Linked by Andy Tanenbaum on Mon 25th Sep 2006 05:41 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes How often have you rebooted your TV set in the past year? Probably a lot less than you have rebooted your computer. Of course there are many "reasons" for this, but increasingly, nontechnical users don't want to hear them. They just want their computer to work perfectly all the time and never crash. MINIX 3 is a project to develop an operating system as reliable as a TV set, for embedded systems and mission critical applications, but also for future $50 single-chip laptops and general desktop use. The focus is being small, simple, and reliable. Note: This is the last entry for the Alternative OS Contest.
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Potential?
by bsharitt on Mon 25th Sep 2006 06:29 UTC
bsharitt
Member since:
2005-07-07

Does anyone who has played around with Minix have any idea on its potential as a full fledged desktop or server OS? Even if it may not have the app support yet, could it?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Potential?
by doublec on Mon 25th Sep 2006 22:41 UTC in reply to "Potential?"
doublec Member since:
2006-09-25

I run http://www.minixtips.com on a minix 3 server and it runs fine. So I think as an HTTP server it makes a fine OS. I've also run it as a desktop quite a lot - uses the X windows client and wiirc as the window manager. Again, no problems for normal desktop usage.

I did have to use remote X to another machine to run programs that haven't been ported yet though. The main one being Firefox.

Edited 2006-09-25 22:41

Reply Score: 4

TV?
by flanque on Mon 25th Sep 2006 06:32 UTC
flanque
Member since:
2005-12-15

Hmm.. every day I turn my TV off and on.. who knows what's happening internally, so perhaps I do reboot my TV every day?

Reply Score: 4

lightning fast!
by PipoDeClown on Mon 25th Sep 2006 07:31 UTC
PipoDeClown
Member since:
2005-07-19

i wont recommend this article because of

"For example, a complete system build, which requires over 120 compilations, takes well under 10 sec."

Reply Score: 1

RE: lightning fast!
by Jack Burton on Mon 25th Sep 2006 15:26 UTC in reply to "lightning fast!"
Jack Burton Member since:
2005-07-06

"i wont recommend this article because of

"For example, a complete system build, which requires over 120 compilations, takes well under 10 sec.""

What's wrong with that sentence ?

Reply Score: 1

interesting
by netpython on Mon 25th Sep 2006 08:17 UTC
netpython
Member since:
2005-07-06

Building a reliable system despite the inevitable bugs in device drivers was the original driving force behind MINIX 3.

Must be the case with less than 4000 lines of code.Interesting.

Reply Score: 2

X is no longer a GUI
by HappyGod on Mon 25th Sep 2006 08:21 UTC
HappyGod
Member since:
2005-10-19

Currently the user interface is just X, but someday a GUI may be added if a suitable lightweight GUI can be found.

And here I was thinking that X was a GUI. Glad he cleared that up.

Reply Score: 1

RE: X is no longer a GUI
by Dinadan on Mon 25th Sep 2006 09:26 UTC in reply to "X is no longer a GUI"
Dinadan Member since:
2005-10-11

from Wikipedia: "X provides the basic framework for a GUI environment: drawing and moving windows on the screen and interacting with a mouse and/or keyboard. X does not mandate the user interface individual client programs handle this."

Reply Score: 2

RE: X is no longer a GUI
by Morin on Mon 25th Sep 2006 09:55 UTC in reply to "X is no longer a GUI"
Morin Member since:
2005-12-31

X is not a GUI by itself. The main components of X are:

- an abstract interface to device drivers for displays, keyboards, mice, etc.
- a network protocol to connect to remote I/O devices
- an architecture for sharing these devices between applications

Reply Score: 5

Nice
by tuttle on Mon 25th Sep 2006 08:30 UTC
tuttle
Member since:
2006-03-01

At the very least this will put some pressure on linux to become more reliable by putting less performance critical subsystems into user space.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Nice
by netpython on Mon 25th Sep 2006 08:40 UTC in reply to "Nice"
netpython Member since:
2005-07-06

At the very least this will put some pressure on linux to become more reliable by putting less performance critical subsystems into user space.

Not only linux,any OS.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Nice
by glarepate on Tue 26th Sep 2006 08:38 UTC in reply to "RE: Nice"
glarepate Member since:
2006-01-04

At the very least this will put some pressure on linux to become more reliable by putting less performance critical subsystems into user space.

Not only linux,any OS.


