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ReactOS 0.3.1 Released 189

Posted by kdawson
from the fresh-bits dept.
fireballrus writes with news of the release of ReactOS 0.3.1 — press release, changelog, download packages. ReactOS is "an open source effort to develop a quality operating system that is compatible with applications and drivers written for the Microsoft Windows NT family of operating systems (NT4, 2000, XP, 2003)." The press release notes: "Please don't forget this is an alpha-stage operating system, which means it is not suitable to replace your main OS. Also, this release is aimed to be run mostly in virtualizers / emulators (like QEmu, VMWare, Parallels, etc): because of the big amount of changes, our development team was not able to test/fix all problems which arise when running ReactOS on real hardware."
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ReactOS 0.3.1 Released

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  • by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @07:04PM (#18310842) Homepage Journal
    I've messed with ReactOS on and off for awhile. They really deserve some kudos for what they've accomplished to date, even if the system isn't really usable yet. I strongly encourage you to check them out if you're at all interested in the project; they've done some nice coding to date but can use all the help they can get.

    As mentioned, it's perfect to diddle with in a VM environment, though I have loaded it on a dedicated test machine before and that was a lot of fun too.
    • by gfody (514448)
      Is there a possibility of running this XP clone on non x86 hardware?

      • "Is there a possibility of running this XP clone on non x86 hardware?"
        maybe if you were running it through an emulator...
  • Cool project (Score:5, Informative)

    by 26199 (577806) * on Sunday March 11, 2007 @07:06PM (#18310852) Homepage

    The legal issues are kinda scary but it looks like they have them under control [reactos.org]. All respect to them for attempting the impossible... and from the look of it, they're a good way to succeeding :)

    • Re:Cool project (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 11, 2007 @07:13PM (#18310902)
      The legal issues associated with reverse engineering an operating system to run programs originally written for windows should not be any scarier than those associated with reverse engineering (clone) the hardware to run software written for IBM PC. IBM had deep pockets and a penchant for enforcing its large IP portfolio, but the cloners won.
      • Re:Cool project (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @07:40PM (#18311088)
        On the other hand, at that point in time IBM wasn't really all that interested in stopping the development of clone PCs, for a variety of reasons. Had they really chosen to throw their weight around, they most certainly could have, in which case someone else would have taken over (which might have been a good thing for world of personal computing, when you get right down to it.)

        Apple, in fact, spent far more time in court suing the likes of Franklin Computer (who, in many ways, had a better product.) Granted, that may have been simply because IBM didn't perceive the personal computer as being a big part of their future, at that point in time, since big iron was still their bread-and-butter. However, if you want to get into the history of anticompetitive behavior at IBM, check out out how they dealt with anyone making plug-compatible components for their mainframe systems in the 60's and 70's. That was a very different story. There's a guy named Amdahl that would be happy to enlighten you.

        Besides, the legal climate for reverse-engineering is decidedly less friendly to cloners than it was in, say, 1981.
        • The comparison between Apple and IBM is simply not valid. Franklin didn't simply reverse engineer the Apple computer. They copied Apple's design down to the individual electrons. The BIOS and OS was simply stolen from Apple. There was even several places in the Franklin's ROM and in the OS where the string "Copyrighted by Apple Computer" was there for all to see. Even Franklin had to admit they copied the ROM and OS. Franklin tried to use the argument that since the OS and ROM was not in a readable form, it
          • You're partly wrong about Franklin. Their initial machines (I saw one ... it was in a cardboard enclosure, for chrissakes) was indeed a knockoff as you say. The model I saw even said "Apple ][" on the top of the display during bootup. But Franklin redesigned the mainboard and the enclosure and wrote their own BIOS (actually, "Monitor ROM"), improving on the design with a substantially better keyboard (something Apple refused to do until the //e came out, and I'm not counting the Apple ///.)

            The problem wi
        • by Duhavid (677874)
          On IBM, they indeed had been an anti competitive company for a while.

