ReactOS 0.3.9 boasts insanely huge speedups

Operating systems

Naturally we focus mostly on Linux here at TuxRadar HQ, but we keep tabs on the wider open source world too. For the last few years we've been intrigued by the progress of ReactOS, a free software Windows implementation that could one day give Microsoft the chills. Well, ReactOS 0.3.9 is now here, with major performance improvements, initial sound support and the latest WINE DLLs for improved compatibility. Summary after the break.

  • Minimum RAM requirements dropped down to 32MB
  • Speedups for the Hyperspace Mapping Interface (300%) and Object Manager (500%)
  • Early sound support for AC97 chips
  • More compatible command prompt
  • Oodles of GDI bugfixes for more reliable drawing

These fixes pave the way for 0.4 which should see much broader hardware support. From our viewpoint, we're cautiously optimistic that ReactOS could eventually provide a free software, drop-in replacement for Windows XP for many tasks -- light office work, internet use, some games etc.

Still, the developers have a dilemma: do they focus entirely on making ReactOS as XP-compatible as possible, or chase moving targets such as the Vista and Windows 7 APIs? And what'll happen if (when?) Microsoft decides that ReactOS is tramping over its intellectual property and brings out the legal guns? Sure, ReactOS is coded from scratch, but software patents could come into play.

What do you reckon? Have you used ReactOS? Is Linux + WINE a better option? Do you think Steve Ballmer reaches for the nearest chair whenever he hears about it?

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Your comments

I messed about with ReactOS

I messed about with ReactOS a few years back (2006 I think) and to be honest had forgotten all about it.
Maybe time to have another play.

Checking again

I just run from a live CD for a while. Going to check the latest version


ReactOS does harware and Wine doesn't but I don't care too much. I can use Wine if I have to use that crap, but otherwise native linux ftw

I doubt Microsoft sees

I doubt Microsoft sees ReactOS as a serious threat. The only people (with few exceptions) who are going to seriously use ReactOS are people like you and me: Linux users who aren't going to purchase copies of Windows anyway.

The bulk of Windows sales are OEM copies and big business licenses, and neither of those are going to be replaced by a unsupported system.

Equally, ReactOS is still a

Equally, ReactOS is still a long way of from being a viable alternative to Windows in any way shape or form, being as it is a glorified WINE.

Is the base OS BSD or Linux it uses?


A threat??
If this OS is funded by a billionaire like Shuttlework, maybe YES.

I think MS would just laugh on this, yeah, seriously.

The biggest threat to MS is none other than UBUNTU..
well, for now..

If Ubuntu succeed on getting half the market share (miraculously) from MS maybe this ReactOS you're talking about will have its chance to push itself.

Well, nothing is impossible I think.
Anything can happen. Let's just wait.

Moving Target You Can't Catch

Well, if they could do 90%+ of XP Now or next year, they would be doing good as Many people really like XP and they like it for their games. At most they need to be in place in 2.5 years or they miss the critical mass point where people will have been converted to Win7. All the new "gee whiz" games will be not for XP so their user base will be missed.

Hard to keep pace with such an environment.

Also, I don't see much point in the efforts from my personal POV and would really like to see all efforts placed on making Wine what it should be. Wine can be awesome... but it needs the support. Also, if you read the latest news that Win7 will be shipping with a version of XP for use in Virtualized Machine for support to Not Vista/7 software....

I'm meandering.. you get the point.

we all gotta work for the man anyway

this is too far away from being ready for prime time to make a differentce

microsoft is going to ship windows 7, the world is going to switch over to it within a year

then google is going to releash their own operating system

it's a world of giants, and we're all gonna be workin for the man

in short, no more hime hime hime

Does it play steam ?

ReactOS has a *serious* problem, It cant load/start steam aka it still needs lots of work to becaume a serious threat to MS

XP or not To XP

The one thing that really defines ReactOS compatibility from a software aspect is the DLL's from wine. If wine starts to work on the Windows 7 API's I'm pretty sure they will end up in ReactOS. So ReactOS future is somewhat tied to wine's development. I do personaly think in the long run, that Linux + wine, will be better for linux users. But I don't want to count ReactOS out. It is just a fun operating system to play with. What would make it great, is if they made it more secure than XP. They need to make it better with more feature, not necessarily 100% compatible.

