The Amiga MINIX Page LOGO


This page is maintained by Thomas Unger and part of the kickstart archives.
Last updated: 2003-10-14
Latest versions: AmigaMINIX: 1.5.10 (Offical Distribution by Prentice-Hall, Inc.), (Patch), x86 MINIX: 2.0.3
Please note: I own a offical Amiga MINIX Distribution by Prentice-Hall, Inc. and I have installed Amiga MINIX on A2000/A2091 for historic reasons, but Iīm not a real MINIX user. For any questions about MINIX use MINIX Newsgroup at comp.os.minix.




What is MINIX


Short: MINIX is an UNIX-like operating system developed basically for educational purposes. For all practical purposes, MINIX can be treated as if it were in the public domain.

As UNIX kept spreading, AT&T began to see how valuable it was and began restricting access to the cource code of new versions, starting with the Seventh Edition. It was no longer permitted for universities to teach courses using the source code as an example, and public discussions of the internal workings of the code were severly restricted.

Many university professors regretted that UNIX could no longer be taught in operating system courses, but there appeared to be no choice. One of them, Andrew Tanenbaum, at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, went out and bought an IBM PC, and like Ken Thompson a decade earlier, set out to write a new operating system from the scratch. Just as Thompson was inspired by MULTICS, but ultimately wrote a new and much smaller operating system, Tanenbaum was inspired by UNIX, but ultimately also wrote a new and much smaller operating system - MINIX - which stands for Mini-UNIX.

Since MINIX contains no AT&T code whatsover, it falls outside the AT&T licensing restrictions. The source code has been made widely available to universities for study in courses and otherwise.

Within a month of its release (Jan. 1987), there was already so much interest in MINIX worldwide, that a news group (comp.os.minix ) was set up on USENET, a computer network accessible to most universities and computer companies in North America, Europe, Japan, Australia and elswhere. A few month later, the news group had over 10,000 people reading and contibuting to ist.

The initial release of MINIX was for the IBM PC and PC/AT only. It did not take long before people with other kind of computers began thinking about porting it to their machines. The first port was to 68000-based machine, the Atari ST, done primarily by Johan Stevenson, with assistence from Jost Müller. The hard part was making MINIX, which, like UNIX, allows multiple processes to run simultaneously, run on bare 68000, with no memory management or relocation hardware. Once this problem had been solved an new I/O device drivers were written for the Atariīs keyboard, screen, disk, etc., MINIX-ST became reality. The 1.5 Atari version was prepared by Frans Meulenbroeks.

The port for the Commodore Amiga was done by Raymond Michiels and Steven Reiz. The Macintosh port was done by Joseph Pickert. Unlike all the other ports, the Macintosh version does not replace the manufacturerīs operating system and run on the bare machine. Instead, it runs on top of the Macintosh operating system, allowing the facilities of both systems to be used simultaneously.

"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)

MINIX FAQs exist for both IBM PC hardware and Macintoshes. 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."

(Andy Tanenbaum)


What is MINIX 1.5


"MINIX 1.5 is a new version of an operating system that is very similar to UNIX. 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 it can be made available with the complete source code (on diskette). It runs on the IBM PC, XT, AT, PS/2, 386, and most clones. Versions are also available for the Atari ST, Macintosh, and Amiga.

This version (1.5) is a major improvement over all previous releases, with many new features, fewer bugs (hopefully), much better performance, and proper documentation. The old versions have been in widespread use all over the world for 3 years. There are probably tens of thousands of users."

From: (Alexei Rodriguez)
Newsgroups: comp.sys.amiga
Subject: MINIX on the Amiga...
Summary: As it says....
Message-ID: []
Date: 17 Sep 90 22:12:57 GMT
Reply-To: (Alexei Rodriguez)
Organization: Purdue University
Lines: 257
Posted: Mon Sep 17 23:12:57 1990


MINIX 1.5 Features


MINIX 1.5 FEATURES (IBM, Macintosh, Atari, and Amiga versions)