          Once they had signed the consent decree on the issue, they abided by it,
          as far as I know. I worked at one place as an operator in a small shop,
          and I can say that at least there, the IBM people I came in contact with
          were careful not to even bad mouth the competition, much less try to
          force us to choose IBM. This was mid to late 90's.
        • by Weedlekin (836313)
          "at that point in time IBM wasn't really all that interested in stopping the development of clone PCs, for a variety of reasons. Had they really chosen to throw their weight around, they most certainly could have"

          This is a completely revisionist view of history, because IBM sued a number of early clone makers who directly copied their BIOS (which is exactly what Franklin did to Apple) -- one example is here (http://www.scripophily.net/eaglecomputer.html), but there are various others. Note also that oldster
          • I didn't say they took no legal action. I said they weren't interested in stopping the clones, which is a different matter entirely and which they could have done ... instead, they protected their copyrights and not a lot more. IBM had the resources to cause clone makers a lot more grief than it actually did (and which Apple did, and is still doing.) If a comparatively small company like Apple can do it, you can't tell me that IBM couldn't have had they pulled out all the stops. Copyright infringement was o
            • by Weedlekin (836313)
              "I said they weren't interested in stopping the clones, which is a different matter entirely and which they could have done ... "

              There was nothing else they could have done. The IBM PC was built from off-the-shelf commodity components because the DOJ were investigating them for anti-trust violations, and they'd already agreed to let MS sell DOS to anyone. The _only_ thing IBM had that was entirely theirs was the BIOS, so the BIOS was what they defended in court.

              "IBM had the resources to cause clone makers a
      • Actually Compaq did not reverse engineer the hardware of the IBM PC. IBM used fairly common standard components in order to speed development. They were already x86 computers using similar parts to the IBM. However they were not compatible. Compaq reversed engineered the bios which allowed for full software compatibility. Compaq was also extraordinarily careful to cover their legal asses. They used two teams of engineers who had never laid eyes on a PC. One team measured BIOS outputs to different in
  • ReactOS is "an open source effort to develop a quality operating system that is compatible with applications and drivers written for the Microsoft Windows NT family of operating systems (NT4, 2000, XP, 2003)."

    That's great and all, but does it comply with Newton's Third Law?
    • Of course... Microsoft made a new driver system and API for Vista, which could be considered a force in the opposite direction, as things written specifically for Vista are not cited as being compatible with ReactOS.
  • by Arceliar (895609) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @07:10PM (#18310878)
    does it run cygwin?
  • While Microsoft drags their feet with compatibility both with the Justice Dept here in the US and with the European Commission, it's nice to see people working on projects like this which potentially will enhance the interactivity between all platforms. Macs and Linux get along fine but Windows doesn't want to get along with anyone. Maybe ReactOS (being an open source project) will finally force Microsoft compatibility without their consent.
  • Screenshots (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 11, 2007 @07:13PM (#18310904)
    • by Chapter80 (926879)
      I thought for sure your Screenshots link would include at least one Blue Screen of Death.
  • I wonder if Microsoft has any tricks up their sleeve to deal with these guys. Hidden API functionality perhaps.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      If there are hidden API's, then that means nobody knows about them, which means, nobody uses them (apart from MS software, but lets be honest, if you're running a free NT clone, you aren't going to be running MS office are you?), which means that it won't affect them in the slightest.

      And if there are any hidden API's, the DOJ and EU will hit MS with the antitrust stick.

      API changes might be an issue, but again, if the API's are in use, they can't do this without breaking other software. Hiding stuff from a
      • (apart from MS software, but lets be honest, if you're running a free NT clone, you aren't going to be running MS office are you?)

        Yes, actually.

      • It also wouldn't make much business sense; who would want to develop for a platform where the goalposts are constantly moving?

