Running Windows on Linux

A few people mentioned recently that ReactOS might be an interesting option re; running Windows applications under Linux. ReactOS is an Open Source Operating System that looks a little like Windows (exactly?) that can run Windows Software and Windows drivers … and it will run in a virtual machine.

I had a little bit of trouble getting started because it needs IDE disk drivers which don’t seem to be standard these days, but after acquiring the ReactOS boot image, I managed to narrow down a working installation procedure to the following, which will create a virtlib instance that will appear in the desktop’s virt-manager.

virt-install --name ReactOS --memory 1024 \
             --disk path=./ReactOS.qcow2,size=50 \
             --arch i686 --osinfo win2k --cdrom=./ReactOS.iso

This walked me through the old blue-screen Windows setup procedure, followed by a reboot, followed by the Windows install your drivers process, and another reboot. (as opposed to the last time I did this on a laptop with patches etc where it literally took hours, this took around 2 minutes)

I ended up with what looked like an old Windows desktop. Unlike old Windows desktops, ReactOS has an application installer, so Firefox was literally a couple of clicks away. But this is where the red flag started to fly. The latest version of Firefox is old and not really all that great on modern websites. Just for a start it’s certificate chain is so out of date it thinks there is a problem with most SSL certificates it sees. Can’t seem to see any other browser alternatives at the moment so if you need modern internet access it might not be that great an option, but for running games it looks to be a possibility.

I have a couple of old games kicking around (somewhere), I’ll load them up if I can find them. It is very quick (even in a Virtual Machine) and thus far I’ve failed to make it crash.

Anyone else tried this / found it useful?

I tried it a good few years ago now and found it extremely clunky and barely run any windows software properly, but it may well be much better now, but I think it’s usefulness could depend on what version of Windows it’s based on, ie my missus has a Cricut vinyl cutting machine which she upgraded recently so I have her old one, These are great machines but the problem is they will only work logged into their servers using their software and will only run in the latest versions of Windows or Mac, I don’t know for the life of me how they get away with that but they do, anyway I managed to get their Design Space software working in WINE but couldn’t get the machine to install and neither has anyone else on Linux, I have a Win 7 VM but Cricut have made that unusable as well, I don’t have a copy of Win 10 or 11 (whatever the latest is now) and have no wish for it so do you think there would be any chance it would work in React OS (I think I know the answer but I thought I’d ask)

Mm, well I guess the only definitive answer is; “there’s only one way to find out” :wink:

I think ReactOS was based on a very early version of Windows, however it does run some relatively recent software, so I’m guessing there is a degree of flexibility in there with regards to what it can run.

It quite interesting tho’, although ReactOS and WINE are two ways to run Windows applications under Linux, they work in very different ways. Whereas WINE intercepts Windows systems calls and emulates their functionality using the Linux Equivalent, ReactOS is actually an implementation of Windows itself, so there’s no emulation going on ‘as such’. So technically whereas WINE may be easier to implement, ReactOS should provide for better compatibility, especially when you look further down the stack. i.e. you’re looking at re-writes of Windows Systems calls, rather than a mapping of a Windows System call onto a Linux System call.

Ultimately the solution would be for M$ to just drop Windows. Not on it’s head as it appears they did during the design stage, but as in just stop providing it and move everything to Linux. Maybe not such a far-fetched idea …