (4, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 5 months ago | (#45401749)

At 480p the text is kind of hard to read ...

Interesting to see their testing methodology and how their massive code base broke a lot of build systems!

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