MINIX operating system


MINIX 3 is a new open-source operating system designed to be highly reliable, flexible, and secure. Though it is broadly based on previous versions of MINIX, it is fundamentally different in many key ways. MINIX 3 is capable of being usable as a serious system on resource-limited and embedded computers and for applications requiring high reliability while MINIX 1 and 2 were intended as teaching tools.

The most important feature of MINIX is that this OS is extremely small, with the part that runs in kernel mode under 4000 lines of executable code. The parts that run in user mode are divided into small modules, well insulated from one another. For example, each device driver runs as a separate user-mode process so a bug in a driver, cannot bring down the entire OS. Also when a driver crashes it is automatically replaced without requiring any user intervention, without requiring rebooting, and without affecting running programs greatly enhancing systems reliability.

Key areas where MINIX can be reliably applied are Single-chip, small-RAM, low-power, low coat desktops or Embedded systems such as digital cameras, mobiles .It can also find its usability where GPL is too restrictive. Features of MINIX are:

  • POSIX compliant
  • Networking with TCP/IP
  • X Window System
  • Languages: cc, gcc, g++, Perl, python, etc
  • about 650 Unix programs
  • Full multiuser and multiprogramming
  • Device drivers run as user processes
  • High degree of fault tolerance
  • Full C source code supplied

What you require to run Minix? To run MINIX 3, you need a PC driven by a 386, 486, or Pentium CPU or compatible. The standard configuration requires 16 MB of RAM. An 8-MB version is also available, but it is slower due to a smaller buffer cache. Since the distribution comes on a live CD, you can test it without allocating any hard disk space, but for a hard disk installation, 50 MB is needed as a minimum, 600 MB minimum if you want all the sources.

Manish Ratra