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Unix Education Open Source Operating Systems

Andrew Tanenbaum Announces MINIXcon ( 104

LichtSpektren writes: Andrew Tanenbaum, author of MINIX, writes: 'MINIX has been around now for about 30 years so it is (finally) time for the MINIXers to have a conference to get together, just as Linuxers and BSDers have been doing for a long time. The idea is to exchange ideas and experiences among MINIX 3 developers and users as well as discussing possible paths forward now that the ERC funding is over. Future developments will now be done like in any other volunteer-based open-source project. Increasing community involvement is a key issue here. Attend or give a presentation.' The con will be held on 1 February 2016 at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
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Andrew Tanenbaum Announces MINIXcon

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  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @02:37PM (#50857495)

    "The idea is to exchange ideas and experiences among MINIX 3 developers and users..."

    I wish all seven of them have a good time exchanging ideas and experiences.
    Perhaps they could use email.
    You know.
    Like through a linux server.
    That's how it works.

    "If the OSI developers are emailing each other, it's over TCP/IP" -- Steven Belovin, before you were born
    "If the Minix developers[sic] are emailing each other, it's on Linux systems" -- me


    • by Anonymous Coward

      Don't be a dick.

    • I would be curious to know how many people are even using MINIX.

      I still have Tanenbaum's operating systems book on my shelf, but once Linux came along I have no idea if anybody is using it for much.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by volkerdi ( 9854 )

        MINIX is obsolete.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Minix will be obsolete just after the need to learn about operating systems is obsolete.

        • Obsolete (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Alwin Henseler ( 640539 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @03:34PM (#50858055)

          MINIX is obsolete.

          Even if assuming that's the case: okay, so what? Things that are considered 'obsolete' are used in many places, every day, doing their thing. Often better than if done by a modern 'equivalent'.

          From what I've read, MINIX has some unique features that mainstream OS'es don't have. For that reason alone there's a place for it. And it's useful as a way to learn the inner workings of an OS. Not as big and complex as an OS that supports everything under the sun.

          Still not good enough hey? How about as a research vehicle? To try some new concepts that haven't been tried elsewhere. Do things that have been done elsewhere just a little different, and see how that works. Or just for the fun of it.

          Especially us /. users should applaud and appreciate projects like this. There used to be a time when it seemed as if every company were working on some OS or programming language of their own. When hobbyists where beating bare metal of their PC's in assembly, even up to a GUI or 3D games. These days... not so much. Most software news these days is new releases of existing software. New versions of existing operating systems. Some new way to make existing software X work with existing software Y. Projects like MINIX that are still developed (even if slowly) are few and far between.

          Last but not least: if you're not interested: fine, that's OKAY. But no reason to mock an interesting project simply because it's not your cup of tea.

          • MINIX is obsolete.

            Even if assuming that's the case: okay, so what?

            LOL ... me I'm giving the GP the benefit of the doubt of making a really good reference [].

            The first occurrence of this debate was recorded on January 29, 1992, when Tanenbaum first posted his criticism on the Linux kernel to comp.os.minix, noting how the monolithic design was detrimental to its abilities, in a post titled LINUX is obsolete.

            Because Tanenbaum once said the same thing about Linux.

            • lol I've read that thread before, but I missed this post by Linus:

              And reply I did, with complete abandon, and no thought for good taste and netiquette. Apologies to ast, and thanks to John Nall for a friendy "that's not how it's done"-letter. I over-reacted, and am now composing a (much less acerbic) personal letter to ast. Hope nobody was turned away from linux due to it being (a) possibly obsolete (I still think that's not the case, although some of the criticisms are valid) and (b) written by a hothead :-)

              Linus "my first, and hopefully last flamefest" Torvalds

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          hmmm. Low UID, and "volkerdi" would be a good way to represent a username on a system that might have had an eight-character username limitation at some point. Is this Patrick Volkerding of Slackware?