I think it's silly to say

I think it's silly to say that ReactOS should be made "better with more feature [sic], not necessarily 100% compatible". We already have that in WINE; what's the point of having an entire OS to do the same thing? No, ReactOS should strive for 100% compatibility; that, to me, is the entire point of the project.

Good for Edu

I do not have any Windows licence on my own, so all PCs in my home are running linux (including kid's ones).
My kids sometimes complains that they don't know how to use Windows at school ;)

So here this new system has its chance.
Thanks to this information (I didn't know about this OS) I will be monitoring its progress and maybe decide to give it a chance, once it will be good for everyday usage.

Does anybody know if GRUB correctly supports this system; are there any problems with dual booting with Linux?

I think they are doing a good job, but they need to open up

The ROS devs are doing a good job; but they are at the same time hampered by a bad attitude toward linux and the linux community. I know because I'm a forum member, and I find them quite annoying at times. You can't offer suggestions, offer solutions, offer help, or even ask for a feature, without some heady, annoying answer.

And it shows among the ROS community that most of them are not very knowledgable. I think they should shut up and let the devs talk.

They should get more support

I did not know about this project, seems interesting.
If it succeeds launching XP designed apps, I suppose it could be a real threat to Microsoft.

I work as civil servant in French administration, and it's seeking ways to spare money as hard as possible. The french gendarmerie (police forces) are switching 80 000 desktops to Linux while all their servers got Debian back in 2003.

Problem facing most of public service is they work on propietary apps designed to do a particular professional task under XP environement. Costs porting these apps to another OS is high. If these apps could work reliably on ReactOS, and if it could support the popular commercial games, that would be great news.


Imagine ReactOS for the Mobile Market - Smart Phones

Windows has always struggled with a good mobile operating system in it's Smart Phones.
So ReactOS I'm positive could replace Windows CE.

As ReactOS is only in the Alpha phase now, the possibility of it being developed to compete with Windows 7 is remote In My Opinion.
I'm currently using the Release Candidate of Windows 7.

The best feature about ReactOS is the familiar Windows GUI, which many users are used to. MS Windows Vista & Windows 7 has tons of features that basic users never use. My thoughts are Develop ReactOS as a cross-breed of features of Windows XP with Windows 2000 simplicity.

I've got an old Dual 450 MHZ Processor pentium I'll test ReactOS on.
It's fasinating that this project is still going forward after 15 years.

ReactOS future lies in WinXP?

Hello everyone, I would like to add my two cents on this argument.
I would very like to see this project take off and become a replacement fo Windows XP and Windows 2003.
But well, i Think that is very unlikely to happen.
Perfect compatibility is near impossible. Wine doesn't have it, struggles for it, but the main point in Wine trying to become a good solution is: prioritize.
If something does not work, nobody cares if it's no matter to anyone, and this is the right thing to do.
Where should reactOS aim for?
A WinXP desktop replacement? Well, this honestly seems quite impossible.
reactOS could have a great role inside education / research environment, especially where free / open source systems are used, and it must be reliable in those areas.
Nobody cares about running Matlab, Microsoft Office, Photoshop, in reactOS: if you do have licenses for those software, most probably you also have a license for Windows.
Who cares for reactOS? Those running an Apache Server, and want to run it in windows for testing or compatibility studies, or similiar scenarios in which you want to run/test some kind of software over a Windows Installation, Linux users who need a Windows environment for some specific needs (IE website testing, uncompatible devices which need Windoes device drivers), and eventually would run in inside a VM, and lots of other people which probably already has a main Desktop environment which suits his own needs, but would greatly appreciate a reactOS environment for specific needs.

Me personally, I hope to be able to replace my WinXP virtual machine with reactOS one day, and be able to program / compile Windows software from inside it, without having to use some kind of wine cross compiling witchery.

Keep up the good work!

Linux is inherently old by design.

ReactOS is not a clone of Windows, its is the same to Windows as what Linux to Unix is. That is ReactOS has a kernel based on the architecture of the Windows kernel, it also implements the Windows API and services.

Linux is based on really old technology when it comes to OS designs 1960's to 1970's, and Windows is based on cutting edge OS designs and principles from the 90's (Dave Cutler). In that respect Microsoft has left the archaic ideas of the Unix based OS designs, and come up with a modern and refreshing design.

