The ReactOS team is pleased to announce the release of version 0.4.11.
This version has seen substantial work done to the kernel, helping
improve overall system stability.
While the term kernel is used as a sort of catch-all term, in truth the
range of functionality that it encapsulates is quite wide. One case in
point is the kernel’s responsibility for managing file I/O. A mistake
here can cause subtle data corruption to more obvious hard crashes.
Pierre Schweitzer’s fixes to the cache controller’s management of its
data structures has removed at least one source of blue screens that
occurred when attempting to backup a disk’s partition using the ODIN
Storage improvements were something of a theme in kernel improvements
this time around, as work was also done on the filesystems ReactOS
supports. While the fastfat driver is an inhouse filesystem driver,
ReactOS has always relied on a third party driver for BTRFS support.
This reliance however feeds back, as problems ReactOS discover in our
usage of the driver can be sent back upstream to help improve it
further. Such was the case with a major memory leak problem that Thomas
Faber was able to track down.
And speaking of storage, the very interfaces that allows operating
systems to talk with storage devices has undergone considerable change
since the good old days of IDE and parallel connectors. These days most
computers make use of SATA connections and the corresponding AHCI
interface, support for which ReactOS relies upon the UniATA driver for.
When the 6th generation of Intel’s Core processors (Skylake) was
released, it was accompanied by a chipset platform whose AHCI SATA
controllers proved incompatible with UniATA. This incompatibility has
now been resolved by Alexander Telyatnikov, allowing users wishing to
test ReactOS on more modern platforms to better make use of those
When an application is run, it often depends upon other libraries in the
form of DLLs. The loader (LDR) is responsible for finding and loading
the respective dependent DLLs, and correctly iterating over these
dependencies is fundamental to getting anything to run. One manner of
specifying these dependencies is with the use of something called
manifests, which was not properly supported in ReactOS. Considering that
many modern applications make use of manifests, this was a very glaring
hole. Mark Jansen’s work in the runup to 0.4.11 has however added
sufficient support for manifests that the range of applications now able
to start in ReactOS has significantly widened. Some examples of the
newly enabled applications include Blender 2.57b, shown in the
screenshot below, Bumptop, Evernote 5.8.3, Quicktime Player 7.7.9, and
many others that users have the opportunity to discover for themselves.
Blender 2.57b running within ReactOS
Stopping an application correctly is often just as important from a
system stability perspective, as it is when a program is stopped that
its previously allocated resources are freed up. For a long time ReactOS
had particular difficulty when it came to dealing with the shutdown
sequence for .NET 2.0 applications, often times not waiting long enough
for these applications to properly exit. Work by Giannis Adamopoulos has
however resolved this particular problem, adding further to ReactOS’
usefulness as a platform to run Windows compatible applications.
While the community wishlist for quality of life improvements in ReactOS
is quite lengthy, one especially longstanding one has been the ability
to upgrade an existing installation of ReactOS. Achieving this has
required substantial effort in the USETUP module, effort that Hermès
Bélusca-Maïto put considerable time into. The importance of this is
twofold. The obvious enhancement is the ability to perform the upgrade,
but the more substantive point is what this functionality entails for
the future. For ReactOS to be usable as an actual system OS, it needs
the ability to update in-place without losing user data and
configuration. While requiring the user to go through the system
installation process is still far from the user friendliness of other
modern operating systems, it is still a substantial step forward and
lays the foundation for ReactOS’ maturation into an everyday driver of
Screenshot of the ReactOS text mode setup with upgrade option
The Win32 subsystem responsible for graphical rendering in ReactOS is by
itself a substantial beast. Improvements here often tend towards the
most user visible of changes, since it is the engine through which the
user will most interact with the operating system.
Those familiar with the NT family’s basic design will recall that prior
to the NT6 line that began with Windows Vista, there was a substantial
block of functionality implemented inside the kernel space of the
operating system. This block is commonly referred to as win32k, and
because of its wide ranging kernel level privileges, problems within
win32k can hard crash the entire system. Even something as seemingly
basic as menus is reliant on functionality inside win32k, and fixing
that related functionality was the focus of much effort by several
Basic robustness was the emphasis Thomas Faber focused on, running the
menu code through a torture test that would see constant switching
between different windows to make sure no resources or the like leaked
across the different processes. One must recall that while in user mode
applications are partitioned off, in kernel mode resources are
effectively in a single space and the appropriate bookkeeping must be
maintained to avoid crashes. Speaking of crashes, Mark Jansen also
identified a problem with scrollbar initialization whose resolution has
added yet another range of applications into ReactOS’ library of
compatible programs. Case in point is the 32bit Civilization II
Multiplayer Gold Edition version 1.3, as demonstrated in the screenshot
below, and others like IceChat 7.63.
