ReactOS Is Going Places, With More Stable AMD64, SMP, And Multi-Monitor Support

In the crowd of GNU/Linux and BSD users that throng our community, it’s easy to forget that those two families are not the only games in the open-source operating system town. One we’ve casually kept an eye on for years is ReactOS, the long-running open-source Windows-compatible operating system that is doing its best to reach a stable Windows XP-like experience. Their most recent update has a few significant advances mentioned in it that hold the promise of it moving from curiosity to contender, so is definitely worth a second look.

ReactOS has had 64-bit builds for a long time now, but it appears they’ve made some strides in both making them a lot more stable, and moving away from the MSVC compiler to GCC. Sadly this doesn’t seem to mean that this now does the job of a 64-bit Windows API, but it should at least take advantage internally of the 64-bit processors. In addition they have updated their support for the Intel APIC that is paving the way for ongoing work on multiprocessor support where their previous APIC driver couldn’t escape the single processor constraint of an original Intel 8259.

Aside from these its new-found support for multiple monitors should delight more productive users, and its improved support for ISA plug-and-play cards will be of interest to retro enthusiasts.

We took a close look at the current ReactOS release when it came out last year, and concluded that its niche lay in becoming a supported and secure replacement for the many legacy Windows XP machines that are still hanging on years after that OS faded away. We look forward to these and other enhancements in their next release, which can’t be far away.

54 thoughts on “ReactOS Is Going Places, With More Stable AMD64, SMP, And Multi-Monitor Support

  1. Unfortunately this OS is very very far from being a useful replacement for Windows XP. Nowadays any Linux distro with Wine has a much higher chance to nicely run your Windows only programs than ReactOS.

    I appreciate the effort, and even Wine and ReactOS share code. But let’s be honest here: they have a very long way to run until they can replace Windows XP.

  2. “and concluded that its niche lay in becoming a supported and secure replacement for the many legacy Windows XP machines that are still hanging on years after that OS faded away.”

    I can see why you still have an XP machine laying around, but if you’re going to upgrade anyway, why not go for a more modern machine instead of using a new OS (if it even runs on the old machine)?

    1. I think because the people still using XP need itto run some favourite software or hardware. They run the old computer to run XP, not because they are too cheap to upgrade. Elsewhere, it’s almost amusing to see people stick with old software, “XP was the last good Windows”. But they also come across as not wanting change.

      1. More like their million dollar industrial machine’s proprietary software only runs on xp, and the manufacturer stopped supporting it and the company doesn’t have the budget for a new machine.

          1. Writing a custom control software for a custom device, probably from scratch and possibly even without having engineering samples of the device to debug the software on…
            That is not cheap.

        1. This. You’d be amazed at the number of million dollar test stands are still running in aerospace companies on air gapped XP machines. If the machine dies, you are up the creek, because some of that custom software was written so badly that you can’t make it run in a VM.

      2. Well, there is the question of security – XP does not support heavy duty popular security programs. As for running old programs, recent Windows have a mode to run classic software and 10Pro has Virtual Machine capability. Not well explained by Microsloppy but it should work.

      3. Exactly, I have multiple machines running different versions of windows from xp to 10, but I do think that xp (and 7) are in many ways better than later versions, 8 is a joke and 10 is a bit too dumbed down and loaded with bloat. In fact my daily machine is W10 but not by choice, only because security and some of the software I use won’t run on earlier versions. I also have hardware that only runs with xp, so I still use it, as modern alternatives are not available, but then I also still use palm devices, RPi400, C64 and looking into getting an Amiga again, some things that I want to do don’t have modern equivalents or capable emulation, because there is not the general demand for it.

    2. My uni has 486 running DOS because we have some weird equipment(that only two old time profs know how to use and they DO NOT want to upgrade) that needs particular software that does not wat to run on anything else.

    3. Because people insist on buying closed source software and the company that wrote it goes out of business or just doesn’t support it anymore so they are now stuck with a specific piece of software that won’t run on anything other than a specific os.

      1. Very, Very Stupid…

        And for anyone thinking of ‘Clean Room’ R/E techniques, think about this:

        How are they going to prove they adhered strictly to the accepted standards?

    1. If by help, you mean hinder. Then yes it will because now every newly submitted code needs to be independently verified that it is not just some idiot copying code that is under copyright in the US until probably about 2165 (allowing for 75 years after the last author dies, add another 25 years to that in Mexico!).

      1. Adding a little clarification for others:
        What “independent” means here is that the people reviewing the code for stolen XP source code can’t actually be writing any ReactOS code. If a ReactOS developer so much as glances at the XP source code, they can end up in serious trouble. It’s a pain in the ass and it’s also what Dolphin developers are going through with the Wii HDL leak.

          1. You’d need a very specialized lawyer to answer that one and even if it is permissable, you’d still have the problem of proving that all communications were limited to those permitted.

      2. Yes, I meant looking at the code to see how it’s done and then rewriting it in a way to implement the function but avoid the copyright. (Or to see how MS did it and do it better but still compatible) but you all make valid points about the danger of MS code sneaking in MS going ape shit on ReactOS. Shame companies are so possessive about former products they no longer support or make a profit from but will defend in court to the death if you try to use it, very dog in the manger.

  3. I expected negativity in the comments, and I wasn’t surprised, unfortunately.

    A bit sad that even very technically inclined people can be so mainstream regarding some topics.
    Why not just appreciate the effort and achievements?