I do see the sense of what you are saying about a stable OS being a good example for fellow OSes to live up to, be it Linux or any other.

Now compare that ideal path towards The Optimum to the actuality that Minix has been around longer than Linux and at this moment poses not even the slightest challenge to the market share of any mainstream OS. And maybe not to any niche OS either, but there are more niches than I keep tabs on, so perhaps I've overstated that a bit. (;

I'm still pulling for the paradigm you and tuttle have outlined, but I don't think it has actually arrived yet. On the other hand if no one sets a good example we can't expect stability to magically emerge from the Singularity. Oh, wait ...

Reply Score: 1

More alternatives is never a bad thing
by jessta on Mon 25th Sep 2006 09:21 UTC
jessta
Member since:
2005-08-17

More alternatives is never a bad thing. This is what I love about free software.

Reply Score: 2

v trying to change history
by AndyTanenbaum on Mon 25th Sep 2006 09:24 UTC
RE: trying to change history
by biteydog on Mon 25th Sep 2006 09:51 UTC in reply to "trying to change history"
biteydog Member since:
2005-10-06

People - don't mod down somebody, who I assume IS Andy Tanenbaum from the content of the post - who is trying to pre-empt a tedious flamefest about Linux. We're discussing Minix here. It sounds great. I have just the machine for it, and will try it out. Hopefully someone will soon port a basic desktop manager to it (I'm a graphics worker) which would make it totally suitable for OLPC and other educational projects.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: trying to change history
by Soulbender on Mon 25th Sep 2006 10:11 UTC in reply to "RE: trying to change history"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

I would expect the "real" Andy Tanenbaum to be able to spell and not using silly acronyms like "pls".

Edited 2006-09-25 10:14

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: trying to change history
by Janizary on Mon 25th Sep 2006 10:31 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: trying to change history"
Janizary Member since:
2006-03-12

pls is an abbreviation, not an acronym, or NAA, as I like to call it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: trying to change history
by Adam S on Mon 25th Sep 2006 12:06 UTC in reply to "RE: trying to change history"
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

It was not the real Andy Tanenbaum. It was a fake account which I've suspended.

Reply Score: 1

Driver in userland
by bouh on Mon 25th Sep 2006 09:42 UTC
bouh
Member since:
2005-10-27

Clearly, this is the future. I claim that MINIX3 has a "high potential" just because of that.

"Andy Tanenbaum", are you really Andrew S. Tanenbaum?

Edited 2006-09-25 09:43

Reply Score: 2

Re: trying to change history
by tuttle on Mon 25th Sep 2006 09:59 UTC
tuttle
Member since:
2006-03-01

Sorry if I offended you. I will definitely check this out. I think that microkernel OSes are a much better approach than monolithic kernels. To be honest, I think that all current mainstream OSes (Windows, Linux, OSX) are kind of lame.

I was just attempting to estimate how this would influence that other OS.

By the way: is there a stable interface for binary drivers for Minix 3? This is very important for wide scale adoption, and that other OS does not want to do it for ideological reasons.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Re: trying to change history
by hobgoblin on Mon 25th Sep 2006 13:27 UTC in reply to "Re: trying to change history"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

well given that the interface is a messaging system, i think it can be made to be highly stable, in theory.

basicly they can introduce versioned messages, and if some drivers are so old that they dont pass version, assume it goes to the oldest of the old.

Reply Score: 1

Why written in third person ?
by jbalmer on Mon 25th Sep 2006 10:08 UTC
jbalmer
Member since:
2005-12-18

Rebirth

Although MINIX was (and still is) widely used used for teaching operating systems courses at universities, it got a new impetus in 2005 when Tanenbaum assembled a new team of people to completely redo it as a highly reliable system.


When the special contributor is Prof. Tanenbaum himself, why is the article written in third (second??) person ?

Has the article been edited by osnews before publishing?

BTW, a very good article. Enjoyed reading it.

Edited 2006-09-25 10:22

Reply Score: 1

RE: Why written in third person ?
by Ronald Vos on Tue 26th Sep 2006 21:58 UTC in reply to "Why written in third person ?"
Ronald Vos Member since:
2005-07-06

When the special contributor is Prof. Tanenbaum himself, why is the article written in third (second??) person ?

It takes some getting used to, but it is actually customary in academic circles to do it this way. It makes more sense when referring to articles the author wrote together with other people (e.g.: 'Tanenbaum & X did..'), but I assume the custom is derived from such instances.

