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Minix 3.2.1 Released

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the won't-be-big-and-fancy-like-gnu-linux dept.

Operating Systems 107

kthreadd writes "Minix, originally designed as an example for teaching operating system theory which was both inspiration and cause for the creation of Linux has just been released as version 3.2.1. Major new features include full support for shared libraries and improved support for USB devices such as keyboards, mice and mass storage devices. The system has received many performance improvements and several userland tools have been imported from NetBSD."

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Minix+Laptop (3, Funny)

Chompjil (2746865) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991227)

Verry, nice, may look forward into it for my old laptop from 2007 I won in a raffle

Re:Minix+Laptop (-1, Flamebait)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991609)

yeah... just now getting shared lib support? Am I supposed to be impressed, surprised, amused, perhaps scholastically challenged on a theoretical level...?

Re:Minix+Laptop (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991877)

yeah... just now getting shared lib support? Am I supposed to be impressed, surprised, amused, perhaps scholastically challenged on a theoretical level...?

Don't be a dick. I first used Minix back in the late 1980s, when it first came out, on an IBM PC/AT. It's great for educational purposes, perhaps even better than Linux/BSD. Any continuing progress on something like this is a good thing.

Bowling alleys run on Minix (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42994697)

Minix was/is not confined to the academia

It also runs the machines in your local bowling allies

Re:Minix+Laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42995303)

Actually I disagree - the value of Minix was originally in being something really simple that you could use to learn the concepts of Operating Systems used in the real world.

However, snazzy new features dilute this value and make it harder to understand. It then becomes less useful as something conceptually clean that you can study as a stepping stone to more complex real world systems such as Linux.

Re:Minix+Laptop (3, Interesting)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992071)

Shared libraries aren't easy to implement and they're not a part of the kernel (Minix is about the kernel). Adding shared libraries adds a lot of complexity and infrastructure. The executables in Minix were kept simple on purpose. Minix resembles a more classic Unix style in many ways.

Pragmatically, it was not feasible to have shared libraries when Minix was new, most Unix systems of the time were still experimenting with it, and you need specific tools chain support that just wasn't there. Now why it didn't change over the intervening years is undoubtedly due to the reason that it's just not all that important for the purpose of Minix which is education.

Re:Minix+Laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42994851)

Shared libraries aren't easy to implement

Provided you have mmap() or an equivalent, writing a basic ELF RTLD isn't all that complicated.

Re:Minix+Laptop (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992385)

I don't know anyone that is asking for you to be impressed, surprised, amused, though it does sounds like you might be scholastically challenged.

how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching tool? (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991233)

Afaik, NetBSD and Minix are the two most prominent operating systems that advertise clean source code and architecture, suitable for examination by people learning OS principles, as one of their explicit design goals. NetBSD seems more popular as an actual system to use, and is clean architecture has led it to be famously ported everywhere. Does someone have experience with Minix to compare?

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (4, Informative)

pipeep (2106308) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992399)

I'm currently in a university course where Minix 3.2.1 is being used to teach OS principles. It's certainly small, and therefore semi-easy to wrap your head around. But I would not agree that its source code is "clean". They have a lot of really old code and suffer from coding guidelines that have changed greatly over time. I've never seen someone mix tabs and spaces so much in a piece of code. And can anyone say "no namespacing"? That said, I don't have much familiarity of the internals of other kernels, but I'm not too impressed by Minix.

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992585)

This is typical of open source software. As there is no financial incentive to do things properly and no repercussions when it's not, as often as not things are just slapped together with the expectation some other programmer will come along later and clean things up. Maybe. The important thing is to get things to the point where they appear to be working, and move on to the next feature on the list to be added. This is fine for a lot of programs that will be used on an occasional basis by a few people, but for something like an OS it's a recipe for disaster.

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992799)

Dunno if I'm replying to a troll or if you genuinely believe what you're saying but whatever...

I'm no open-source advocate and I'm all for people making money from their work, but I think your comment applies as much to commercial consumer-grade software than to open-source.

The profit motive from selling software means that companies will often choose to add new features rather than make current software better. And generally, businesses do that because they think that's what people will pay for.

The quality of commercial software is often determined by the point at which the money put into making something better is no longer paid off by the money to be earned from it. That's natural in business since the purpose in business is to maximize profit.

There's no financial incentive in commercial software to do things well, just well enough that people will buy it. It doesn't even need to be good enough that users will buy it, just good enough that managers will spend company money on it.

If your comments were typical of open-source software, people wouldn't be using it.

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992803)

Ah, the classic Slashdot Troll comment, which will here succeed in getting a bite. :) But it will be a short bite: this is exactly how proprietary software works as well. You will despair if you ever see the internals of any of the major proprietary software packages you use regularly.

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992899)

Indeed. I think the only reason people don't talk about this as often as they could are NDAs. If people could openly discuss such things in the corporate world without fear of litigation, career suicide, and criminal charges, we'd see some improvement in terms of quality of work and efficiency.

One of the reasons why most businesses breed mediocrity is because of the closed culture. The reason so many succeed is because so many others follow the same "best practices". The few that successfully break ahead, even slightly, do quite well as long as they can hold their own otherwise.

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992817)

I thought that Minix 3 was done from scratch (which explains why while SPARC and Motorola support was there in 2, it's not there in 3) - the whole OS was re-written to be a microkernel OS. So it would be very strange if it had old code in the kernel. They didn't pay much attention to userland - in Minix 3.0, they were using the old userlands of Minix, and only in 3.2.0 did they embrace NetBSD for the rest of the system.

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993659)

Minix has always been a microkernel OS

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993857)

Not really. Minix2 was a hybrid architecture.

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42996533)

As was Minix 1 & 1.5

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992767)

Well, from Minix 3.2 onwards, they have included NetBSD userland w/ the Minix kernel, so you then have the best of both. I had Minux as a part of my OS course in 1994 (I think it was Minix 1 then), and Tannenbaum's book, which it came w/. Minix 3 is very different in that whereas in the book, at the time, the only microkernel OSs that Tannenbaum discussed were Amoeba and Mach 3, Minix 1 (and even 1.5 & 2) were not microkernel OSs. However, in Minix 3, Tannenbaum converted his theory into practice, and made it a microkernel OS.

