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Windows Replacement? ReactOS 0.3.16 Gets Themes, CSRSS Rewrite, and More 179

Posted by timothy
from the but-does-it-run-dosbox? dept.
jeditobe writes with this announcement from the ReactOS home page: "The ReactOS Project is pleased to announce the release of version 0.3.16. A little under a year has passed since the previous release and a significant amount of progress has been made. More than 400 bugs were eliminated. Some of the most significant include completion of the CSRSS rewrite and the first stages of a shell32 rewrite. 0.3.16 is in many ways a prelude to several new features that will provide a noticeable enhancement to user visible functionality. A preview can be seen in the form of theme support, which while disabled by default can be turned on to demonstrate the Lautus theme developed by community member Maciej Janiszewki. Another user visible change is a new network card driver for the RTL8139, allowing ReactOS to support newer versions of QEMU out of the box." You can download release images here. Want to see how it handles Windows software? Here are demos of Office 2003, Photoshop CS2, and OpenMPT.
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Windows Replacement? ReactOS 0.3.16 Gets Themes, CSRSS Rewrite, and More

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  • a better Beta (Score:4, Informative)

    by tirnacopu (732831) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @02:47PM (#46204483)

    Slashdot will soon return as http://soylentnews.org/ [soylentnews.org]

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by fisted (2295862)
      mod parent up
  • Wake me when it gets to version 1.0 at least

    • ReactOS is like Google. Will remain in Beta for years.
    • Worth putting it in a VM and at least trying it out, isn't it? However, I'm with you when it comes to putting on a real machine. I'll wait until 1.0.
      • I take a gander every couple of versions. I filed a bug report a while back, which hasn't been fixed, or at least for the ancient version of the software I was trying to run, so I'll test myself when I get the chance.

        You could always try installing to a usb thumb drive.

      • by DrXym (126579)
        I think you'll be waiting a very long time. Look how long it took for Wine to get to 1.0 and even that is still hit and miss. And Reactos is Wine cobbled together with a bunch of other Win32 / NT replacement parts so its problems are multiplied. And almost certainly it will never implement .NET, or Internet Explorer. The best it can hope for is it can fool the genuine MS components to run over the faux Windows.

        Anyway, perhaps the best use of Reactos will be found in server farms and VMs. Not for enterpris

        • I ran a little console .net program with p/invoke to the win 32 serial API and .net serial API the other day. It ran better under wine than windows because of crappy Prolific USB serial driver on windows.

          So wine already seems able to run .net presumably through mono.

      • by unixisc (2429386)
        They should develop VMs for VirtualPC and HyperV
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Inkscape went from 0.35 to 0.48 in its 11 years of existence, and is one of the very best and most useful software the free software community has produced. Don't take the 1.0 number too seriously, because there are many other numbering schemes.

    • I've been waiting for them to hit version 0.4 for about 5 years now. The goal is admirable, but by the time ReactOS hits 1.0, I can't imagine Windows will be using the NT platform anymore.
      • Windows will most likely always use a kernel and HAL based on the original NT model.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        by the time ReactOS hits 1.0, I can't imagine Windows will be using the NT platform anymore.

        Then a compatible alternative will be more needed than ever.

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      Precisely!!! When can we have something that we can use?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 09, 2014 @02:50PM (#46204511)

    Have the ReactOS guys reached feature parity with NT4 yet? Last time I tried it, it was almost as unusable as slashdot beta!

  • Do you have to think in Russian?
  • One day.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529 AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday February 09, 2014 @03:04PM (#46204611)

    Now before I say anything, do know that I GREATLY applaud the efforts of the ReactOS platform. I am incredibly impressed by the huge undertaking the ReactOS team has decided to pursue. Programming an open source, binary-compatible alternative to Windows is, in my opinion, the most difficult OSS project to ever make happen - after all, Microsoft can't exactly do it right when they have the actual source code, a lot more software developers, and a LOT more money. I do one day hope to be able to use it as a primary operating system that will work with my existing hardware and software as seamlessly as it presently does with Windows, leaving Windows as a memory as the ReactOS community take the best parts of OSS development and apply it to making my very expensive Windows software run.

    One day.

