Difference between revisions of "ReactOS FAQ"

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== User FAQ ==
 
== User FAQ ==
 
=== [[ReactOS#What Is ReactOS|What is ReactOS?]] ===
 
=== [[ReactOS#What Is ReactOS|What is ReactOS?]] ===
ReactOS (short for React Operating System) is an open-source effort to develop a quality operating system that is compatible with Microsoft Windows™ applications and drivers.
+
ReactOS (short for React Operating System) is an open-source effort to develop a quality operating system that is compatible with Microsoft Windows™ applications and drivers. ReactOS is based upon NT5. The current 'Windows', the version the general public is familiar with, is actually just one part of the modern Windows NT™ operating system. Users and developers are more familiar with the [[Win32]] subsystem, a layer that sits upon the NT kernel providing the user and application interface. Most computer laymen mistakenly think of 'NT' as 'WinNT 4' whilst in reality, the term "NT" refers to the whole NT series from 2000 until today. This ranges from version 3 to NT5 (2000, XP, 2003) and then from NT6 (Vista, 2008, 7, 8, 2012, 8.1) to NT10 (10, 2016). The NT architecture was designed by a team led by David Cutler, a former lead developer of Digital Equipment's VMS operating system. It took the team more than 4 years to combine the best of UNIX, VMS, and OS/2 to create the NT architecture. ReactOS aims to replicate this with NT5 (Server 2003) as its main target with the additional aim of compatibility with many of the APIs from later NT6 versions of the Windows o/s.
  
=== Why re-implement NT? ===
+
=== Why use ReactOS? ===
First of all, the 'Windows' the general public knows is actually just one part of the modern Windows NT™ operating system. They usually mean the [[Win32]] subsystem, a layer that sits upon the NT kernel, providing the user and application interface.
+
A lot of people in popular discussion forums quite rightly keep asking “why should I use ReactOS?” or “why would someone need ReactOS?” or “why not help develop Wine instead?” or “why not use Linux with Wine?”.
  
=== "NT is still around, known as XP and Vista" ===
+
We have an answer for all these questions, but it's not in one simple magic word. Let's name a few key issues here that may help to answer that question:
Most people think of 'NT' as 'WinNT 4', while in reality the term NT refers to the NT series, which ranges from version 3 over NT5 (2000, XP, 2003) and NT6 (Vista, 2008, 7, 8, 2012, 8.1) to NT10 (10, 2016).
 
  
The NT architecture was designed by a team lead by David Cutler, a former lead developer of VMS. It took them more than 4 years to combine the best of UNIX, VMS and OS/2 and create the NT architecture.
+
*There are plenty of *nix operating systems out there - this is very good. However, they have different end-user targets (they perfectly fit the server market but the desktop still isn't fully conquered and several usability factors work against most Linux-based alternatives in the market today).
  
=== What about UNIX? ===
+
*There is currently no other operating system that implements the kernel architecture design of MS Windows NT™ so if you are unhappy with the direction or goal of Windows there is little real alternative. ReactOS was started as a “clone” of Windows NT to alleviate this situation. To demonstrate the concept of o/s cloning, GNU/Linux is the best for comparison here: Linux was started as a “clone” of Minix and Unix, eventually going on to be a Unix replacement.
Mac OS X, Linux, BSD and other UNIX derivatives share a common heritage based on a more than three decades old design of a simple basic operating system, that has evolved over time into a complex structure.
 
Modern incarnations like Mac OS X put a fancy graphical user interface on top of UNIX, to hide system details, but focus mainly on beginners, and many advanced users are left out in the rain, as most advanced features cannot be accessed from the graphical user interface. Almost all UNIX flavors retain some of the original design flaws and binary compatibility between various versions is usually non-existent.
 
  
In theory there are a few UNIX standards like [[Psxss.exe|POSIX]] but in practice the standards are old and cover only the basic operating system and the terminal environment. Other standards such as the Linux Standard Base are often not implemented faithfully. As there is no user interface standard nor a standard API, most people still have to use command line applications or fight through the GUI mess. Many UNIX derivatives use the de-facto standard X-Window system for graphical output, which might well possess one of the worst designs in software history.
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*There are no plans for any of Microsoft's versions of Windows to be released under a GPL-compatible license (at least, the ReactOS team and the world are not aware of them).
Still, modern UNIX derivatives are trying to catch up with recent innovations and some of them already possess important features like access control list support.
 
  
In contrast to UNIX, ReactOS was designed for people familiar and comfortable with the Windows environment. Everything can be done through the well known Win32 user interface and advanced users are free to automate tasks with scripts or use the console.
+
*Linux+Wine is never going to be a complete replacement for a full Windows system. It's not only because of Linux (despite some user-friendly Linux distributions out there) and not only because many users might find a transition to Linux/BSD difficult but it is largely due to design and implementation decisions of Linux and Wine architectures which prevent 100% compatibility.
  
=== Why use ReactOS? ===
+
*Even though Linux supports many types of hardware, Windows is still the dominant platform for device manufacturers. There are attempts to overcome this situation (like the NDIS Wrapper for NT network card drivers, there are rumours about supporting NT video drivers and Captive NTFS for NT filesystem support) but ReactOS solves them from day one by its very design – being compatible with existing drivers and existing applications.
A lot of people in popular discussion forums keep asking “why should I use ReactOS” or “why would someone need ReactOS” or “why not help develop Wine instead?” or “why not use Linux with Wine?”.
 
  
We have an answer for all these questions, but it's not some simple magic word. Let's name a few key issues here:
+
*There are many people who do not like how *nix systems behave or dislike the conventions used. For them, Linux, BSD and Mac OS X are not options, even before application compatibility and hardware support come into play. An operating system should give the consumers what they want instead of demanding that the consumer conform. Even with Wine, you are still running an operating system that behaves quite differently from Windows at both the user and system levels.
  
*There are plenty of *nix operating systems out there, this is very good. However they have different targeting (they perfectly fit the server market, but the desktop still isn't conquered, and several factors work against most Windows alternatives out today).
+
*Backwards compatibility. This is something vital for many people and companies but the development philosophy of Linux and the GNU project do not consider it a priority. The Windows family has always gone out of its way to ensure a stable API and backwards compatibility. By its design, ReactOS will also follow the philosophy of backward-compatibility with existing applications designed for the whole Windows NT family whilst providing compatibility to later developments too.
 
 
*There is currently no operating system which implements the kernel architecture design of MS Windows NT™ family (GNU/Linux is the best for comparison here: Linux was started as “clone” of Minix and Unix (eventually going on to be a Unix replacement), and ReactOS was started as “clone” of Windows NT).
 
 
 
*Linux+Wine is never going to be a complete replacement for a full Windows system. It's not only because of Linux (despite some really user-friendly Linux distributions out there), and not only because many users might find a transition to Linux/BSD difficult, but it's due to design and implementation decisions of Linux and Wine architectures, which prevent 100% compatibility.
 
 
 
*Even though Linux supports many types of hardware, Windows is still the dominant platform for device manufacturers. There are attempts to overcome this situation (like NDIS Wrapper for NT network card drivers, there are rumours about supporting NT video drivers, Captive NTFS for NT filesystem support), but ReactOS solves them from the first day by its design – be compatible with existing drivers and existing applications.
 
 
 
*There are many people who do not like how *nix systems behave or dislike the conventions used. For them, Linux, BSD, and Mac OS X are not options, even before application compatibility and hardware support come into play. An operating system should give the consumers what they want instead of demanding the consumer conform. Even with Wine, you are still running an operating system that behaves quite differently from Windows, at both the user and system levels.
 
 
 
*Backwards compatibility. This is something vital for many people and companies, but the development philosophy of Linux and the GNU project do not consider it a priority. The Windows family has always went out of its way to ensure a stable API and backwards compatibility. By its design, ReactOS will also follow the philosophy of backwards compatibility with existing and future applications designed for the Windows NT family.
 
There are no plans for any of Microsoft's versions of Windows to be released under a GPL-compatible license (at least, ReactOS team is not aware of them).
 
  
 
Finally, ReactOS offers a third alternative, for people who are fed up with Microsoft's policies but do not want to give up the familiar environment, architectural design, and millions of existing software applications and thousands of hardware drivers.
 
