- 1 Before installing
- 2 System requirements
- 3 Getting ReactOS
- 4 Installing ReactOS
- 5 Installing drivers
- 6 Unattended Installation
- 7 See also
There are several things to be made aware of before installing ReactOS, or even obtaining the installation media. These include how ReactOS will be installed, limitations of the installation, and backing up existing data.
ReactOS is alpha level (or alpha phase) software. It is not yet feature complete.
Some major bugs remain to be corrected. For the details see Known Issues. Bear in mind that this is not a complete list of known issues. See also Missing ReactOS Functionality.
The ReactOS itself, setup utility and boot loader have a number of limitations. The most prominent are:
- ReactOS is not able to boot from USB devices yet. Except RAM Boot method.
- the setup utility does not prevent users from performing dangerous and potentially destructive operations.
- some SATA controllers may not work with ReactOS.
- the boot partition is highly recommended be the first FAT16 or FAT32 partition on the first (or even better - single) disk in the system.
- the setup utility can check the integrity of ONLY FAT16 and FAT32 file systems.
- HD Audio or use of multiple audio cards at the same time are not yet supported. ReactOS versions and builds prior 0.4.12 will not boot after setup.
ReactOS has limited hardware support. Lists of particular hardware that have been tested can be found on the page Supported Hardware.
Minimum hardware requirements
The minimum requirements to install ReactOS are:
- RAM: at least 64 MB, recommended 256 MB, and even 2048 MB if you want to test large software suites or bundles.
- Processor: x86 or x64 architecture, Pentium or later and compatibles; for more information see ReactOS ports.
- HDD: IDE/SATA with minimum 450 MB of free space on the primary partition (please note that some SATA controllers may not work with ReactOS):
- FAT16/FAT32 primary boot partition.
- Video: VGA compatible video card (VESA BIOS version 2.0 or later).
Due to the current state of the project, the ReactOS Foundation does not offer official installation media for distribution. Installation CD-ROMs must be created by the user by writing an available image file to a CD-ROM.
Downloading the image file
Official ISO image files can be downloaded at one of the following locations:
- The official Download page.
- ReactOS trunk builds
- ReactOS at SourceForge (ReactOS-0.4.12-REL-iso.zip)
WARNING: Some anti-malware programs will detect false positives in ReactOS files.
Creating the Installation CD
The downloaded file is a compressed archive in ZIP format, containing a single file named "ReactOS.iso". The ISO image contains everything needed to create the CD.
- Extract the image file from the archive into a temporary directory.
- Burn the ISO image to a CD-R or CD-RW using any software of your choice.
When burning the ISO to disc, be sure it is written as an image file. Writing to the disc as another type of data will not work and render the Installation CD unbootable. Look for an option similar to "Burn from ISO" or "Write disk image".
Please consider making full backups of any sensitive data before you start any experiments with ReactOS in the production environment!
The first consideration to make is whether to install ReactOS on a dedicated testing machine or in a contained environment, such as running on an emulator without direct disk access. The use of an emulator is preferable if the machine on which you will run ReactOS is your primary computer or if you have important data on the computer which you cannot afford to lose.
If you decide to install ReactOS on a disk drive that contains an existing operating system (such as Microsoft Windows XP), you should ensure that the drive is formatted with a file system ReactOS can access and write to (now, primary FAT32/FAT16 partition) and that there is sufficient free space on the drive such that ReactOS can be installed (now, >=450 MB). Furthermore, the current hardware limitations to which ReactOS is constrained must be identified and compared to the target computer system (e.g. that ReactOS has only basic USB support as of the 0.4.7 release).
Once the available hardware and software situation is determined the installation media can be selected. For example, if your computer includes an ATA CD-ROM and an IDE hard disk that does not contain irreplaceable data, a good installation option may be to write an ISO image of the ReactOS installation media to a CD-RW and proceed to install ReactOS on the IDE hard disk via the CD-ROM.
ReactOS goes through three stages during setup. The first two stages deal with the installation of the system, while the third stage is the first usable boot by the user.
- First stage – Text mode setup, started when booting from a ReactOS CD-ROM.
- Second stage – Booting to GUI installer. Input of user information and registering of files.
- Third stage – Booting to desktop, user configurations.
If you encounter problems, disable all secondary or unnecessary devices, especially USB-cameras and sound cards of any type.
A Virtual Machine is a software program that provides a virtual hardware platform. Software instructions that would be run on hardware are now interpreted by the emulator software. This allows you to "run" a different kind of computer hardware and its software in a window on your computer.
See article Virtualization software for the details.
- Make sure your BIOS is configured to boot from the CD-ROM first.
- Insert the ReactOS setup CD-ROM into a CD-ROM drive and reboot your computer. On the next boot, the ReactOS setup utility will start.
- Follow the instructions on the screen to install ReactOS on your computer.
- After the installation has finished, remove the setup CD-ROM from the CD-ROM drive and press Enter to reboot your computer. You can now start ReactOS by selecting it from the boot menu.
Real hardware without CD Drive
- create a virtual Machine but without the Harddisk
- create a virtual Harddisk for Virtualbox which points to the real one.
- on Linux: VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename "~/VirtualBox VMs/reactos/disk.vmdk" -rawdisk PathToHarddisk
- important: PathToHarddisk must be the whole disk, not a partition: /dev/sdb
- add disk.vmdk to virtual Machine via Storage->add Harddisk
- install reactos as usual
Due to problems with the USB stack it is NOT currently possible to install ReactOS from a USB stick or CD-ROM, the setup process will fail partway through. This worked previously but was broken several years ago by a rewrite of the USB code. See the LiveUSB page for more details.
Or watch this video-tutorial for different installation method: https://youtu.be/eancDwmWyCw
Or try these unofficial experimental builds http://vgal.ru.com/reactos-0-4-10-new-usb/
USB RAM boot
RAM boot might prove useful when there is no other way to install ReactOS (mostly a case on modern notebooks that can boot only from the xHCI USB ports). Installation from RAM disk is possible since 0.4.11 release.
See RAM Boot article
Network boot or network installation via PXE
See article Building PXE-ready ReactOS
You may also be interested in how to install a driver for a device in ReactOS. If so, see Install a driver article.
You may also be interested in how to install ReactOS in the automatic (non-interactive) mode. If so, see Create an unattended Installation CD article.
- VirtualBox – a free virtualization software for Windows, Linux and Mac (HOWTO)
- QEMU – an open source machine emulator