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ReactOS Revealed

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the waiting-for-a-reaction dept.

Operating Systems 280

reactosfanboy writes "DRM Hacker Alex Ionescu explained the internals of ReactOS in a recent talk. Ionescu indicates that ReactOS is nearly 100% binary and API compatible with the Windows 2003 kernel, and that they are aiming for full Vista compatibility. Ionescu attempted to demonstrate ReactOS but only succeeded in installing it after two BSoDs. This alone should make it clear that ReactOS is still not ready for prime time." In what may be a red flag for Microsoft's lawyers, ReactOS is described as "an environment identical to Windows, both visually and internally." Here are slides from Ionescu's talk (PDF), which might prove more useful than the video offered in various forms at over 450 MB.

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Solution to OS Disparity (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420515)

Combine a cow and a bison to create the BEEFALO!

Re:Solution to OS Disparity (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420725)

Or combine self-deprecation and blandness to create GAROFFOLO!

On the contrary... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420521)

...but only succeeded in installing it after two BSoDs ... the Windows emulation seems perfect !

Re:On the contrary... (-1, Troll)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420753)

Awesome, a first post that's funny and insightful! Honestly, if you've ever had to install Windows more than [many] times, you'll know full well the average install attempts per succesful attempts is easily 2:1.

Re:On the contrary... (3, Insightful)

rwven (663186) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421045)

Funny, I've had to install it hundreds of times and I'd say my attempts per success is very close to 1:1. I've very recently encountered my first failure when building a new computer. XP (SP2 slipstreamed as well) would bluescreen on the install. Had to use Vista instead (how's that for mildly ironic? Other than that I can honestly say I've never had any issues installing Windows...

Windows is not nearly as unstable as the FUDDERS would like to make it seem.

Re:On the contrary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421527)

You've apparently never installed Windows on a Compaq from it's restore set...

Re:On the contrary... (2, Insightful)

dargon (105684) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422045)

Personally, if it's a Compaq, I'd blame Compaq, not Windows

Re:On the contrary... (4, Insightful)

slackmaster2000 (820067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421583)

We're kind of ruining the top post which was actually pretty funny, but...

I would almost agree with you, if only looking at a snapshot from about 2002 until 2006 during which I was no longer dealing with 9x and NT4 installations. Installation headaches were pretty commonplace prior to these years. Once hardware vendors had all gotten used to the ways of NT5, installing Win2K and XP became a total breeze. Rarely have I had trouble installing either operating system. They will choke occasionally on cheap and/or new hardware, but with typical stuff installation is usually a no-brainer.

And now Vista is upon us, and it's not detecting a lot of real obscure hardware, like say, MY CDROM DRIVE. WTF. Once again it's become hit and miss...or would be, if I chose to install Vista in production at this time.

Difficulty installing an OS isn't really a good measure of quality anyhow. I recently had a bad experience installing Ubuntu 6.05LTS to an array on an adaptec I2O controller. Rock solid once I got it fixed. That's just the way it goes sometimes.

Re:On the contrary... (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421605)

Depends what you're actually doing.

Hundreds of installs? You mean in an IT environment with mainly smiler hardware doing a standard install? If you don't then you must be the worlds richest home user to own that many machines.

People who have to re-install often because windows is fundamentally unstable when its being asked to do a lot *do* tend to have problems. Gamers do find they have to re-install more often I find, but then they are pounding their machines a lot.

My IT experience was heavily concerned with fixing borked windows and I saw a fair few crashes during installs.

To be fair I have on linux too, it's a common problem, installing an OS is tricky. Automated installs just mean that you have less to do while you wait to see if it will work.

Drivers (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421649)

Windows is not nearly as unstable as the FUDDERS would like to make it seem.
As I understand it, instability in Windows operating systems comes largely from defects in drivers, such as the VxDs of Windows 9x [wikipedia.org] . The new Windows Driver Foundation framework [wikipedia.org] , introduced with Windows Vista, attempts to contain these issues by providing a well-behaved abstract base class that other drivers can extend and by putting some drivers into user space. Under Linux, most of the drivers are Free and subject to the same scrutiny by the proverbial many eyes as the rest of the kernel.