    I really don't mean to be a jerk to the devs, because I know that I have no skill, talent, or ability to write an operating system. I know that they have to hit a constantly moving target, while making plenty of rough decisions along the way: two pieces of software exist. One doesn't work past Windows XP. One works only on Vista/7/8. Which do you make compatible? Microsoft clearly has their way of going ("forward", i.e. Win8 apps), but ReactOS could easily spur adoption by catering to people who have $5,000 pieces of hardware that are no longer made, perfectly fill their needs, and don't have drivers for >WinXP. This is a tough question to answer, and one I do not envy or posit a response.

    Based on their demos, it seems that they're going the 'Open Source XP' method, as can be deduced based on their demos of Office 2003 and Photoshop CS2, the former being four revisions out of date, and the latter being five (assuming we count 'CC' as a single version). If the /only/ thing it will run is old software that is not being updated, I understand that - it's no longer a moving target, after all. However, constantly playing catch-up with Microsoft, though inherently a consequence of the nature of the project, is all but impossible to truly consider a replacement.

    Perhaps I need to read up on their website or do some Google searching, but are they planning to start eyeballing Win7 at all? What about more recent iterations of DirectX? I'd love to be independently wealthy enough to dump a few million at the project, and yes, next payday I plan on sending $20 or somesuch to the cause. That doesn't mean that the devs will be able to achieve critical mass effectively.

    Having said all of that, if they could get an OSS flavor of Windows ThinPC up and running (i.e. completely iron out hardware compatibility and a remote desktop client), and charge even some nominal amount for it so that companies could use it instead of ThinPC (which is stupidly licensed), that'd be a great way to start making inroads.

    • Re:One day.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Belial6 (794905) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @03:43PM (#46204893)
      I believe that you can use a standard Windows RPC client with ReactOS.

      I would agree that they need to get some adoption. I think (which has no real bearing on what they should really do) they should work at getting some of those high value applications working 100% on ReactOS, and then create an installer so that the application could install into a version of ReactOS that launches the application by default and that installs into a Virtual machine. This would make ReactOS a compatibility layer for all of those old applications. Any bugs or missing features in ReactOS that are not used by the specific application would not matter.

      Another option would be to try to work with someone like GOG [gog.com]. GOG already uses DosBox and ScummVM to run a lot of games. Having a system that would allow them to package old Windows games would enhance their offerings. Particularly if the system was cross platform, which ReactOS installed to a VM would be.
    • Re:One day.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheloniousToady (3343045) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @03:57PM (#46205007)

      leaving Windows as a memory as the ReactOS community take the best parts of OSS development and apply it to making my very expensive Windows software run.

      I honestly don't understand how anybody could think Windows is expensive. I really think it's cheap considering what an extremely complex piece of software it is. It's probably cheaper per byte than any other software, unless you consider free (as in beer) software. For example, I recently paid about $140 for it, but I paid $40 yesterday for a mere music program. If you think of Windows as a major component of a computer like an HDD or processor or whatever, its cost is about on the same scale.

      I certainly wish the ReactOS folks well, but I'm not sure what problem ReactOS solves. Folks who are enamored with being able to customize their OS already have Linux and several other open-source choices. So, at best, ReactOS just saves me $140. I wouldn't turn that down with all things being equal, but otherwise, I would much rather pay $140 for an HDD or processor that works well than get one for free that doesn't.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jmc23 (2353706)
        Something tells me 3,000,000 was around the point slashdot died.
        • That's a convenient breaking point - why not choose 2353707 instead? Anyway, if you're suggesting that I don't subscribe to all of the Slashorthodoxy, you're exactly right. In fact, I also didn't during my past ten years as a lurker.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I got a different reading out of the GP's post. The cost being referred to was for Windows-only applications, which can easily be a lot more expensive than Windows itself. And often those specialized applications lack support for newer versions of Windows, so it doesn't matter what Windows costs: Microsoft won't sell you a version of Windows that both runs those applications and still gets bug fixes. That's the niche that ReactOS has an opportunity to fill.
        • I got a different reading out of the GP's post. The cost being referred to was for Windows-only applications, which can easily be a lot more expensive than Windows itself.