          To the point though, even if MINIX is obsolete, obsolesecence could simply be that the features needed are not implemented. Granted, the entire framework could be poor to the point that adding on components does not help, but if the framework is solid then even something obsolete might be able to develop
            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              I must have read that thread a half dozen times over the many years since. I just reread a goodly portion of it and, wow... Look at the names of the people. I'm not sure what words apply and my word-smithing is not up to the task. How about? "That is a serious collection of legends." I simply can't think of anything better to describe it without seeming to gush.

              'Tis an awesome read and thanks for the reminder of that piece of history. AST also has some stuff up at his site that you can read. He went on to r

        • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @05:02PM (#50858811) Journal

          MINIX is obsolete.

          Yeah, no kidding, that's why they made a new version. Try to keep up.

          • Their versions from 3 onwards were pretty different from 1 & 2. About as different as Windows 95 and Windows NT. 3 onwards was a microkernel OS. While the versions 1 & 2 were indeed small kernels, Tanenbaum never claimed that they were microkernels, the way he did about Amoeba, or later, Minix 3.x.
          • MINIX is obsolete.

            Yeah, no kidding, that's why they made a new version. Try to keep up.

            Taking a page from OS/2 Warp?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by I kan Spl ( 614759 )

          Minix is an amazing learning OS.

          Back in university, we were required to write a simple scheduler, a virtual memory (paging to disk) subsystem, and a FAT16 filesystem on top of a stripped down Minix kernel.

          While that would technically be possible with Linux as well, the reality is that the Linux kernel base is so amazingly huge that a third year university student with no kernel experience has little hope of doing such a set of projects in a single quarter long course.

        • by tomxor ( 2379126 )
          ... Minix 3 ... the future of anything close to a conceptually stable OS for the future... but you stick with your old Linux based on the obsolete Minix 1.
      • Yeah, it's on my shelf, too. Thing is, had it come out a few years later, the world would probably be running on it today. When the book came out, there WAS no "internet" as we think of it today; not for individual users. By the time Linux came out (from Minix), there was enough internet infrastructure in place so that people all over the world could form a virtual community to work on the source together.
        • by gavron ( 1300111 )

          Minix the book came out in 1987. The Internet was developed in 1973, was connecting universities and research centers and companies as the NSFnet in 1985.
          1985 and 1973 are both before 1987 so no, there WAS TOO an Internet when Minix came out.

          Secondly Linux did NOT come out from Minix. Both Andrew Tenenbaum and Linus Torvalds said that.

          I've giving you ZERO out of two possible points for telling the truth and not being a stupid troll.


          • Linus Benedick Torvalds disagrees with you.

            Notes for linux release 0.01

            This is a free minix-like kernel for i386(+) based AT-machines. ... Thus you currently need minix to bootstrap the system. ... The linux kernel has been made under minix, and it was my original idea to make it binary compatible with minix. ... As already mentioned, the linux FS is the same as in minix. This makes crosscompiling from minix easy, and means you can mount a linux partition from minix

          • I started studying in 1987.
            And we already had 'internet' then. Not sure what all is called 'internet' though. Some friends of mine claim you could call it internet after we had DNS ... that was 1983.

            Well, there is no real connection between linux and minix, it is said Tannenbaum once had said about Linux he had 'failed the OS class' in the literal sense (Linus was not taking classes from Tannenbaum).

            Friends of mine installed Minix on Atari STs and one had it on an 68k Mac ... I was not much impressed.

            But la

          • As I said:

            no "internet" as we think of it today; not for individual users.

            In other words, yes it had INSTITUTIONAL users, not people dialing in from their homes.

            Secondly, BZZZT! WRONG!

            I think I know which one of us is thea stupid troll -- his nick is gavron.
            • by gavron ( 1300111 )

              LoL! I'm no troll. Allow me to expound.