Re:On the contrary... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420927)

...but only succeeded in installing it after two BSoDs ... the Windows emulation seems perfect !

The joke needs to die. It stopped being funny after Win9x. Win2k+ is nearly as stable as any Linux system I've ever used (if not moreso).

no emulation (0, Redundant)

2fakeu (443153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422021)

reactos uses a great deal of wine code and certainly isn't an emulation.

BSOD-OS (5, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420529)

Ionescu attempted to demonstrate ReactOS but only succeeded in installing it after two BSoDs. This alone should make it clear that ReactOS is still not ready for prime time.
Yeah, thank goodness the OS it's modeled after *never* does that.

Re:BSOD-OS (4, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420797)

On a serious note.
Given the limited resources of the ReactOS team it's not even that bad. Even Microsoft had (serious) issues with pretty much every new Windows version presentation.

Link? (5, Informative)

russint (793669) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420533)

How about a link to ReactOS [reactos.org] in the summary?

Doubt microsoft would care (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420539)

ReactOS would still be unsupported and untrusted in business, and it's proliferation would only add to MSFT's dominance of the market.

Re:Doubt microsoft would care (3, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420731)

ReactOS would still be unsupported and untrusted in business, and it's proliferation would only add to MSFT's dominance of the market.

ReactOS would be useful for companies looking for a way to move off of Windows but who have binaries that only run on Windows. Due to the proliferation of VM technology, a VM running ReactOS on top of your OS of choice could make migration away from Windows cheap enough to be an option. If ReactOS is cheap enough, it could displace Windows by itself for limited applications. A free OS Dell or someone can install that still lets them get paid for crapware and which still lets end users run games and junk software from Walmart could easily grab market share away from Windows. Anything that threatens MS's dominance with Windows, whether it detracts from Linux or your favorite OS or not, is good for motivating MS to make Windows better. If Windows is as good as other OS's, I don't care if it is dominant as much.

Re:Doubt microsoft would care (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420975)

Wine offers a much more compelling method of migrating from Windows. ReactOS would still require you to be running a full separate operating system. If you wanted to do that, you could run your current Windows XP licenses in virtual machines, and just run Linux on the host, or what have you. Granted, Wine isn't entirely there yet... but neither is ReactOS.

Re:Doubt microsoft would care (4, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421197)

Wine offers a much more compelling method of migrating from Windows.

WINE is an incomplete re-implementation of the Windows APIs, while ReactOS aims to be a complete one. I don't have any real confidence that WINE will ever work reliably for arbitrary software. It is a nice crutch for specific, common applications. It is a reasonable route to building a quick and dirty port. I don't think it will ever fill the role of a method of moving away from Windows and still running random (often proprietary or outdated) applications.

ReactOS would still require you to be running a full separate operating system. If you wanted to do that, you could run your current Windows XP licenses in virtual machines, and just run Linux on the host, or what have you.

That is pretty much what I am doing now, except most WinXP licenses are not portable to new hardware and such a move is often accompanied by a move to new hardware. ReactOS is likely to be more lightweight than the current version of Windows and less likely to cause headaches with licensing and registration and DRM shutting it down arbitrarily. It also would have save my company a hundred bucks a license and that adds up.

Granted, Wine isn't entirely there yet... but neither is ReactOS.

I actually looked at WINE and a couple of commercial WINE-based offerings and ReactOS before I chose to run WinXP in a VM. It was the most expensive solution by far (other than Windows outside a VM) but the only one that worked. In future I could see going either way, but I think the overhead from ReactOS is likely going to end up less of a consideration that the necessarily limited range of WINE.

Re:Doubt microsoft would care (3, Informative)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421481)

WINE is an incomplete re-implementation of the Windows APIs, while ReactOS aims to be a complete one.
From the linked PDF:

Wine makes up the bulk of ReactOS'sWin32 Libraries, which are mostly left untouched.

Re:Doubt microsoft would care (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421777)

ReactOS would still require you to be running a full separate operating system. If you wanted to do that, you could run your current Windows XP licenses in virtual machines, and just run Linux on the host, or what have you.

One key advantage to ReactOS in this scenario is that with a little hacking it could be made to run under Xen's paravirtualization system, which is apparently rather more efficient than full virtualization (as is currently required in order to run Windows).