        You just described everyone who's been developing on the Microsoft bandwagon for the past twenty-five years or so, me included. The goalposts not only move, but they have JATO units attached to them that fire at random intervals. Now ... does that make much business sense? No, not really: but that's how things work in the world of Microsoft operating systems.
      • by thebdj (768618)
        Actually, there are "hidden" APIs to which developers have been trying to gain access for a long time. In fact, these "hidden" APIs are a big reason that wine doesn't run all programs and doesn't run many programs as fast as Windows can. It isn't just because they are translating the API, it is because Microsoft has obsfuscated a lot of its API and has, as we are referring to them, "hidden APIs".

        Also, you incorrectly assume that no one else knows about the "hidden APIs". This would be the perfect examp
      • by denttford (579202)

        (apart from MS software, but lets be honest, if you're running a free NT clone, you aren't going to be running MS office are you?)

        Why not? You could set up an Exchange Server (which is popular and useful despite the predictable /. "why would you want that") without having to pay for the underlying OS.

  • Awesome (Score:4, Informative)

    by MrP- (45616) <rob@el i t e m r p.net> on Sunday March 11, 2007 @07:30PM (#18311018) Homepage
    Wow, it's just like Windows.

    I installed it under Parallels, ran Solitaire and it rebooted and then disconnected my network outside of Parallels.

    Seriously though, yeah it's alpha but it's pretty cool. Great work!
    • It would be interesting to compare Reactos' interpretation of Alpha vs Microsoft's. What's the BSOD rate?
      • by dhasenan (758719)
        Patent 6,379,553: Method to Display Failure Information

        A method and system are provided for displaying failure information on a limited resource computing device. Unparseable textual messages are displayed upon failure. ...

        4. The method of claim 3, in which the screen is blanked before the message is displayed.

        5. The method of claim 4, in which the message is displayed on a blue background.

        ---

        As you see, React cannot legally implement the Blue Screen of Death.
        • Patent 6,379,553: Method to Display Failure Information
          A method and system are provided for displaying failure information on a limited resource computing device. Unparseable textual messages are displayed upon failure. ...
          4. The method of claim 3, in which the screen is blanked before the message is displayed.
          5. The method of claim 4, in which the message is displayed on a blue background.
          ---
          As you see, React cannot legally implement the Blue Screen of Death.


          Yeah well, humor and legal comments are not very
  • ...and that when or if it should ever reach beta (or, god forbid, release) stage it will be sued back into oblivion by Microsoft for an almost infinate number software patent violations.

    I mean, come on guys...you know it's going to happen, it's just a matter of time. Why not invest your time and money into something that isn't litigation-bait?
    • mod my comments down all you like, but it's a fact that once ReactOS becomes any sort of threat (real or percieved) to Microsoft, Microsoft will break out the lawyers and the software patent lawsuits.

      Hide your heads in the sand all you want to...it's your time you're wasting, not mine.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by j-pimp (177072)

        mod my comments down all you like, but it's a fact that once ReactOS becomes any sort of threat (real or percieved) to Microsoft, Microsoft will break out the lawyers and the software patent lawsuits.

        Hide your heads in the sand all you want to...it's your time you're wasting, not mine.

        Maybe these people will be able to get jobs as system programmers as a result of this. Maybe they want to see how far they can go before they get sued. Maybe they are hoping that by the time this get to that point the world will be more reverse engineer friendly. Maybe this is just civil disobedience.

        In the 70's and 80's UNIX was a product developed by a big company, the phone company to be precise. it has since become an idea replicated many times, always poorly, sometimes less poorly than K&R's

    • by Anonymous Coward
      because

      a) there are no patents (yet*) in Europe, so we can still use it.

      b) the more small targets MS has, the more difficult it will be for them to cause real damage before we get the law changed to stop their suits and close them down

      c) we can learn much abou the Windows API which only real study can teach us. This will be useful in anti-trust lawsuits if nothing else

      * http://ffii.org/ [ffii.org]
      • by RLiegh (247921) *
        a) by the time ReactOS is usable, there will be. Also, american law is enforcable overseas; cf AllOfMp3 closure and The Pirate Bay raids.