              The Internet has been alive and well. I don't know what YOU think of it TODAY so that's not really a definition.
              It was working just great for those of us in universities, at government labs, at companies supporting the Internet, etc.
              I'm sorry you weren't aware of it, and some confusion about internet=html hadn't occurred yet either. gopher was pretty good! (for its time)

              As for #2... BOTH the creator of Minix AND the creator of Linux have both stated quite clearly (

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        This is Minix 3.
        It is a new microkernel OS that explores some interesting ideas in security and reliability. It is not the Minix you have in your book.
        What Is MINIX 3?
        MINIX 3 is a free, open-source, operating system designed to be highly reliable, flexible, and secure. It is based on a tiny microkernel running in kernel mode with the rest of the operating system running as a number of isolated, protected, processes in user mode. It runs on x86 and ARM CPUs, is compatible with NetBSD, and

        • Wow, I didn't know they were porting NetBSD's pkgsrc. That's good stuff.

        • Isn't the Minix in the latest editions of the book ver 3.x? The first editions had the versions that were popular then, but the edition now would probably have the current version of Linux.
        • It is the MINIX from the book, if you have the third edition (published in 2006). And, if you haven't, then I suggest buying / borrowing a copy, along with Modern Operating Systems (by the same author), both of which are well worth reading. If you want to know a bit more detail about how a more mainstream (for a given value of mainstream) OS works, then the new Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System is well worth a read. If you want to know how a kernel designed for mobile devices shou
          • Only thing about books now for me is that I only buy them in kindle, so that I don't have to lug them around whenever I move. One downside of that - I won't get the MINIX CD w/ the book as a result.
            • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

              It is now FOSS "BSD" I believe so the source is available on-line. []

      • I have some Tanenbaum books as well. They're among the best-written, most understandable tech books I've got.

        If he had made Minix a little more open back when Linus Torvalds was still in school, OS history might have been completely different.

    • Those guys should really use or Webex or some such videoconferencing solution. Until they get to the point where Minix sells well enough to enable them all to afford a trip to the Dutch Antilles
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @02:41PM (#50857531) Homepage Journal

    I hope that Minix 3 gets more interest. When I have time I really want to see if I can use it for NAS.

    • by tomxor ( 2379126 )
      Yeah i think a NAS is more likely to be one of the first things it turns up in, it's intended purpose is embedded where people generally give more of a shit about it not falling over all the time... but that would also be nice for servers, although people start to get a bit more sensitive about performance then.
    • It would be a good router and firewall OS as well, if a project like pFsense or DD-WRT based on it comes along.
  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @02:44PM (#50857555)

    Would it really have been so hard to link to the announcement in the summary: []

    • If you click on ( which is right next to the submission title, it links directly to the announcement.
      • I hate that feature. It isn't obvious it's a link, and the equivalent location on Reddit simply lists every article ever posted to Reddit from that domain (which is completely effing useless, but as Reddit does that anyone who uses Reddit occasionally instinctively ignores a domain name that appears immediately after an article title.)
  • I'm especially looking forward to the TARDIS ride back to 1989 when this CON might have mattered. I hear it's bigger on the inside.

  • I went to, and found I could get an email address - that works right in my browser! - for only 35 dollars a year.

    Oh, minix CON.


  • by Anonymous Coward

    Minix 3 is not the same as the Minix you might still have on floppies or dead trees. Different basis, different goals. Yes, still a microkernel, but meant to be used in production and not (just) as a teaching aid. Check it out at before disparaging :).

  • In a way you've gotta admire a guy who will continue to try to wage an argument that he clearly lost 23 years ago [] (nearly a quarter of a century). That's some serious dedication!

    Now he might actually have had a point or two, but still...

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by jcr ( 53032 )

      You think Tannenbaum lost that argument? Linus made a complete ass of himself.


      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        You can just see how Tannenbaum won the argument by looking at how Minix installations outnumber Linux ones.

        Tannenbaum may think he won. You may think Tannenbaum won. The world, apparently, thinks differently.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Most people see that argument being over which kernel design is better.

          The world didn't pick Linux because it was a better design, they picked it because it was free and could do more than any other free OS.

