- 1 Before installing
- 2 System requirements
- 3 Getting ReactOS
- 4 Installing ReactOS
- 4.1 Installation strategy
- 4.2 Virtual Machines
- 4.3 Real hardware
- 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.
- UEFI system firmware is not supported by ReactOS yet, you have to use legacy BIOS mode.
- some SATA controllers may not work with ReactOS.
- the boot partition is highly recommended to be the first 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 to 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 audio support as of 0.4.12 release).
Once the available hardware and software situation is determined the installation media can be selected. In most cases, USB-RAM boot should be enough (or CD-ROM boot for virtual machines). But sometimes it may either not work or be not available for the particular system. Then you can use other available options as well.
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. The input of user information and registering of files.
- Third stage – Booting to desktop, user configurations.
If you encounter problems, it is recommended to 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.
Ordinary CD-ROM method
- Make sure your BIOS is configured to boot from the CD-ROM first.
- If your PC has UEFI system firmware, then you have to enable legacy BIOS mode.
- 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.
Due to problems with the PnP manager, it is NOT currently possible to boot or install ReactOS from a USB stick made directly from *.iso file. You will get BSOD with
0x0000007B code. This worked previously but was broken several years ago by a rewrite of the USB code and major changes in the kernel. For USB boot you have to use RAM Boot method instead.
For this method, you should prepare a flash drive first. It should have a FAT32 filesystem and the Multiboot specification-capable bootloader should be installed on it. For example, you can use syslinux. Here is how to install it (for syslinux version 6.x):
Plug in the flash drive and leave it unmounted. Then run these commands:
sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb1 sudo syslinux --install /dev/sdb1
/dev/sdb1 is a partition on a flash drive
Use Rufus tool:
- Select your flash drive
- Click "Show advanced drive properties"
- Boot selection:
- Partition scheme:
MBR, File system:
- Format the drive using selected options above
Next common steps for both platforms
At this point, you should have a bootloader installed onto the drive. Now it's time to copy some files onto it.
- Now you need to copy
libcom32.c32syslinux libraries to the root
- Then copy a freeldr.sys bootloader from ReactOS 0.4.13 or higher
- Now you need to write some configuration files. First,
DEFAULT ReactOS LABEL ReactOS KERNEL mboot.c32 APPEND /freeldr.sys
[FREELOADER] DefaultOS=BootCD_Debug TimeOut=5 [Display] TitleText=ReactOS LiveUSB StatusBarColor=Cyan StatusBarTextColor=Black BackdropTextColor=White BackdropColor=Blue BackdropFillStyle=Medium TitleBoxTextColor=White TitleBoxColor=Red MessageBoxTextColor=White MessageBoxColor=Blue MenuTextColor=Gray MenuColor=Black TextColor=Gray SelectedTextColor=Black SelectedColor=Gray ShowTime=No MenuBox=No CenterMenu=No MinimalUI=Yes TimeText=Seconds until highlighted choice will be started automatically: [Operating Systems] LiveCD="LiveCD" LiveCD_Debug="LiveCD (Debug)" LiveCD_Screen="LiveCD (Screen)" BootCD="BootCD" BootCD_Debug="BootCD (Debug)" BootCD_Screen="BootCD (Screen)" [LiveCD] BootType=Windows2003 SystemPath=ramdisk(0)\reactos Options=/MININT /RDPATH=livecd.iso /RDEXPORTASCD [LiveCD_Debug] BootType=Windows2003 SystemPath=ramdisk(0)\reactos Options=/DEBUG /DEBUGPORT=COM1 /BAUDRATE=115200 /SOS /MININT /RDPATH=livecd.iso /RDEXPORTASCD [LiveCD_Screen] BootType=Windows2003 SystemPath=ramdisk(0)\reactos Options=/DEBUG /DEBUGPORT=SCREEN /SOS /MININT /RDPATH=livecd.iso /RDEXPORTASCD [BootCD] BootType=ReactOSSetup SystemPath=ramdisk(0)\ Options=/MININT /RDPATH=bootcd.iso /RDEXPORTASCD [BootCD_Debug] BootType=ReactOSSetup SystemPath=ramdisk(0)\ Options=/DEBUG /DEBUGPORT=COM1 /BAUDRATE=115200 /SOS /MININT /RDPATH=bootcd.iso /RDEXPORTASCD [BootCD_Screen] BootType=ReactOSSetup SystemPath=ramdisk(0)\ Options=/DEBUG /DEBUGPORT=SCREEN /SOS /MININT /RDPATH=bootcd.iso /RDEXPORTASCD
Note: for detailed explanation, see Boot options
- Now place
livecd.isoin the root of the disk (or whatever path configured in
- Ready to boot
Using virtual machine
- Create a virtual machine but without the hard disk
- Create a virtual hard disk for VirtualBox which points to the real one
- on Linux:
VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -filename "~/VirtualBox VMs/reactos/disk.vmdk" -rawdisk PathToHarddisk
PathToHarddiskmust be the whole disk, not a partition: /dev/sdb
- on Linux:
disk.vmdkto virtual machine via Storage => Add Harddisk
- Install ReactOS as usual
Network boot or installation via PXE
See article Building PXE-ready ReactOS.
Installing from internal drive
You may be also interested to know how to install a driver for a device in ReactOS. If so, see Install a driver article.
You may be also interested to know 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