Finally, ReactOS offers a third alternative, for people who are fed up with Microsoft's policies but do not want to give up the familiar environment, architectural design, and millions of existing software applications and thousands of hardware drivers.
  
=== Is ReactOS based on Microsoft Windows™? ===
+
=== Is ReactOS based on Microsoft Windows™ original source code? ===
No! ReactOS consists only of GNU GPL (General Public License) and GPL compatible licensed source code.
+
No! ReactOS consists only of clean-room engineered GNU GPL (General Public License) and GPL compatible licensed source code.
  
 
=== Is ReactOS based on *nix or Linux? ===
 
=== Is ReactOS based on *nix or Linux? ===
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Yes. ReactOS is fully legal.
 
Yes. ReactOS is fully legal.
  
Developers (devs) have not looked at Microsoft Windows™ source code. They have used the public documentation of Microsoft Windows OSes. They have made several tests to understand how Microsoft Windows works. In fact, ReactOS does the same things Microsoft                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Windows does, but not exactly in the same way, because they haven't the same source code. All code in ReactOS is under the GNU GPL (General Public License).
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Developers (devs) have not looked at Microsoft Windows™ source code. They have used the public documentation of Microsoft Windows OSes. They have made several tests to understand how Microsoft Windows works. In fact, ReactOS does the same things that Windows does but it does it differently as we don't have the same source code and it is all programmed by different developers. All code in ReactOS is released under the GNU GPL (General Public License).
  
 
=== Why does a certain application of mine not work under ReactOS? ===
 
=== Why does a certain application of mine not work under ReactOS? ===
ReactOS is in alpha stage and not recommended for everyday use. Many applications do not work (correctly) because many API calls simply haven't been implemented yet. This may be one of the reasons for the software not working.
+
ReactOS is in alpha stage and not recommended for everyday use. Many applications do not work fully or correctly because many API calls simply haven't been implemented nor are the existing ones fully operational. To put it bluntly, ReactOS is in alpha and there are bugs. This may be the reason for your software not working - as you would expect. In this case, raise a bug report but do avoid ticket duplication as it is quite likely that the issue is known already. Search the bug reporting system first for a similar bug. Report a bug here: [[File Bugs]].
 +
 
 +
In most cases it is simply a matter of waiting for the correct bugs to be fixed - your software will magically start to operate - one day.
 +
 
 +
=== Why doesn't ReactOS have a modern UI? ===
 +
The target is Windows 2003 and ReactOS' UI is based upon that. There are two alternative theme choices and both are suited for desktop operation. Note that neither of them are tablet-based themes as you will find in current Windows. Only the naive but uninformed user believes the UI look-and-feel is in any way tied to the real functionality of the o/s. If you are comparing the default UI with that of current Windows you may not appreciate that ReactOS' UI is configurable and the interface being FOSS will be customisable in a way that current Windows is not. Eventually, it will be possible to configure ReactOS to look the way you desire with 3rd party tools and themes.
  
 
=== Why ReactOS? Why clone Microsoft Windows™? ===
 
=== Why ReactOS? Why clone Microsoft Windows™? ===
First of all, ReactOS is not a clone of Windows. ReactOS is an operating system that is compatible with Microsoft Windows applications and drivers. Some of the reasons are the same as the reasons for developing Linux (an open-source UNIX clone)? In short, Linux is a great operating system, but it is not the answer for everybody. There are a lot of people that like Microsoft Windows, but are very frustrated with Microsoft's policies on various issues.
+
First of all, ReactOS is not now a mere clone of Windows. ReactOS is an operating system that is compatible with Microsoft Windows applications and drivers. Some of the reasons are the same as the reasons for developing Linux (an open-source UNIX clone). In short, Linux is a great operating system but it is not the answer for everybody. There are a lot of people that like Microsoft Windows but are very frustrated with Microsoft's policies on various issues.
 +
 
 +
The 9x family of Microsoft Windows is based on DOS and shares many of its weaknesses which is the primary reason why Microsoft Windows has such a bad name. The Microsoft Windows NT™ family of Windows however, has a solid design. Not everything is perfect but without access to the source code there is no way to fix it so a compatible operating system must be built from the ground up.
 +
 
 +
Think of ReactOS as a community-created o/s with honourable goals, ie. to create a free-to-use Windows-compatible o/s that will be quick to install, quick to run and easy to operate. Think of it in the same spirit as a "Linux for Windows users" or perhaps more accurately as a "Windows o/s for Linux users"? Both built in the same spirit with a similar aim in mind.
  
The 9x family of Microsoft Windows is based on DOS, and shares many of its weaknesses, which is the primary reason why Microsoft Windows has such a bad name. The Microsoft Windows NT™ family of Windows, however, has a solid design. Not everything is perfect, but without access to the source code, there is no way to fix it, so a compatible operating system must be built from the ground up.
+
ReactOS is a desirable object given that it should free Windows development from the shackles of Microsoft's current business model. That is a great target in itself. When it achieves beta release it will provide a home for the continued development of legacy applications (win32, MFC and the like) and their future will be rosy well away from the UWP framework that Microsoft is imposing upon both users and developers alike in its current business aim to dominate tablet and IoT devices.
  
 
=== Why don't you help develop Wine/Linux instead? ===
 
=== Why don't you help develop Wine/Linux instead? ===
ReactOS works very closely with Wine, and thus both projects actually benefit from each other. We have several developers in both the Wine and ReactOS projects that work on cross-compatibility issues between the two projects.
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ReactOS works very closely with Wine and thus both projects actually benefit from each other. We have several developers in both the Wine and ReactOS projects that work on cross-compatibility issues between the two projects.
  
It is our view that Linux + Wine can never be a full replacement for Microsoft Windows™. ReactOS has the potential for a much higher degree of compatibility especially for Microsoft Windows drivers which Wine does not address.
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It is our view that Linux + Wine can never be a full replacement for Microsoft Windows™. ReactOS has the potential for a much higher degree of compatibility, especially for Microsoft Windows drivers which Wine does not address. In addition, graphical compatibility with Windows requires kernel-level access which is something that Wine cannot provide but merely emulate.
  
 
=== Why don't you help the Wine project instead? ===
 
=== Why don't you help the Wine project instead? ===
 
Actually we work very closely with the Wine project. Wine probably has a lot more in common with ReactOS than with Linux. The Wine project has the goal of implementing the entire windows API on top of WineServer. There are only a few Wine dlls that cannot be used in ReactOS. These are [[Ntdll.dll]], [[User32.dll]], [[Kernel32.dll]], [[Gdi32.dll]], and [[Advapi32.dll]]. The rest of Wine's DLLs can be shared with ReactOS. We have several developers in both the Wine and ReactOS projects that work on cross-compatibility issues between the two projects. It is our view that Linux + Wine can never be a full replacement for Microsoft Windows™. ReactOS has the potential for a much higher degree of compatibility – especially for Microsoft Windows drivers – which Wine does not address.
 
Actually we work very closely with the Wine project. Wine probably has a lot more in common with ReactOS than with Linux. The Wine project has the goal of implementing the entire windows API on top of WineServer. There are only a few Wine dlls that cannot be used in ReactOS. These are [[Ntdll.dll]], [[User32.dll]], [[Kernel32.dll]], [[Gdi32.dll]], and [[Advapi32.dll]]. The rest of Wine's DLLs can be shared with ReactOS. We have several developers in both the Wine and ReactOS projects that work on cross-compatibility issues between the two projects. It is our view that Linux + Wine can never be a full replacement for Microsoft Windows™. ReactOS has the potential for a much higher degree of compatibility – especially for Microsoft Windows drivers – which Wine does not address.
 +
 +
=== Why not use UNIX instead? ===
 +
Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, and other UNIX derivatives share a common heritage based on a more than three decades old design of a simple basic operating system that has evolved over time into a complex structure. Modern incarnations like Mac OS X put a fancy graphical user interface on top of UNIX in order to hide system details but focus mainly on beginners, thus many advanced users are left out in the rain as most advanced features cannot be accessed from the graphical user interface. Almost all UNIX flavors retain some of the original design flaws and binary compatibility between various versions is usually non-existent.
 +
 +
In theory, there are a few UNIX standards like [[Psxss.exe|POSIX]] but in practice, the standards are old and cover only the basic operating system and the terminal environment. Other standards such as the Linux Standard Base are often not implemented faithfully. As there is no standard user interface nor a standard API so most people still have to use command-line applications or fight through the GUI mess. Many UNIX derivatives use the de-facto standard X-Window system for graphical output which might well possess one of the worst designs in software history. However, it must be said that modern UNIX derivatives are trying hard to catch up with recent o/s innovations and some of them already possess important features like access control list support.
 +
 +
In contrast to UNIX, ReactOS was designed for people familiar and comfortable with the Windows environment. Everything can be done through the well known Win32 user interface and advanced users are free to automate tasks with scripts or use the console.
  
