Free ReactOS Windows clone in VirtualBox

ReactOS gives a free, open-source Windows replacement that can use USB devices. Sometimes Linux users need to use a Windows VM when USB devices are required in Windows programs since WINE does not yet support USB devices without considerable hacking. ReactOS can work in a VM for older Windows programs with a much smaller install than Microsoft Windows.

Install ReactOS in a virtual machine:

  1. Use VirtualBox version recommended in ReactOS install procedure
  2. create a new VM with name “ReactOS”, which should auto-populate needed settings
  3. when installing, use FAT file system instead of buggy, experimental BTRFS at this time.
  4. disable JavaScript in ReactOS Firefox browser as ReactOS might hang at 100% CPU for JavaScript intensive websites. Type about:config in address bar and Toggle javascript.enabled to false.

ReactOS advantages vs. Windows:

  • ReactOS boot image is under 150 MB and 400 MB for base installation, while Windows 10 is nearing a 10 GB install
  • no OS license maintenance with free, open-source ReactOS
  • no licensing worries about making many copies of a working ReactOS install. Get a VM working and copy it to many workstations.
  • ReactOS “Lautus” theme looks, works and feels like Windows XP, so there are few concerns about transitioning users reluctant to change

ReactOS Limitations:

ReactOS is 32-bit, so all programs installed must not be 64-bit. 64-bit ReactOS is progressing and may be available in the future.

ReactOS 0.4.x API level is Windows NT 5.2 (Windows 2003 / XP). Programs requiring Windows NT 6.0 (Vista) or newer will likely not run. Current versions of Python do not work with ReactOS 0.4.x due to the Windows NT 5.2 API level. Consider trying an older version of the program you want to install, that is still noted to work with Windows XP when using ReactOS.

ReactOS 0.5.x is anticipated to have better NT 6.x API like Windows Vista. This is important as many programs, including open source programs, have left Windows NT 5.x unsupported and non-functional for their programs.