MINIX 3.1.1 review

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MINIX 3 is a new open-source operating system designed to be highly reliable and secure

License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
File size: 10121K
Developer: MINIX Team
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MINIX 3 is a new open-source operating system designed to be highly reliable and secure. It is based somewhat on previous versions of MINIX, but is fundamentally different in many key ways.

MINIX 1 and 2 were intended as teaching tools; MINIX 3 adds the new goal of being usable as a serious system on resource-limited and embedded computers and for applications requiring high reliability.

This new 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 (by far the biggest source of bugs in any operating system), cannot bring down the entire OS.

In fact, most of the time when a driver crashes it is automatically replaced without requiring any user intervention, without requiring rebooting, and without affecting running programs. These features, the tiny amount of kernel code, and other aspects greatly enhance system reliability.

MINIX 3 is initially targeted at the following areas:

Applications where very high reliability is required
Single-chip, small-RAM, low-power, $100 laptop for Third-World children
Embedded systems (e.g., cameras, DVD recorders, cell phones)
Applications where the GPL is too restrictive (MINIX 3 uses a BSD-type license)
Education (e.g., operating systems courses at universities)

Here are some key features of "MINIX":
POSIX compliant
Networking with TCP/IP
Two ANSI C compilers (ACK and gcc)
Over 300 UNIX programs
Many improvements since V2
Full multiuser and multiprogramming
Support for memory up to 4 GB
Device drivers run as user processes
Full C source code supplied
Runs on 386, 486, Pentium, etc.

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, 200 MB is needed as a minimum, 400 MB minimum if you want all the sources.

MINIX 3.1.1 keywords