When you think of an operating system that isn’t Windows of macOS, you probably think of Linux. You may think of some other variant of Unix, but chances are pretty good its one of those. That said, Linux and Unix aren’t the only other operating systems.
There are other options going back, like QNX or BeOS, but there are also other options now – you just haven’t heard of them. One of these operating systems is ReactOS.
What Is ReactOS?
ReactOS has more in common with Windows than it does Linux. That said, ReactOS isn’t a version of Windows, nor is it meant to be a clone of Windows. ReactOS is an entirely different operating system.
That said, ReactOS can run Windows programs. As a matter of fact, the developers aim for full binary compatibility with Windows. In a nutshell, that means it is meant to be a non-Windows OS that can run Windows programs.
ReactOS also has system requirements, so you can run it on an old spare computer to try it out. You don’t even need to install it to try it.
How to Create a ReactOS Live CD
You can create a standard ReactOS installer, but if you just want to try it out, a Live CD works great. This lets you run it without installing it.
Launch ImgBurn, then select “Write image file to disc.” Select the ISO file you downloaded earlier, then insert a black CD into your burner. Click “ISO to CD,” and wait for the file to burn.
Now reboot your computer. To boot from a CD, you may have to hold down a key. In most cases, this is F12. Boot from the ReactOS live CD, then choose LiveCD from the menu.
How to Create a ReactOS Live USB Drive
Technically, you can also opt to create a live USB drive instead of the CD. That said, you may not be able to run it.
A Word of Warning
At the time of writing, you can’t boot from a USB due to a bug in ReactOS. You can create the drive just fine, but you’ll get a black screen on boot.
That said, that may not be true when you read this. You may want to check the ReactOS website to verify whether live USB drives work.
Creating a Live USB Drive
To create a live USB drive, you’ll need to download the live CD ISO as above. Instead of burning it to a disc, you’ll instead use a program like Rufus to create a USB stick.
We already have a guide on creating a live USB stick with Rufus. You can follow that guide using the ReactOS image file.
If you have an old machine you want to breathe new life into, ReactOS is a great option. It’s also a good choice for fixing up older machines for friends or relatives who want to run their old Windows programs. ReactOS won’t solve all their problems, but it’s worth considering.
That said, maybe you’re a Windows user looking to move to something else without buying new hardware. If that’s the case, take a look at our list of the best Linux distributions for Windows users.