The ReactOS open source operating system effort is an interesting one. It started off as an effort to ‘clone’ Windows NT, and then evolved to clone Windows Server 2003. Now with it’s 0.3.9 release ReactOS is doing something that Microsoft didn’t do with its own releases — namely reduce the memory footprint needed to run the server.
The Changelog for 0.3.9 claims:
Reduced minimum memory requirement to 32Mb. In theory, ReactOS can now be installed with 24Mb and run with only 20Mb
Running a server-type Windows OS with only 20Mb sounds shockingly low to me.
Reducing the memory footprint isn’t the only performance gains in ReactOS 0.3.9 either. Two other key improvements are:
- A new, faster Hyperspace Mapping Interface has been implemented in the kernel resulting in a speed improvement of over 300%
- Security check improvements to the Object Manager in the kernel improves performance by 500%. Noticeable during large file/registry operations
To be fair, this is still alpha software and it’s not intended (or claimed by ReactOS) to be a drop in replacement for Windows. What it does represent though is an interesting attempt to create Windows compatability entirely in open source, without the need for licensing or patents.