(Mini Unix)

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Minux (From mini-unix)

Minix (from "mini-Unix") is a POSIX-compliant (since version 2.0),[4][5] Unix-like operating system based on a microkernel architecture.

Early versions of MINIX were created by Andrew S. Tanenbaum for educational purposes. Starting with MINIX 3, the primary aim of development shifted from education to the creation of a highly reliable and self-healing microkernel OS. MINIX is now developed as open-source software.

MINIX was first released in 1987, with its complete source code made available to universities for study in courses and research. It has been free and open-source software since it was re-licensed under the BSD license in April 2000.

Minix 3 running X11 with the twm window manager

Minix 3 was publicly announced on 24 October 2005 by Tanenbaum during his keynote speech at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP). Although it still serves as an example for the new edition of Tanenbaum's textbook -coauthored by Albert S. Woodhull-, it is comprehensively redesigned to be "usable as a serious system on resource-limited and embedded computers and for applications requiring high reliability."[11]

Minix 3 currently supports IA-32 and ARM architecture systems. It is available in a Live CD format that allows it to be used on a computer without installing it on the hard drive, and in versions compatible with hardware emulating and virtualizing systems, including BochsQEMUVMware Workstation/FusionVirtualBox, and Microsoft Virtual PC.

Version 3.1.5 was released on 5 November 2009. It contains X11emacsviccgccperlpythonashbashzshftpsshtelnetpine, and over 400 other common Unix utility programs. With the addition of X11, this version marks the transition away from a text-only system. In many cases it can automatically restart a crashed driver without affecting running processes. In this way, MINIX is self-healing and can be used in applications demanding high reliability. MINIX 3 also has support for virtual memory management, making it suitable for desktop OS use.[12] Desktop applications such as Firefox and are not yet available for MINIX 3 however.

As of version 3.2.0, the userland was mostly replaced by that of NetBSD and support from pkgsrc became possible, increasing the available software applications that MINIX can use. Clang replaced the prior compiler (with GCC optionally supported), and GDB, the GNU debugger, was ported.[13][14]

Minix 3.3.0, released in September 2014, brought ARM support.

Minix 3.4.0RC, Release Candidates became available in January 2016;[15] however, a stable release of MINIX 3.4.0 is yet to be announced.

Minix supports many programming languages, including CC++FORTRANModula-2PascalPerlPython, and Tcl.

Minix 3 still has an active development community with over 50 people attending MINIXCon 2016, a conference to discuss the history and future of MINIX.[16]

All Intel chipsets post-2015 are running MINIX 3 internally as the software component of the Intel Management Engine.[17][18]


At the time of MINIX's original development, its license was relatively liberal. Its licensing fee was very small ($69) relative to those of other operating systems. Tanenbaum wished for MINIX to be as accessible as possible to students, but his publisher was unwilling to offer material (such as the source code) that could be copied freely, so a restrictive license requiring a nominal fee (included in the price of Tanenbaum's book) was applied as a compromise. This prevented the use of MINIX as the basis for a freely distributed software system.

When free and open-source Unix-like operating systems such as Linux and 386BSD became available in the early 1990s, many volunteer software developers abandoned MINIX in favor of these. In April 2000, MINIX 2 became free and open-source software under a permissive free software license,[22] but by this time other operating systems had surpassed its capabilities, and it remained primarily an operating system for students and hobbyists.


See also[edit]