 
=== Where can I download ReactOS? ===
 
=== Where can I download ReactOS? ===
 
Please visit the [http://www.reactos.org/download/ download page].
 
Please visit the [http://www.reactos.org/download/ download page].
 +
 +
In addition, official ReactOS nightly builds are available at [http://www.reactos.org/getbuilds/ Nightly Build page]. Builds are generated for every commit and include full installation and live ISOs, both debug and release versions.
  
 
=== How can I contribute to ReactOS? ===
 
=== How can I contribute to ReactOS? ===
 
* We need coordinated [[Testing Central|testers]], which means we need people that help us testing in a coordinated way.
 
* We need coordinated [[Testing Central|testers]], which means we need people that help us testing in a coordinated way.
To join our testing come to the IRC channels. Find any dev and ask us what to test.  Every day the ReactOS project has different testing needs so testing is not boring.
+
To join our testing come to the [https://chat.reactos.org/reactos/channels/town-square/ Mattermost discussion channels]. Find any dev and ask us what to test.  Every day the ReactOS project has different testing needs so testing is not boring.
 
*We need coordinated [[Translation Introduction|translators]].
 
*We need coordinated [[Translation Introduction|translators]].
 
*We need coordinated designers.
 
*We need coordinated designers.
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*We need coordinated bloggers
 
*We need coordinated bloggers
  
To find your place just come and join the IRC channels. See you there.
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To find your place just come and join the [https://chat.reactos.org/reactos/channels/town-square/ Mattermost discussion channels]. See you there.
  
=== I don't know how to code... How can I help? ===
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=== I am an experienced coder... How can I help? ===
Devs always require testing of something. Just come to IRC and ask for something to test. Devs will give you some ReactOS testing work suited to your skills.
+
If you are a developer experienced in C and C++ then join [https://chat.reactos.org/reactos/channels/town-square/ Mattermost discussion channels]. There you can ask questions regarding our code and find a component upon which to work. You can select any component that interests you but first contact us and tell us what you are planning to do. Other developers may already be working in that particular area. As Yoda says: "efforts co-ordinated, time wasted less when...".
The "I don't know how to code" is the preferred excuse followed by the "I don't have time" or "Each time I test ReactOS god kills a kitty" excuses.
 
 
 
=== I know how to code.... How can I help? ===
 
If you are a Dev, then join IRC and ask any doubts about our code, find a place in ReactOS to work, you can select any, but first contact and tell us. Maybe other Devs are currently working in that particular area.
 
"Less time wasted when efforts coordinated!"-Yoda said.
 
  
 
=== I don't know how to code but I want to learn. How? ===
 
=== I don't know how to code but I want to learn. How? ===
 
Study C, C++, WinAPI, then read books as "Windows Internals" and/or "Operating System Concepts".
 
Study C, C++, WinAPI, then read books as "Windows Internals" and/or "Operating System Concepts".
Come and ask us. For C and C++ questions you have the C and C++ IRC channels, they will solve your doubts much faster.
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Come and ask us. For C and C++ questions you have the C and C++ [https://chat.reactos.org/reactos/channels/town-square/ Mattermost discussion channels], they will solve your doubts much faster.
 +
 
 +
=== I'll never know how to code... How can I still help? ===
 +
Developers always require testing of something. Just come to [https://chat.reactos.org/reactos/channels/town-square/ Mattermost discussion channels] and ask for something to test. Developers will give you some ReactOS testing work suited to your skills.
 +
The "I don't know how to code" is the preferred excuse followed by the "I don't have time" or "Each time I test ReactOS, God kills a kitty" excuses.
 +
 
 +
=== I don't know how to test but I want to learn. How? ===
 +
First of all, don't raise loads of issues on Mattermost or on the forum. By all means, use this as a method of raising awareness on an issue but if you are really going to help raise a ticket! This means opening a bug report on our bug reporting system known as [https://jira.reactos.org/secure/Dashboard.jspa JIRA]. You can log in using your ReactOS website credentials. If you have questions regarding filing bugs, please see the helpful WIKI entry here - [[File Bugs|Filing bugs on JIRA]]
  
 
=== What can I do to help? ===
 
=== What can I do to help? ===
 
We're always looking for either coders or testers. We're especially in need of people who know how to write NT drivers because our current drivers could use some improvement.
 
We're always looking for either coders or testers. We're especially in need of people who know how to write NT drivers because our current drivers could use some improvement.
  
Testing on real hardware is especially important as the kernel rewrite approaches completion. Some issues are known, such as missing assembly code and broken implementations causing issues on certain processors. Bugs found in trunk can be reported in Bugzilla, but try to avoid entering duplicate bugs.
+
Testing on real hardware is especially important as the kernel rewrite approaches completion. Some issues are known, such as missing assembly code and broken implementations causing issues on certain processors. Bugs found in the trunk can be reported in Jira, but try to avoid entering duplicate bugs.
  
 
=== Who should I talk to about helping ReactOS? ===
 
=== Who should I talk to about helping ReactOS? ===
The best way to get in touch with a developer is to hop onto the IRC channel.
+
The best way to get in touch with a developer is to hop onto the [https://chat.reactos.org/reactos/channels/town-square/ Mattermost discussion channels].
 +
 
 +
Alternatively, you can use the older [[Connect to the ReactOS IRC Channels]]  IRC channel that is still used by some developers.
 +
 
 +
*[https://chat.reactos.org/reactos/channels/town-square/ Mattermost discussion channels]
 +
*[[Connect to the ReactOS IRC Channels]]
 +
 
 +
A list of the developers showing their IRC nicknames and their respective areas of expertise is here: [[Developer Roles]] - Names of other developers will be added as time progresses and it becomes clear which are contributing and how.
 +
 
 +
Note: If you have a query simply join a discussion group and ask your question. If someone knows the answer, they'll usually answer straight away. If you want the skills of a specific developer then ping that developer and ask them question directly.
 +
 
 +
Another way is to join the ROS-dev mailing list: http://www.reactos.org/mailman/listinfo/ros-dev
 +
 
 +
=== When will ReactOS be done? ===
 +
The target for ReactOS is Windows Server 2003 but ReactOS will be capable of use before full compatibility is met as components and sub-systems are developed. The definition of usable is down to the use-case and only you yourself will be able to define whether ReactOS is usable for you. ReactOS is already of use now for teaching developers how to re-engineer and code a Windows-compatible o/s but it is not ready for real-life usage where o/s stability and data security is important. Since the definition of what ReactOS should be capable of when it is considered complete may vary greatly between end users, this question cannot be completely or accurately answered. One thing is for sure: ReactOS will continue to be developed as there will always be a need for improvements, for example, although ReactOS is an NT5 based o/s, support is already being added for NT6 API compatibility to allow modern programs to operate. For more information, visit the [[Roadmap]] page (note it is impossible to provide a time-dependent roadmap at this stage of ReactOS development due to the 'community' nature of the project).
  
[[Connect to the ReactOS IRC Channels]]
+
=== Why is ReactOS development so slow? ===
 +
First of all, developing a Windows-compatible o/s is an enormous task due to the sheer complexity of Windows and its undocumented nature. The team cannot work with Microsoft sourced code and all development has to be done via a process called clean-room engineering ensuring that no ReactOS source is contaminated by developer exposure to any copyrighted code from Microsoft. In addition, the slow development progress is primarily due to the 'enthusiast' approach of development ie. the developers are simply people like you and I. They work on whatever task that takes their interest, spending as much of their spare time as they can, working on the project. The complexity of writing an o/s from scratch also requires certain skill-sets that are not generally available within the enthusiast programming community, ie. competent Windows Kernel Developers available to contribute - are thin on the ground. The slow pace is also partly due to the lack of sponsors, leading to the majority of code being contributed by unpaid effort. Despite this, recent testing shows how much ReactOS has progressed and it is remarkable how much the project has achieved ([https://reactos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=10972&start=1230 see ReactOS Epic Wins]) but it has a long way to go before approaching beta stage. However, developers have a firm target and the team is a dynamic one with solid supporters and contributors, meaning that the task is achievable, it'll just take a while. The ReactOS team likes to think of progress as being steady rather than slow.
  
