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Major ReactOS Release: Themes, Shell, ACPI, WiFi

Operating Systems

Published on 07 February 2012 07:07 PM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems
16 Comments

ReactOS, the open-source operating system project that's been aspiring to be Microsoft Windows NT binary compatible for more than a decade, is out with a major release -- the first in nearly one year.

ReactOS 0.3.13 was released in March of 2011 while coming out today is ReactOS 0.3.14. For those not familiar with (or have since forgotten about) ReactOS it's the free software operating system project that tries to be binary compatible with applications and device drivers targeting Microsoft Windows NT 5.x and later (what is effectively Microsoft Windows 2000 and beyond).

With it being almost a year since the last release, it brings forward the work done during last year's Google Summer of Code plus a whole lot more. Besides new features, there's nearly 800 bug-fixes (more than 100 of which were regression fixes), including a fix for nearly a decade-old issue of PrintScreen not working.

Below are some of the prominent ReactOS 0.3.14 features as mentioned on the news announcement page.

- ReactOS can finally handle Windows themes. With this new release, Windows XP-based themes can be installed to customize the operating system's user-interface and shell.

- WiFi/WLAN network drivers can now be installed and function correctly. This WiFi network driver support within the ReactOS kernel does incolde the ability to join WEP-encrypted wireless networks.

- Another ReactOS network improvement is the LwIP networking driver. LwIP is a new TCP/IP driver that's said to significally improve network performance, stability, and presents an eventual upgrade path to IPv6.

- The Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) is now enabled automatically when the ACPI Hardware Abstraction Layer is used.

- ReactOS, including its kernel, can now be built from MSVC (Microsoft Studio Visual C++). The MSVCC-produced binaries will boot and function correctly. Previous building ReactOS had to be done using the GCC tool-chain, but now it can be done using Microsoft's tool-chain too.

- DMA Scatter/Gather operations are now supported to improve compatibility with network drivers.

- The shell32 library has been rewritten in C++ and brings various improvements.

- Special pool support is in place to guard against misuses of kernel pool memory.

Meanwhile, the Wine project is gearing up to release Wine 1.4 for their binary support of Windows applications under Linux and other operating systems.

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