          Linus's brilliance was in the way he organized the project and guided development. It meant a LOT of ports and a lot of drivers early on, which meant "easy to deploy." The kernel was a mess at the time. Some would say it's still a mess, since it constantly has to be revised to accommodate new features. T

        • by Anonymous Coward

          If the court of popularity gets to decide truth, then artists like Brittney Spears represent the pinnacle of music composition.

          After all, just look at all the air time she gets compared to people like John Cage, who in the court of musical popularity are obviously doing it wrong. And don't let me get started on Tom Waits, who despite being a major influence on just about every musician on the west coast is irrelevant when one compares radio air time.

          Perhaps popularity isn't the right measure of correctness

          • After all, just look at all the air time she gets compared to people like John Cage, who in the court of musical popularity are obviously doing it wrong.

            I dunno. Just because he can do a split and punch you in the balls, does that really make him such a great musician?

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          More desktop users are using Windows 10 than use Linux - of any kernel number. By that logic, Windows must be better. I'm not sure I agree. I use Linux but that's because it's handy and has a huge ecosystem. I do have MINIX in a VM but, honestly, I've not found a real use for it, for me. I do think the idea, the microkernel, is sound and that it should make a more secure and stable system. There's a loss in speed but we've pretty speedy hardware now. He may win that argument in numbers still. Doubtful but,

          • "More desktop users are using Windows 10 than use Linux - of any kernel number. By that logic, Windows must be better."

            Apples to oranges. Windows 10 is an OS. Linux is a kernel. If you mean GNU/Linux, then yes desktop Windows, by that logic, is the better desktop OS (can play latest and greatest games, easier to install, better hardware support, etc). You can include Android and various other systems (embedded or otherewise) that use the Linux kernel, then you have an installed base larger than all Windows

            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              Those are not desktops. Which is why I quantified it. If the number in use for a task is a mark of a better product than grains of sand would be better than food. The Ford Focus would be better than a BMW. Android 4.2 would be better than 5.0. PHB would be better than competent people.

              There are lots of arguments to be made that say Linux is better - I might even agree with them. But using the number of them in use as a metric is not a very good deterministic approach for quality. There are more ants than th

              • 50 million elvis fans....
                • by KGIII ( 973947 )

                  ...can't be wrong. (I'd forgotten that adage.)

                  I like Linux. I use it. I'm using Lubuntu at the moment but that changes kind of often. Hmm... I have been playing with BSD via a virtual machine lately. I don't know a whole lot about the kernel. I wonder if it's more or less monolithic. Of course, well, the BDSs don't really have a single kernel, I don't believe. I think they're all based on the same kernel from back in the mid 90s.

                  Wikipedia classifies it (the BSD) as a monolithic kernel. When reading about th

  • Please don't be offended, but...

    Is that a version number or a head count?

  • MinixCon (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tim Cullen ( 4278789 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @03:37PM (#50858087)
    The children on this thread are hilarious. So what if people want to get together and talk about a project that interests them but may not interest you. Why do you care? Keep using Linux if thats what you prefer but at least grow up enough to not be but-hurt when other people enjoy working with something else.
  • Tanenbaum: Do you think I should hire a limo?

    Mrs Tanenbaum: To shuttle them to the conference, dear?

    Tanenbaum: No, to hold it in.

  • Wat? (Score:3, Funny)

    by truck_soccer ( 4286027 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2015 @04:34PM (#50858617)
    never heard of it. I'm gnu to this stuff.
  • Dear Andy, you kept Minix to yourself for decades. What happened to make you change your mind, 30 years late?

  • I've poked at Minix off and on for the last two decades, I've even taught OS classes using Minix as the source case. It's pretty cool. Its pretty clean code, and it's pretty easy to follow. Now it would be nice to have a portable platform to be able to use. There is more than a few Pi's around, it would make a great place for people to play. For an OS learning environment Minix is great. It's in the realm of Unix V6 or FreeDOS. Linux is a great OS (using it now) but for a lean teaching tool it's too b
  • I don't have any opinion on the state of Minix today but I'm certainly grateful to Andrew for his books and the knowledge he's passed to us.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault