Monday, October 24, 2005

Minix3 Available as VM Image

Andy Tannenbaum's keynote at SOSP was more of the same, "Software is garbage! We should all be ashamed!" hand-wringing that's become fashionable of late. A good chunk of his speech was concerned with plugging the new version of Minix. You might be wondering what's changed with Minix. I am too. T'baum's speech was an unreconstructed rehash of the arguments on behalf of microkernels straight out of 1993: the system will survive driver crashes, because the drivers are just user-level processes!

One of the formats in which minix 3 can be downloaded is as a VMware VM ready to run in the VMware player. I downloaded it to my laptop, and was absolutely gobsmacked by how fast this thing boots. Linux and Windows have conditioned me to think of a reboot as serious computation. It is also neat to see how understandable and clean the system's source is, and how rapidly it is possible to build the entire system from scratch. If you're an OS enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to fool around with this.


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