Reply Score: 1

v Great comments
by Bringbackanonposting on Mon 25th Sep 2006 11:58 UTC
QNX4
by pdkrocul on Mon 25th Sep 2006 12:13 UTC
pdkrocul
Member since:
2006-09-25

The Minix3 description/features look like it could have been pulled from the QNX4 website - except for the full C source available. (That's a compliment).

Edited 2006-09-25 12:16

Reply Score: 1

Got the CD
by Blikkie on Mon 25th Sep 2006 12:21 UTC
Blikkie
Member since:
2005-08-16

I received the CD at a lecture by Andy Tannenbaum, and it it's pretty good stuff (boots lightning fast, but my hardware wasn't supported). The article is more or less a condensed version of the lecture, so I am pretty convinced that this is the real Andy Tannenbaum. Still, projects like Minix may be the most elegant solutions, but they have to put up a battle against less elegant solutions that are mostly functioning and quite evolved, and that for the industry just work.

The ideas may be great, but I am not sure that the industry will be willing to put enough muscle behind minix to help it fly.

Reply Score: 2

Software Mangel...
by Network23 on Mon 25th Sep 2006 12:25 UTC
Network23
Member since:
2005-07-11

I have seen Bang & Olufsen TV-systems to lockup with text displayed "software mangel" (malfunction in Danish).

Reply Score: 2

Device Drivers are the key
by tuttle on Mon 25th Sep 2006 12:53 UTC
tuttle
Member since:
2006-03-01

So drivers are living in user space. That should make developing drivers much easier.

What this project needs now is a kick ass driver development kit including a nice driver debugger including all the usual bells and whistles such as breakpoints etc.

Ideally it should be so easy to write drivers for Minix3 that people write the prototype driver for their hardware on Minix3 and then port it to the mainstream OSes.

That is the only way I can think of to have decent driver support for a new, non-mainstream OS.

Reply Score: 3

Andy Tanenbaum?
by _DoubleThink_ on Mon 25th Sep 2006 12:59 UTC
_DoubleThink_
Member since:
2006-02-15

What a disappointing article regarding he's a computer science professor.

Reply Score: 1

Bit silly
by Sphinx on Mon 25th Sep 2006 13:30 UTC
Sphinx
Member since:
2005-07-09

Why not model it after something really reliable, like a hammer. When's the last time you rebooted your hammer?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Bit silly
by dylansmrjones on Mon 25th Sep 2006 16:22 UTC in reply to "Bit silly"
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

Depends on how you define "rebooting my hammer" ;)

Last time I checked the shaft of a hammer could actually break.

Reply Score: 2

drivers & gui missing?
by hobgoblin on Mon 25th Sep 2006 13:30 UTC
hobgoblin
Member since:
2005-07-06

hmm, i can think of some potential guis for this one.

as for drivers, whats the chance of them being ported from BSD or linux?

Reply Score: 1

"Modern Operating Systems"
by Geoff Gigg on Mon 25th Sep 2006 14:24 UTC
Geoff Gigg
Member since:
2006-01-21

I recently picked up from the library "Modern Operating Systems" by Prof. Tanenbaum. (2nd, edition, 2001, not too much mention of Minix.)

I wanted to know more about the concepts and nuts and bolts of OS design and implementation - not because I could ever hope to make any meaningful sort of contribution, but just to have a better appreciation of systems I work with.

I never expected to be able to do anything practical with it, but it turned out that I was able to use this book to squash a very annoying bug. I was reading it at the bus stop a few days ago, and after boarding noticed that a wasp had followed us on board the crowded bus. It was getting angrier by the minute at being cooped up, so seizing the opportunity I reached over and flattened it against the window with the back of Prof. Tanenbaum's suitably hefty tome. I felt a little heartless, but not too many months before I had spared a wasp on the bus, and it had crawled up my pants leg and stung me in some painful areas (providing free entertainment for the other passengers). I wish I'd had his book then. (True story.)

Geoff

Reply Score: 5

The more the better.......
by silicon on Mon 25th Sep 2006 14:36 UTC
silicon
Member since:
2005-07-30

The more POSIX compliant OS's we have the better it is in the long run.