Re:Doubt microsoft would care (2, Informative)

Shawn is an Asshole (845769) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422051)

There is work [reactos.org] towards Xen support. Though, Xen doesn't provide a GUI like VMWare or even Qemu so you'd have to run something like VNC to get the display.

100% Compatible? (3, Funny)

MachineShedFred (621896) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420543)

Not until all the malware works too!

Red flag? (0, Troll)

MintyGreenMedia (513510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420551)

Without RTFA (or any prior knowledge of ReactOS, honestly), my first thought came to the leaked Windows source code. Of course, no one would be that stupid...right?

Re:Red flag? (4, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420597)

There was a minor scandal last year when the ReactOS project had to be suspended after it was found that some developers had been exposed to the real Windows source code (which is available under shared source licenses in some contexts), and after a thorough audit the project continued.

The ReactOS people are taking the risk of copyright infringements very seriously.

Facts badly wrong in parent, mod down (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421163)

The incident had nothing to do with Windows source and it was certainly not minor. It was due to certain parts having been implemented by the same programmer that had reverse-engineered them and was consequently "tainted" if the project was to adhere to its principle of black box testing only. That programmer was the very same Ionescu as here. The result of the unfortunate incident was that the programmer that found out about it (Hartmut IIRC) resigned from the project and the audit that is still going on was started. I read some of the discussion about it on the mailing list and apparently there was a great deal of concern about Ionescu's contributions since they came too quickly and were too good to be the result of just blax box testing (but not all is available for everyone so there could've been something else as well that resulted in the conflict between programmers - the whole project was to some extent in jeopardy, though). The only thing you're right about is that they take copyright infringement seriously but that has nothing to do with that incident.

Re:Facts badly wrong in parent, mod down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421525)

That's great and all, but at the time the ReactOS crew specifically referred to leaked Windows source-code [archive.org] :

Re:Facts badly wrong in parent, mod down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421785)

It's even greater that you bother to read stuff that you link to - especially that you take into account when the audit was started and when the source was leaked.

Re:Red flag? (4, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421235)

Actually what happened was someone alledged that someone on the development team had decompiled actual MS Windows dll and binary files, and included the resulting code into the ReactOS codebase.

Re:Red flag? (5, Funny)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421369)

it was found that some developers had been exposed to the real Windows source code
I hope they were able to return to society after thorough rehabilitation.

Re:Red flag? (-1, Redundant)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422031)

it was found that some developers had been exposed to the real Windows source code
I hope they were able to return to society after thorough rehabilitation.
No, sadly they never recovered from the trauma. They're still in a mental institution, too frightened to leave...

Re:Red flag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420635)

the ReactOS project has been going for a long time before that leak. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't dare look at that code, knowing what a legal minefield that is.

(For that matter, why would ANYONE other than malware writers or those tasked with working around bugs in Windows want to look at Windows source code?)

Re:Red flag? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421547)

Morbid curiosity. Kind of like when you drive past a car wreck.

Re:Red flag? (2, Informative)

despisethesun (880261) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420867)

No. As others have pointed out, they did a thorough audit to make sure ReactOS wasn't tainted. Much of the project's source is actually derived from WINE (though with many differences, since ReactOS is an OS and not a compatibility layer), and last I heard the two projects have a friendly relationship and source and documentation goes back and forth between them wherever it can be helpful.

With no disrespect to the ReactOS developers... (2, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420553)

They might want to look up what "identical" means. There is still a very long way [oregontel.com] to go [reactos.org] . (I could have put a traditional screenshot up there too, from W2K or even W95, and it would still be true.)

Re:With no disrespect to the PP (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420621)

How about another link [oregontel.com] ?

Re:With no disrespect to the ReactOS developers... (1)

JoeCere65 (1003666) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421781)

whats with all the criticism, this is in Alpha, its a 0.3 version "Please bear in mind that ReactOS 0.3.1 is still in alpha stage, meaning it is not feature complete and is not recommended for everyday use."

You asked for compatibility... (2, Funny)

jmac1492 (1036880) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420569)

onescu attempted to demonstrate ReactOS but only succeeded in installing it after two BSoDs. This alone should make it clear that ReactOS is ready for prime time."

