Minix F.A.Q

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MINIX is a free UNIX clone that is available with all the source code. Due to its small size, microkernel-based design, and ample documentation, it is well suited to people who want to run a UNIX-like system on their personal computer and learn about how such systems work inside. It is quite feasible for a person unfamiliar with operating system internals to understand nearly the entire system with a few months of use and study.

MINIX has been written from scratch, and therefore does not contain any AT&T code--not in the kernel, the compiler, the utilities, or the libraries. For this reason the complete source can be made available (by FTP or via the WWW).

MINIX has evolved over the years, so several versions exist. Two of these are still current. The rest are obsolete. The current versions are:

       MINIX 2.0 (Intel CPUs from 8088 to Pentium)
       MINIX 1.5 (Intel, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari, SPARC)
This FAQ is for MINIX 2.0. There is also a MINIX 1.5 FAQ and a MacMINIX FAQ. We would like to bring the 68000 anbd SPARC versions up to date (i.e., to port MINIX 2.0 to these platforms). Volunteers should contact me (

MINIX 2.0 can be compiled in either 16-bit mode or 32-mode, depending on compile time flags. For 32-bit mode, a 386, 486, or Pentium is required.



To run MINIX 2.0, you need a PC driven by an 8088, 286, 386, 486, or Pentium CPU. The system must be 100% hardware compatible with the PC-AT and its successors (i.e, EISA bus, IDE disk, etc.).

To run the 16-bit version, 640K is the minimum. To run the 32-bit version, 2MB is the minimum. To run comfortably, another 512K is needed.

A hard disk is not technically required, but is strongly recommended to take full advantage of the system. To load all the sources and be able to recompile the system, 30 MB is the practical minimum but with a 20 MB disk partition, you can still run and compile parts of the system.

The system must have either a CGA, EGA, VGA, monochrome, or Hercules video card, or another card that emulates one of these. Both 5.25" and 3.5" diskettes are supported, as are printers using the parallel port and modems and terminals using the serial ports. Mitsumi CD-ROMs are also supported, as are some Ethernet cards.


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MINIX has been designed as a teaching system. It is easy to learn and maintain. A book describing operating systems in general and how MINIX works in particular is available. It can be used as a textbook or for independent study. The bibliographic information is:
     Title:      Operating Systems: Design and Implementation, 2/e
     Authors:    Andrew S. Tanenbaum, Albert S. Woodhull
     Publisher:  Prentice-Hall


Although MINIX is supplied with the complete source code, it is copyrighted software. It is not public domain. It is also not like GNU. However, the copyright owner, Prentice-Hall has granted permission for anyone to download MINIX and use it for educational or research purposes. Companies that wish to embed MINIX in commercial systems or sell MINIX-based products need permission from Prentice Hall.

For a copy of the complete MINIX license, written in Middle English, click here.


Since its introduction in January 1987, there has been a large an active USENET newsgroup about MINIX, comp.os.minix. Tens of thousands of messages have been posted to this group so far. These messages have contained questions, bug reports, bug fixes, and new software. MINIX users on Bitnet can be put on a mailing list by sending mail to: Various archives store newsgroup traffic for newcomers to the newsgroup. These are described in the MINIX 1.5 FAQ.


Many sites keep archives of MINIX-related material, ranging from archives of articles posted to more organized repositories of programs posted to the net.

These sites are listed in the MINIX 1.5 FAQ.

MINIX itself is only on in pub/minix/CD-ROM-2.0


To get instructions for obtaining MINIX by WWW, click here.

That page also tells how to get the manuals and related software (DOS utilities for installing MINIX, third-party software, and old MINIX versions).


In addition to running MINIX on a bare Intel CPU, it is also possible to run it on a simulator (i.e., a 386 interpreter) called Bochs. A version of Bochs is on the MINIX CD-ROM.

A second alternative is to run MINIX as a user program on a SPARC. To find out more about that option, click here.

Maintained (badly) by Andy Tanenbaum ( . Last change: 15 Nov 1996

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