Inside ReactOS

Lead kernel developer Alex Ionescu talks about the internals of ReactOS and the direction the operating system is taking. His ReactOS "demo" at the end of the talk is quite funny, as he manages to get ReactOS installed only after a couple BSOD's. Here's the abstract from the talk:

Quote -
The ReactOS operating system has been in development for over eight years and aims to provide users with a fully functional and Windows-compatible distribution under the GPL license. ReactOS comes with its own Windows 2003-based kernel and system utilities and applications, resulting in an environment identical to Windows, both visually and internally. More than just an alternative to Windows, ReactOS is a powerful platform for academia, allowing students to learn a variety of skills useful to software testing, development and management, as well as providing a rich and clean implementation of Windows NT, with a kernel compatible to published internals book on the subject.

This talk will introduce the ReactOS project, as well as the various software engineering challenges behind it. The building platform and development philosophies and utilities will be shown, and attendees will grasp the vast amount of effort and organization that needs to go into building an operating system or any other similarly large project. The speaker will gladly answer questions related to his background, experience and interests and information on joining the project, as well as any other related information.


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News source: Waterloo Computer Science Club

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I have followed ReactOS for sometime. In terms of functions they are building the same API as windows has so to speak. They take any SDK and DDK from windows Make the same DLL Public Structure and write there own code for the meat. So in the end you basicly have windows. At least from sub and function levels.

ShiZZa said,
I have followed ReactOS for sometime. In terms of functions they are building the same API as windows has so to speak. They take any SDK and DDK from windows Make the same DLL Public Structure and write there own code for the meat. So in the end you basicly have windows. At least from sub and function levels.

Yes, but you can't have any pudding if you don't eat your meat

I never knew it was actually based on Windows kernel code. How exactly can they do that and keep it opensource?

Has that been common knowledge for a while or is this a new step they're taking?

It's not based on actual Windows kernel code. The article is somewhat misleading, the project is entirely open source and a direct reverse engineering project of the Windows kernel system. You can load Windows device drivers, etc. The current code is aimed to be Windows 2003 equivalent in functionality.

I've spotted this o/s a couple of times but never paid much attention to it. I have to be skeptical about the need for a Windows clone. Existing open source operating systems such as bsd and linux have a broad development base and compatibility with Windows applications is ever expanding. It is noted that ReactOS and Wine developers work together and ReactOS has benefited much from Wine but why limit yourself to Windows applications on a Windows clone when you can run Windows applications with Wine in linux or bsd and still have vast access to open source utilities and programs in a stable operating environment.

Anyways, I tried the newest version on Virtual PC 2007. The iso weighs in at 25mb and the setup looked very familar to the Windows classical blue installation screens. It did however fail to boot as the ReactOS image comes up and the progress bar freezes. I'll see about installing VM Ware later since there is a native VM image for download from the ReactOS website.

Budious said,
why limit yourself to Windows applications on a Windows clone when you can run Windows applications with Wine in linux or bsd and still have vast access to open source utilities and programs in a stable operating environment

Ah, but I don't know how limited you would be considering it would be open source. You can make any number of modifications you want to it, and I have no doubt that once ReactX is implemented to a working degree that the "lean gaming machine" aspect of it would branch out also. Consider the possibilities of a 40mb disc image (currently it's only 20mb, but i'm just guessing at the future) that can run, say, WoW using it's own DirectX implementation? If it were anywhere near as fast, just the lack of bloat would be incredible in itself!!

On a side note, how has M$ not said anything yet? Or swooped in to steal these developers?

Well I consider it would be limited because I doubt you will erode much of the linux or bsd user/developer base. Just because it's source is open and free isn't a guarantee of acceptance by the rest of the community. Consider the security implementations of writing a new operating system from scratch, not only will the developers of this project have to continue adding fundamental features of code development but also begin reexamining existing code for patching as the user base expands so will the exploits and weaknesses in the operating system. If users were concerned about speed and light installs then why are they all rushing out to purchase the newest beta operating system on the market (aka Vista). Window users want a flashy interface with point and click accessibility to files and programs.

koppit said,

Ah, but I don't know how limited you would be considering it would be open source. You can make any number of modifications you want to it, and I have no doubt that once ReactX is implemented to a working degree that the "lean gaming machine" aspect of it would branch out also. Consider the possibilities of a 40mb disc image (currently it's only 20mb, but i'm just guessing at the future) that can run, say, WoW using it's own DirectX implementation? If it were anywhere near as fast, just the lack of bloat would be incredible in itself!!

On a side note, how has M$ not said anything yet? Or swooped in to steal these developers? :p


I would assume MS will wait till it tries to steal windows share (if it ever becomes that popular) as an OS. Then we should see ballmer screaming his head off saying thats not fair.

I have visited this project before and for what it is, it is good, but needs some improvement. However, opensource isn't funded by the big companies.

I will have to download it again and put it in a virtual machine box to test it out for kicks.

If it doesn't work for you, use right click save as - not that there is much to see, he only boots into it at the end, and even then you don't see anything interesting