A list of the developers, their IRC nicks, and their respective fields is here: [[Developer Roles]]
+
If you want to view the activity that underlies the development of ReactOS then [https://chat.reactos.org/reactos/channels/activity-stream ReactOS activity stream on Mattermost].
  
Note: If you have a question, don't first ask to ask the question. Just ask the question and if someone knows the answer, they'll usually answer. If you want a specific developer then ping that developer and ask the question.
+
=== Why isn't this or that feature in ReactOS? ===
 +
This question is asked a lot and the simple answer is almost always "because it hasn't been coded yet". If you read this FAQ from top to bottom it will become clear that ReactOS is a community effort. YOU are part of the community if you choose to donate, code or document. IF there is anything you specifically require in ReactOS then you can help make it happen, write specifications, create documentation, search for suitable FOSS code, code it yourself or engage the services of a developer to contribute actual code, you could even raise a bounty! If you want something specific done then the simple rule is - do it yourself! The alternative is to wait for the community to come up with that functionality by itself, it might be a long wait that does not suit your timescales but in the end if it was part of Windows server 2003 then most likely it will come, just not yet.
  
Others will be added as I figure out what they do.
+
=== Testing ReactOS on real hardware ===
 +
Testing on real hardware is especially important as it allows us to receive feedback on ReactOS kernel and driver compatibility. However, it is VITAL that you take precautions to avoid data loss.
  
Another way is to join the ROS-dev mailing list:
+
IF you choose to test ReactOS on real hardware then be aware that you should never do so using a computer that contains valuable data or even data that has not been backed-up elsewhere. ReactOS is an alpha-grade o/s and as such could easily damage any file system you already have loaded on that system, even if it is on another drive or on a separate partition. ReactOS file system code is as much alpha-grade as is the rest of the system. The simple rule is - just keep your valuable data away from ReactOS. Some suggest that they'd like to use ReactOS now but we strongly suggest you do NOT. By all means test it but don't try to use it in a real-life situation other than to test it, you could do damage to your data and potentially even to the machine itself, the latter is very, very unlikely but you ought to consider it before you start testing and looking for someone to blame when things go wrong.
  
http://www.reactos.org/mailman/listinfo/ros-dev
+
If you want your testing to go well then choose XP or Vista era hardware as the typical combinations of hardware from that time are more likely to work with ReactOS. Later, more modern technology is best put to use running ReactOS in a VM as it is unlikely that ReactOS will boot at the hardware level at all.
  
=== When will ReactOS be done? ===
+
SUMMARY: Don't install ReactOS anywhere where it could adversely affect your precious belongings, data or otherwise.
First you need to define what ReactOS should be capable of when it is to be considered done. Since this definition may vary greatly between people, this question cannot be completely answered. One thing is for sure: ReactOS will continue to be developed, as there will always be a need for improvements. For more information, visit the [[Roadmap]] page.
 
  
 
=== Can I test ReactOS without risking my existing hardware/installations? ===
 
=== Can I test ReactOS without risking my existing hardware/installations? ===
Line 120: Line 140:
 
Because a virtual machine is an emulated environment, a virtual machine can not run ReactOS as fast as ReactOS could run on the actual hardware. Virtual machines like Qemu that emulate hardware at the instruction decoding level will run ReactOS much slower than actual hardware.
 
Because a virtual machine is an emulated environment, a virtual machine can not run ReactOS as fast as ReactOS could run on the actual hardware. Virtual machines like Qemu that emulate hardware at the instruction decoding level will run ReactOS much slower than actual hardware.
  
=== Is ReactOS able to run Windows apps and Windows drivers? ===
+
* ''See: [Installing ReactOS [https://reactos.org/wiki/Installing_ReactOS]]''
Yes. ReactOS is able to load Windows apps and Windows drivers without hacking them. Remember: we are still in the Alpha stage so we have a long walk ahead before we reach these objectives. You can visit our Software and Hardware Compatibility databases to know which Drivers and Apps are compatible with the latest ReactOS version.
+
 
 +
=== Is ReactOS able to run Windows software and Windows drivers? ===
 +
Yes. ReactOS is able to load Windows software and Windows drivers without hacking them. Remember: we are still in the Alpha stage so we have a long walk ahead before we reach these objectives 100%. You can visit our Software and Hardware Compatibility databases to know which Drivers and Apps are compatible with the latest ReactOS version.
  
The original target for ReactOS, with regards to driver and application compatibility, was Microsoft Windows NT 4.0™. Since then, Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, and others have been released. All these are descendants of Windows NT. As such we can gradually shift our compatibility target without worrying about the architecture changing too much. In fact, internally, Windows 2000 reports version information as Windows 5.0, XP as Windows 5.1, 2003 Server as Windows 5.2, and Vista as Windows 6.0. The ReactOS team currently targets Windows 2003 Server as the official compatibility target. Of the current releases, 2003 Server has proven to be one of the most robust.
+
The original target for ReactOS with regard to driver and application compatibility was Microsoft Windows NT 4.0™. Since then, Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, and others have been released. All these are descendants of Windows NT. As such we can gradually shift our compatibility target without worrying about the architecture changing too much. In fact, internally, Windows 2000 reports version information as Windows 5.0, XP as Windows 5.1, 2003 Server as Windows 5.2, and Vista as Windows 6.0. The ReactOS team currently targets Windows 2003 Server as the official compatibility target. Of the current releases, 2003 Server has proven to be one of the most robust.
  
=== How about Windows Vista™/7 programs and drivers? ===
+
=== How about Windows Vista™/7/8 or 10 programs and drivers? ===
 
The present compatibility target for ReactOS of Microsoft Windows Server 2003™ (NT 5.2) does not mean that features present in later versions of Windows NT™ based operating systems will not be implemented in ReactOS.  Work is continually done to implement newer APIs or to provide for their future implementation.
 
The present compatibility target for ReactOS of Microsoft Windows Server 2003™ (NT 5.2) does not mean that features present in later versions of Windows NT™ based operating systems will not be implemented in ReactOS.  Work is continually done to implement newer APIs or to provide for their future implementation.
  
 
=== Can I install ReactOS on a pen drive/stick? ===
 
=== Can I install ReactOS on a pen drive/stick? ===
''See: [[LiveUSB]]''
+
ReactOS' state of development is a process of continuous change and as such USB support is under development but improving. For more details ''See: [[LiveUSB]]''
 +
 
 +
=== How many cores does ReactOS support? ===
 +
ReactOS' currently only supports a single core as ReactOS does not yet have a SMP enabled kernel. However, ReactOS does run very quickly on a single core system so the lack of this feature is not as desperately needed as you would imagine at this stage in ReactOS development. SMP support will come in time. IF you know of any Windows kernel developers available to work on this feature then do let us know.
  
 
=== My screen turns black when loading ReactOS. I don't see anything. ===
 
=== My screen turns black when loading ReactOS. I don't see anything. ===
 
It seems your video card is not yet compatible with ReactOS, search our Hardware Compatibility Database to find a compatible one. Also report yours as not compatible, it will help others. Share your findings!
 
It seems your video card is not yet compatible with ReactOS, search our Hardware Compatibility Database to find a compatible one. Also report yours as not compatible, it will help others. Share your findings!
 +
 +
=== My ReactOS installation doesn't produce any sounds, why is that? ===
 +
It seems your sound card is not yet compatible with ReactOS, search our supported sound Hardware Compatibility list[https://reactos.org/wiki/Supported_Hardware/Sound_cards] to find a compatible one. In addition, report yours as not compatible as it will help others. Share your findings! If you are running in a VM then there will be some configuration changes that are needed  to support sound. You can find those links on that page.
 +
 +
=== I installed ReactOS but I don't see any applications, why not? ===
 +
Note that ReactOS is an operating system and by default, an o/s doesn't necessarily come with any software pre-installed and even though that may be a trend with current tablet OSes, it isn't a trend that ReactOS will follow, so no Candy Crush here. There is no 'app store' like Apple and Microsoft so you are expected to select and install any software yourself doing it manually just as you always would have done on Windows. To assist you ReactOS has an in-built package or application manager called RAPPS that you can utilise to download programs that are known to work on ReactOS. The few basic apps that will eventually come bundled in ReactOS may be as simple as a notepad, perhaps even a media player but not all these have been coded yet.
  