Fixed.

WTF??? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420625)

ReactOS is nearly 100% binary and API compatible with the Windows 2003 kernel, and that they are aiming for full Vista compatibility

I wont ask "Why?"... but....

W H Y ???????

We have wine, we have cedega, we have crossover, we have VMware, we have 2007, we have everything necessary to run Windows programs without running Windows.

Re:WTF??? (1)

Marcus K (1047844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420763)

Just for fun.

Re:WTF??? (2, Insightful)

Programmer_In_Traini (566499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420809)

it seems a pretty obvious answer to me.

put aside the fact that the softwares you mentionned are emulators, not OS,

it would steal users from windows.

imagine, having an OS the same as windows, friendly for computer illiterate ...but free, secure and open source...

need i explain more ?

Re:WTF??? (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420957)

Ah, WINE (rather specifically) Is Not an Emulator. It's a compatibility layer, as are all its derivatives.

As the Bard might say: (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421067)

A compatibility layer by any other name, would still be unable to run many Windows applications.

Re:As the Bard might say: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421637)

I guess you're referring to Vista?

Re:WTF??? (3, Insightful)

chundo (587998) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421589)

...but free, secure and open source...

That doesn't necessarily follow. Duplicating a broken API will retain some of the security problems designed into the original OS.

Re:WTF??? (2, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420939)

we have VMware, we have 2007, we have everything necessary to run Windows programs without running Windows.
Pls post instructions on how to run Windows without Windows using VMWare. thx.

Re:WTF??? (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421643)

VMWare on Linux.

Re:WTF??? (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420991)

Well, having a product that actually does what these products claim to do might actually be helpful, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Re:WTF??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421623)

Because when it's finished, they essentially open up all the hidden APIs/file formats/protocols, and being open source, make it a very good environment for reverse-engineering all the other stuff Microsoft hides away.

This could conceivably allow full compatibility with Windows hardware and software in the future. Legally, it'll be interesting, because Bill will NOT be happy with that.

Wow! (5, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420655)

This has inspired me to create a ground-up 100% reimplementation of the AOL client, identical in looks and functionality. Wish me luck!

Re:Wow! (1)

n2dasun (467303) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420857)

Need to borrow some bricks?

Re:Wow! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421237)

The official aol client is like being poked in the eye by a sharp planet.

Is it more stable than XP/Win2003? (0, Troll)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420673)

1) Is it more stable than XP or Win2003? That should be easy :)
2) Is it more stable WITH MY APPLICATIONS than the OS I'm using now? This is the really important question.
3) What about security vulnerabilities?
4) What about Microsoft application software security vulnerabilities?
5) What about replacements for MS application software that won't download on "non-genuine Microsoft" operating systems?

Remember folks, if your Microsoft Applications like IE6 have security vulnerabilities, and you run them on this platform, you may or may not be able to install the Microsoft patches.

Re:Is it more stable than XP/Win2003? (1)

qazxswedc (821424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420911)

Windows is not without its security vulnerabilities. I would never argue otherwise. However, XP is and has been blissfully stable for me for...5 years plus. My system runs 24x7...gets a lot of use for multiplayer games, teamspeak, photo/video editing, internet browsing, some office apps, occasional light development work...etc. I tend to reboot once every month or two - when I am forced to in order to add the incessant security updates caused by lazy ms programmers and lifeless twits who spank every time they find a new vulnerability. May not be a popular opinion here on /. but I've got no complaints about XP. It may be more about the fact that I don't run IE, outlook, most antivirus software, extra firewalls, etc. Been just fine whether proc has been intel or amd, no extra cooling (just the CPU fan).

Re:Is it more stable than XP/Win2003? (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420987)

Binary compatibility or not, why would you want to use MS's security patches on a non-MS product? You're far more likely to break it (I get the feeling that the ReactOS team actually bound-checks their code, unlike some Redmond fellows I can think of).

Or, how about this: It's not done yet. Keep your peanuts to yourself.

