ReactOS 0.4.12 features improved network functionality and new themes

ReactOS, the free and open source operating system for Windows servers, announced its latest version.

Windows 10 apps could soon run on open source operating systems ReactOS, an open source operating system, could soon support Windows applications says TechRepublic's Nick Heath.

A project that's been in the works for 15 years, ReactOS announced its latest 0.4.12 version on Monday. "A multitude of improvements have been made to all parts of the OS, though userland components saw special emphasis this time around," said Colin Finck, ReactOS operating system developer, in a blog he wrote about the release. 

SEE: Open source champion Munich heads back to Windows (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

ReactOS is a free and open source, binary-compatible Windows-compatible architecture with the mission of providing functionality for existing drivers and applications, but without the oversight of Microsoft. 

However, ReactOS remains a major work in progress, with the current 0.4 version still considered an alpha-level software, said TechRepublic's James Sanders in ReactOS 0.4 brings open source Windows closer to reality. Some of the most significant improvements to the initial 0.4 ReactOS—released in 2016—included out-of-the-box support for ext2, ext3, and ext 4, read-only support for NTFS, better support for SATA and PATA devices, and the addition of Python 2.7 support. 

What is new with 0.4.12?

The latest 0.4 iteration saw significant kernel improvements, according to the blog post. While the OS can't yet run Microsoft's own FS drivers, substantial improvements were made, specifically in regards to the common cache. Considerable improvements were also made toward proper device power management, referring to the action of setting a device to sleep mode and waking it up in a working state. 

Developers also worked on mending support for PXE booting with ReactOS, expanding the network functionality of the system. 

Security is integral to successful operating systems, with most having locks that prevent applications from altering images loaded and launched in the kernel space. ReactOS previously struggled with this, but 0.4.12 fixed this issue, according to the announcement. 

Other improvements included window snapping—which aligns windows side-by-side or allows users to minimize or maximize windows by dragging them in particular directions—font improvements, and new themes. 

The new themes include Lunar and Mizu, the first being reminiscent of Windows XP, and the second being a more modern design. While these aren't ReactOS's first themes, the system previously only had one other non-default theme, and the addition of these racks the total up to four, said Alexander Rechitskiy, community and media relations manager for ReactOS.

ReactOS is now stable enough to address theming "because it is capable to draw them properly now (before that there were a lot of problems with fonts and bitmaps here and there), and because we had no beautiful fully GPL\Opensource themes to ship with ReactOS before," Rechitskiy said.

This latest upgrade includes out-of-the-box support for Intel e1000 NIC, rather than requiring a manual installation of the driver. And users can also now load the drivers for MIDI devices, which is a significant improvement to the OS usage. 

As for when 0.5 will finally be released, "nobody knows," Rechitskiy said. Given how long ReactOS has been in development, users probably shouldn't hold their breath. 

For more, check out Windows with an open-source core: Check out ReactOS on TechRepublic.

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