 
=== Does ReactOS have a [[Psxss.exe|POSIX]] subsystem? ===
 
=== Does ReactOS have a [[Psxss.exe|POSIX]] subsystem? ===
Line 138: Line 169:
 
* Think first: ReactOS should be stable and support a good deal of windows apps. Then worry about [[Psxss.exe|POSIX]]/*NIX, Mac, WinCe, OS/2, RiscOS, whatever else...
 
* Think first: ReactOS should be stable and support a good deal of windows apps. Then worry about [[Psxss.exe|POSIX]]/*NIX, Mac, WinCe, OS/2, RiscOS, whatever else...
  
=== I inserted the Installation CD but the installation doesn't begin ===
+
=== I inserted the Installation CD but the installation doesn't even begin ===
Maybe your CD/DVD is a SATA device that UniATA doesn't support yet. (So neither does ReactOS).
+
It may well be that your CD/DVD is a SATA device that UniATA doesn't support yet (so neither does ReactOS). If your CD/DVD is ATA then try the next trick:
If your CD/DVD is ATA then try the next trick:
 
  
 
OPTIONAL STEP (make backup files):
 
OPTIONAL STEP (make backup files):
1)Back up uniata.sys as uniataB_UP.sys.
+
* Back up uniata.sys as uniataB_UP.sys.
2)Back up atapi.sys as atapiB_UP.sys
+
* Back up atapi.sys as atapiB_UP.sys
  
 
REPLACING
 
REPLACING
3)Rename uniata.sys to atapi2.sys
+
* Rename uniata.sys to atapi2.sys
4)Rename atapi.sys to uniata.sys
+
* Rename atapi.sys to uniata.sys
5)Rename atapi2.sys to atapi.sys
+
* Rename atapi2.sys to atapi.sys
 +
 
 +
If you damage or lose the files when replacing them, you can restore the backup files from the optional step so make sure you do it.
  
If you damage or lose the files when replacing them, you can use the backup files from the Optional Step.
+
If your HD controller is an NVMe disk controller device then ReactOS does not currently support this technology. For best results on real hardware use XP era systems that would typically support XP. The drivers for that o/s should or might work in ReactOS.
  
 
=== The installation hangs or hangs before reaching the Desktop ===
 
=== The installation hangs or hangs before reaching the Desktop ===
Line 158: Line 190:
 
=== When is 0.5 appearing? And Beta? And 1.0? And 123.0? And... ===
 
=== When is 0.5 appearing? And Beta? And 1.0? And 123.0? And... ===
 
It depends. We need Developers and Testers (Coordinated Testers).
 
It depends. We need Developers and Testers (Coordinated Testers).
Statistics suggest that 99.99% of the forum users who ask these questions have never helped in a Coordinated Testing. So stop asking and use that time to help us , if you want it asap then contribute a little. Money is appreciated but testing is much more useful at current stage.
+
Statistics suggest that 99.99% of the forum users who ask these questions have never helped in a Coordinated Testing. So stop asking and use that time to help us, if you want it asap then contribute a little. Money is appreciated but testing is much more useful at current stage.
  
We perform several Coordinated Testings via IRC. Join them and you will discover the feelings of being part of the Community, not just part of the Forum.
+
We perform several Coordinated Testings via [https://chat.reactos.org/reactos/channels/town-square/ Mattermost discussion channels]. Join them and you will discover the feelings of being part of the Community, not just part of the Forum.
  
 
=== Why there is no [[Roadmap]]? ===
 
=== Why there is no [[Roadmap]]? ===
An OS covers a wide area of knowledge, it is not an App, it is a whole,-in-the-way-to-become-awesome OS.
+
An OS covers a wide area of knowledge, it is not a mere App, it is a whole-on-the-way-to-becoming-first-class OS.
So we need devs from all the areas, it's not easy to find skilled devs, and also they are not paid, they have their real-life-work, families and problems. So no, we can't press them to work in a particular area. We can just thank them for dedicating some time to make this OS become a reality.
+
So we need developers from all areas of expertise. It's not easy to find skilled developers and in addition, none of our regular contributors are paid. They have their real-life-work, families and problems. So no, we can't press them to work in any particular area. We can just thank them for dedicating some time to make this OS become a reality.
  
 
= Developer FAQ =
 
= Developer FAQ =
 
== General ==
 
== General ==
=== What language do you guys use? ===
+
=== What language do the developers use? ===
 
C and assembly, with very little C++ for some included programs. In the OS itself, only C and assembly is allowed.
 
C and assembly, with very little C++ for some included programs. In the OS itself, only C and assembly is allowed.
  
Line 186: Line 218:
  
 
=== Will drivers designed for Windows work on ReactOS? ===
 
=== Will drivers designed for Windows work on ReactOS? ===
Some drivers have been known to work, but at this point there is no definitive answer as some facilities in kernel land that are unimplemented.
+
Some drivers have been known to work, but at this point, there is no definitive answer as some facilities in kernel land that are unimplemented.
  
 
=== What do I need to compile ReactOS from sources? ===
 
=== What do I need to compile ReactOS from sources? ===
Line 192: Line 224:
  
 
=== What about the so-called SEH-problem? ===
 
=== What about the so-called SEH-problem? ===
Structured exception handling (SEH) is used in programming ReactOS as it is used in programming for OS/2 or Microsoft(R) Windows(R) NT. SEH is a game which is played between the OS and compiler (Keywords: __try, __except, __finally). ReactOS itself is SEH-aware and provides the infrastructure. However up till now, the GNU-compiler used is not capable of generating SEH-aware code. So one can't compile a driver or program which uses SEH with the GNU-Compiler.
+
Structured exception handling (SEH) is used in programming ReactOS as it is used in programming for OS/2 or Microsoft(R) Windows(R) NT. SEH is a game that is played between the OS and compiler (Keywords: __try, __except, __finally). ReactOS itself is SEH-aware and provides the infrastructure. However, up till now, the GNU-compiler used is not capable of generating SEH-aware code. So one can't compile a driver or program which uses SEH with the GNU-Compiler.
  
 
== Graphics Subsystem ==
 
== Graphics Subsystem ==
Line 200: Line 232:
  
 
=== Why did Microsoft put the GUI in Ring 0? ===
 
=== Why did Microsoft put the GUI in Ring 0? ===
Because this gives quite an advantage in speed. Contrary to a GUI-server, which will run in its own process, there are no context changes necessary when performing GUI operations. This does make the architecture less clean of course, and when the GUI crashes, the whole system crashes. The same discussion took place in Redmond, when the GUI went into the kernel in Microsoft(R) Windows(R) NT 4.0. They came to the conclusion that the GUI has matured, so that nothing will go wrong unless a faulty driver is present, and that the consequences are similar to when something goes wrong in user mode.
+
Because this gives quite an advantage in speed. Contrary to a GUI-server, which will run in its own process, there are no context changes necessary when performing GUI operations. This does make the architecture less clean of course, and when the GUI crashes, the whole system crashes. The same discussion took place in Redmond when the GUI went into the kernel in Microsoft(R) Windows(R) NT 4.0. They came to the conclusion that the GUI has matured, so that nothing will go wrong unless a faulty driver is present, and that the consequences are similar to when something goes wrong in user mode.
  
 
=== Does ReactOS have the same security problems as Microsoft Windows™? ===
 
=== Does ReactOS have the same security problems as Microsoft Windows™? ===

Latest revision as of 10:16, 18 March 2020

Contents

User FAQ

What is ReactOS?