Re:Is it more stable than XP/Win2003? (1)

nanoflower (1077145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421641)

The MSFT people are smart enough that they may catch stuff that other people don't. Plus they have a huge install so they will hear of problems long before anyone running Wine or ReactOS would. That said, I do think it's a good thing if it works as well as they said (eventually) and the source is out there for perusal. Some people will end up using it to try and find new holes to attack, but a lot of people will also find problems. So after a few years it could be much more secure than XP. Plus we all know that Microsoft will drop support for XP as soon as they can get people moved to Vista. It's going to take a while due to the hardware requirements of Vista but it will happen. With ReactOS people can still keeping going with XP compatability as long as they want.

BARF (2, Funny)

Efialtis (777851) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420675)

I just had to wonder, WHY would anyone develop another OS that is "identical" to Windows?

Windows is bad enough...why do it all over again?

Re:BARF (5, Informative)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420783)

I just had to wonder, WHY would anyone develop another OS that is "identical" to Windows?
Windows is bad enough...why do it all over again?

So you won't have to actually run Windows in order to run Windows programs such as Photoshop, AutoCAD, and most video games. WINE isn't good enough for everyone.

WINE (5, Funny)

Aphex Junkie (633436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421031)

Wine
Is
Not
Enough

brilliant!

Re:BARF (3, Informative)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421453)

Unfortunately for the most part ReactOS is just wine that self boots. They borrow heavily from the wine codebase for their win32 api compatibility. Naturally the driver compatibility doesn't borrow from the wine codebase. The real point of ReactOS isn't software compatibility but environment compatibility. The goal is to be able to install all your windows apps on a machine that only supports windows (due to poor ACPI support in linux or poor video driver support or any of a number of incompatibilities). However windows application compatibility is rarely if ever better than wine with reactos.

Re:BARF (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421531)

WINE isn't good enough for everyone.

So instead of an emulation layer which is almost adequate for most tasks, but needs careful testing with anything you're planning on using in production because any action you try performing may or may not work as designed, we'll have a full blown OS which is almost adequate for most tasks, but needs careful testing with anything you're planning on using in production because any action you try performing may or may not work as designed.

Great. Thanks.

Re:BARF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422061)

Then ReactOS won't be good enough either. It uses WINE to provide the userspace Windows API support.

Re:BARF (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421021)

Just think: like Linux you could run 'Windows' on your iPod ^_^

Preventing Bitrot (2, Interesting)

IllMnec (168165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421755)

This project can become very interesting for companies that rely on old equipment and software, which I think is a huge market.

With Microsoft changing the driver model and the API of Windows with Vista, a lot of applications and devices will not be supported by the latest and greatest from Redmond. This means no security patches/bugfixes for old equipment and software.

If ReactOS can emulate Win2k/XP, it could be used as a secure and supported replacement in those environments.

Re:BARF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421837)

> I just had to wonder, WHY would anyone develop another OS that is "identical" to Windows?

Because Windows is closed. And phones home.

It's all about trust, not bsods or crashes. Any software that claims to be reliable and trustworthy must be available for checking to a wide audience with no strings or NDAs attached, which shows why the MS Shared Source initiative adds zero to Windows trustworthiness. The Interbase precedent [google.com] should ring a bell.

Windows backdoors were/are actively used by governments to spy on people/companies. While it can be a good thing when helping to catch criminals, I'm not sure any tech savy executive would put their sensitive data in a system that allows unrestricted access to some well chosen external entities.

So the answer is: someone is developing an OS identical to windows because there is a huge need for it.

Non-Vista-compatible version? (4, Insightful)

rdmiller3 (29465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420689)

Having begun the struggle with adapting application installers to Vista, I think I'd be more interested in a version of ReactOS that ISN'T Vista compatible.

You can imagine what the folks in Redmond are .... (3, Funny)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420711)

Thinking about this:

"In what may be a red flag for Microsoft's lawyers, ReactOS is described as "an environment identical to Windows, both visually and internally.""

People at the Microsoft campus must be moving the furniture out of Ballmer's office as we speak.

ironic (5, Funny)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420727)

If ReactOS is almost a Windows clone, but a sub-par one, this begs the question of why do we need ReactOS anyway? Well, to find the answer I went straight to the source reactos.org, but apparently they haven't figured out the answer yet either [reactos.org] .

