Running Windows on Linux

A few people mentioned recently that ReactOS might be an interesting option re; running Windows applications under Linux. ReactOS is an Open Source Operating System that looks a little like Windows (exactly?) that can run Windows Software and Windows drivers … and it will run in a virtual machine.

I had a little bit of trouble getting started because it needs IDE disk drivers which don’t seem to be standard these days, but after acquiring the ReactOS boot image, I managed to narrow down a working installation procedure to the following, which will create a virtlib instance that will appear in the desktop’s virt-manager.

virt-install --name ReactOS --memory 1024 \
             --disk path=./ReactOS.qcow2,size=50 \
             --arch i686 --osinfo win2k --cdrom=./ReactOS.iso

This walked me through the old blue-screen Windows setup procedure, followed by a reboot, followed by the Windows install your drivers process, and another reboot. (as opposed to the last time I did this on a laptop with patches etc where it literally took hours, this took around 2 minutes)

I ended up with what looked like an old Windows desktop. Unlike old Windows desktops, ReactOS has an application installer, so Firefox was literally a couple of clicks away. But this is where the red flag started to fly. The latest version of Firefox is old and not really all that great on modern websites. Just for a start it’s certificate chain is so out of date it thinks there is a problem with most SSL certificates it sees. Can’t seem to see any other browser alternatives at the moment so if you need modern internet access it might not be that great an option, but for running games it looks to be a possibility.

I have a couple of old games kicking around (somewhere), I’ll load them up if I can find them. It is very quick (even in a Virtual Machine) and thus far I’ve failed to make it crash.

Anyone else tried this / found it useful?