Software update: ReactOS 0.4.10




Version 0.4.10 of ReactOS has been released. The React Operating System is an open source operating system that aims to be compatible with Windows NT, 2000 and XP, so that Windows applications and drivers can be run on it. Although there is already a lot of software running smoothly, including LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird and various games, the whole project according to the developers is still in the alpha stage and is not suitable for daily use. On this page some screenshots of ReactOS can be viewed. The changelog for this issue can be found here, these are the release notes:

ReactOS 0.4.10 released
The ReactOS project is pleased to announce the release of version 0.4.10, the latest of our quarterly cadence or releases. The project has a growing emphasis on consistency and stability over the past few months. Just as new pieces of functionality are added, all this would be for naught if a user could not access them reliably.

Booting from BTRFS
The headline feature for 0.4.10 would have to be ReactOS ‘ability to boot from a BTRFS formatted drive. The work enabling this was part of this year’s Summer of Code with student developer Victor Perevertkin. While the actual filesystem driver itself is from the WinBtrfs project by Mark Harmstone, much of Victor’s work was in filling out the bits and pieces of ReactOS that the driver is expected to interact with. The filesystem stack in ReactOS is arguably one of the lesser mature components by simple dint of there being some open source NT filesystem drivers to test against. Those that the project uses internally have all gone through enough iterations that gaps in ReactOS are worked around. WinBtrfs on the other hand with no history of the history and the documented NT filesystem driver API.

Parallel to this effort was more basic work needed to expose the BTRFS option in the ReactOS installer and bootloader. It is all good and good for ReactOS to have a working driver, but it is a good way to put it into use. The combined effort proved fruitful indeed, and users are invited to try out BTRFS support in 0.4.10. The newness of the feature will be the inevitable bug here and there, but with the community’s assistance in reporting that the project can be further improved.

Frontend Improvements
When someone uses ReactOS, the interface through which they do is the shell. And underpinning the shell’s functionality is the shell32 library, which are often directly exposed to the end user. For the past few months Katayama Hirofumi, a long-time contributor to the project, has invented new features while making improvements to other existing ones.

For those of us who do any significant amount of work on the command prompt, a wide range of tricks and shortcuts exist to make our lives easier. One such trick is that you have a full path. And to complement this trick, Katayama-san has also made improvements to those of us that are steeped in the graphical shell more than the command prompt. In the past ReactOS is the only way to offer alternatives to interact with things in the shell. Folders in explorer were only a matter of a way, you could not change or use a single versus double click to enter them, and interact with multiple windowed applications. All this and more have improved, and the following screenshot sums up that improvement far more succinctly than mere words can.

The overall look and feel of ReactOS has also improved, or rather that of applications that run upon it. One special class of applications would be installers, or which the MSI family performs graphical rendering based on font heights. Users are likely to recall in the past when MSI installers, just something slightly askew in how these installers appeared.

As seemingly small as these may sound, many of them are not gone unnoticed. The greatest success ReactOS could be achieved. Katayama-san’s work takes you further down that path, the culmination of a multitude or small steps along the way.

Finally, the project would be reminded of the contributions of other developers to the shell’s improvement. While Hermès Bélusca-Maïto’s important backend work is somewhat inscrutable to end users, fixes by Denis Malikov and Jared Smoke to deal with file copying and shortcut creation will probably be appreciated as another sign that ReactOS works, as expected.

Stability is generally a hard thing to quantify, since it is often very subjective. Probably one thing that we can agree on is that anything that prevents ReactOS, or applications running from crashing is a plus in the stability column. To that end, while improvements to the memory management stack by Timo Kreuzer and Pierre Schweitzer might sound opaque and vague, they are nonetheless instrumental to ReactOS ‘stability.

Simultaneously, each time a major widely used application achieves full functionality on ReactOS, also constituting a victory. A contribution by Stanislav Motylkov to the C Runtime library used in ReactOS now allows Git, the version control software used in this project, to finally work correctly. A nice follow-up to the self-hosting achievement from last time around, we think many would agree.

And of course no one is a fan of BSoDs, even if they evoke a slight sense of nostalgia. Fortunately for ReactOS ‘sake, Mark Jansen was able to handle the cause of one such crash related to the FreeType font library. Better that blue screens are consigned to our memories than a perennial part of our daily computing experience.

The surest metric of stability is arguably how much of ReactOS and the desired collection of applications. For this, there is no substitute for human testing. To that end Joachim Henze has invested a tremendous amount of time, performing a few seconds before the formal process of preparing the release began. The fruit of his labs, before you have seen the countless numbers of fixes, reversions, and tweaks that were selectively filtered to produce version 0.4.10, rest assured that they combine to provide a worthy testament to the effort that is the ReactOS Project. We hope you enjoy.

Other Improvements
Stanislav Motylkov did some work on retrieving BIOS information. Now the blank entries in dxdiag are filled with actual values. The community helped him to gather over 1000 unique BIOS dumps to help him test the implementation.

Third Party Attributions
As always, it would be a reminder for the project to not provide an acknowledgment of the third party bits we make use of. For this release, Amine Khaldi has synchronized the user-mode DLLs to WINE-Staging version 3.9. Furthermore as mentioned above, ReactOS ‘support for BTRFS owes a debt of gratitude to the WinBTRFS project, or which Pierre has synchronized to the latest version, 1.0.2.

JIRA issues fixed (this includes both bugs and improvements) – 148
Number of commits – 660
The oldest bug fixed for 0.4.10 – CORE-1246
ReactOS 0.4.10 screenshot (620 pix)

Version number 0.4.10
Release status Final
License type Conditions (GNU / BSD / etc.)


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