The ReactOS team understand this, and admire the modern design and architecture of NT. Infact ReactOS's Kernel has been shown to work much faster on equivalent tasks than Windows or any Linux kernel.

It should also be noted that some of the ReactOS developers have gone on to write Windows Internals books, and taken internships with Microsoft, Apple, and Google.

ReactOS is an amazing project, and has far more vision, cohesion and direction than Linux has today. Still there's a lot of work to be done, and I for one will be helping them.

reactos is the coolest thing

reactos is the coolest thing ever....linux is boring already

Virtualization is the road for ReactOS

I recently discovered your site so I am
Virtualization seems like the mixed OS users dream come true.
Where I have a Windows program that does not run on Linux or vica versa I can put it in a VM. Except for one problem.
To put XP on a VM you need licenses for XP. Often several. Quite a damper for a person like me who images VMs as bubbles coming out of one of those bubble making loops.

So here is my suggestion: merge ReactOS and Wine
( yes I know there is a lot of crossover ). Make a product capable of running in a VM, maybe even take popular VMs and produce a premade product for the VM. The remaining energy will should, be focused on making a version for netbooks.

For now $5 XPs for netbooks will thrive, but I believe MS has plans to fade it out for Windows 7, which will cost a lot more. ReactOS as an alternative can dominate if it is ready.

As for the ReactOS API. Focus more on the XP API, I don't see many developers making applications which use Vista/Windows 7 centered API calls for at least five years. Longer if something like ReactOS takes off. ( Imagine something like acrobat, instead of having to create something that runs on the most common platforms, you create something that runs on ReactOS running on a VM which runs on the most common platform. A software development companies dream platform. )

It's great, but needs a Plan, Donations, and Lots & Lots of Time

I love Windows and like some parts of linux (except of course the compatibility) but, ReactOS is something different. It really has move forward, just the way i want to see it, but needs lots of funding to be anywhere near as good as Windows 7. From this point in time the developers need to decide what kind of OS they are going for in the end: one for virtualization, games, graphics design, or everything and just compete altogether with microsoft. If you give it a bit of time and money, then ReactOS could become something great, whichever way the OS is moving forward.

@ROS dev

reactos is a very good idea, but it cant take off if they don't get the support they need which at the moment they aren't. and if reactos and the reactos team are oh so better then linux why has it been 15 years+ and still no real usable os to show for it? linux has tens of thousands of distros coming out all the time and they work! all modern all up to date, and a new release every six months. so before you talk trash about a platform that works you might want to fix the nonworking not going anywhere os that you are promoting. oh and one more thing, if react os is suppose to work like windows will it blue screen, have memory leaks and viruses like windows?

Is it Windows Like OS with Windows like Security Bugs?

Before Criticizing Linux, ReactOS team needs to understand, why people are moving away from Windows.

Its not just cost, but even the huge load of Bugs and Security issues loaded into Windows OS. If ROS is built on Windows architecture its natural that it would replicate the same issues that Windows has, wouldn't it?

If Linux is built on an old architecture, then how come it has been successful and Robust and secured OS? People preciously were not comfortable with Linux because Hardware companies ignored Linux and didn't support it. Secondly applications were limited on Linux that required installation through Compilation that again was difficult.

However with latest innovations and blooming distros of Desktop Linux such as Ubuntu, CentOS, Mint, Fedora, etc. the hardware and software support has tremendously increased due to more users switching over to Desktop linux due to its innovative UI.

Secondly how can ROS support FOSS, if they say that they developed the Open Source OS to run Windows Applications at same time criticizing FOSS community?

Its like it pretends to be a FOSS supporter but actually is MS Supporter

ReactOS as of June 2010

As of June, 2010 (and this may change in the future - but as of right now) is a piece of flaming refuse.

It's developers have tunnel-vision, a Nazi-esque view of society and computer programming, and (in general) do not appear to be well educated.

It's sad... but that's ok, it's what happens when you base your future on copying / replicating / trying to 'be as good' as the next guy. Rather than building their own beast, they've fixated on MS.

That's ok though... BSD / Solaris / and Linux are fine by me.

ReactOS is a big ?

I seen more improvement in Gnu/Linux Distro then ReactOS.

By the time they get a usable release Games will start to have a Gnu/Linux version. Like Doom3 has.

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