ReactOS Part 2 – Upgrades

This time last year, you might remember that I kind of liked a little known operating system called ReactOS. It’s basically a linux kernel with the look and feel of an old windows box. Having spent a bit of time chatting to the ReactOs guys they’ve agreed to allow me to spend a bit more time on it asking questions like Can you live with it, is it any good etc?

Now the first thing I’m going to say is that ReactOs has a lot of fans and some of them use it every day so I’m not going there. I’m going to look at this purely from a techie’s point of view. Is it supportable? Is it professional? Can you use it to hack with?

Obviously, and fairly the answer is no as it’s still Alpha software at best but let’s have some fun anyway. The first question on my mind was can you upgrade it?

So as it was over a year ago when I first had a laugh with 0.4.5, let’s see if my ancient VM that last saw action over a year ago can upgrade to 0.4.7 which is the latest stable release I can find

Now before we go any further, let’s be honest here. I’m doing all this on a VM courtesy of Oracle Virtualbox, so I’m cheating. You can do this right on your bare metal PC if you wish but I hope if you do then you have a perverse love of disk recovery tools.

I’m using some experimental hardware for this – a 2012 Mac mini that’s been taken apart so many times the hard disk is held in with duct tape and an ancient 1Tb USB hard drive that’s so old I think the likes of Babbage or Brunel had a hand in it’s development – there’s definitely a little flap at the back where you shovel the coal in.

If ReactOS can run on this it can run on anything….

Upfront Cheats

I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve tweaked my VM a bit. I’ve downloaded the latest LiveISO and set it up in the boot order so my VM will boot from this first

So Let’s sit back, hit that big red button and see what happens……

The answer is bugger all. I get my old ReactOS desktop back

Grrr, Okay. Maybe that’s me. I’ll try downloading and installing the bootable CD version. The good news here is that ReactOS is a very small download, typically a zip file between 60Mb and 100Mb. So even if you have third world broadband ( ie UK or US) it only takes a few minutes to download, unzip and try again

This time…

Yaaay. It’s asking if I speak American. On to a winner here, should be easy now

So I choose “R” to repair or update. And then choose “U” to update

And by some miracle it finds my old C:\ drive. Why can’t Windows 10 do that?

Hmmmn… All of a sudden I’m a bit suspicious. The installer claimed to have found disk errors and asked me to hit Enter. Then it launched off into where I’d like Reactos installed. Now to be fair, I’m doing all this in a VM with the hard disk hosted on a decades old USB drive so I’m tempted to be a bit forgiving and press on

Whoooaaa! Too fast Dudes. There’s a file copy/install screen that flashes past so quickly I didn’t have the chance to take a screen grab or add some sarcastic comments. If all goes well you’ll get what I got next

So with fingers, and other bits crossed I go for a brutal power off and change the boot priority in my VM


It works, updated and relatively painless. Apart from a little hiccup where I tried to boot from the LiveCD rather than the bootable copy all went well

Watch out for the next episode where the DBA uses his new ReactOS VM to mess with an email scammer