One thing I think is that the NetBSD guys should consider adapting this as their kernel, given that they target mainly embedded systems, and Minix, w/ the microkernel, is a much better fit for that. Maybe merge the 2, and make it the standard target for current x86 and ARM systems. Keep the NetBSD kernel only for legacy CPUs, such as SPARCs, POWER and so on. In fact, NetBSD 6.1 ought to include Itanium support - that's precisely the sort of platform that the NetBSD guys can find a niche in.

As an aside, since Tannenbaum has embraced everything BSD for Minix, be it the license, the userland and so on, any story about Minix ought to be tagged under BSD rather than Linux. Also, I don't know whether Minix has been officially certified as Unix or not - if it hasn't been, it's not exactly accurate to file this under 'Unix' either.

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992893)

One more thing - in Minix, like in FBSD, LLVM/Clang is now the default compiler instead of GCC

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (-1, Troll)

Raenex (947668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992975)

w/

Are you really trying to save two characters with this garbage?

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993299)

It pains me that I don't have mod points to properly respond to your pedantry.

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993203)

One thing I think is that the NetBSD guys should consider adapting this as their kernel, given that they target mainly embedded systems, and Minix, w/ the microkernel, is a much better fit for that. Maybe merge the 2, and make it the standard target for current x86 and ARM systems.

Merging kernels is no trivial job. The only reasonable thing that could be done would be to have the BSD kernel sitting on the top of a microkernel, just like MacOS X does.

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993387)

If the Minix kernel is BSD-licensed, another thought would be for Debian to try it instead of Hurd, depending upon which microkernel is farther along...

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about a year and a half ago | (#42995487)

I have some experience with Minix, from 1995, when I modified the memory allocation algorithm for a class at University :). I don't think it's an OS I would actually use though!

Re:how does it compare to NetBSD as a teaching too (1)

sg_oneill (159032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42995757)

Yeah it was my first Unix because my old XT couldn't run Linux (which was *very* new at the time). It was great to mess around with, and I managed to hack together a driver for my wang hard drive controller, but the lack of a TCP sockets stack really limited its usefulness.

DO NOT TELL LINUS !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42991243)

Or he will lift that one too !!

Re:DO NOT TELL LINUS !! (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992793)

Well, Torvalds does not believe in going the microkernel route [wikipedia.org] , and even Tannenbaum is on record (read the same link) as rebutting the allegation about Torvalds lifting code from Minix.

Hardware compatibility (4, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991263)

Looking under "Drivers, FS" it would seem that the Minix developers are still focusing on keeping it compatible with qemu and virtualbox, ie, they don't expect anybody to run it on real hardware and use it for real jobs.

Re:Hardware compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42991315)

Sounds legit to me. If you want a teaching OS, you'd either want to have hardware with the same strange quirks as real hardware, but no moving goals, or "dream" hardware without any strange quirks (depending on which OS course we're talking about). So the answer would be: simulate it, and simulate whatever behavior you need to make the point which the course is about.

"they don't expect anybody to [...] use it for real jobs"

What you mean by that is beyond me. Could you explain?

Re:Hardware compatibility (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991337)

I mean they don't expect it to be installed on COTS hardware and used as a web server or workstation. It is, as you said, expected to be used as a teaching tool.

Re:Hardware compatibility (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992843)

That, unfortunately, is what they said about Pascal....

Re:Hardware compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42991339)

From the summary:

Minix, originally designed as an example for teaching operating system theory

I would say not not running it on real hardware is pretty in line with the main objective and hardly surprising.

Re:Hardware compatibility (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991429)

Yeah but the minix web page does say thae think it is appropriate for netbook type devices. I am currently torrenting the CD image in the hope that I can get it to boot with PXE. The netboot howto says to use the USB image but that seems to be deprecated at the moment.

Re:Hardware compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42991539)

Looking under "Drivers, FS" it would seem that the Minix developers are still focusing on keeping it compatible with qemu and virtualbox, ie, they don't expect anybody to run it on real hardware and use it for real jobs.

Or, they may not have enough people right now to care about that and prefer adding new functionality available for all users. If more and more people start using it, they can always add some new drivers.

Re:Hardware compatibility (3, Informative)

Raenex (947668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991559)

Looking under "Drivers, FS" it would seem that the Minix developers are still focusing on keeping it compatible with qemu and virtualbox, ie, they don't expect anybody to run it on real hardware and use it for real jobs.

How does support for virtual hardware mean they don't expect people to run it under real hardware too? I don't follow your logic. Not only that, your conclusion is directly contradicted by the Minix website [minix3.org] :

"Research Projects

MINIX 3 won a grant from the European Research Council for 2.5 million [euros] to further research in highly reliable operating systems. Due to its modular nature and fault tolerance, it is easy to use it as a basis for operating systems research or for a product."

and more [minix3.org] :

"It was only with the third version, MINIX 3, and the third edition of the book, published in 2006, that the emphasis changed from teaching to a serious research and production system, especially for embedded systems. A few of the many differences between MINIX 2 and MINIX 3 are given here [minix3.org] .

Going forward, we are making a serious effort to turn MINIX 3 into an industrial-grade system with a focus on the embedded market, especially for those applications that need high reliability and availability."

Re:Hardware compatibility (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991599)

I have found hardware support in minix to be very poor, in fact I don't think I have ever been able to get it running in a non-virtualised environment. By targeting embedded systems they are in effect saying that thy expect developers to port minix to their hardware.

