Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
ReactOS is an open source project to develop an operating system that is object code-compatible with Windows NT and Windows 2000 applications and drivers. The project is currently in the alpha development stage, although some of the project's goals and milestones have already been achieved as of January, 2005. ReactOS is licensed under the GNU General Public License.
Around 1996, a group of open source developers started a project called FreeWin95, with the aim of implementing an operating system that would be a clone of Windows 95. The project stalled in discussions of the design of the system.
At the end of 1997, the project still had no results. The project members called to revive the project, the project's target was changed to Windows NT and the project's name was changed to ReactOS. The ReactOS project began in February 1998, with developing the kernel and basic drivers.
As of 2005, the ReactOS kernel is quite stable, many APIs are ready for a higher level of development and a basic GUI is available. ReactOS features ReactOS Explorer, which is a basic shell for ReactOS, similar to Windows Explorer.
Version 0.2 of ReactOS is able to run many Win32 applications, including Notepad (a basic text editor), Regedit (the registry editor), Cmd (the commander interpreter) and several other applications (such as AbiWord) and basic games (such as Quake and Quake II, and the Wine clone of Minesweeper).
As of version 0.2.5, sound support is functional for some cards, and networking code is moving ahead. Screenshots of the Lynx text based browser grabbing a page have been demonstrated, although this still needs some work. Support for the Ext2 filesystem and the GRUB boot loader was also added, allowing ReactOS to co-exist with Linux partitions.
Further, Dillo, mIRC and a DCOM components of the Mozilla Firefox web browser (such as the Gecko rendering engine) run in development (SVN) versions of the ReactOS code tree. As of the second of February, Unreal Tournament is confirmed to work.
ReactOS works with the Wine project so that the ReactOS project can benefit from Wine's progress in implementing the Win32 API. These efforts mainly concern Wine's DLLs, most of which can be shared between ReactOS and Wine. Both projects work on cross-compatibility issues, so that the remaining few DLLs can be used in ReactOS.
The ReactOS roadmap indicates release (0.3.0) will include TCP/IP networking support.
ReactOS developers are working on improving the GUI system, adding networking, multimedia, and plug-and-play hardware support. Java and .NET support (through Mono) has also been stub. Provisions for DOS, OS/2 and POSIX subsystems have also been made, in a similar fashion to the Windows NT subsystems.
In October 2004, the goal for version 1.0 was articulated as a stable implementation of a subset of Windows NT 4.0 Workstation ("ReactOS Workstation"), including TCP/IP networking, client-side and server-side support of CIFS, OpenGL, DirectX and support for Windows device drivers.
Some critics of the ReactOS project have set forth reasons why they believe ReactOS not to be a worthwhile project. Among these, some have stated that using Windows NT 4.0 compatibility as a goal for an initial release of ReactOS is a limitation, because NT 4.0 is considered deprecated and outdated (as it was first released in 1996).
In response, it has been noted that although the stated goal is compatibility with Windows NT 4.0, each subsequent release of Windows based on the NT code base (such as Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003) in fact contains a high degree of similarity to NT 4.0 at the system level. Because of this, compatibility with various features of later Windows releases is expected to be quickly achievable once the NT 4.0 goal is reached.
For this reason at least, responders to this criticism have stated that using NT 4.0 compatibility as a milestone is not a limitation, but rather a basis for future development.
- IA32-capable processor (i486 or more recent implementations)
- 32MB RAM
- IDE hard disk
- FAT16/FAT32 boot partition
- VGA-compatible video card
- Standard keyboard
- PS/2 compatible mouse or Microsoft Mouse compatible serial mouse
- ReactOS home page
- Splash - Official ReactOS Newsletter
- ReactOS Wiki
- ReactOs Fansite
- ReactOS Nightly Builds
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