        b) you're assuming that they'll be acting alone; they have novell's help on the Linux front, and slapping a Cease-And-Desist on ReactOS would be trivial.

        c)the only thing useable in an antitrust suit would be the undocumented apis...which have nothing to do with ReactOS. Anything done in ReactOS can easily be found and studied via MSDN.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      What if, as it becomes closer to a release product, it becomes decentralized. Anyone who had done enough work on the original ReactOS walks away from the project perhaps with a public request not to use their work. What if there is no one person or entity to sue? Patches could be written for specific issues by the user community, so support would be distributed as well. Basically, is there a way to spread the legal vulnerability/liability between so many people, that MicroSoft would have to resort to suing
  • How to Avoid Vista (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rueger (210566) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @07:51PM (#18311130) Homepage
    The only reason why a lot of us would upgrade to Vista is because Microsoft will stop supporting our current OS with bug fixes and security updates. Vista to me looks like a nightmare of DRM and restrictions on what I would want to do, but I can see my current Win 2K install becoming as outdated and unsupported as Windows 98.

    If React OS can keep me running my current Windows apps in a sensible, secure, and supported environment, then I can avoid Vista. That means less headaches, and less expense.

    Really, these folks may have found a really nice niche.

    (Honestly, looking at Vista make me think that this is the time when someone, whether Linux, Mac, or something else, could make significant inroads.)

    • by RLiegh (247921) * on Sunday March 11, 2007 @07:57PM (#18311172) Homepage Journal
      >If React OS can keep me running my current Windows apps in a sensible, secure, and supported environment, then I can avoid Vista. That means less headaches, and less expense.

      Which is exactly why Microsoft will dig deep into it's legal fund and patent portfolio and nuke reactos off the face of the planet the very second that ReactOS becomes a practical alternative to Windows.
      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @08:21PM (#18311320)
        Doubtful. Reactos has been around a LONG time. They've always been very careful to avoid any actions that would be legally unsound. If you play the game right, you can legally clone a system and there's nothing that they can do to you. BTW, if they happened to sue ReactOS, WINE is in trouble too. Most of the Windows API code that actually deals with running programs they closely model on each other.

        In any event, the whole topic is moot. If they sue based on software patents, then ReactOS can simply move the servers to a country that doesn't recognize them (and there are will plenty of those).
        • And will the developers move to Outer Elbonia too? If MS had a (e.g.) U.S. court declare that Reactos was an Unclean Abomination That None May Look Upon, I'm pretty sure that the courts would frown on a U.S. resident developer who continued to work on it and claimed US laws didn't apply because they submitted the patches to a server in Outer Elbonia.

          IANAL
          • by julesh (229690)
            And will the developers move to Outer Elbonia too? If MS had a (e.g.) U.S. court declare that Reactos was an Unclean Abomination That None May Look Upon, I'm pretty sure that the courts would frown on a U.S. resident developer who continued to work on it and claimed US laws didn't apply because they submitted the patches to a server in Outer Elbonia.

            IANAL


            Neither am I, but I believe designing something that violates patents is not against the law. Only manufacturing (which in the context of software could b
        • With patent law you can claim somebody is making red nibblets just by convincing a jury (that knows close to nothing about nibblets, specially the red ones) that it is so.

          You don't have to show the nibblet machine or ask the nibblet code to be shown.
      • by Darundal (891860)
        I doubt they would be able to. The guys producing ReactOS went through a self-imposed code audit awhile back, because someone informed them that some patents might have been violated. The way they have been running things, about the only thing they could possibly nail them on at any point would be violating their trade dress for Windows.
    • by linguizic (806996) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @08:01PM (#18311206)
      I'm betting that Apple is making significant inroads. The idea of running XP for 7 more years drove me to buy a macbook.
  • What's the point? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    By the time the OS will be anywhere near usable and a "drop-in-replacement" for Windows XP, WinXP will no longer be supported by M$ and there will have been the next 5 releases of windows out. Really why not just focus on getting windows programs to run on other OS'es like using wine on linux. A lot of programs already can be run with wine or crossover office and I'm sure Linux has lots of other great programs which can replace many of the programs which people would want to use ReactOS to run anyway. Or
  • I'm not trolling (Score:2, Insightful)

    by solevita (967690)
    I just don't understand.

