Well, the first question would be: Is it legal to take hold of the NT Kernel Source? If so, proceed to the second paragraph; if not, proceed to the third.

The first thing you'd probably ask is "Why NT Kernel Source?" The answer is simply, I want to make my own OS compatible with Windows. This is of course, all a hobby, and I'm not planning any large project.

Ignore this if it's possible to get an NT Kernel Source: "ReactOS" I'm pretty sure that it uses Window's source code itself, with a few minor exceptions, so I'd like to know how they got the code.

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    ReactOS uses clean room reverse engineering. It doesn't use the source code itself. Essentially, they look at how each feature behaves and re-implement that feature to mirror the behaviour. They don't copy the logic verbatim. – Brendon Nov 27 '13 at 15:10
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    There are multiple ways of approaching 'compatible'. Consider also the wrapper approach of wine. – user40980 Nov 27 '13 at 15:13
  • what is your question? – gnat Nov 27 '13 at 15:22

Is it legal to take hold of the NT Kernel Source?

That depends what you mean by "take hold of". You can buy it from Microsoft. If you are an academic, you can get an academic license from Microsoft. If you are a government agency, you can get a government license.

In all cases, you need to abide by the terms of the license, of course.

The developers of the Xen Hypervisor, for example, back when it was still a research project, created a modified version of Windows XP that ran on Xen. They were never allowed to distribute this, of course, nor where they allowed to publish any benchmark results, but they were allowed to make under the rules of Microsoft's academic license for NT.

ReactOS is a fully independent implementation of the Windows APIs, it does not share a single line of code with NT.


If you're a student, you may be able to access the Windows Research Kernel (source code to the core of the kernel, few if any drivers) through your school - http://www.microsoft.com/education/facultyconnection/articles/articledetails.aspx?cid=2416&c1=en-us&c2=0

If you have a ton of money, you might still be able to purchase a license to the whole thing from Microsoft. Citrix did this back in the early 90s to make WinFrame (later licensed back to Microsoft for Terminal Services).

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