Re:Hardware compatibility (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991737)

never had a problem on any machine I've owned for the last 20 years, it does target the most common chipsets a studen't's pc would have for a command line system

Re:Hardware compatibility (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992001)

I would like to try it on my eeepc 701 but the USB installer seems to be depricated and that installer was requred for PXE installations as well. Many CD installation kernels support TFTP or NFS, both of which I support but so far I can't find any information on how (if at all) to use them with the minix microkernel. I assume that booting is more complex for a microkernel because of all the different parts so maybe netbooting is out for now.

Re:Hardware compatibility (1)

kwark (512736) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992637)

It ran fine on my 286 in 1999. It had an original ne2000 IIRC, but it was only useful as a terminal.

Virtual (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992379)

VM isnt for real jobs? Tell VMware that.. or Microsoft ... These days fewer and fewer people run anything of value on bare hardware, beyond a hypervisor and perhaps support tools depending which HV you chose. ( since not all are self-hosing )

Minix being ARMed (3, Interesting)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992699)

Actually, in the release announcement [minix3.org] , they clearly mentioned that

There are exciting new developments coming in the near future that aren’t part of this release. For example, the MINIX team has been working hard on MINIX/ARM support, of which significant parts have made it to mainline, yet official ARM support is slated for the near future and is not officially part of this release.

This is a great move on their part, since Minix, w/ its microkernel, is just perfect for embedded systems and aside from routers, those tend to run on ARM based platforms. I recall reading somewhere that they were porting it to the Raspberry Pi, and hopefully, to other ARM platforms as well. In fact, something like Minix is perfect for Raspberry Pi, and once their ARM port is complete, it would be a good kernel on which to base whatever else is needed. In fact, the Raspberry Pi guys would do well to join hands w/ Tannenbaum and offer Minix as the OS of choice w/ Raspberry Pi.

Regarding the stuff about the drivers, it was just the Virtio and VBFS that seemed to be about VMs - others, like Ext2 support were about real filesystems. (I'm guessing that for an OS targeted at embedded applications, things like Ext4, Btrfs, ZFS, Hammer, et al wouldn't be appropriate file systems to use)

Re:Hardware compatibility (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993055)

As if a kangaroo fucking, foster's swilling shit would know anything about a real job.

Re:Hardware compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993265)

FWIW, virtio-net and virtio-blk were developed as a pure volunteer project [1]. None of the Minix developers (and here I mean the group around AST in Amsterdam) was focusing on having support for these. In fact they weren't even mentioned on the roadmap or wishlist.

[1] https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!topic/minix3/o4u0ShIHmbY

Re:Hardware compatibility (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993931)

Looking under "Drivers, FS" it would seem that the Minix developers are still focusing on keeping it compatible with qemu and virtualbox, ie, they don't expect anybody to run it on real hardware and use it for real jobs.

Well, it's a teaching OS, and if you want to teach how to write an OS, it would help to be able to not need another PC to do it on - after all, you'll build it on the host OS (Minix is self-hosting, so it could be that), but you'd rather not replace your obviously-working kernel with your test version and having to maintain a separate PC just to test with gets old, quick. Perhaps if you had automated deployment tools and all that, but it's still a huge pain. Imagine teaching it - you build and have to switch the projector to the test PC.

So it's kinda useful to have it be very compatible with VM software, especially since a student may not have access to another PC at the moment or what not.

And hell, since Minix self-hosts, it'll be doubly annoying to have to reboot your PC to do your OS course homework, then copy it out somehow to your PC to submit your work, then reboot to do your other homework. So another plus for VM support.

Is this a serious OS? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991295)

Or is it more for teaching? If its angling to be a serious OS I think they may be wasting their time to be honest - that horse bolted in 1991.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42991333)

Wikipedia will give you an answer quicker (30 seconds) than Slashdot responses (5 minutes):

"MINIX is a Unix-like computer operating system based on a microkernel architecture created by Andrew S. Tanenbaum for educational purposes"

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

cnettel (836611) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991579)

Many computer systems have been created with education of computer science concepts in mind (or at least as an important design goal). Pascal and BASIC were to a varying degree created with this purpose in mind (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, if you will...). During the microcomputer revolution, they became the de facto norm. Only far later did C intrude to a significant extent into that market.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991839)

I fondly remember Pascal. Awesome language.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992069)

END

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992407)

> Awesome language at being verbose; almost as bad as Cobol.

FTFY

Pascal sucks for readability: its ass-backwards variable declarations so you can't declare multiple variables, verbose keywords, redundant keywords, two character assignment ':=' (colon equals) instead one '=' (equals) (this WOULD of been fine if you were forced to use this in an IF statement and the single 'equals' elsewhere), and useless distinction between functions and procedures makes it hard to focus on the code when you have to wade through so much on-screen spew of text.

Compare Pascal's verbosity ...

{ Calculate the hypotenuse using the Pythagoras theorem: SquareRoot( (a*a) + (b*b) )
Function Pythagoras( A:Integer; B:Integer) : Integer;
  Var SumSquared : Integer;
Begin
  SumSquared := A*A + B*B;
  PythagorasFunc := Trunc( SQRT(SumSquared) );
End

... with C which has a good balance of minimal and compact keywords; much cleaner and compact with no useless verbosity, stopping before it goes for the nearly unreadable minimalism of APL, Pearl, etc.

// Calculate the hypotenuse using the Pythagoras theorem: SquareRoot( (a*a) + (b*b) )
float Pythagoras( int A, int B )
{
  int SumSquared = A*A + B*B;
  return (int)sqrt( SumSquared );
}

One of the few things Pascal did right back in the day was use a proper recursive descent parser which enabled a wicked-fast one-pass compiler. C and C++'s grammar was (and still is) so fucked up that there was no official BNF* grammar for ages. Thankfully D fixes some of the broken C/C++ design -- but adds it own set of kludges -- time will tell if it will ever reach critical mass.

You can see the verbosity of other languages here:
http://www.codecodex.com/wiki/Calculate_an_integer_square_root [codecodex.com]

Note: * BNF = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backus%E2%80%93Naur_Form [wikipedia.org]

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

kernelistic (160323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992987)

Sorry for being pedantic, but your "C" example declares Pythagoras() as returning a float yet you cast the return value of sqrt() to int. As it seems that your intent was to truncate, you should use floor() instead of relying on casting hacks.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42994105)

Thanks for the catch. The return type is a typo -- should be int, else the compiler will be doing unnecessary casts.

floor() ceil() are slow as hell as they will promote a float to a double. floorf() and ceilf() should be available but may be unportable / unavailable. :-/

One of C's design flaws is that it will silently upcast char to int to float to double and there is no way portable nor standard way to stop the idiotic compiler from doing so or to print a compile-type "info", "warning", or "error" if it happens. Likewise there is no portable or standard way to inform the user of downcasts either, or to disable them entirely.

NOT version 3 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42991731)


Please be aware that MINIX 3 is not your grandfather's MINIX ... MINIX 1 was written as an educational tool ... MINIX 3 is that plus a start at building a highly reliable, self-healing, bloat-free operating system ... MINIX 1 and MINIX 3 are related in the same way as Windows 3.1 and Windows XP are: same first name

http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/reliable-os/ [cs.vu.nl]

Re:Is this a serious OS? (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991353)

I don't think they have any expectation people will use it as a desktop or server OS. They do seem to have a goal of making it suitable for use by embedded-system developers.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991617)

I would say that they've then been beaten to THAT punch by many embedded systems developers. I'm not even going to cite teh urls. Embedded linux is not a mystery.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992109)

No, not a mystery, but Minix takes a different approach with a minimal kernel-space footprint and security. It also has more business-friendly licensing.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42991391)

MINIX has always been first and foremost a teaching OS. What is exciting is that in recent years, the capability seems to have broken through a wall, and the practical usages has started growing quickly. That means it can now be used for both purposes, which makes it even better at its primary purpose.

MINIX is not trying to be Linux. MINIX is trying to be MINIX, and the exciting thing is that it is now succeeding! So it is one of a growing multitude of options in the free and open source community.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991655)

MINIX is not trying to be Linux. MINIX is trying to be MINIX, and the exciting thing is that it is now succeeding!

So, "Run Forrest, run!" is more apropos of here than in any use that quote has ever been applied to before in any IT article...

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992143)

So, "Run Forrest, run!" is more apropos of here than in any use that quote has ever been applied to before in any IT article...

No more or less than in the late 80s... or 1991... or 1993... or 1996...

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992131)

It is available under a BSD-type license [minix3.org] which will make it more attractive to some companies than Linux which is under the GPL.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992247)

It is available under a BSD-type license [minix3.org] which will make it more attractive to some companies than Linux which is under the GPL.

Bingo. Linux got very lucky early on and built a lot of momentum, but its restrictive license is an inherent handicap. We're starting to see more and more permissively-licensed alternatives, which, though still behind, and gradually closing the gap. It may be another decade, but, when one of those alternatives becomes good enough, we'll see a tipping point...

MINIX3 is a microkernel OS focused on stability and simplicity. This may make it a good fit for some situations, but performance is lacking. (Damn, I thought I once saw a MINIX3 benchmark on Phoronix, but now I can't find it...) For now, a better bet in most situations is FreeBSD.

--libman

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992359)

Bingo. Linux got very lucky early on and built a lot of momentum, but its restrictive license is an inherent handicap. We're starting to see more and more permissively-licensed alternatives, which, though still behind, and gradually closing the gap. It may be another decade, but, when one of those alternatives becomes good enough, we'll see a tipping point...

Bingo

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992457)

Linux...but its restrictive license is an inherent handicap.

So it's a handicap because...
1. Any fixes/improvements/forks that people make have to be Open Source, thereby helping the original kernel.
2. Microsoft and Apple can't steal parts of the code and use it in their OSes legally.

These are handicaps to corporations, not to Linux or the users, so I'm fine with these "handicaps."

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992537)

Any fixes that people make ... **And sell** Have to be open source

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992981)

Copyleft is a practical handicap, as well as a moral one [freestateproject.org] .

The practical handicap, first off, is that you need a lawyer to understand how exactly it will handicap you and your business. In many cases your business model would be sabotaged, as you don't have the freedom to do what you want with your own additions and enhancements to a piece of copyleft software. Those restrictions tighten over time - most people paid no attention to them before GPLv3. (Linux was smart enough to stay with v2, but all its distros depend on GNU components that didn't.) And what of GPLv4, v5, and beyond? Knowing the anti-market socialist mentality that gave birth to the GPL, it's entirely reasonable to be concerned. Software is a relationship that requires a significant investment of time, to master it to the point where you can extend it. Rational people shouldn't invest this time in software that comes with legal threats attached.

The moral handicap is that it uses copyright, backed by government force. A "license.txt" file is intended to be an "implicit contract", which makes about as much logical sense as wearing a "by seeing me you agree to obey me" t-shirt! By equating copying with theft, you're no better than the RIAA! And GPL needs copyright far more than Microsoft or Apple, because the latter make a growing fraction of their income through legitimate explicit contracts (B2B, SaaS, hardware bundling, etc) rather than EULA's. Free software is a natural market phenomenon, but copyleft is an economically-retarded ideological movement that has hijacked it, and has done a great deal of harm - limiting how the software can be used, and thereby discouraging its use. Stallman's wet dream is to undermine the free market in software, make software development economically unsustainable, and then have to government come in to fund and regulate the development of all software. Copyleft software is not really "free software", and, by using it, you give credence to the socialist definition of freedom - using force to get your way.

So now we are gradually seeing an increase in copyfree projects relative to copyleft ones [google.com] . Companies are increasingly reluctant to use any GPL software that they can avoid. Linux itself is difficult to avoid for now, but that may change in the future.