Re:ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420989)

Uh, as others have said...
to run windows applications without having to have windows on your machine so you support people coming off of windows with their *must have* applications but they don't have to support MS as they move away from their XP customers. :)

To run apps without Windows (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421061)

The only reason I run Windows is to run Audible.com and iTunes. If I could get an OS to run these apps in a virtual machine under Linux, I would be Windows free.

Re:ironic (5, Insightful)

Laur (673497) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421417)

If ReactOS is almost a Windows clone, but a sub-par one, this begs the question of why do we need ReactOS anyway? Well, to find the answer I went straight to the source reactos.org, but apparently they haven't figured out the answer yet either.
Honestly, can anyone tell me what advantages that ReactOS has over something like Linux+Wine? I've heard several reasons before, but they don't seem to stand up to an honest analysis, such as:

Application Compatibility - Wine can never offer as much compatibility as ReactOS. Since ReactOS actually shares Wine's code base, it is highly unlikely that ReactOS will have significantly better compatibility than Wine.

Speed - Wine, since it is an emulator, can never be as fast as ReactOS, a dedicated OS. This is usually advanced without any sort of benchmarks or other proof to back it up. First, Wine Is Not an Emulator, it is just an implementation of the win32 api. There is no technical reason why Wine couldn't be as fast as other "native" Linux APIs, such as QT or Gtk+. Furthermore, there have long been reports of Windows programs running faster on Wine than native Windows.

Driver Compatibility - ReactOS can use native Windows drivers. Projects like NdisWrapper [sourceforge.net] have shown that it is possible to use Windows drivers on Linux too, if enough people are interested. Of course, Linux already has drivers available for a great deal of hardware. There is also the huge issue of using binary drivers in an open source kernel. It still hasn't been settled whether or not this is ultimately a good or bad thing. However, it is generally accepted that open source drivers are much better than binary, and ReactOS would provide absolutely no motivation for hardware vendors to ever open their drivers, or even to target ReactOS as a platform.

User Interface Familiarity - Windows users would feel right at home, with virtually no learning curve. This ignores the fact that anyone who has been through Win 3.1 -> Win 9x -> Win XP -> Vista will know that Window's interface is anything but consistent, things move around and change quite a bit between major releases. Also, if one desired you could rework something like KDE to be VERY similar to Windows, I believe that there are already distro's who try to do this (such as Linspire). There are still differences, but not really significantly more than between Win 98 & XP.

Don't get me wrong, I think ReactOS is a pretty cool project, and it would be kind of neat to have an open source Windows clone, however as I said I can't really find much practical reason for it beyond the coolness factor. It seems like one would be better off just integrating Wine into Linux better. Please feel free to enlighten me. ;)

Re:ironic (5, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421661)

Application Compatibility - Wine can never offer as much compatibility as ReactOS. Since ReactOS actually shares Wine's code base, it is highly unlikely that ReactOS will have significantly better compatibility than Wine.

Not true. ReactOS uses some of Wine's codebase, but many key areas (window management, memory management, thread support, etc.) are rewritten from scratch to be more compatible with Windows own implementations of these. I've seen Wine fail to run applications before because of some subtle difference in how Linux handles these tasks to Windows. ReactOS can eliminate these issues.

Driver Compatibility - ReactOS can use native Windows drivers. Projects like NdisWrapper have shown that it is possible to use Windows drivers on Linux too, if enough people are interested.

Yes. Unfortunately NdisWrapper doesn't really work very well (my limited experiments suggest only about half of the cards out there work with it), CaptiveFS is slow, and no other projects have produced useful results in this field. This is because running a Windows device driver without a Windows kernel is quite tricky. NDIS drivers are a simpler problem: NDIS was originally developed to be an open, cross-platform specification by 3Com. MS have embraced & extended it since then, but at its heart it is still much more portable than many other driver types used by Windows.

There is also the huge issue of using binary drivers in an open source kernel. It still hasn't been settled whether or not this is ultimately a good or bad thing. However, it is generally accepted that open source drivers are much better than binary, and ReactOS would provide absolutely no motivation for hardware vendors to ever open their drivers, or even to target ReactOS as a platform.

Frankly, there are a lot of us who have become fed up waiting for working open source drivers for our hardware and would rather just plug a black box in and be done with it.