          After a careful re-reading of it, I think you're right. I guess he's looking to save the $140 or so cost of Windows itself to help with the overall software budget.

      • by westlake (615356)

        I honestly don't understand how anybody could think Windows is expensive.

        Walmart --- with its enormous purchasing power --- couldn't price and spec an OEM Linux PC as anything other than a severely crippled bottom feeder. It's depressing to think about how many truckloads of their overstock junk passed into the hands of the ever-credulous geek.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        look man, if you need to run 10+ boxes of windows on hardware that costs 100 bucks, then it's pretty expensive.

        but that's beside the point. it's not about the money and I applaud their efforts, much more worthwhile than yet another linux distro with a different background image.

        (if you just need to run windows apps there's always WINE)

      • leaving Windows as a memory as the ReactOS community take the best parts of OSS development and apply it to making my very expensive Windows software run.

        I honestly don't understand how anybody could think Windows is expensive.

        I wasn't referring to Windows being terribly expensive. I was referring to ~$5,000/seat AutoCAD licenses, $1,500 Adobe Production Studio licenses (Pre-CC; some of us actually paid a hefty sum for the plastic-disc version), $7,000 Waves VST plug-ins, and the like. Alternatively, you have things like software drivers for some very specialized printers, e.g. Designjet units that print on rolls of paper four feet wide, or sign-making cutters that cut glass into shapes based on EPS files. $150 for a copy of Wind

      • by unixisc (2429386)

        I certainly wish the ReactOS folks well, but I'm not sure what problem ReactOS solves. Folks who are enamored with being able to customize their OS already have Linux and several other open-source choices. So, at best, ReactOS just saves me $140. I wouldn't turn that down with all things being equal, but otherwise, I would much rather pay $140 for an HDD or processor that works well than get one for free that doesn't.

        Well, assuming that it achieves its goals of 100% binary compatibility w/ Windows, it allows people who are being forced to migrate from one Windows version to another an alternative. As it is, a lot of organizations are showing a major pushback on being forced away from XP, due to the 'if it ain't broke' cliché. With something like ReactOS, such companies can use such a platform and preserve their software investments.

        The real beauty of this platform is that if any organization adopts it, they ca

    • Re:One day.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @04:50PM (#46205317) Homepage Journal
      ReactOS is at a point where it is as compatible as it is going to get, if you get it to a bug free state. The issue is ultimately with other Microsoft libraries that are "part" of Windows, but not. Things like MFC, ADO, VB6 runtime, Terminal services, just to name a few are things we take for granted that just aren't going to be part of ReactOS. They have proxy DLLs with functions that do nothing, but they are monumental tasks all by themselves and most software needs these tidbits to run.
      • Re:One day.... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Bite The Pillow (3087109) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @05:39PM (#46205669)

        With a proper installer, an application requiring those would provide the version it needs, aka DLL hell. If some form of SxS is implemented, you get version specific runtime and no DLL hell.

        There has been no need to rewrite those, for that reason, other than having stubs to link against. And since they reuse wine libs, it may be a wine stub rather than something reactos intends to work.

        Once you are enlightened, your statement is now false. It will get more compatible. And if you require those libraries and it is legal do to so, you can obtain them directly from Microsoft, or the app developer, or anyone.

        There is a reason they are called redistributables. Guess what that is? Go on, I'll give you a hint if you need one.

        And most programs need terminal services? No, some very specific ones do. And that is the idea behind thorium virtual kickstarter. If people fund it, it will exist.

        • Negative. You may not redistribute these packages/DLLs to a non Microsoft Windows platform. It is right in the license.
          • "where it's legal" and "thorium" were important parts of my response, which you ignored. The legality of EULA and how restrictive they can be is rather up in the air. Some things have been clearly rejected, some things clearly okayed, and things in the middle are still a grey area. Not clearly illegal, and probably perfectly fine.

            I know of no test where an installer, containing redistributables, somehow is responsible to ensure that no one downloads or copies the installer package with the intent of runn

        • There is a reason they are called redistributables. Guess what that is? Go on, I'll give you a hint if you need one.

          Because you can redistribute them with your software to allow it to be installed on windows systems that don't yet have those components. That doesn't mean you are allowed to redistribute them in other contexts.