--libman

Re:Is this a serious OS? (2)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993151)

Your main points are about restrictions to companies. As a company, you should be concerned about any license and have a lawyer for it. Even if not explicitly stated, every piece of unique work has a natural copyright anyway. Copyleft wasn't made to help companies, but the people. If a person writes code for a new type of compression algorithm and releases it as BSD, then companies are free to improve upon it without ever giving the improvements back. That means company XYZ can substantially improve it and keep it closed source. They have tons of money and tons of coders underneath them working full-time. Company XYZ makes tons of money from this. Eventually, the F/OSS version can't compete and keep up and eventually dies. And if some coding genius could improve the code by 10 fold, then there's no way unless they work for the company. Any free software that wants to use Company XYZ's improved version have to pay fees. If Company XYZ goes under, then the code is never released. It only appears to advance technology temporarily.

Having said all of this, I'm fine with closed-source code. However, copyleft was made for coders, for guys like me. If you're not a coder, then you won't really understand. It wasn't made for companies, so of course, it restricts them. But, the companies can still use it and improve upon the code, so it only restricts them from using code in their closed-source code and from improving upon it without giving back to the original coders that made it. In fact, they could make a "in-house" version where they don't have to make it open source. It's only when you distribute the code publicly -- when you're profiting from the code -- that you have to release the source code. And if a company is profiting from the work of others, standing on giants' shoulders, shouldn't the guy that they're standing on get some benefit too? Asking for the improvements/fixes in the form of open source code isn't asking for much, seeing as how they wrote the thing in the first place.

Copyleft is for coders and the community of coders. Average Joes like me. It handicaps corporations/companies.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993555)

Your main points are about restrictions to companies. As a company, you should be concerned about any license and have a lawyer for it.

Those restrictions apply to everyone. An individual developer can be a "company" too.

If s\he develops a software enhancement, of course we want him/her to give it to us for free, with source, documentation, a video tutorial, free support via Skype, and all that. Everybody wants a free lunch... But not everyone is willing to give things away for free, at least not initially. Many business models have been built around genuinely free (i.e. not copyleft) software, where the developer gets to sell the innovation for a while, and releases the source code after some period of time. What copyleft is all about is injecting legal obligations, so that developer has NO CHOICE but to give things away.

Free software should be free, period - no legal strings attached. It is a natural result of competitive forces in the marketplace driving the price down to the distribution cost (which is virtually zero), so the developer has more to gain (utility, attention, patches, community input, egoboo, etc) by also publishing the source code. This creates an environment where people can make money off their initial innovations for a while, so innovation is encouraged, and then things eventually become free. (A)GPL destroys this cycle by FORCING people to give away their code, so they're better off staying away from that software entirely - fewer people end up tweaking that piece of software, fewer ideas are implemented, fewer users get their needs met, etc...

Even if not explicitly stated, every piece of unique work has a natural copyright anyway.

That may be your religion, but I don't share it.

If a person writes code for a new type of compression algorithm and releases it as BSD, then companies are free to improve upon it without ever giving the improvements back. That means company XYZ can substantially improve it and keep it closed source. They have tons of money and tons of coders underneath them working full-time. Company XYZ makes tons of money from this. Eventually, the F/OSS version can't compete and keep up and eventually dies.

Then "company XYZ" is making money off their own innovations, not the original BSD-licensed algorithm they've leveraged, which remains free for everyone to use.

Needless to say, you're entirely free to stay away from "Company XYZ", not use any of their products, and to badmouth them as much as you want. Staying away from all copyleft software is much harder, believe me...

And of course you don't need to even touch any piece of copyleft software to be accused of copyleft license violation - with more and more of the coding noosphere being locked up by copyleft, some of your original code will inevitably look similar. (It's much worse with copyleft than with closed-source software - if a function I write resembles one from a closed-source product the source of which never leaked out, no one can accuse me.) Copyleft is a weapon, whose purpose is to sabotage the software industry (including genuinely free software) and reel in ever-more government control!

And if some coding genius could improve the code by 10 fold, then there's no way unless they work for the company.

So this "coding genius", having same access to the original BSD code, can't do what "company XYZ" has done? This definitely suggests that you're undervaluing XYZ's accomplishment. (And in some cases access to source code isn't even required to innovate, especially if you're a "coding genius" and can use a disassembler and know how to put in a hook or two... And maybe working for that company is not such a bad option...)

Any free software that wants to use Company XYZ's improved version have to pay fees.

Yes, and if I want to buy a Dell computer, I have to pay Michael Dell. It sure would be nice if Michael Dell would give me one for free, but he has a Right not to.

What you're exhibiting is typical "beggar morality" - "you didn't give me something, so you're evil"... "Company XYZ" has no obligation to do anything for anyone, unless they want to, which may be for free or may be in exchange for something. You're setting your desire for a hand-out as the only standard of value, and the Rights of "company XYZ" are completely ignored. (By which I don't mean any "positive right" to intellectual monopoly, but a negative right to do whatever they want with their own code.) With that standard of morality, you might as well justify robbing banks, because you and your friends will get the loot...

If Company XYZ goes under, then the code is never released. It only appears to advance technology temporarily.

Proprietary software contributes to open source software in many ways. Very little innovation has historically started out as open source (with most exceptions being university-funded projects) - FLOSS gains experience from proprietary software, in studying both its accomplishments and its mistakes.

Proprietary software companies are often able to organize resources more effectively than the FLOSS community, so it creates innovations which wouldn't have existed at that time without them, increasing the productivity for their users, and thus driving the economy forward. This creates jobs, lower hardware costs, educational opportunities, and other things that FLOSS developers benefit from.

And of course proprietary companies contribute much code to FLOSS software, with no force required. Apple has contributed many things to FreeBSD (and WebKit, etc). And I could go on for pages about the things contributed by Google...

Copyleft is for coders and the community of coders. Average Joes like me. It handicaps corporations/companies.

Copyleft hurts coders by setting them down the wrong path, limiting their options, putting socialist ideology ahead of everything else, vilifying profits, and scaring companies away from open source software.

--libman

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42994419)

Even if not explicitly stated, every piece of unique work has a natural copyright anyway.

That may be your religion, but I don't share it.

