ReactOS released news today regarding the project’s status, recent confusion and future development. The news item is slightly confusing in itself though, but the the gist is this: there is no code inside the ReactOS SVN repository that has been directly pasted from Windows source code. However, it might be that some people had access to Windows source code and used it as inspiration– these developers should mark their code as ‘dangerous’, and these sections will then be audited by a ‘clean’ person. Currently, 15% has been audited and can be declared ‘clean’.
ReactOS Project Status Update
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2006-02-22 1:13 amrattaro
Maybe they should be. It’s really too bad that proprietary code is so viral. Open source is so much more flexible, and people just don’t get in that much trouble using it. In summary, open source code leads to FUD, proprietary code leads to law suits.
2006-02-22 2:16 amrhizome
It’s not that proprietary code is so viral, it’s copyright laws that are viral.
2006-02-22 6:35 amAnonymous
Then maybe proprietary code shouldn’t be stolen, leaked, and then illegally downloaded by open-source developers?
(Note I refer to OSS devs as pertaining only to the last stage. I have no idea who actually stole and leaked the Windows source)
2006-02-22 3:05 pmrattaro
“Then maybe proprietary code shouldn’t be stolen, leaked, and then illegally downloaded by open-source developers?”
Exactly. I couldn’t agree more. Proprietary code is so viral, just looking at it could taint you. That’s worse than the flu! You never run into such problems with open source code.
2006-02-23 5:35 pmMorin
> Exactly. I couldn’t agree more. Proprietary code is so
> viral, just looking at it could taint you. That’s worse
> than the flu! You never run into such problems with
> open source code.
This isn’t entirely true. If I understand correctly, looking at the code is dangerous because you might violate copyright unintentionally, by writing code that is (almost) the same as the code you looked at. This can happen with free/open source software just the same way, which is also protected by copyright. If I look at the Linux kernel sources, and then write the same code for a project which is distributed closed-source or maybe under the BSD/MIT license, I have violated copyright just the same way.
It just happens that authors of F/OSS don’t mind because they usually agree that it would be ridiculous to sue me for that.
2006-02-22 1:31 amnii_
“Who is to say that other open-source OS projects, such as Linux, FreeBSD, and Mach, do not also suffer from “Microsoft inspiration”? Shouldn’t these projects all be audited too?“
What about ALL software that is written. Either open source, or closed source proprietary from any interest or company can take code from somewhere and embed it in.
This is even more likely for closed source code as once compiled they can easily get away with it.
But it is indeed a valid point that auditing/accounting is necessary. However, with Open Source, this auditing can be done by any third party at any time. But with closed proprietary code then a third party may not be able to get hold of the code and even if they can how can they believe if they have the correct code or just something similar.
2006-02-22 8:24 amRenatoRam
And bear in mind that Open Source was there FIRST.
When Microsoft was only the company making BASIC for the Altair, the *nix programmers had been sharing code for at least a decade.
If you read some history about Unix, you discover that it was very easy to acquire the full sourcecode of the various dialects.
C and the C compiler, and the very first Unix from Thompson and Ritchie’s source was available.
Proprietary software, in the end, is the descendant of open source software. Not the other way round.
2006-02-22 1:36 pmGet a Life
You should also keep in mind that AT&T had a different idea of what sharing meant.
2006-02-22 1:37 amt3RRa
because of the nature of the opensource projects, couldn’t it be possible the other way around, like that microsoft has copied code from opensource OS projects? i don’t mean microsoft actually did it (in an illegal way i mean. however, they DID where it is legal!) but we could be curious about that, too, couldn’t we? i hope everone gets what i mean.
anyway, i hope reactos could get over this situation soon. i am looking forward to see this project releases v1.0!
2006-02-22 3:44 amSEJeff
Microsoft got the TCP/IP stack in Windows NT Server 3.51 from BSD and bastardized the heck out of it I believed. Just because it’s open source doesn’t mean it has to be illegal to use in a closed source product.
If they use GPL source code, I’m sure someone will find out sooner or later (the strings command anyone?) and all hell would break loose.
2006-02-22 2:05 amMorgul
Something needs to be explained here. When they say, “inspired” they have a very important definition. They mean anyone who’s seen Microsoft Code, and had it sitting in their mind somewhere when they wrote those same functions for ReactOS. This code isn’t merely inspired, it’s acidental plagerism, and a copyright violation. Now, if someone sits there, and says, “foobar.dll works by taking a char*, inverting it, and then dividing by six, and comparing that to the required output” and you code a function to do that, you’re fine. You never saw the source code, so there’s no copyrights violation. See the difference?
Sure there’s a small (VERY SMALL) chance that this happened with linux. Should linux be audited? Sure! Why not? Every OS project should be audited.. not just for this, but for other things. Fact is, though, that ReactOS was KNOWN to be in violation, and Linux isn’t. So, until someone notices shell32.dll in a linux kernel, there’s no outside pressure to audit. For ReactOS there was.
All in all, I’ve got to say that this situation has been handled brilliantly, and I’m ammazed that they’re 15% done with the audit! That’s awesome!
2006-02-22 10:33 amsiki_miki
MS can hardly prove anything without the direct copyright violation (“copy-paste”). But they can use it as PR for scaring people which consider ReactOS, surely. For that reason it is important to clear things up and continue in proper way.
In maojority of countries, looking at leaked source code doesn’t mean you are prohibited code something analogous. In USA you could have problems, but you can be jailed in the USA for much less, anyway
2006-02-22 2:58 amGet a Life
Mach hasn’t been in active development for many years, so I think you can rest assured that it’s not contaminated. Now which Mach fork are you implying should be inspected? GNU Mach? Maybe XNU? Who knows who might have misapropriated calc.exe’s source code.
If someone wants to pay to “audit” any of these codebases, I’m sure there would be people more than willing to. Otherwise I would think that people aren’t going to worry about it.
2006-02-22 4:36 amAngel--Fr@gzill@
I’m very curious too, about something …
Who is to say that Windows code or other Microsoft projects, such as Office, games do not also suffer from “open-source OS projects inspiration”?
Shouldn’t Windows code and other Microsoft projects all be audited too?
Just because they are not trying to be open-source OS projects clones, does not make them exempt from developers who have looked at the open-source OS projects code and been “inspired” or copied an idea or two, or three, or some code.
Only, that is not that easy to check the code of a “Closed Source” company. Specially a monopolistic company, with such a lonf hand, and powerfull economic and political intersts and links… !!!
2006-02-22 12:44 pmkwanbis
and who says MS does not includes compiled LINUX code inside its Windows? On Open Source projects, anyone can check.
15% audited already? They seem to be doing this a lot faster than I was expecting. Good job!
2006-02-22 2:28 amkonkat
Excellent news indeed. I was worried we’d be a ways off before seeing another release.
2006-02-22 1:30 pmtheuserbl
15% audited already? They seem to be doing this a lot faster than I was expecting.
They are at 15% for two weeks.
Have a look at
The 15% ar the things which are fast to audit. The other things are comming now — and needs a lot of more time.
I’m glad they took the responsible path and choose to audit the code and be sure there’s no problem with any part of the code in the project and also come clean with what’s going on. They could just denied everything from the beginning, they could just made the changes not talked a word about the subject, but they didn’t.
I’m glad with this development and wish good luck to the ReactOS team and their project!
I have a couple of quetions
1) how can you audit code without having the source you are implying that might have inspired the person (or even been copied from, not saying this is what has been done). you need something to compare it to, dont you ?
2) Linux/BSD and now even Solaris code is available on the net, again whats stopping anyone from MS being inspired ?
2006-02-22 10:32 amjessta
Microsoft gets inspired by BSD code all the time. Then they cut and paste. BSD is good like that.
– Jesse McNelis
2006-02-22 4:17 pmcharles
In answer to #1, from the wiki page (http://www.reactos.org/wiki/index.php/Audit):
1. A function is deemed to have been implemented in a non-clean manner if
– “unknown” arguments given values
– functions for which there is NO DOCUMENTATION
– functions with no test cases available either in ReactOS or somewhere on the internet
– functions with undocumented magic numbers
– functions with excessive gotos
NO DOCUMENTATION means it cannot be found on MSDN, Google, sysinternals, osronline, any book published by Microsoft Press or any other publication.
2. The following does not count
– functions of 5 or less lines of code
– functions for which every basic unit corresponds to a clause in the official
– functions which mimic those implemented in other libraries and that work similarly
All this work for the code to not being MS Windows code, while having all the ReactOS install screens just copied from Windows install screens.
I don’t see the point.
2006-02-22 1:29 pmzerblat
The point is that ReactOS is trying to be legal. If you are suggesting that ReactOS is using copyrighted work from Microsoft, I’m sure they’ll be eager to remove that from their code if you let them know.
However, remember that merely creating a similar user interface as someone else isn’t necessarily copyright infringement.
It may be true that ReactOS does not contain parts which are copy/pasted from Windows source code, but ReactOS DEFINITELY CONTAINS UNAUTHORIZED COPIED MATERIAL and some ReactOS developers have no problem DISTRIBUTING THIS UNAUTHORIZED COPIED MATERIAL TO PEOPLE WHO DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS. This is not acceptable to me, so I have chosen to stop hosting the ReactOS repository and leave the project. It was 6 years of fun though and I don’t regret contributing to ReactOS.
Thank you for putting in the summary that this is not about copy and pasted code, for the lazy people around here who can’t RTFA. The last story on this was a slugfest with around 90% of the people not reading the article, and a few strewn around with some level of intelligence telling them it wasn’t about copyrighted code. 🙂
I’m curious about something …
Who is to say that other open-source OS projects, such as Linux, FreeBSD, and Mach, do not also suffer from “Microsoft inspiration”? Shouldn’t these projects all be audited too? Just because they are not trying to be NT clones does not make them exempt from developers who have looked at the stolen Windows code and been inspired or copied an idea or two.