Have you come across React OS? It aims to be an open source version of Microsoft Windows – which sounds like a contradiction in terms until you take a look at it. Let’s let the site tell us a little about it:
The ReactOSÂ® project is dedicated to making Free Software available to everyone by providing a ground-up implementation of a Microsoft WindowsÂ® XP compatible operating system. ReactOS aims to achieve complete binary compatibility with both applications and device drivers meant for NT and XP operating systems, by using a similar architecture and providing a complete and equivalent public interface.
Although Free Software advocates agree that free software operating systems improve the state of the art by fostering competition, ReactOS has practical benefit for others, too; ReactOS is the most complete working model of a WindowsÂ® like operating system available. Consequently, working programmers will learn a great deal by studying ReactOS source code and even participating in ReactOS development.
ReactOS components are growing more and more compatible with equivalent, closed source alternatives, but ReactOS doesn’t simply stop at an arbitrary line in the sand. ReactOS has and will continue to incorporate new versions of the Win32 API and so will track and sometimes even define the state of the art in operating system technology. Rather than using current technology as a limit on our activities, we are constantly incorporating features from newer versions as well.
In short, ReactOS is aiming to run your applications and use your hardware! Finally, a FOSS operating system for everyone!
Which sounds pretty good. Anyway, how does it look and run? My lovely assistant tonight is the VMWare Player application – which is a free virtual pc app.
I grabbed a prebuilt image from the VMWare site (where they have lots of images) to test this out. I can’t talk about installation as the image booted straight into the OS rather then take me through the install.
On bootup, I was greeted with
The look of the desktop seems to be a mix of Windows and Linux, or Windows with the PowerDesktop addon – in the bottom left of the screen, you can probably see the 4 workspaces. So far so good.
The main menu is the usual Windows menu with different icons. It’s clear that the developers are being extremely careful to avoid any conflicts with the famously litigious Microsoft. Good luck to them with that.