Copyright isn't natural, it's a legal concept. That aside, it is a fact that any original creative work is copyrighted automatically, that's not religion.

Eventually, the F/OSS version can't compete and keep up and eventually dies.

So why does F/OSS still exist at all? Reality seems to disagree with you. Because F/OSS doesn't need to compete it doesn't have to die, it just needs people who are interested in it, and we live in a big world. New fancy features may not always be developed as fast as with proprietary software because the motive to score big with a hype isn't so strong, but F/OSS software does tend to gradually improve.

Copyleft is a weapon, whose purpose is to sabotage the software industry (including genuinely free software) and reel in ever-more government control!

Wow. I never saw RMS as a government agent, and I have a strong impression that industries have far too much influence on the US government, who are supposed to represent the people, not the industries. Copyleft is a defensive weapon, a defence designed by someone who believes in sharing against those who don't say "thank you" but "fuck you" after taking what was shared with them. And of course copyleft is used by many who are not anti-industry at all, including companies who are part of that industry.

Yes, and if I want to buy a Dell computer, I have to pay Michael Dell. It sure would be nice if Michael Dell would give me one for free, but he has a Right not to.

What you're exhibiting is typical "beggar morality" - "you didn't give me something, so you're evil"... "Company XYZ" has no obligation to do anything for anyone, unless they want to, which may be for free or may be in exchange for something..

A Dell computer can't be copied with a simple command. Information can. That doesn't oblige anyone to share their information for free, but the insight you are missing is that if you do participate in a sharing culture where what you share by its nature is in unlimited supply as soon as it's published, you receive far more than you could possibly contribute yourself. That's a big win for everybody, a purely cooperative model works well for information. It's not socialism, by the way, the ability to share information as easily as we can nowadays is a recent development, and seeing sharing as a good model for distributing information doesn't imply one sees it as a good model for everything.

If company XYZ choose to base their software on copyleft code and distribute the result, then yes, they do have an obligation. An obligation they chose for the moment they chose to use copyleft code for that purpose. If someone chooses to use proprietary software they choose for obligations too, such as the obligation to pay a license fee, the obligation to not reverse engineer the code, not to use the software outside the licensed type of use, and so on. Limits and obligations are everywhere, you can use proprietary code on the maker's conditions, you can use F/OSS on the maker's conditions. If you don't like the conditions, don't use it. It's really that simple.

Copyleft hurts coders by setting them down the wrong path, limiting their options, putting socialist ideology ahead of everything else, vilifying profits, and scaring companies away from open source software.

The problem is that those coders and companies don't read licenses and FAQs explaining what it means, and don't consult a lawyer. That's not only true for copyleft licenses, I've often seen developers integrate a useful piece of code they found somewhere into their own software, including DLLs they took from proprietary software, and when I asked if they were allowed to use it gave me a surprised look, it just hadn't occurred to them that being able to find and copy it doesn't mean they can use it any way they want. Those are the ones who get into trouble, and they violate proprietary licenses as much as they violate F/OSS licenses. It's stupid to blame the problem on the license, what is needed is for those people to get it through their skulls that copyright applies to what they do too.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42993713)

Just in case you're not a troll, just really misinformed and confused: almost every point you make is either an argument against a straw man, makes no sense or is simply based on false assumptions. I'll just pick a few examples:

The moral handicap is that it uses copyright, backed by government force.

And then you go off to say that that's worse than making income (what exactly any of this has to do with income is anyone's guess) through legitimate contracts. Which are enforced by government force. Can you see how that argument makes no sense whatsoever?

By equating copying with theft, you're no better than the RIAA!

You seem to think that the GPL equates copying with theft. Where did you get this idea?

copyleft is an economically-retarded ideological movement that has hijacked [free software], and has done a great deal of harm - limiting how the software can be used, and thereby discouraging its use

That would be a great argument against using the GPL. That is, if the GPL indeed had something to say about how software can and can't be used. Which it doesn't.

Stallman's wet dream is to [...] have [the] government come in to fund and regulate the development of all software.

And how exactly do you know that? Can you point to something he wrote or said that would support that?

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42994499)

Just in case you're not a troll, just really misinformed and confused: almost every point you make is either an argument against a straw man, makes no sense or is simply based on false assumptions. I'll just pick a few examples:

The moral handicap is that it uses copyright, backed by government force.

And then you go off to say that that's worse than making income (what exactly any of this has to do with income is anyone's guess) through legitimate contracts. Which are enforced by government force. Can you see how that argument makes no sense whatsoever?

A "legitimate contract" involves a pre-existing agreement, and government (or other arbitrating entity) force is only employed after one party violates the agreement. In GP's view, GPL is not a "legitimate contract" because the user may not have really agreed to it, thus suffering the use of force without agreeing. Note that his perspective only makes sense if you disregard copyright law (due to its assumed injustice) -- else GPL leaves infringers the option of (agreeing to the license, then violating that license) or (copying without agreeing to the license, therefore copyright violation).

By equating copying with theft, you're no better than the RIAA!

You seem to think that the GPL equates copying with theft. Where did you get this idea?

Good ghod, numbnuts, did you read the post he replied to? Here, let me help...

2. Microsoft and Apple can't steal parts of the code and use it in their OSes legally.

He doesn't think GPL equates copying with theft, he knows the fucktard he replied to equates copying with theft.

copyleft is an economically-retarded ideological movement that has hijacked [free software], and has done a great deal of harm - limiting how the software can be used, and thereby discouraging its use

That would be a great argument against using the GPL. That is, if the GPL indeed had something to say about how software can and can't be used. Which it doesn't.

Actually, with GPLv3, it arguably does, for some (not all) reasonable definitions of "use". For it to apply w/r/t GPLv2, I think "use" is the wrong term.

Stallman's wet dream is to [...] have [the] government come in to fund and regulate the development of all software.

And how exactly do you know that? Can you point to something he wrote or said that would support that?