Also, if one desired you could rework something like KDE to be VERY similar to Windows, I believe that there are already distro's who try to do this (such as Linspire). There are still differences, but not really significantly more than between Win 98 & XP.

Actually, there are very substantial differences that can be deeply annoying because they're about the way the basic system works. Details like which control panel applet you use to start or stop services (e.g.) aren't as annoying (to me) as the lack of feedback when a program is starting (KDE does have some feedback, but it doesn't show if the program wasn't started from the window manager, whereas Windows will show it however you start your program). This can't be fixed easily in Linux: it needs the kernel to provide feedback to the window manager to inform it when a graphical subsystem program is in the process of starting up. Linux doesn't have such a thing as a graphical subsystem program, and the window manager is not a special process that could easily receive such feedback from the kernel.

I think a lot of people have missed the real point of ReactOS. Including the developers, by all appearances. Windows won't run under Xen paravirtualization. There's no reason ReactOS couldn't be ported to it, however.

Re:ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422023)

I think ReactOS is aimed at those users (about 90% of the desktop population) who do not want to run
Linux with WINE.

Re:ironic (1)

ZeroConcept (196261) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421443)

So I can buy support from a 3rdParty and get off the Microsoft forced upgrade cycle for the thousands of Windows XP installs that have absolutely no business value in upgrading to Vista.

Re:ironic (1)

mincognito (839071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422027)

From the presenation:

Motivation
  • [MS Windows] plagued by bad design decisions made early-on in 16-bit Windows 9x history but kept for compatibility.
  • Plagued by a myriad of hacks to support badly written applications and drivers from 3rdparty developers.
  • Plagued by bad design decisions still being made to maintain corporate agenda (DRM, Driver Signing, etc).
  • Plagued by bugs in bundled software (Internet Explorer/Windows Media Player/Outlook Express) and bad security decisions (users run as Administrators, etc) which undermined architectural security and reliabilty.
  • Closed source, costly, poorly documented in regards to system architecture and undocumented functionality (compared to competing FOSS operating systems).
  • Most extensibility features kept undocumented and not open to 3rd party modification.
Goals
  • ReactOS aims to offer all of the features and performance of NT without all the hacks, restrictive design decisions and license restrictions.
  • It aims to offer no-cost Windows compatibility at a level no other solution can.
  • It aims to document the undocumented, and to provide binary-compatible components which would be used to provide extensibility.
  • Great teaching platform for academia. UNIX/Linux are good to learn from, but NT does some interesting and different things that deserve the same attention.
  • Will not include applications such as IE, OE or WMP. Users will be encouraged to install FireFox, ThunderBird, OpenOffice, Mplayer, etc.

FUD - ReactOs is legal (4, Informative)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420791)

"In what may be a red flag for Microsoft's lawyers, ReactOS is described as "an environment identical to Windows, both visually and internally."

Oh, please... While I have no doubts MS will try to destroy ReactOs when it becomes too popular, the developers have made painstakingly difficult steps to ensure the proper reverse engineering is done ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_box_testing [wikipedia.org] ). They can sue all they want, they can't win this. (They can however make it an expensive legal wrangling...but then again, since it's open source, it's difficult to imagine any single lawsuit will be able to end the project).

Re:FUD - ReactOs is legal (3, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421275)

They can sue all they want, they can't win this.

Except via patent claims, for which independent development is not an adequate defense.

software patents (2, Insightful)

N3wsByt3 (758224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422063)

"Except via patent claims, for which independent development is not an adequate defense."

Well, in Europe we still don't have (enforcable) softwarepatents. Though it being an Open Source project, I'm not sure under what jurisdiction it falls.

But you make a good point: more proof that softwarepatents suck.

Re:FUD - ReactOs is legal (1)

bockelboy (824282) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421283)

Yup, internally they're fine.

If they start copying the visual aspects too closely, they are in danger of infringing on MS's copyrights on the look and feel. If not truely infringing, they may get close enough to get tied up in lawsuits for ... forever.

Then again, it doesn't look like they're big enough to be on MS's radar.

memory footprint (3, Insightful)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420823)

OK, I don't need to know this, but I'm an old assembler-head: I remember how much SMALLER DRDOS was than MSDOS. Microsoft makes bloated things.