  • System call compatible with V7 of the UNIX operating system
  • Full multiprogramming (multiple programs can run at once)
  • Kernighan and Ritchie compatible C compiler
  • Shell that is functionally identical to the Bourne shell
  • Five editors (emacs subset, vi clone, ex, ed, and simple screen editor)
  • Over 175 utilities (cat, cp, ed, grep, kermit, ls, make, sort, etc.)
  • Over 200 library procedures (atoi, fork, malloc, read, stdio, etc.)
  • Spelling checker with 40,000 word English dictionary
  • Full source code (in C) supplied on diskettes (OS, utilities, libraries)
  • Easy-to-read manual telling all about MINIX and how to install and use it


Hardware Requirements


The Hardware requirements and restrictions given below are related to the Offical Release of Amiga MINIX, Copyright © 1991 by Prentice-Hall, Inc.:

  • Commodore Amiga 500 or 2000 with at least 1M of RAM.
  • One dd diskette (720/880k) drive is sufficient.
  • A hard disk is not neccesary (or even supported).

See also: Amiga MINIX, some answers by Steven Reiz & Raymond Michiels (Date: 1989-07-25),
Amiga MINIX 1.5 Answers by Steven Reiz (Date: 1990-09-24) and

An update (posted by Steven Reiz on 1991-06-09): "Amiga Minix FINAL VERSION AVAILABLE! - A new, much improved, version of Amiga Minix is available for beta-testing NOW! This new version is only an update. You will need the full Amiga Minix 1.5 distribution, as published by Prentice-Hall, Inc., to be able to use it. Some new features include:"

  • The harddisk driver works with the A590, A2091 and A3000.
  • Minix can use all A3000 32-bit fastmem.
  • Minix runs on 68000, 68010, 68020 and 68030 processors.


Getting Amiga MINIX 1.5


Be sure to read the license first.
Download Amiga MINIX Disk Images and the archive 'amboot.lha'.
Versions for all supported platforms are available from the official web site for MINIX.


Amiga MINIX 1.5 Documentation


file name file size description

contents.pdf 145 kB TABLE OF CONTENTS
intro.pdf 20 kB Chapter 1. INTRODUCTION (all platforms)
installing.pdf 390 kB Chapter 4. MINIX ON THE COMMODORE AMIGA
using.pdf 1,29 MB Chapter 6. USING MINIX (all platforms)
recompiling.pdf 69 kB Chapter 7. RECOMPILING MINIX (all platforms)
demoman.pdf 93 kB Reference Manual for the MINIX 1.5 Demo Disk (all platforms) 202 kB Updated Manual Pages 56 kB Updated Manual Pages


Table of contents, chapters 4 and 6 pages were scanned from the MINIX 1.5 Reference Manual © by Prentice-Hall, Inc. to 300 dpi PNG and converted to PDF by me. The other files were converted to PDF from manuals in PostScript, available in the MINIX sources stated below.


Getting started Amiga MINIX 1.5


First you must prepare a number of nine double density floppy disks. You will have to format one of them in AmigaDOS format and the other in 720k MS-DOS format, using CrossDos (Part of the Workbench 2.x or higher) or fat95 written by Torsten Jager (Workbench 1.3 or higher, available in the Aminet) , a real PC or Atari ST. A mounted MS-DOS file system is required on your Amiga. Donīt forget to lable the disks:

amboot.lha - boot disk
Disk02 - Root File System
Disk03 - System Binaries #1 (/usr)
Disk04 - System Binaries #2
Disk05 - System Binaries #3
Disk06 - C Compiler
Disk07 - Operating System Sources
Disk08 - Commands Sources #1
Disk09 - Commands Sources #2

Download the Amiga MINIX Disk Images and the archive 'amboot.lha'.

Extract the archive 'amboot.lha' to the prepared 880k AmigaDOS disk. You will have to denominate this disk 'BOOT'.

To transfer the disk images to the prepared MS-DOS floppy disks, you need a program that can write a raw disk image. The Disk Imager 'YADI' written by Andre R. de la Rocha is available in the Aminet. 'YADI' must be executed from the CLI. Copy the YADI executable to the C: directory of your Workbench.

The usage is as follows:

  • Open a CLI.
  • Type: 'yadi w ram:Disk02 ms0:'. This example will write the disk image 'Disk02' from the Ram Disk to MS0:
  • Write the disk images 'Disk03' to 'Disk09' to the prepared MS-DOS formatted floppy disks also.