ReactOS (short for React Operating System) is an open-source effort to develop a quality operating system that is compatible with Microsoft Windows™ applications and drivers. ReactOS is based upon NT5. The current 'Windows', the version the general public is familiar with, is actually just one part of the modern Windows NT™ operating system. Users and developers are more familiar with the Win32 subsystem, a layer that sits upon the NT kernel providing the user and application interface. Most computer laymen mistakenly think of 'NT' as 'WinNT 4' whilst in reality, the term "NT" refers to the whole NT series from 2000 until today. This ranges from version 3 to NT5 (2000, XP, 2003) and then from NT6 (Vista, 2008, 7, 8, 2012, 8.1) to NT10 (10, 2016). The NT architecture was designed by a team led by David Cutler, a former lead developer of Digital Equipment's VMS operating system. It took the team more than 4 years to combine the best of UNIX, VMS, and OS/2 to create the NT architecture. ReactOS aims to replicate this with NT5 (Server 2003) as its main target with the additional aim of compatibility with many of the APIs from later NT6 versions of the Windows o/s.

Why use ReactOS?

A lot of people in popular discussion forums quite rightly keep asking “why should I use ReactOS?” or “why would someone need ReactOS?” or “why not help develop Wine instead?” or “why not use Linux with Wine?”.

We have an answer for all these questions, but it's not in one simple magic word. Let's name a few key issues here that may help to answer that question:

  • There are plenty of *nix operating systems out there - this is very good. However, they have different end-user targets (they perfectly fit the server market but the desktop still isn't fully conquered and several usability factors work against most Linux-based alternatives in the market today).
  • There is currently no other operating system that implements the kernel architecture design of MS Windows NT™ so if you are unhappy with the direction or goal of Windows there is little real alternative. ReactOS was started as a “clone” of Windows NT to alleviate this situation. To demonstrate the concept of o/s cloning, GNU/Linux is the best for comparison here: Linux was started as a “clone” of Minix and Unix, eventually going on to be a Unix replacement.
  • There are no plans for any of Microsoft's versions of Windows to be released under a GPL-compatible license (at least, the ReactOS team and the world are not aware of them).
  • Linux+Wine is never going to be a complete replacement for a full Windows system. It's not only because of Linux (despite some user-friendly Linux distributions out there) and not only because many users might find a transition to Linux/BSD difficult but it is largely due to design and implementation decisions of Linux and Wine architectures which prevent 100% compatibility.
  • Even though Linux supports many types of hardware, Windows is still the dominant platform for device manufacturers. There are attempts to overcome this situation (like the NDIS Wrapper for NT network card drivers, there are rumours about supporting NT video drivers and Captive NTFS for NT filesystem support) but ReactOS solves them from day one by its very design – being compatible with existing drivers and existing applications.
  • There are many people who do not like how *nix systems behave or dislike the conventions used. For them, Linux, BSD and Mac OS X are not options, even before application compatibility and hardware support come into play. An operating system should give the consumers what they want instead of demanding that the consumer conform. Even with Wine, you are still running an operating system that behaves quite differently from Windows at both the user and system levels.
  • Backwards compatibility. This is something vital for many people and companies but the development philosophy of Linux and the GNU project do not consider it a priority. The Windows family has always gone out of its way to ensure a stable API and backwards compatibility. By its design, ReactOS will also follow the philosophy of backward-compatibility with existing applications designed for the whole Windows NT family whilst providing compatibility to later developments too.

Finally, ReactOS offers a third alternative, for people who are fed up with Microsoft's policies but do not want to give up the familiar environment, architectural design, and millions of existing software applications and thousands of hardware drivers.

Is ReactOS based on Microsoft Windows™ original source code?

No! ReactOS consists only of clean-room engineered GNU GPL (General Public License) and GPL compatible licensed source code.

Is ReactOS based on *nix or Linux?

No! ReactOS is not based on UNIX/Linux. It's written from scratch.

Is ReactOS legal?

Yes. ReactOS is fully legal.

Developers (devs) have not looked at Microsoft Windows™ source code. They have used the public documentation of Microsoft Windows OSes. They have made several tests to understand how Microsoft Windows works. In fact, ReactOS does the same things that Windows does but it does it differently as we don't have the same source code and it is all programmed by different developers. All code in ReactOS is released under the GNU GPL (General Public License).

Why does a certain application of mine not work under ReactOS?

ReactOS is in alpha stage and not recommended for everyday use. Many applications do not work fully or correctly because many API calls simply haven't been implemented nor are the existing ones fully operational. To put it bluntly, ReactOS is in alpha and there are bugs. This may be the reason for your software not working - as you would expect. In this case, raise a bug report but do avoid ticket duplication as it is quite likely that the issue is known already. Search the bug reporting system first for a similar bug. Report a bug here: File Bugs.

In most cases it is simply a matter of waiting for the correct bugs to be fixed - your software will magically start to operate - one day.

Why doesn't ReactOS have a modern UI?

The target is Windows 2003 and ReactOS' UI is based upon that. There are two alternative theme choices and both are suited for desktop operation. Note that neither of them are tablet-based themes as you will find in current Windows. Only the naive but uninformed user believes the UI look-and-feel is in any way tied to the real functionality of the o/s. If you are comparing the default UI with that of current Windows you may not appreciate that ReactOS' UI is configurable and the interface being FOSS will be customisable in a way that current Windows is not. Eventually, it will be possible to configure ReactOS to look the way you desire with 3rd party tools and themes.

Why ReactOS? Why clone Microsoft Windows™?

First of all, ReactOS is not now a mere clone of Windows. ReactOS is an operating system that is compatible with Microsoft Windows applications and drivers. Some of the reasons are the same as the reasons for developing Linux (an open-source UNIX clone). In short, Linux is a great operating system but it is not the answer for everybody. There are a lot of people that like Microsoft Windows but are very frustrated with Microsoft's policies on various issues.

The 9x family of Microsoft Windows is based on DOS and shares many of its weaknesses which is the primary reason why Microsoft Windows has such a bad name. The Microsoft Windows NT™ family of Windows however, has a solid design. Not everything is perfect but without access to the source code there is no way to fix it so a compatible operating system must be built from the ground up.

Think of ReactOS as a community-created o/s with honourable goals, ie. to create a free-to-use Windows-compatible o/s that will be quick to install, quick to run and easy to operate. Think of it in the same spirit as a "Linux for Windows users" or perhaps more accurately as a "Windows o/s for Linux users"? Both built in the same spirit with a similar aim in mind.

ReactOS is a desirable object given that it should free Windows development from the shackles of Microsoft's current business model. That is a great target in itself. When it achieves beta release it will provide a home for the continued development of legacy applications (win32, MFC and the like) and their future will be rosy well away from the UWP framework that Microsoft is imposing upon both users and developers alike in its current business aim to dominate tablet and IoT devices.

Why don't you help develop Wine/Linux instead?

ReactOS works very closely with Wine and thus both projects actually benefit from each other. We have several developers in both the Wine and ReactOS projects that work on cross-compatibility issues between the two projects.

It is our view that Linux + Wine can never be a full replacement for Microsoft Windows™. ReactOS has the potential for a much higher degree of compatibility, especially for Microsoft Windows drivers which Wine does not address. In addition, graphical compatibility with Windows requires kernel-level access which is something that Wine cannot provide but merely emulate.

Why don't you help the Wine project instead?

Actually we work very closely with the Wine project. Wine probably has a lot more in common with ReactOS than with Linux. The Wine project has the goal of implementing the entire windows API on top of WineServer. There are only a few Wine dlls that cannot be used in ReactOS. These are Ntdll.dll, User32.dll, Kernel32.dll, Gdi32.dll, and Advapi32.dll. The rest of Wine's DLLs can be shared with ReactOS. We have several developers in both the Wine and ReactOS projects that work on cross-compatibility issues between the two projects. It is our view that Linux + Wine can never be a full replacement for Microsoft Windows™. ReactOS has the potential for a much higher degree of compatibility – especially for Microsoft Windows drivers – which Wine does not address.

Why not use UNIX instead?

Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, and other UNIX derivatives share a common heritage based on a more than three decades old design of a simple basic operating system that has evolved over time into a complex structure. Modern incarnations like Mac OS X put a fancy graphical user interface on top of UNIX in order to hide system details but focus mainly on beginners, thus many advanced users are left out in the rain as most advanced features cannot be accessed from the graphical user interface. Almost all UNIX flavors retain some of the original design flaws and binary compatibility between various versions is usually non-existent.

