Install ReactOS – Trying it out

Before you install ReactOS

ReactOS is a decent Windows alternative. We know where to get it from. We have the virtual machine or our test system set up. Now we can install ReactOS right away. With the installation medium ready, let us begin.

Install ReactOS - No. I did not face this issue. But I could not resist myself from sharing this!
Install ReactOS – No. I did not face this issue. But I could not resist myself from sharing this!

The process on how to install ReactOS is actually extremely simple. If you are dedicating your entire disk to installing this – you will face no issues at all. It is for this reason I recommend you go with a Virtual Machine. Let me re-iterate the specifications f the virtual machine once again.

Memory – 256 MB RAM (Recommended – 96 MB)

Hard Disk – 2 GB (Recommended 500 MB and above)

You can leave the rest of the settings to their defaults and everything should work fine.

Check out how it evolved.

Let us install ReactOS

Or, you can follow the text tips as follows.

  1. Insert the installation disk and start the virtual machine
  2. Boot from the installation media. Set the media with the optical drive pointing to the Installation image that was downloaded earlier.
  3. Allow the system to boot from the virtual optical drive.
  4. Follow the setup screens one by one. It should not take more than 5 to 10 minutes. This was truly one of the fastest operating system installs I have ever come across.
  5. Once you successfully install ReactOS, you boot up to the user screen and eventually the desktop.

Driver Installations for ReactOS

We will be installing Virtual Machine drivers for ReactOS.  This is not always a best case scenario. You can try installing the native Windows drivers if you are not running this on a Virtual Machine. In some cases, they will work right out of the box.

You will find the virtual machine drivers in the Software repository that comes pre-installed with ReactOS. This is similar to the software repos of Linux distributions. You will be disappointed with the limited number of applications that are fully supported. That however does not mean you can’t try other apps out.

Note: This is going to be a pain. I had to endure it. The Virtual machine drivers did not do the trick for me.

Trying out popular software after we install ReactOS

This is where the real test is. To get a proper feel of the system, we need to see if the up to date Windows specific applications run at all on our system. We will even increase the memory of our virtual system to up to 2 GB to make some of them run. These are the following tools that I intend to try out.

  • Microsoft Office 2007 – For some generic office tools. The latest version of Office is really not needed. Let’s keep our expectations low for the time being.
  • VLC media player – To check the graphical and audio acceleration capabilities. This will work only if the audio and video drivers are installed. Don’t bother with this if they are not.
  • Google Chrome – Make sure the memory is increased to at least 1 GB before you try this.
  • 7zip – Basic archival software. This will test its floating point capabilities to an extent.

To get the full list of software that is tested to run on ReactOS is found here. This is not a very objective red list. The applications that are in the green will work fine. Those in the red actually may still work. Those I mentioned above are in the gray or red zone. I will try to make them work and check how it goes.

Verdict – Is it worth it?


If you are a

  1. Regular user hoping to find a free Windows alternative
  2. Wish to test legacy Windows software

Yes if you love adventure and are not afraid to fall down. Over and over again.

By Sarthak Ganguly

A programming aficionado, Sarthak spends most of his time programming or computing. He has been programming since his sixth grade. Now he has two websites in his name and is busy writing two books. Apart from programming, he likes reading books, hanging out with friends, watching movies and planning wartime strategies.

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