Reply Score: 2

RE: The more the better.......
by DevL on Mon 25th Sep 2006 14:59 UTC in reply to "The more the better......."
DevL Member since:
2005-07-06

The more POSIX compliant operating systems we have the fewer new ideas and apporaches will emerge. POSIX compliance is not the holy graal of operating systems and I applaude each and every project that dares to try something new and different.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: The more the better.......
by tuttle on Mon 25th Sep 2006 15:42 UTC in reply to "RE: The more the better......."
tuttle Member since:
2006-03-01

I agree that POSIX compliance often limits an OS.

But in this case I am sure the POSIX compliance is just a user space module sitting on top of the real OS without compromising the OS design.

The performance will be slightly less than with an OS designed exclusively for POSIX compliance, but I will gladly accept that for better stability and easier driver development.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: The more the better.......
by Marcellus on Mon 25th Sep 2006 15:46 UTC in reply to "RE: The more the better......."
Marcellus Member since:
2005-08-26

And with each and every project that tries to do something different, you add new incompatibilities between systems.

Trying out new things IS good, but there needs to be coordinated efforts to bring those things to a wider audience as well.
Get wide enough support, and keep it under strict, but open, control by suitable players, and you have a new standard that makes life better for the users... hopefully.

Reply Score: 1

Hmm...
by dylansmrjones on Mon 25th Sep 2006 15:00 UTC
dylansmrjones
Member since:
2005-10-02

I wonder what it would take to make GNUstep run on that thing ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Hmm...
by elettrosmoke on Mon 25th Sep 2006 17:19 UTC in reply to "Hmm..."
elettrosmoke Member since:
2006-09-25

...I can run Minix3 with these window managers:
-jwm (you can find it in the minix packages)
-icewm
-WindowMaker
...

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Hmm...
by dylansmrjones on Tue 26th Sep 2006 03:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Hmm..."
dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

Sounds great ;)

Ever tried compiling GNUstep on it?

And how do icewm or WindowMaker fare on Minix3 compared with Linux?

Reply Score: 1

Microkernels are the future
by ebasconp on Mon 25th Sep 2006 19:51 UTC
ebasconp
Member since:
2006-05-09

The OSes now are bloated a lot, so, Minix3, L4 or all the microkernel based OSes have a lot of potential for the future of computing.

Reply Score: 2

Fascinating kernel
by Xaero_Vincent on Tue 26th Sep 2006 03:47 UTC
Xaero_Vincent
Member since:
2006-08-18

I like the concept behind this kernel. Putting all of the drivers and subsystems in userspace and reserving kernel mode for the low level operations like process scheduling and IPC is more secure and reliable. The live monitoring (daemon??) that dynamically restarts misbehaving drivers modules is also neat and could really improve overall stability.

But I'm assuming this dynamic monitoring feature inflicts some performance implications?

Its unfortunate that so few devices are supported by this kernel. Maybe someday an effort will be made to port the majority of open-source Linux drivers to the Minix kernel so that we can have a viable microkernel alternative to Linux. The alternatives now are mostly monolithic like Linux except for Hurd. But I suppose Duke Nukem Forever II will be available before Hurd ever stablizes.

Reply Score: 1

Small but terrible...!
by neo_0531 on Tue 26th Sep 2006 06:12 UTC
neo_0531
Member since:
2006-08-03

Minix, with its Microkernel is very impressive and extensive for a guy like me who is after the awesome integration of OS in a very small but efficient core, I am also impressed by running drivers in user process, this would protect every user's thread and activity.

This is such as a nice and genius innovation on the part of OS engineering and I hope Mr. Andrew will not stall from it's graceful development...

Go Go GO Go .... Great Racoon

Edited 2006-09-26 06:18

Reply Score: 1

I Wish There is SAMBA...!
by neo_0531 on Tue 26th Sep 2006 06:17 UTC
neo_0531
Member since:
2006-08-03

I would be very satifisfied if Andrew will port SAMBA Server on Minix...

Reply Score: 1

Re: glarepate
by tuttle on Tue 26th Sep 2006 10:08 UTC
tuttle
Member since:
2006-03-01

The old Minix was an academic OS that was designed primarily as a learning tool and not as a serious OS. Even Tannenbaum himself said so. Of course stuff like QNX has been available for a long time, but that is not open source.

Both Linux and Windows are moving in the right direction, albeit very slowly. Windows Vista is putting things like the Video and Audio stack into user space, and on linux there is stuff like FUSE (File System in User Space).

Since on UNIX almost everything is a file, you can do a lot more than just storage with FUSE.

Reply Score: 1