In theory, there are a few UNIX standards like POSIX but in practice, the standards are old and cover only the basic operating system and the terminal environment. Other standards such as the Linux Standard Base are often not implemented faithfully. As there is no standard user interface nor a standard API so most people still have to use command-line applications or fight through the GUI mess. Many UNIX derivatives use the de-facto standard X-Window system for graphical output which might well possess one of the worst designs in software history. However, it must be said that modern UNIX derivatives are trying hard to catch up with recent o/s innovations and some of them already possess important features like access control list support.

In contrast to UNIX, ReactOS was designed for people familiar and comfortable with the Windows environment. Everything can be done through the well known Win32 user interface and advanced users are free to automate tasks with scripts or use the console.

Where can I download ReactOS?

Please visit the download page.

In addition, official ReactOS nightly builds are available at Nightly Build page. Builds are generated for every commit and include full installation and live ISOs, both debug and release versions.

How can I contribute to ReactOS?

  • We need coordinated testers, which means we need people that help us testing in a coordinated way.

To join our testing come to the Mattermost discussion channels. Find any dev and ask us what to test. Every day the ReactOS project has different testing needs so testing is not boring.

  • We need coordinated translators.
  • We need coordinated designers.
  • We need coordinated developers.
  • We need coordinated bloggers

To find your place just come and join the Mattermost discussion channels. See you there.

I am an experienced coder... How can I help?

If you are a developer experienced in C and C++ then join Mattermost discussion channels. There you can ask questions regarding our code and find a component upon which to work. You can select any component that interests you but first contact us and tell us what you are planning to do. Other developers may already be working in that particular area. As Yoda says: "efforts co-ordinated, time wasted less when...".

I don't know how to code but I want to learn. How?

Study C, C++, WinAPI, then read books as "Windows Internals" and/or "Operating System Concepts". Come and ask us. For C and C++ questions you have the C and C++ Mattermost discussion channels, they will solve your doubts much faster.

I'll never know how to code... How can I still help?

Developers always require testing of something. Just come to Mattermost discussion channels and ask for something to test. Developers will give you some ReactOS testing work suited to your skills. The "I don't know how to code" is the preferred excuse followed by the "I don't have time" or "Each time I test ReactOS, God kills a kitty" excuses.

I don't know how to test but I want to learn. How?

First of all, don't raise loads of issues on Mattermost or on the forum. By all means, use this as a method of raising awareness on an issue but if you are really going to help raise a ticket! This means opening a bug report on our bug reporting system known as JIRA. You can log in using your ReactOS website credentials. If you have questions regarding filing bugs, please see the helpful WIKI entry here - Filing bugs on JIRA

What can I do to help?

We're always looking for either coders or testers. We're especially in need of people who know how to write NT drivers because our current drivers could use some improvement.

Testing on real hardware is especially important as the kernel rewrite approaches completion. Some issues are known, such as missing assembly code and broken implementations causing issues on certain processors. Bugs found in the trunk can be reported in Jira, but try to avoid entering duplicate bugs.

Who should I talk to about helping ReactOS?

The best way to get in touch with a developer is to hop onto the Mattermost discussion channels.

Alternatively, you can use the older Connect to the ReactOS IRC Channels IRC channel that is still used by some developers.

A list of the developers showing their IRC nicknames and their respective areas of expertise is here: Developer Roles - Names of other developers will be added as time progresses and it becomes clear which are contributing and how.

Note: If you have a query simply join a discussion group and ask your question. If someone knows the answer, they'll usually answer straight away. If you want the skills of a specific developer then ping that developer and ask them question directly.

Another way is to join the ROS-dev mailing list: http://www.reactos.org/mailman/listinfo/ros-dev

When will ReactOS be done?

The target for ReactOS is Windows Server 2003 but ReactOS will be capable of use before full compatibility is met as components and sub-systems are developed. The definition of usable is down to the use-case and only you yourself will be able to define whether ReactOS is usable for you. ReactOS is already of use now for teaching developers how to re-engineer and code a Windows-compatible o/s but it is not ready for real-life usage where o/s stability and data security is important. Since the definition of what ReactOS should be capable of when it is considered complete may vary greatly between end users, this question cannot be completely or accurately answered. One thing is for sure: ReactOS will continue to be developed as there will always be a need for improvements, for example, although ReactOS is an NT5 based o/s, support is already being added for NT6 API compatibility to allow modern programs to operate. For more information, visit the Roadmap page (note it is impossible to provide a time-dependent roadmap at this stage of ReactOS development due to the 'community' nature of the project).

Why is ReactOS development so slow?

First of all, developing a Windows-compatible o/s is an enormous task due to the sheer complexity of Windows and its undocumented nature. The team cannot work with Microsoft sourced code and all development has to be done via a process called clean-room engineering ensuring that no ReactOS source is contaminated by developer exposure to any copyrighted code from Microsoft. In addition, the slow development progress is primarily due to the 'enthusiast' approach of development ie. the developers are simply people like you and I. They work on whatever task that takes their interest, spending as much of their spare time as they can, working on the project. The complexity of writing an o/s from scratch also requires certain skill-sets that are not generally available within the enthusiast programming community, ie. competent Windows Kernel Developers available to contribute - are thin on the ground. The slow pace is also partly due to the lack of sponsors, leading to the majority of code being contributed by unpaid effort. Despite this, recent testing shows how much ReactOS has progressed and it is remarkable how much the project has achieved (see ReactOS Epic Wins) but it has a long way to go before approaching beta stage. However, developers have a firm target and the team is a dynamic one with solid supporters and contributors, meaning that the task is achievable, it'll just take a while. The ReactOS team likes to think of progress as being steady rather than slow.

If you want to view the activity that underlies the development of ReactOS then ReactOS activity stream on Mattermost.

Why isn't this or that feature in ReactOS?

This question is asked a lot and the simple answer is almost always "because it hasn't been coded yet". If you read this FAQ from top to bottom it will become clear that ReactOS is a community effort. YOU are part of the community if you choose to donate, code or document. IF there is anything you specifically require in ReactOS then you can help make it happen, write specifications, create documentation, search for suitable FOSS code, code it yourself or engage the services of a developer to contribute actual code, you could even raise a bounty! If you want something specific done then the simple rule is - do it yourself! The alternative is to wait for the community to come up with that functionality by itself, it might be a long wait that does not suit your timescales but in the end if it was part of Windows server 2003 then most likely it will come, just not yet.

Testing ReactOS on real hardware

Testing on real hardware is especially important as it allows us to receive feedback on ReactOS kernel and driver compatibility. However, it is VITAL that you take precautions to avoid data loss.

IF you choose to test ReactOS on real hardware then be aware that you should never do so using a computer that contains valuable data or even data that has not been backed-up elsewhere. ReactOS is an alpha-grade o/s and as such could easily damage any file system you already have loaded on that system, even if it is on another drive or on a separate partition. ReactOS file system code is as much alpha-grade as is the rest of the system. The simple rule is - just keep your valuable data away from ReactOS. Some suggest that they'd like to use ReactOS now but we strongly suggest you do NOT. By all means test it but don't try to use it in a real-life situation other than to test it, you could do damage to your data and potentially even to the machine itself, the latter is very, very unlikely but you ought to consider it before you start testing and looking for someone to blame when things go wrong.

If you want your testing to go well then choose XP or Vista era hardware as the typical combinations of hardware from that time are more likely to work with ReactOS. Later, more modern technology is best put to use running ReactOS in a VM as it is unlikely that ReactOS will boot at the hardware level at all.

SUMMARY: Don't install ReactOS anywhere where it could adversely affect your precious belongings, data or otherwise.

Can I test ReactOS without risking my existing hardware/installations?

Yes, you can test ReactOS on virtual hardware. This way, you can start ReactOS in a window without leaving your operating system. Official preloaded packages for Qemu, VMware, and VirtualBox are available in the "Advanced Downloads" section of the download page. ReactOS is also known to run in Bochs and VirtualPC. If you know of other virtual machines that support it, please send an e-mail to the ros-dev mailing list.

Because a virtual machine is an emulated environment, a virtual machine can not run ReactOS as fast as ReactOS could run on the actual hardware. Virtual machines like Qemu that emulate hardware at the instruction decoding level will run ReactOS much slower than actual hardware.

