If you don't agree with me now, just wait five years.

ReactOS auditing now 71.2% complete

Date/Time Permalink: 04/21/06 05:51:50 am
Category: Reviews

Right on the heels of Network World, which asks "How much Windows-like functionality to give users?" (migrating to Linux from Windows). I have your answer: ZERO. Linux is a free implementation of Unix. ReactOS is being built to be a free implementation of Windows. And it's answer is "100%".

And folks, dig the screenshots in the title link: they're serious. This isn't a version of Linux or BSD or Solaris hacked into emulating what you want (if what you want is a free Windows); this is a free Windows from the ground up. I've downloaded and tried ReactOS 0.2.9 live CD, and I can testify that this *is* all the Windows-like functionality you could ever want. Besides that, it boots fast, looks about as good as a Windows-imitation can be expected to look, and actually works the way you'd expect Windows to work.

Hate the Linux command-line? ReactOS boots into a GUI and a GUI is all you get. Coming to Linux and complaining about the command line is like vacationing in Las Vegas and complaining about the casinos. ReactOS is what you want, if you insist on an exact Windows clone. The hard drive is named C:\, the CD-Rom is named D:\, the executable programs are named with a ".exe" expression, the file manager is named "explorer". It has a registry and HKEY stuff and ".ini" files. You'll feel right at home.

But they're catching some heat about it, as you can well imagine. If Microsoft is concerned over Linux, I can expect ReactOS gives them hives. So they have responded to accusations that they're copying Microsoft code by auditing their entire code base. Nobody's making them do this; they're just getting this done *now* so that when lawyers come knocking later, they'll have the defensive work already done so that they can go on with the project without being slowed down.

As the low version number suggests, the live CD isn't a show-stopper. It comes with nothing *but* the operating system. You can instead get the install CD, which seems to have a more complete version. Incredibly, from the evidence of the user-friendly tour they've set up, it has binary compatibility not only with Windows programs, but with such FOSS offerings as ABIWord and OpenOffice as well. And the whole shebang is running under the GNU GPL, as free and open as Linux itself.

And now the ironic part: ReactOS is starved for help! As many users out there as there are clamoring for a free Windows, you'd think this development effort would be skyrocketing. Here's a whole page on how you can contribute to this effort. You don't need to be a programmer. They need everything from beta-testers to document writers; they need to finish this audit, and they need MONEY.

Windows users looking for your new home, I cannot stress this point enough: YOUR Renaissance is finally at hand! YOU have the power to make this happen, your freedom is yours to take at last! Just as Linux, BSD, OpenSolaris, and Darwin OS were successful in getting a free version of their systems, your "free Windows" is going to be ReactOS. And you have the GPL to stand on, and the time-tested methods of all those who have gone before you to make free operating systems happen in the past.

And when you want *LINUX*, just because it's *LINUX*, then come to Linux.

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