          • by adolf (21054)

            Because you can redistribute them with your software to allow it to be installed on windows systems that don't yet have those components. That doesn't mean you are allowed to redistribute them in other contexts.

            Indeed. From here [microsoft.com] (which I picked at random after typing "microsoft redistributable license" into Google -- this particular one being for .NET Framework)

            NOTE: IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A VALID EULA FOR ANY "OS PRODUCT" (MICROSOFT WINDOWS 98, WINDOWS ME, WINDOWS NT 4.0 (DESKTOP EDITION), WINDOWS 2000 OPERAT

            • That is for .NET, which wasn't part of the discussion. Also, since we are talking about 10 year old software being supported, 10 year old packages along with their licenses should be considered.

              In the past decade, Wine has come a long way, and ReactOS has undoubtedly been directed to Microsoft's attention. Why would they say you cannot run it on a non-Windows system if there were no viable ways of doing so? Investigating that question comes to an answer that involves alternative operating systems that ru

      • All those DLLs aren't magic, though. Ultimately, they are implemented in terms of Win32 API calls, so if those are sufficiently well emulated, MFC, ADO, VB6 runtime etc should "just work".

    • There's something of an elephant in the room with ReactOS: If it ever got good enough to become a viable alternative to Windows, it's likely that Microsoft would unleash an army of lawyers upon it. But so long as it remains nothing more than a niche tool to run legacy apps that newer versions of Windows can't, they have to reason to do so.

      • Re:One day.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dbIII (701233) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @08:45PM (#46206865)
        A little anecdote that exposes a bit of the can of worms. Some years ago a software developer made a little program to get files via a non-MS file serving protocol (I can't remember which one). To his astonishment it also worked with the "Microsoft" SMB file serving protocol because that turned out to have been derived from the other without attribution or money changing hands. The free software project later went on to be Samba.
        MS have too much of a mess with bits from all over the place to be able to playing ownership games on anything from a few years ago. They've got better things to do than a PR disaster and feeding another team of lawyers for a decade.
        • by jeremyp (130771)

          I find it surprising he was astonished since he was trying to emulate DEC Pathworks [wikipedia.org] which was itself an attempt to provide DOS networking services to IBM PCs from VMS servers and was based on Lan Manager [wikipedia.org] which is what SMB grew out of.

          • by dbIII (701233)
            That's the one, and the story is that he was astonished. Whether that was true or said to enhance the story I don't know.
            However the point is just from your post we have examples of IBM, DEC and Microsoft being involved so that's a large historical can of worms for lawyers to untangle just there. It, and I'm sure many other things that would be in ReactOS, would appear to be an ownership tangle that would do nothing IMHO but feed lawyers for a long time and generate bad PR if a serious copyright court cas
    • Based on their demos, it seems that they're going the 'Open Source XP' method, as can be deduced based on their demos of Office 2003 and Photoshop CS2, the former being four revisions out of date, and the latter being five (assuming we count 'CC' as a single version).

      I still use Photoshop CS2, I'm aware Photoshop is to be ah rented in the future if not now, seems that would be an easier install as you don't have to mess with a windows installer (Adobe ain't gonna pay for it's use). The demo uses in but it's not an on-line version.

      I can't help but laugh at all the people that will be trying to reuse the key shown to unlock their Photoshops.

      • I can't help but laugh at all the people that will be trying to reuse the key shown to unlock their Photoshops.

        CS2 has been effectively "free" since Adobe turned off the activation servers and gave away the keys.

        • I can't help but laugh at all the people that will be trying to reuse the key shown to unlock their Photoshops.

          CS2 has been effectively "free" since Adobe turned off the activation servers and gave away the keys.

          Nope not so funny now. No I wasn't aware that CS2 is now "free" and keys available; have just always used CS2 and needed nothing else, so never followed up on it. -I also avoid news list, and product announcements.

          Does explain why I wasn't able to connect to an activation server and had to take other means :}

    • The userspace application compatibility is shared with wine and will thus target whichever APIs that modern applications require.