  • See: [Installing ReactOS [1]]

Is ReactOS able to run Windows software and Windows drivers?

Yes. ReactOS is able to load Windows software and Windows drivers without hacking them. Remember: we are still in the Alpha stage so we have a long walk ahead before we reach these objectives 100%. You can visit our Software and Hardware Compatibility databases to know which Drivers and Apps are compatible with the latest ReactOS version.

The original target for ReactOS with regard to driver and application compatibility was Microsoft Windows NT 4.0™. Since then, Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista, and others have been released. All these are descendants of Windows NT. As such we can gradually shift our compatibility target without worrying about the architecture changing too much. In fact, internally, Windows 2000 reports version information as Windows 5.0, XP as Windows 5.1, 2003 Server as Windows 5.2, and Vista as Windows 6.0. The ReactOS team currently targets Windows 2003 Server as the official compatibility target. Of the current releases, 2003 Server has proven to be one of the most robust.

How about Windows Vista™/7/8 or 10 programs and drivers?

The present compatibility target for ReactOS of Microsoft Windows Server 2003™ (NT 5.2) does not mean that features present in later versions of Windows NT™ based operating systems will not be implemented in ReactOS. Work is continually done to implement newer APIs or to provide for their future implementation.

Can I install ReactOS on a pen drive/stick?

ReactOS' state of development is a process of continuous change and as such USB support is under development but improving. For more details See: LiveUSB

How many cores does ReactOS support?

ReactOS' currently only supports a single core as ReactOS does not yet have a SMP enabled kernel. However, ReactOS does run very quickly on a single core system so the lack of this feature is not as desperately needed as you would imagine at this stage in ReactOS development. SMP support will come in time. IF you know of any Windows kernel developers available to work on this feature then do let us know.

My screen turns black when loading ReactOS. I don't see anything.

It seems your video card is not yet compatible with ReactOS, search our Hardware Compatibility Database to find a compatible one. Also report yours as not compatible, it will help others. Share your findings!

My ReactOS installation doesn't produce any sounds, why is that?

It seems your sound card is not yet compatible with ReactOS, search our supported sound Hardware Compatibility list[2] to find a compatible one. In addition, report yours as not compatible as it will help others. Share your findings! If you are running in a VM then there will be some configuration changes that are needed to support sound. You can find those links on that page.

I installed ReactOS but I don't see any applications, why not?

Note that ReactOS is an operating system and by default, an o/s doesn't necessarily come with any software pre-installed and even though that may be a trend with current tablet OSes, it isn't a trend that ReactOS will follow, so no Candy Crush here. There is no 'app store' like Apple and Microsoft so you are expected to select and install any software yourself doing it manually just as you always would have done on Windows. To assist you ReactOS has an in-built package or application manager called RAPPS that you can utilise to download programs that are known to work on ReactOS. The few basic apps that will eventually come bundled in ReactOS may be as simple as a notepad, perhaps even a media player but not all these have been coded yet.

Does ReactOS have a POSIX subsystem?

  • We currently don't have a POSIX subsystem. Well, we have one but it's broken and it's not a priority in terms of compatibility. After all, we're trying to run Windows programs here, not POSIX programs.
  • Think first: ReactOS should be stable and support a good deal of windows apps. Then worry about POSIX/*NIX, Mac, WinCe, OS/2, RiscOS, whatever else...

I inserted the Installation CD but the installation doesn't even begin

It may well be that your CD/DVD is a SATA device that UniATA doesn't support yet (so neither does ReactOS). If your CD/DVD is ATA then try the next trick:

OPTIONAL STEP (make backup files):

  • Back up uniata.sys as uniataB_UP.sys.
  • Back up atapi.sys as atapiB_UP.sys

REPLACING

  • Rename uniata.sys to atapi2.sys
  • Rename atapi.sys to uniata.sys
  • Rename atapi2.sys to atapi.sys

If you damage or lose the files when replacing them, you can restore the backup files from the optional step so make sure you do it.

If your HD controller is an NVMe disk controller device then ReactOS does not currently support this technology. For best results on real hardware use XP era systems that would typically support XP. The drivers for that o/s should or might work in ReactOS.

The installation hangs or hangs before reaching the Desktop

Try the "I inserted the Installation CD but the installation doesn't begin" trick if your HDD is an ATA device. Remember that trick doesn't work at all with SATA devices.

When is 0.5 appearing? And Beta? And 1.0? And 123.0? And...

It depends. We need Developers and Testers (Coordinated Testers). Statistics suggest that 99.99% of the forum users who ask these questions have never helped in a Coordinated Testing. So stop asking and use that time to help us, if you want it asap then contribute a little. Money is appreciated but testing is much more useful at current stage.

We perform several Coordinated Testings via Mattermost discussion channels. Join them and you will discover the feelings of being part of the Community, not just part of the Forum.

Why there is no Roadmap?

An OS covers a wide area of knowledge, it is not a mere App, it is a whole-on-the-way-to-becoming-first-class OS. So we need developers from all areas of expertise. It's not easy to find skilled developers and in addition, none of our regular contributors are paid. They have their real-life-work, families and problems. So no, we can't press them to work in any particular area. We can just thank them for dedicating some time to make this OS become a reality.

Developer FAQ

General

What language do the developers use?

C and assembly, with very little C++ for some included programs. In the OS itself, only C and assembly is allowed.

Why only C and assembly?

The reasoning is actually because of the tools we use. GCC's C++ compiler is less than stellar so we limit things to C and assembly to make our lives easier.

How do I get ReactOS' source code and build it?

This information is covered on this page: Build Environment

The recommended build environment is the RosBE. It's designed to run on Windows and *nix, though the *nix version may not be as up to date as the Windows version.

Is there any kind of coding style that is expected?

See Coding Style

How will you avoid the inevitable "Microsoft" text throughout ReactOS?

We believe that this falls under fair use. It is also not needed except in the registry.

Will drivers designed for Windows work on ReactOS?

Some drivers have been known to work, but at this point, there is no definitive answer as some facilities in kernel land that are unimplemented.

What do I need to compile ReactOS from sources?

Refer to our Build Environment page for information on how to compile ReactOS from the source.

What about the so-called SEH-problem?

Structured exception handling (SEH) is used in programming ReactOS as it is used in programming for OS/2 or Microsoft(R) Windows(R) NT. SEH is a game that is played between the OS and compiler (Keywords: __try, __except, __finally). ReactOS itself is SEH-aware and provides the infrastructure. However, up till now, the GNU-compiler used is not capable of generating SEH-aware code. So one can't compile a driver or program which uses SEH with the GNU-Compiler.

Graphics Subsystem

Why is the graphics subsystem not in Ring 3 but in Ring 0?

The short answer is that because Microsoft has done it this way, and we aim for driver compatibility, we have to do it the same way.

Why did Microsoft put the GUI in Ring 0?

Because this gives quite an advantage in speed. Contrary to a GUI-server, which will run in its own process, there are no context changes necessary when performing GUI operations. This does make the architecture less clean of course, and when the GUI crashes, the whole system crashes. The same discussion took place in Redmond when the GUI went into the kernel in Microsoft(R) Windows(R) NT 4.0. They came to the conclusion that the GUI has matured, so that nothing will go wrong unless a faulty driver is present, and that the consequences are similar to when something goes wrong in user mode.

Does ReactOS have the same security problems as Microsoft Windows™?

Microsoft Windows NT™ and successors aren't really inherently insecure systems. We believe that Microsoft® made a secure system insecure as a result of some poor decisions. For example, Windows XP™ gives every user Administrator rights by default. Some services are poorly implemented and ease of use often takes priority over security. We can, however, rearrange these priorities in ReactOS. What will be problematic is that for a long time Microsoft hadn't pressured software creators to design their products to run with Normal user rights.

Debugging

How do I trace an unhandled exception in user mode?

The trace looks something like this: (KERNEL32:process/create.c:328) Process terminated abnormally due to unhandled exception (KERNEL32:process/create.c:329) Address: 761a13e0 (KERNEL32:process/create.c:334) Frames: (KERNEL32:process/create.c:338) 761a2be9 Look at ReactOS/baseaddress.cfg, find the nearest lower address that matches the address you're trying to trace. Open the .map file for the corresponding DLL in the viewer and search for the offset.

See Also