    1. The problem is that it will mostly be the empty cans that rattle the most. People with the ability to understand and respect the work, are for the most part relatively silent. So all you see it the negativity.

      1. Have you even bothered to read the criticisms on this post? Genuine and legitimate observations != negativity.

        ReactOS — in its current state — isn’t usable for anything outside tinkering. That doesn’t diminish the work people have poured into it. It doesn’t mean we don’t respect or understand the work. It doesn’t mean they can’t continue working on it. It just means that it isn’t ready.

        Perhaps you could check your feelings at the door…

  4. I’ve been watching ReactOS for years. I test each version in an emulator. I really hope they pull this off but I must say that is HAS to be the slowest active open source project in the world.

  5. I wonder what, in fact, for 23 years, prompts these people not to create a workable product? In my opinion, this requires incredible willpower or very significant financial motivation! This is either blackmail in relation to Microsoft, or deliberate discrediting of the idea of open source. Or both together!

    1. It took MS 18 years to get to Server 2003 from starting OS/2, I’d say they’re not doing too bad considering they’re starting from scratch and have to test programs every nightly in order to make sure they haven’t completely destroyed compatibility. And that’s without the billions of dollars in order to hire tens of full time programmers to work non-stop on getting it out for $200 — they just barely had the money to hire two whole kernel developers this year.

  6. I worked in one of the many automotive companies which still run Windows 2000 to 7 computers as part of production lines, so it cannot be upgraded easily or cheaply. And those use a lot of arcane ISA and PCI interface cards. If ReactOS can make these working, along with ancient support software and drivers, it would save many of these companies from spending a lot for upgrades or using abandonware windows on scrapheap recapped computers with archeology value.

    1. I hope not. Thinking that ReactOS would be a “partner in crime” makes me shiver. No offence, I’ve just never been a fan of the automotive industry. In my country, Germany, the automotive industry was/is way too dominant. Even politicans support/supported that industry blindly in an submissive kind of way, never (rarely) questioning the industry’s motives. Again, no offence. Each to his own. It’s just sad, I think, that a country of poets and thinkers became so obsessed with automobiles. We originally had other qualities and competent engineers in computer science and physics, but for decades it’s that silly car industry with stinky petrol/diesel motors that “we’re” so famous for. Hopefully, this will change in the future.

      1. Yes, it wwill change 😊 Poles will assemble Made in China battery asssemblies to Made in China motor assemblies and ship all those BMWs, VWs and Audis to Germany for badge assembly procedure, so you can have Chinese car that’s assembled in Poland and “made” in Germany🤣

    1. +1

      I think the same. Having another alternative to both Windows or a Linux system running WINE is neat.
      For the license stuff alone, ReactOS is neat. It’s still very Alpha-like, but it’s free.
      People can modify ReactOS according to their needs and run it aslong as they want.
      That way, the community can make sure that it will always be able to run on future platforms.
      So if UEFI becomes a successor in 10, 20 years or so, ReactOS can still boot and run XP era software.
      A “real” Windows XP can’t do that. And Linux.. Well, who knows what will happen to it and how long it will allow third-party software like WINE to “hook-in”.

    2. I have real experience with old computer class and course for young “inventors” ReactOS + SketchUP Free 2014 + NetFAB last free Creality3d printer
      you dont need nothing else.
      You may design whatever in this setup and kids are happy
      and ReactOS was stable and fast and instalation was thin vs. WinXP SP3 x86
      btw live CD image can be compressed with LZMA -9 upto 60mb! show me same with MS Install CD + SP3 +.NET …. :D

      Its not for all but its Good to have it like FreeDOS you have alternative option run old and good SW on your HW
      becouse today SW with online registrations +telemetry on everything +online licencing is stealing your data your work
      and your privacy… and pushing you on new HW every 2-3 years..

      1. Thanks for sharing, it’s great to hear a real-world use case that is putting the OS through its paces and really cool that you’re using it for teaching young folks about technology!

  7. Reactos it’s a projet dead in 2021 of 4.13 for more one year, it’s a fact and it’s truth.All developpers and money can’t saving this projet, it never release beta and stable os out of order for the future.The people who have created and work actually this projet reactos are so far of reality about people want in 2021 year, in 2025, 2030, no it’s a joke os now. it’s very pity.Reactos it’s very good idea and reason in 1998-2010 max, but after the way will have must to change direction, but no change vision about this os 2010-2021.In 2030-2040, all entreprise industry don’t want reactos like Windows XP 2003, no, no, and no.Technology industrial advance to begin progressive a new generation.I have work in lot of big entreprise of industry for long years, machine and application logicial change, it’s a long time way but the point of this changement arrive more fast than reactos out of order in beta 0,5 and release 1.Reactos i’s not a good name this projet, slow os, it’s much better name.The hardware and logicial upgrade and change, it’s a fact, want never change vision it’s horrible think, catastrophic, driver no support and security are in danger.Kodak and a lot of entreprise wanted never change vision, you know where that have finish for her, very badly situation after and it’s example.
    No one in 2021 will want pay developpers or put money of this projet dead, check this reality creator. If you don’t understand that, it’s your faut and it’s to late to change this fact.A lot people are try to say you for lot of year but you never change vision and the modo of the Forum are so agressive if you don’t agree your vision reactos or if you don’t speak perfect english.
    Now a lot of os and future will are much better for people and entreprise for the future.I had see reactos in 2001-2021, two decade is so long time, i’m boring this projet.It’s time to shut up now and closed this projet and do other choices os.
    Sorry for long text and more fault, I’m not english.

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