Seriously? This is 2013, he's been preaching this shit for a quarter century. See for example The GNU Manifesto [gnu.org] , scroll down to "Programmers need to make a living somehow." GP is being a bit hyperbolic, but he definitely supports something much like that (note that in the Manifesto, a software tax is promoted merely as one of several alternatives -- in other writings, which I can't be arsed to track down and cite, he's been more specific and preferred some arrangement wherein government has universal regulatory role and a widespread, but not universal, funding role).

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42995829)

Just in case you're not a troll, just really misinformed and confused: almost every point you make is either an argument against a straw man, makes no sense or is simply based on false assumptions. I'll just pick a few examples:

I've been fighting this battle for many years now [freetalklive.com] , regularly presenting significant amounts of evidence in favor of copyfree [copyfree.org] software. Calling me a "troll" is akin to calling Copernicus a "witch" for presenting evidence that Earth orbits the sun!

And then you go off to say that that's worse than making income (what exactly any of this has to do with income is anyone's guess) through legitimate contracts. Which are enforced by government force. Can you see how that argument makes no sense whatsoever?

Here you are exhibiting total ignorance of the subject matter. You need to study philosophy of law, as well as basic economics.

Making income is an accomplishment - it means you are providing something so valuable to other people that they are willing to compensate you for it. If someone else could provide the same or better value at same or lower price, the buyers would go there instead. Giving away software / code / etc that other people find useful and use is an accomplishment as well, and under certain circumstances it provides more benefits (attention, patches, donations, etc) than selling the software would have. Developers have a Right to choose how they distribute their code (and it is their own, added code that constitutes the value in question).

Freedom of contract [wikipedia.org] is a Natural Right - meaning that we observe its necessity independently of whether it is recognized by any state. Contracts have existed since the dawn of civilization (ex. public oaths [wikipedia.org] ), and civilization is impossible without some way of holding people accountable for their promises. Contracts will continue to exist (and be insured and enforced by non-monopolistic DRO's [wikipedia.org] ) long after governments as you know them will rot away on the ash-heap of history.

Copyright, on the other hand, is a relatively recent invention of very dubious necessity. It started [questioncopyright.org] in the 1600s largely as a censorship mechanism [techdirt.com] , to suppress dissident literature and reward the loyal propagandists of the state. In spite of its sustained legislative approval, economic evidence for benefits of copyright remain very scarce, and much can be said as to its harm.

"Implicit contract" based EULA's and software licenses are more dubious still. They are completely different from real (explicit consent) contracts, and don't stand the slightest test of logical scrutiny. If GPL is legally valid, then so is any "fine print" attached to anything you may come across! How would you feel if you were to find a dollar bill on the street, put it in your wallet, and then get sued by me for not following the terms of the "license" scribbled on that bill, stating that your wallet now belongs to me?!

You seem to think that the GPL equates copying with theft. Where did you get this idea?

The fact that it drags people to court (which can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars) for mere copying. And:

"Microsoft and Apple can't steal parts of the code and use it in their OSes legally." -- RedHackTea [slashdot.org]

That would be a great argument against using the GPL. That is, if the GPL indeed had something to say about how software can and can't be used. Which it doesn't.

Modification is a form of use. (And in many situations software cannot be useful without being modified.)

Furthermore, (A)GPL tends to become more restrictive whenever its authors think they've amassed enough power / market share to inch their agenda forward. If GPL is legitimate, then so is any EULA. The current GPL restrictions are the thin end of a wedge. If it wasn't for the resistance from copyfree software, they'd probably be up to GPLv6 by now...

And how exactly do you know that? Can you point to something he wrote or said that would support that?

I read his Web-site [stallman.org] on a regular basis. His values are very clear.

--libman

Re:Is this a serious OS? (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993253)

Linux...but its restrictive license is an inherent handicap.

So it's a handicap because...

1. Any fixes/improvements/forks that people make have to be Open Source, thereby helping the original kernel.

2. Microsoft and Apple can't steal parts of the code and use it in their OSes legally.

These are handicaps to corporations, not to Linux or the users, so I'm fine with these "handicaps."

Your #1 is not entirely true: as long as the derivative work isn't distributed, people or companies can make fixes/improvements/forks all they want, and it will never help the original kernel.

On #2 you need to make up your mind: is using open source code sharing, or is it stealing? In addition, it's perfectly legal for Microsoft or Apple or any entity to use GPL code, provided they comply with the license. That Apple and Microsoft are unlikely to use GPL code due to business reasons has no impact on the potential legality of their doing so.

Better for embedded than for servers (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992829)

I'd certainly not suggest using it as a server OS over the likes of FBSD, Debian or RedHat. But for embedded systems, it's certainly more appropriate - I'd definitely recommend it over the likes of something like TinyCore Linux. All those people getting Raspberry Pis or Arduinos or things like that - Minix is the right solution.

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992249)

So many people make the mistake of believing that because something is good for some people in some situations, that there's no reason to work on anything else.

There are plenty of advantages of Minix. The BSD-type licensing is one, as you say. Its microkernel design and security focus are others.

If Linux or FreeBSD or ___ serves one's purpose well, then there's no reason to use something other than Linux or FreeBSD or ___. But if they're not optimal, then of course people will look at something else.

For a site that used to advertise "news for nerds", there's an awful lot of "What's the point of this?" in the comments...

Re:Is this a serious OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992437)

For a site that used to advertise "news for nerds", there's an awful lot of "What's the point of this?" in the comments...

Bingo, one would think this site would be open to improvement in OS design

wow (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991357)

I remember seeing this for the Atari ST back in the day but was put off by the price back then as istr it coming with full manuals and support but at a price. Amazed it's still going.

Re:wow (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about a year and a half ago | (#42991791)

I believe it cost less than $100 and included the book that Tanenbaum wrote to go with it.

Re:wow (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992833)

The download is for free, and if one buys the book, one gets the free CD/DVD (whichever it is)

Re:wow (1)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | about a year and a half ago | (#42994447)

"It cost $100" was a historic reference, i.e. that's how much it cost back in the late 80s when he originally wrote and published the book. Back then it wasn't released under a free licence, it was released under a propriety one. It switched to the BSD licence (I think) sometime in the 90s.