Screenshot of Civilization II Multiplayer Gold Edition 1.3 running on
The visual correctness of menu elements is also important, as misaligned
elements can produce graphically jarring displays. As such while subtle,
Katayama Hirofumi’s correction of the y-coordinate calculation for menu
items adds a touch of detail that is the difference between a polished
graphical experience and one that is just good enough.
Menus can also extend to more than just the menu bar we often see at the
top of applications. There are also pop-up menus like when one
right-clicks on an item, as in the case of icons in the taskbar’s system
tray. Mark was again responsible for this fix, which resolved the issue
of incorrectly selected options when one tried to use the systray. Users
can be thankful that one more source of frustration has now been squashed.
Finally, one must recall that not the entire world uses the
left-to-right display standard to English and other Latin based
languages. Many, such as Hebrew and Arabic, use a right-to-left
orientation. ReactOS’ support for this type of text rendering was first
officially exposed in 0.4.10, but the effort remains a work in progress.
That progress took a substantive leap with work done by Baruch Rutman to
adapt the USP10 library and Bidirectional support code from Wine to
ReactOS. More work of course remains to be done, but it is the nature of
open source development to take an iterative approach, building
improvements one upon another.
Bidirectional text support in ReactOS
While end user improvements are often the most visible, quality of life
improvements for power users, administrators, and developers have a
certain multiplicative effect as well. To that end, the enablement of
various network debugging and diagnosis programs by Pierre’s work in TCP
and UDP connection enumeration is important in a more subtle way. While
debugging network applications is a far from common use case for the
average user, it is a crucial ability for people that work in IT or
general software development. In this manner ReactOS is becoming useful
as not just a platform for running applications, but also to debug them.
And as history has shown, the ease of development and administration is
a key feature in adoption by the wider tech industry.
Observing the network connections via the netstat tool while running mIRC
Stability and Testing
As ReactOS continues to grow in stability and maturity, the breadth and
depth of testing necessary also increases, if only because there are
more candidate applications to test. To this end Joachim Henze has with
his usual dedication and perseverance worked to ensure the right balance
was struck for this release in terms of stability and new/improved
features. While it is always tempting to bring forward changes and fixes
in the latest and greatest, one must recall that every such change
brings with it a certain degree of risk. The ability to weigh that risk
with the likely benefits is what makes quality assurance personnel like
Joachim invaluable to any fast moving project.
In light of ReactOS’ expansive improvements, and to help prospective
users better understand the state of the OS and its supported
applications, Joachim has also restructured the test results page to
better encapsulate the relevant information. There one can now see not
only the overall conclusion of the test, but also details such as track
what drove a particular conclusion as well as any workarounds that they
might themselves attempt. A marked step forward from the binary of
works/fails, since a workaround suggests at least a starting point for a
permanent solution to be found.
Third Party Syncs
The current third party sources that ReactOS syncs with have been
brought to the following versions by their respective minders.
* ACPICA version 20181003, by Thomas Faber
* PCI hardware ID database 2018-11-21, by Hermès Bélusca-Maïto
* Wine Staging 3.17, by Amine Khaldi
JIRA Issues fixed (this includes both bugs and improvements) - 135
Number of commits - 984
The oldest bug fixed for 0.4.11 - https://jira.reactos.org/browse/CORE-3579
0.4.11-release branch was forked from master on 2018-12-09 after
- Press Release: https://reactos.org/project-news/reactos-0411-released
- General Notes: https://reactos.org/wiki/0.4.11
- Tests: https://reactos.org/wiki/Tests_for_0.4.11
- Changelog: https://reactos.org/wiki/ChangeLog-0.4.11
- Community Changelog: https://reactos.org/wiki/Community_Changelog-0.4.11
- Download page: https://reactos.org/download
Ros-announce mailing list
ReactOS 0.4.11 is going to be released tomorrow, Monday, March 4, 2019.
The download will be officially available around noon (CEST).
A Press Kit for the ReactOS 0.4.11 release is already available:
Feel free to send it to interested parties to let them know about the
upcoming release in advance.