On a real PC you may use a disk imager like 'RawWrite' for Windows written by John Newbigin. 'RawWrite' is available from the authorīs homepage stated below. Not tested!

Before you can use Amiga MINIX you will have to install it:

  • Reset your Amiga and boot from your Workbench disk or partition
  • Insert the boot disk called 'BOOT' in any drive.
  • Open a CLI.
  • Type: 'execute boot:scripts/minstall1.3' if you have Workbench 1.3 or higher or type: 'execute boot:scripts/minstall1.2' if you have Workbench 1.2 or lower.
  • When the script has finished Amiga MINIX is ready to go. Donīt remove the disk.
  • Reset your Amiga and boot from the boot disk to run Amiga MINIX.
  • Follow the instructions.


Picture Gallery


Letīs have a look at the Amiga MINIX Picture Gallery. The photos were taken by me with Canon digital camera PowerShotA200.




Andrew S. Tanenbaum is the author of MINIX. He is Professor of Computer Science on the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The port for the Commodore Amiga was done by Raymond Michiels, Steven Reiz and Johan W. Stevenson.

The MINIX 1.5 Reference Manual was done by Andrew S. Tanenbaum, Frans Meulenbroeks, Raymond Michiels, Jost Müller, Joseph Pickert, Steven Reiz and Johan W. Stevenson and published by Prentice-Hall, Inc.


Legal Status of MINIX


Although MINIX is supplied with the complete source code, it is copyrighted software. However, the copyright owner has granted everyone the right to redistribute or sell it, with or without source code, in unmodified or modified form. For all practical purposes, MINIX can be treated as if it were in the public domain. For a copy of the complete MINIX license click here.

"Better late than never. I finally got permission from Prentice Hall to change the MINIX license to the BSD license. The lawyers sort of sat on this for two years.

Anyway, the new license conditions are below. These are the same as for Berkeley UNIX. It seems to me better for the users than GPL since there is no requirement to provide source code. MINIX is much smaller than Linux and might well be suitable as the operating system for a watch, camera, or transistor radio. The manufacturer of, say, a watch might really not want to provide a CD-ROM with the source code with each watch or even a web site with the source code, as being too much trouble. The new MINIX license says you can distribute source if you want to, but you don't have to. At this point, for most intents and purposes, MINIX is effectively no different than being in the public domain. You can do whatever you want with it.

Sorry for the long delay. I had hoped this would happen earlier.

As I mentioned before, there might well be an interesting future for MINIX on very low-end embedded devices where tiny size is important. What is also important is that MINIX is fairly modular. If you don't need the file system, just remove it."

Andy Tanenbaum

From: Andy Tanenbaum
Subject: MINIX license change
Date: 2000/04/07
Message-ID: <8ckjjf$>#1/1
Summary: MINIX is now available under the BSD license
Organization: Fac. Wiskunde & Informatica, VU, Amsterdam
Keywords: license
X-Poster-Key: sha1:Q7kzpXga5FnOdkLSqyyH5Hz9Mng=
Cancel-Lock: sha1:4R6g5yDGEd9fh1D+8gGrOAxxLT8=
Newsgroups: comp.os.minix


Other Amiga UNIX Clones


If you're looking for a UNIX-clone OS for your Amiga, there are some alternatives:

  • NetBSD: NetBSD is available for 68K and PowerPC Amigaīs as well as many other platforms. NetBSD/amigappc is a very experimental port to the PowerPC-based Amiga expansion boards as manufactured by Phase 5.
  • Debian GNU/Linux: Debian is a free operating system (OS), available for many platforms. Debian uses the Linux kernel (the core of an operating system), but most of the basic OS tools come from the GNU project; hence the name GNU/Linux.
  • OpenBSD: The OpenBSD project produces a free, multi-platform 4.4BSD-based UNIX-like operating system. OpenBSD supports binary emulation of most programs from SVR4 (Solaris), FreeBSD, Linux, BSD/OS, SunOS and HP-UX. The OpenBSD/amiga port has been discontinued after the 3.2 release.
  • LINUX/APUS: Linux/APUS is the project that allows you to run Linux/PPC on PowerUP Amiga computer systems.


Additional Resources in the WEB


MINIX Newsgroup
Web Sites
Usefull Stuff



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