Not needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992535)

I'm pretty sure Linux won this battle long ago. This isn't needed at all.

Microkernel vs. Monolithic Kernel (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992549)

Okay guys, let's start the flame war. I honestly think the Microkernel is better.

1. Everything is more modular and separated. This just makes sense to me, and I think code would be easier to maintain with a diverse community of people.

2. If the X module dies, the OS can continue running like normal, as long as it's not the base module. For example, as humans, if you lose an arm, you can continue to live. It is losing your "brain module" that will kill you. With Microkernel, there is a lot less rebooting IMO because of a crash. How often have you had to restart your computer to fix an issue? Or remember the blue screen of death with MS?

3. Because of #2, you can "self-heal." If X module crashes, just restart it -- without having to restart the entire system. You can restart sound/etc. services, but sometimes it still doesn't fix it and you have to do a full restart. And if it's not a service but apart of the kernel code, how to restart it?

4. Upgrading and pushing out critical fixes can be faster and more easily done. In fact, if you could have two "brain modules", then you could kick the secondary brain off to upgrade the primary brain.

The main disadvantage I hear about Microkernels are speed and the complexity of message passing between the modules. I use Linux myself because let's face it... GNU/Hurd and Minix just aren't up to snuff. I also prefer the GPL over BSD/MIT/etc. So why do you guys love/hate the microkernel or the monolithic kernel?

Re:Microkernel vs. Monolithic Kernel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992567)

Didn't Linux win this war long ago? Seems like GNU/Hurd and Minix just aren't needed or they would have been developed. Just let them fade off into oblivion like the primates that didn't make the cut millions of years ago.

Re:Microkernel vs. Monolithic Kernel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992703)

... just aren't needed or they would have been developed.

You could say that about anything that hasn't already been done. I'm glad my parents' generation didn't think like that.

Re:Microkernel vs. Monolithic Kernel (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992747)

HURD is a crappy hybrid system based on an horrid microkernel and pretty much dead because of lack of leadership.

Minix3 is an actively developed pure microkernel and multiserver system with ambition and under the direction of a person who knows the fuck he's doing.

If you can't tell them apart, you will not make the cut in the immediate future.

Re:Microkernel vs. Monolithic Kernel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42992891)

You sir are an idiot.

Re:Microkernel vs. Monolithic Kernel (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992883)

Also, to prevent a hung driver from crashing the whole system, if a driver gets into an infinite loop, the scheduler will gradually lower its priority until it becomes idle. Eventually the 'reincarnation server' will see that it is not responding to status requests, so it will kill and restart the looping driver. In a monolithic system, a looping driver could hang the system.

I do think microkernels are not for everywhere, and that it's ideal for embedded systems, where the code size is a big advantage. The complexity of message passing is real, and probably the reason there ain't that many drivers for such OSs. One thing about Mach 3.0 based OSs - that was the first generation of microkernels, which was not fully understood at the time, which is why such OSs were really slow. More modern microkernels, such as L4, are faster, and osFree is being build on that. Minix is a great platform to build an embedded OS.

If licensing is a big deal here, then go w/ Minix if you prefer BSDL, or wait for HURD and one day, you may get a fully GPL 3 microkernel. One thing - the GNU guys could well have forked Minix 3.0 from that point, ported their HURD servers to it, and got it to work - they tried all sorts of other things like Coyotos. I'd like to see HURD get complete as well.

Re:Microkernel vs. Monolithic Kernel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42994897)

If the X module dies, the OS can continue running like normal, as long as it's not the base module.

That's generally not true though, because all those other processes contain state, and when they crash you lose state. Consider what happens in a microkernel if the process running your disk driver crashes and loses the state of all the current objects that in use by the filesystem.

Embedded Market (5, Informative)

crow (16139) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992587)

I spoke with Andy Tannenbaum when we were at the OSDI conference last October. He said that Minix has a role in the embedded market, especially in places where companies want to avoid the GPL.

It's a large and growing market. Much as I would prefer Linux, I agree that there's plenty of room for Minix in that market.

Re:Embedded Market (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993297)

That and they where supposed to do some interesting stuff with like self healing for high reliability I find it very interesting at the Kernel level. I would love to see some way out projects that might do well at replacing X or at least closer intergeneration of X with audio.

Hurd (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992827)

Is the GNU Hurd kernel a good choice for teaching or OS study in general?

Re:Hurd (1)

hawk (1151) | about a year and a half ago | (#42993961)

Yes.

Everyone should study projects that never get to the finish line.

Duke Nukem has finally managed to disqualify itself . . .

hawk

Re:Hurd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42996397)

I'm not qualified to comment on Hurd but indeed, people should also study things that didn't succeed. Worst-case scenario, people will know what didn't work so they don't run the risk of reinventing the flat tire.

In a better case scenario, somebody may see something good in something that failed and be able to adequately resolve the issues that brought a project down. It could be a design issue, overcoming some challenge, or whatever.

But if nothing else, people can learn from somebody else's work. In the case of research kernels and OSes, sometimes folks didn't really know how something was gonna work out until it was tried. As it goes, "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they're not."

Some of these failed technologies were the result of learning experiences that taught us where practice doesn't work.

And as always, hindsight is 20/20, at least for people who bother to look.

Great to finally see some advancement on Minix (1)

niktheslick (766163) | about a year and a half ago | (#42992879)

It seems to me that the tradeoffs Minix makes lends itself to better hardening and security, let alone simplicity and maintainability in the code base. I am excited to see what the Minix community produces now that they have some dedicated developers and are using NetBSD pkgsrc for userland. Cheers!

A teaching tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42994647)

Does that refer to Andrew S. Tanenbaum?

Socialism goes (not-so)hi-tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42995899)

Minix must be cool, it is sponsored by the European union. Long live socialism!

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