      Last I checked, they were basing their compatibility of the underlying OS on XP 5.2 (Windows Server 2003). Developing an NT clone is a moving target, when you consider MS have had several evolutions since in the form of Vista, 7 and 8. They wanted to get to a point where their OS core was stable (XP compatible) and worry about Windows 9 driver compatibilities when the product was

    • will work with my existing hardware and software as seamlessly as it presently does with Windows

      Harsh..

  • On Topic (Score:3, Informative)

    by mexsudo (2905137) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @03:26PM (#46204769)
    "ReactOS is a free and open-source operating system based on the best design principles found in the Windows NT architecture. Written completely from scratch, ReactOS is not a Linux-based system and it shares none of the UNIX architecture. The main goal of the ReactOS project is to provide an operating system which is binary compatible with Windows. This will allow Windows applications and drivers to run as they would on a Windows system. Additionally, the look and feel of the Windows operating system is used, such that people accustomed to the familiar user interface of Windows would find using ReactOS straightforward. The ultimate goal of ReactOS is to allow people to use it as an alternative to Windows without the need to change software they are used to." anybody tried this? pretty obscure, first I heard of it.
    • Re:On Topic (Score:5, Informative)

      by jordanjay29 (1298951) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @03:53PM (#46204975)
      It's been around for years, quietly chugging away. The goal is admirable, but with the sluggish progress I've seen, I have little confidence that there will be an actual product someday that will operate as a FOSS platform for natively running Windows software.
  • Why use 10 year old software to demo a "Windows replacement"? If a successful demo only works because it is old software, that somewhat speaks volumes.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Why use 10 year old software to demo a "Windows replacement"? If a successful demo only works because it is old software, that somewhat speaks volumes.

      Office 2007 and newer have this crappy 'ribbon bar', so since Office 2003 is so widely used... in a way it makes sense.

      I also suspect the newer UI APIs aren't fully implemented, so, perhaps... indeed only the old software actually works.

      • by thebes (663586)

        I also suspect the newer UI APIs aren't fully implemented, so, perhaps... indeed only the old software actually works.

        I know you are just guessing, but my counter-comment is: so they have caught up to the UI API from 10 years ago?

      • by eWarz (610883)
        "crappy ribbon bar" is a matter of opinion, many of us like the ribbon. The real reason is that office 2007/2010 tends to be much more complex due to the shear amount of extra code. The biggest issue with ReactOS is stability. You still (to this day) can't use it for even the most basic tasks. I've been with (and coded for) ReactOS since before it was ReactOS...it's sad that it still has yet to break out into something much better. I hope that it will eventually flourish, but as of right now i will not
    • Plenty of people are still using a 12.5 year old version of Windows for their day to day computing tasks!
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Why use 10 year old software to demo a "Windows replacement"
      Because that's probably why you want something other than XP or Win7 that won't run your old software.
  • by jeditobe (2701857) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @03:50PM (#46204957) Homepage
  • its the best OS evar!!! http://i.imgur.com/1uNNZSp.png [imgur.com]
  • by ledow (319597) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @04:41PM (#46205259) Homepage

    Is it just me that sees ReactOS as a "lab" kind of software - it's theoretical and doesn't follow the outside reality.

    I can't see how it can ever catch up to, say, a lightweight virtualised Linux with Wine for those people who want to avoid a Windows licensing fee. The overhead of a full Linux is absolutely minimal on modern hardware while the hardware support and control is phenomenal.

    Sure, I imagine purists prefer a ReactOS but it's really only for the purists and always has been. Which is probably why Wine etc. get much more of a developer following.

    • Re:Toy project (Score:5, Informative)

      by TuringCheck (1989202) on Sunday February 09, 2014 @05:09PM (#46205451)

      Actually the whole idea of ReactOS was to provide a binary compatible kernel so Windows drivers could be loaded unmodified.

      At the time ReactOS was started the lack of drivers was seriously hurting Linux. Meanwhile the situation has changed and drivers for Linux are no longer something unheard of.

      Also note that ReactOS and Wine share a lot of the higher level library code - in fact all libraries that are pure Win32 with no calls to native libraries.

      • ReactOS might still be useful for all that XP-only software (that also requires XP-only drivers for a USB key or similar stuff) out there that's never going to be updated for a newer version.

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