MINIX (UNIX clone) now available for 68000 (Atari-ST)

MINIX (UNIX clone) now available for 68000 (Atari-ST)

Post by Andy Tanenba » Tue, 02 Oct 1990 13:25:00

MINIX is a new operating system that is system call compatible with V7 UNIX.
Unlike real UNIX, it is available with all the source code, both the kernel
and all the utilities.  The purpose of this message is to announce its
availability on the 68000 CPU, specifically the Atari-ST.  However, since
it should not be too hard to port it to other 68000-based computers (e.g.,
Amiga, Macintosh), this message is being crossposted to a number of newsgroups.
This will be the only announcement outside comp.os.minix.

When MINIX is run on the Atari ST (or MegaST) it replaces the native
operating system (TOS) and turns the computer into a normal UNIX machine.
MINIX has been running on the IBM PC, XT, AT, and many clones, including 386s
for almost two years.  The IBM version is in widespread use all over the world.
The original (IBM) version was written by Andrew S. Tanenbaum.  The Atari port
was done by Johan Stevenson and Jost Muller.  MINIX does not contain even a
single line of AT&T code.  Thus both the operating system and the utilities are
all brand new code.

  - System call compatible with V7 UNIX (except for a few very minor calls)
  - Kernighan and Ritchie compatible C compiler is included
  - Shell that is functionally identical to the Bourne shell is included
  - Full multiprogramming (fork+exec; background jobs in shell:  cc file.c & )
  - Full screen editor inspired by emacs (modeless, autoinsert, etc.) included
  - Ability to read and write TOS disks
  - Over 90 popular utilities provided (cat, grep, ls, make, mount, sort, etc.)
  - Over 100 library procedures provided (atoi, fork, malloc, stdio, etc.)
  - Works with floppy-only systems or with hard disk systems
  - Full operating system source code (in C) is included
  - Source code for all the utilities (except C compiler) is included

ar as badblocks basename cal cat cc cem cg chmem chmod chown clr cmp comm  
compress cp cpdir cpp cv date dd df diff diskcheck du echo expr factor
false find fix fsck getlf grep gres head kill ld ln
login lpr ls make megartc mined mkdir mkfs mknod more
mount mv od opt passwd pr printenv pwd readall readfs rev rm
rmdir roff sh shar size sleep sort split stty su sum
sync tail tar tee test time tos touch tr treecmp true
umount uniq update uudecode uuencode wc

abort abs access alarm atoi atol bcopy brk call chdir chmod chown chroot
cleanup close creat crypt ctime ctype doprintf dup dup2 exec exit fclose
fflush fgets fopen fork fprintf fputs fread freopen fseek fstat ftell
fwrite getc getegid getenv geteuid getgid getgrent getpass getpid getpwent
gets getuid gtty index ioctl isatty itoa kill link lseek malloc mknod
mktemp mount open pause perror pipe popen putc puts qsort rand read
regexp regsub rindex scanf setbuf setgid setuid signal sleep sprintf stat
stime strcat strcmp strcpy strlen strncat strncmp strncpy stty sync
system termcap time times umask umount ungetc unlink utime wait write

There is a USENET newsgroup, comp.os.minix, concerned with MINIX.  This group
is gatewayed to the ARPANET, BITNET, etc.  If you cannot read USENET newsgroups
directly, you can get on the mailing list by sending a request to
The group is very active, and well worth reading if you are interested in MINIX.
It is used for reporting bugs, fixing bugs, posting new software, asking and
answering questions, and so on.  At some point it may be necessary to split
the group (IBM vs. Atari; source code vs discussion; ...) but for the time
being, there are no plans to split it.  Time will tell.  There are archives
of the messages that have been posted to comp.os.minix.  For an information
sheet telling about MINIX and the archives, send email to or
watch the newsgroup.  Although this message is being crossposted to several
groups, this will be the only announcement.  Please post all subsequent
discussion to comp.os.minix ONLY.  The group is unmoderated.  Please do
not discuss the PDP-11 memory management unit or other irrelevant topics.

There is a book describing MINIX is great detail, both how to use it and how
it works inside.  The book contains a highly annotated copy of the O/S code
as an appendix (250 pages).  This version is slightly out-of-date, but it is
still quite usable.  The bibliographic data on the book are as follows:

        Title: Operating Systems: Design and Implementation
        Author: Andrew S. Tanenbaum
        Publisher: Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
        Date: 1987
        ISBN: 0-13-637406-9  (hardback version, U.S and Canada only)
              0-13-637331-3  (paperback version, outside of U.S. and Canada)
        Price: about $40 although bookstores may charge whatever they want

The book is currently in the process of being translated into German.
There is also a paperback MINIX Reference Manual that is a subset of the book.  
It contains only the MINIX specific information, not the general background
stuff on operating systems that the book contains.  The reference manual is
about $35.  There is also a package containing the disks and the reference
manual combined going for about $110.  I think there may soon be a package
containing the reference manual and the Atari disks.

The Atari disks come with a little booklet telling how to boot the system
and how it differs from MINIX-PC (IBM version).  Effectively it is a diff
listing between MINIX-ST and MINIX-PC.  It makes no attempt to repeat the
500 or so pages on MINIX from the book or manual.

MINIX is something of an intermediate form between AT&T UNIX and GNU.
Unlike GNU, MINIX is not public domain.  It is copyrighted by Prentice-Hall
and is being sold by them.  The price for the Atari disks in the U.S. is $80
+ shipping (somewhat higher abroad)  and includes all the source code.  On
the other hand, unlike AT&T UNIX, the source code is readily available, and
may be copied for bona fide educational and research use.  For example, a
professor teaching a course on operating systems could legally buy the disks
and then make copies for all his students.  A very limited amount of private
copying (say, no more than 3 copies per original) for personal friends is
ok.  If this gets out of hand, and Prentice-Hall decides that not enough have
been sold, they will just drop the Atari and have future versions be for the
IBM only. It is the intention that future versions be compatible with POSIX.

In the U.S. you can order the software and books from most bookstores or
directly from Prentice-Hall in NJ.  The ISBN number for the Atari software
is 0-13-584392-8.  Prentice-Hall's phone number is (201) 767-5937.

In the U.K. there are two dealers as listed below.
The price in the U.K. is 88.50 pounds sterling + VAT

        Prentice-Hall International             SDL Ltd
        Attention: Mark McDonagh                Unit 10
        66 Wood Lane End                        Ruxley Corner Industrial Estate
        Hemel Hempstead                         Sidcup Bypass
        England                                 Kent DA14 5SS
        Telephone: +44 442 231555

The distributors for Europe are listed below.  The European price is $110.40.

In Germany:     Steve Steinkrauf
                Feldtorweg 24
                D3406 Bovenden 1

In Holland:     Jos de Jong
                Postbus 184
                2100AD Heemstede

In Scandinavia: Frank O'Donell
                P.O. Box 88
                1371 Asker

In Spain        Deborah Worth
and Portugal:   Appartado Numero 50672

In Italy:       Jim Blaho
                Via Manzani 50
                50018 Scandicci

In Greece:      Vassilis Zahos
                Kriconas 57
                GR11634 Athens

In Turkey:      Attilla Gullu
                Millinudafaa Cad 14/7
                Kizilay Ankara  

If you have questions whose answers are likely to be of interest to many people,
post them to comp.os.minix.  If you have questions that are very specific and
you don't want to broadcast to 10,000 machines in several dozen countries, send
mail to one of us.  PC-specific questions should go to ast; Atari specific
questions should go to Johan.

Andy Tanenbaum (
Johan Stevenson (

P.S. domain nl is The Netherlands, where both of us are located.
If your mailer does not know where this is, buy a good world atlas, digitize
it, and feed it to the mailer.