I want to know how much memory ReactOS takes up versus WindowsXP. Has someone run it who can trivially answer? Did these guys make a smaller, lighter windows?

Re:memory footprint (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421047)

The zipped vmware image is 19 megs. So I'd say its a bit lighter ..

Re:memory footprint (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421347)

I want to know how much memory ReactOS takes up versus WindowsXP. Has someone run it who can trivially answer? Did these guys make a smaller, lighter windows?

Almost certainly. But given that major features are missing, that's hardly surprising.

Lawyers (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420915)

If ReactOS is a clean-room implementation, they probably can't do squat about it.

Re:Lawyers (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421019)

what about PATENTS?

Re:Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421213)

Any patents in NT are probably quite close to expiring. They really haven't changed the internals much since NT 3.1

Still too much in the kernel (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421145)

ReactOS still, apparently, has much of the graphics system in the kernel. Along with drivers. It emulates NT 4/2000/XP architecture, not NT 3.51, which actually had a cleaner kernel.

But at least they didn't put in a 16-bit subsystem.

Its A "Neat" Academic Exercise (0, Flamebait)

BSDetector (1056962) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421151)

It's amazing that one of you Slashotters actually is stupid enought to attempt the clone the very piece of software you obviously depsise.

mimicking bill gates w/ win98 (3, Informative)

Frogg (27033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421169)

Ionescu attempted to demonstrate ReactOS but only succeeded in installing it after two BSoDs. This alone should make it clear that ReactOS is still not ready for prime time.

hey, that sounds mighty familiar... [google.com]

Identical? (4, Interesting)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421175)

an environment identical to Windows, both visually and internally.
I didn't get that from the screen shots [reactos.org] . The text inside of cpu-z go beyond their container. The okay and cancel buttons here [reactos.org] look as bad as 20 year old Unix, I'm thinking of CDE or Motif or whatever that is called. In fact, every single thing looks a bit off. Is that on purpose for legal reasons? ~Eric

Re:Identical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421421)

It's not on purpose. It's just that ReactOS isn't finished yet!

More importantly... (1)

spoop (952477) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421579)

how tf did they get a 2.4ghz Pentium II?

Re:More importantly... (1)

Taimoor (891521) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421893)

Qemu. They don't run it on real hardware most times.

Is ....eescu a Hungarian name? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421511)

I remember vaguely that names ending in 'escu' are typical Hungarian or Bulgarian names, or other similar Slavic languages from Eastern Europe (Czech, Polish, Croatian, I am not sure which ones). Is 'escu' also used in other Slavic languages besides Hungarian (Bulgarian), for example Polish or Russian? What does it mean? I think that French people also use this kind of names, I believe that a French playwriter is named Ionesco.

I believe 'Ion" is Hungarian for John (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421601)

but I have no idea what does 'escu' mean. Hungarian slashdotters should help us on this one.

Why No Apple OSX Hacks? (1)

BSDetector (1056962) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421775)

I guess it's because Steve Jobs is only doing this for "Peace on Earth"? He doesn't profit from this I guess!

OSX Hacks DO exist (www.osx86project.org) (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421937)

By using these hacks you can install OSX on a plain, non-Apple computer. The hacks circumvent Apple DRM and thus they are illegal in America (I dont know about other countries). There is a wiki about all these illegal activities, http://www.osx86project.org/ [osx86project.org] . Slashtot competitor, Digg, diggs everything about it.

It's not Emulating Windows good enogh!!! (1)

itz2000 (1027660) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421783)

Only 2 BSoD's? Come'on! In real windows there are much more!

Old Hacker Rule (2, Insightful)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421877)

> Ionescu attempted to demonstrate ReactOS but only succeeded in installing it after two BSoDs.

With alpha or beta software, before giving a demo, test what you are going to do in private.
If it doesn't work, don't do it.

Too bad. The world would be a better place with ReactOS. What we need is a fat ass investor with loads of cash and a grudge against Microsoft to donate to this thing.

Linux has proven you can have a viable freeware OS. Now, while Vista makes everyones life miserable, there is an opening.
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