    an open source effort to develop a quality operating system that is compatible with applications and drivers written for the Microsoft Windows NT family of operating systems

    but

    this release is aimed to be run mostly in virtualizers / emulators

    So it won't run (or at least won't run well) on actual hardware, so that's the driver issue nullified. I'm not running ReactOS for the drivers, it's running with virtualisation under my already free OS. So I'm running it so i can run Windows pro

    • by catbutt (469582)

      I try to use only free software, but if I had to use some software under Windows, I'd run Windows. Creating an alpha environment to run proprietary software just seems wrong.

      But what if you were running Windows, and wanting to move to another OS such as Mac or Linux....but you realize you have to keep Windows for one or two apps? Or maybe you don't HAVE to, but if you have to give up those apps, you'll lose some productivity.

      Nothing is outright STOPPING you from moving to the new platform, but it sure becomes a lot harder to justify it. Something like WINE or ReactOX can help a lot in making the switch economically practical and smoothing the transition. (I think someone

    • So I'm running it so i can run Windows programs under my free OS?

      No, you're running it so you can help develop and test it. No one is advocating running it in a VM in a production environment. It's a testing and development release. Obviously the real thing will run on the bare metal; it's just not ready for that yet.

      Creating an alpha environment to run proprietary software just seems wrong.

      This is just stupid as hell. They don't make it alpha on purpose. It's not finished yet.

    • by mgiuca (1040724)
      The overall effort is to make it compatible with drivers. This release is aimed at emulators. The ultimate goal is to run it on actual hardware, but they don't want to scare people away if it doesn't run on real hardware at the moment (when it provably runs fine in an emulator).
  • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Sunday March 11, 2007 @08:39PM (#18311418)
    my understanding is that their compatibility with win32 is largely based on wine, and so it has most of the same bugs running win32, and then some.

    What I'd really like to see is some major company getting behind reactos and wine. Getting a portable win32 layer really working to the point where it's no longer just a toy is going to take a major effort, more of an effort than the open source community seems willing to put forward at this time. Working win32 is a real possibility, but it needs a lot of people to get behind it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by evilviper (135110)

      my understanding is that their compatibility with win32 is largely based on wine, and so it has most of the same bugs running win32, and then some.

      No. The projects are working together, and code goes back and fourth... That's kinda the point of Open Source, isn't it? If somebody else does it better, you use what they've written, in your own project.

      A few of the reasons to use ReactOS instead of WINE:

      Drivers. How well does WINE load that WinXP dll/ocx driver for your WiFi card? Display driver? etc.
      Perf

      • by Laur (673497)
        Thought I'd challenge a few of your points about why you'd choose ReactOS over Linux+Wine.

        Drivers. How well does WINE load that WinXP dll/ocx driver for your WiFi card? Display driver? etc.

        Wine doesn't load your Windows drivers, but maybe Linux can. Have you heard of projects like NdisWrapper? [sourceforge.net] Of course, running binary drivers in ReactOS will also have the same issues as running binary drivers in Linux, see the continuing debate on this topic.

        Performance. Compatibility layer on top of another OS is neve

        • you mentioned most of the things that I was going to say to that guy.

          As a side note, I believe that ndis is actually based on reactos' driver code.
    • by sootman (158191)
      Microsoft has lots of money and their growth is slowing. Maybe they could help. :-)
  • I've been running this in a virtual machine on Windows and haven't seen anyx938U#Jklx j *** NO CARRIER *** Well, I guess I was wrong. At least Windows allowed me to save what I had previously typed, and Windows is so stable tha83jkJKLEv &#j3kR *** NO CARRIER ***

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