Interview 4: Steven Edwards

by fireball | December 6, 2006

Steven Edwards

Interview with Steven Edwards by Aleksey Bragin

This is the fourth in a series of interviews with ReactOS developers. In a few weeks we will have a nice collection showcasing the talent of the people behind ReactOS.


For several years Steven Edwards has served as a valuable liaison between Wine and ReactOS. In addition, he ha's been responsible for porting Wine to the MinGW compiler and making the resulting libraries actually work. Steven and his wife live in Greenville, South Carolina.


How did you get involved with ReactOS?

Linux never suited me as I tend to think in Windows. I know it sounds kind of odd but I grew up with one form of Windows or another. Even though I use Linux every day its not native to me. It will always be like a second language though I am fluent in it. My hope with ReactOS is that one day it will be stable enough to provide a free Windows like environment for people like me that love free software but do not feel 100% at home in Linux.

So up until that point you'd been programming for Windows?

I've always done small programming projects for both but I am by no means a competent developer. My area of expertise lies in general knowledge of how key pieces of the Windows system tie together at a high level and what options are available in the Free Software world to try to fill in those gaps. My work on Wine is a direct result of this. It’s been my hope that we could leverage a large part of the existing FOSS libraries rather than having to re implement everything to make a windows compatible replacement.

Do you remember the first patch you submitted?

I think it was a port of the Wine program manager to Mingw.

Do you remember the first work you did on ReactOS?

Mainly testing under plex86 and attempting to self-host. I worked with Hartmut Birr and Eric Kohl quite a bit finding bugs in ReactOS that mingw triggered when trying to self-host.

Fun with ReactOS

What's your favorite area of ReactOS to work on?

Right now I have not been doing much work due to the constraints of time with my family and day job but the most rewarding area has always been the Wine code.

What's been the most challenging work you've done?

Blindly hacking on Win32k.sys is always to be feared. =) I have done a couple of other things in the kernel in the past and that always proved quite challenging due to me not being a programmer by trade or design.

If there is one thing you'd like to see ReactOS do, what would it be? Or has it already been done?

I'd like to see it support 5 of the most common network card drivers and 5 of the most common video card drivers. In terms of application features and network support its getting close to what I would already call a usable state as a thin client or web workstation.

What areas of ReactOS do you like to work on?

These days when I have the time which is almost never I like to work on the testing suite. I'd like to keep the system as stable as possible with no regressions.


When have you met another ReactOS developer the first time? Who was the most interesting person you met?

I met Jason Filby at the first Wineconf and he was one of the best. He’s moved on to bigger and better things but I still admire what he was able to do during his tenure as Project Coordinator.

You've been to a lot of conferences and given quite a few talks on ReactOS, do you find it helpful to meet other developers?

Yes it helps to be able to understand where other developers passions lie as well as to find out if you really have compatible goals. Everyone has their own ideas about what the system should do and how it should be developed. Meeting face to face helps reach consensus on development practices and design direction.

What's been the favorite place you've visited?

Frankfurt Germany


Are you working on any major ReactOS projects right now?

Not at this time.


Conversely, are there any areas ReactOS should just give up on? For instance, there's been talk of integrating bloated third party applications into ReactOS. Should that idea just be abandoned?

I like the idea of having a lite system. Anything that runs on Windows should work on ReactOS however I don't think it should ship with everything. Linspire does the right thing with click and run and Fedora with Yum. I think this is the sort of model ReactOS should follow.

Do you ever wish there were ReactOS Distributions?

I think it would be a good thing provided that the Project maintains control of the name and creates a certification program. If a vendor meets certain standards then they should have the right to use the name. Perhaps a regression testing suite like POSIX tests would need to be developed and created.

ReactOS and Wine have had a mutually beneficial relationship. Is there anything ReactOS could do different that would help Wine development?

Taking a stronger stance on clean-room reverse engineering would be a big plus. As it stands right now the Wine developers and the ReactOS developers have different ideas on what clean-room really means. As far as legal standing I don't believe ReactOS has been in violation of any law and the law differs so much from place to place it’s hard to reach consensus.