Brad Pliner's MacMinix Page

Latest versions: MacMinix: (Since 1995), PC MINIX: 2.0.2 (?)
Please send new information to 'brad AT pliner DOT com'

Visit the MacMinix Message Board!

About this Site

When I was in college, MacMinix was an indespensible tool for learning Operating System programming. MacMinix is a version of MINIX (A UNIX clone) that runs on TOP of the Mac OS. The benefit is that while learning about operating systems, its easy to recompile and relaunch the MacMinix system, without rebooting your Mac. It is also easy to keep backups of your OS in separate files.

Unfortunately, MacMinix has not been updated in years and is not compatible with today's Macs. MacMinix still has no networking support, is only 68K, and has had limited success running in Mac OS 8. I doubt it will run at all on any of the current Mac OS versions, although it's been a long time since I tried. I believe it works on System 7 on a PowerPC with System 7's built-in 68K emulator. MINIX for the PC has also gotten very little attention for several years. The reason is LINUX. Andrew Tanenbaum, the original author of MINIX kept many features out of MINIX that were being offered to him by various developers, because his intention was to keep MINIX simple. This is because it is intended primarily for educational use. This is what inspired Linus Torvalds to develop Linux.

Ideally, some students will take it upon themselves to update the Mac version so it will work on current Macs. Previously, the most important hurdle, was a 32-bit compliant version that is compatible with Mac OS 8/9. It wouldn't have needed to be ported to PowerPPC, because of the Mac OS's built-in 68k emulator. It is possible that MacMinix could be made to work on top of Mac OS X in Classic mode, or if we reboot into Mac OS 9.x - but currently MacMinix does not work in any of these configurations. Your best bet for running MacMinix is to get an old Mac running an old OS.

There are several other Mac UNIX variants listed here, as well as some information about the Intel version of MINIX. I am only the author of this web page, I am NOT the author of MacMinix, and I will not provide technical support.

Mac OS X and Darwin

Mac OS X is a Unix-derivative featuring an open-source Mach Kernel (Darwin) and a BSD subsystem. So for all the visitors to this site looking for a stable Unix environment for their Mac - look no further than Apple Computer. Darwin is a free opens-source Unix clone without the Mac user interface. Mac OS X is a full commercial product that includes the Mac UI, applications, and more. MacMinix is generally useful as a student environment, however due to Mac OS X and Darwin, it's unlikely MacMinix will ever get the support it needs to bring it up to date to run on the latest OS or hardware.

Is StrobeSoft's MacMinix bogus? UPDATE: StrobeSoft is no more.

StrobeSoft USA, a freeware software company, has released a revised MacMinix, dubbed "MacMinix" (r1 and r2). (Note: this was released several years ago) It claims to be 32-bit compliant, Mac OS 8 compatible, and sport many aesthetic improvements.

However, it has been reported that this version of MacMinix is no more than a redistribution of MacMinix but with color icons pasted in and some simple ResEdit changes. The 'author' didn't actually correct the icons within the resource file in the MacMinix file system, which means as soon as you remake the OS, they will be lost. Most importantly it is NOT 32-bit compatible, as it claims to be. Anyone else have anything to add? The author did not respond to our e-mails.

Update (Posted 4/22/01): StrobeSoft is no longer in business, according to their web site. "into nothingness we go as we came. strobesoft no longer developing". I never saved a copy of their distribution, because it appeared to have no value. It is no longer available from their web site either.

Other Mac UNIX Clones

If you're looking for a UNIX-clone OS for your Macintosh, I recommend looking at one of these alternatives:

  • Darwin: Apple open-sourced portions of Macintosh OS X. "Darwin" is the codename for the Operating System that can be built purely on open-source. It includes a Mach Kernel, BSD Unix, and lots more. It does not include the Mac user interface. This is very exciting for Mac users!
  • Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server: Ok, they're not free, but eventually all Macs will come with one of these anyway. Mac OS X is now available, and includes the BSD UNIX library, an optional UNIX command line, and all the UNIX tools we know and love. Porting UNIX code to Mac OS X will, in most cases, be a snap! Be sure to install the optional BSD subsystem. Mac OS X is built on top of the open-source Darwin mentioned above, so it is possible to hack the kernel of Mac OS X.
  • NetBSD: NetBSD is available for 68K and PowerPC Macintoshes, as well as many other platforms. NetBSD is another implementation of BSD, the same flavor of Unix used by Darwin/Mac OS X.
  • Mac06: Mac06 ("Mac Oh Six") is a POSIX library and a system kernel running on top of MacOS. Mac06 is shareware. There are optional packages for network support, development environements, and more.
  • MkLinux: MkLinux is a Linux port that runs on the Macintosh, that is partially supported by Apple. In light of Darwin and Mac OS X, I doubt Apple will be particularly interested in pursuing this project. They have already removed their web pages and files from their FTP server for this project. Hopefully the open source Darwin and the open source Linux code bases can benefit from each other.
  • MachTen This UNIX clone runs as an application on top of the Mac OS, much like MacMinix. However, it is not free, and the source code is not public. If you're looking for a commerical UNIX product to run on a production server, I'd recommend something else, because it's still dependent on the Mac OS, which does not have protected memory, etc.
  • MacMinix on Basilisk for Windows
    Carlos Zayas successfully ran MacMinix on Basilisk, a Macintosh emulator for Windows. This provides those of us with a Windows PC the ability to boot MacMinix without having to dig up an old Mac running an old OS. View Screen Shot Here!
  • MINIX on Virtual PC
    People have reported successing running MINIX (For Intel PC's) on top of Virtual PC, although there were some issues reported. Asger Stenberg posted the following articles on his Scandinavian web site:
    Installing Minix 2.0.2 in Virtual PC 3
    Getting started with Minix 2.0.2
Why MacMinix?

In an educational environment, MacMinix is ideal. It's easy to install, it runs on top of the Mac OS, and it starts up very quickly. (Just like MachTen.) You can recompile the OS, quit it, and restart the MacMinix application, very simply, without restarting the whole computer. And if you mess something up, you can easily revert to an old version. This is one advantage MacMinix has over the other versions of MINIX. Plus, it utilizes 68K assembly code, which may be more suitable for an educational enviroment than PowerPC, or even Intel instruction sets.

What is MacMinix?

MacMinix is the Macintosh version of MINIX. MINIX is a Unix clone, which contains no AT&T code. This means that the source code can be made publicly available. MacMinix was very poorly supported, and never kept up with the PC version. Now both products appear to have been abandoned.

MINIX: Andrew Tanenbaum is the author of MINIX. He is also the author of various Operating Systems text books which use MINIX as a reference. He is not very familiar with MacMinix, the Mac version of MINIX, and the original developers are in hiding.
Kees Bot produced the POSIX-compiant version of MINIX (2.0???) MacMinix: The developers of MacMinix are in hiding, probably somewhere on a remote tropical island with Gilligan. Seriously, we have not been able to find or contact the original developers!
This Web Page: Bradley S. Pliner*
* NOTE: I am NOT the MacMinix author, and I do not work for Prentice-Hall.

Download MacMinix Here

Be sure to read the license first
Donwload MacMinix here
Versions for other platforms are available from here.

MacMinix Documentation

Thanks to James Campbell Haggerty for these files!
intro.pdfChapter 1. INTRODUCTION
recomp.pdfChapter 8. RECOMPILING MINIX (Section 8.4 for Macintosh)
demoman.pdfReference Manual for the MINIX 1.5 Demonstration Disk
Manual.zipIncludes 4 above files, plus nrof versions of same, plus some notes
manpage1.zipUpdated man pages
manpage2.zipUpdated man pages
More...See our Documentation Page for these files and more

MacMinix Passwords

You need these to log on to MacMinix when you first install it
Root Privileges: User id: root, password: Geheim
User Access: User id: ast, password: Wachtwoord
Interesting Goodies and Patches
  • Using a Mac emulator, such as vMac will let you run MacMINIX. The benefit is that you can run MacMINIX even if you have a PowerMac, Mac OS 8, 9, or even X, or any of the other incompatibilities listed here. vMac is now carbonized, and works on Mac OS X. (Screenshot - PDF) Thanks to Scott Higinbotham for this tip.
  • 32-Bit Addressing workaround. These instructions explain how to run MacMinix with 32-bit addressing mode enabled, regardless of how much ram you have. Since Mac OS 8 no longer supports 24-bit addressing mode, I wonder if this fix will help in achieving Mac OS 8 compatibility for MacMinix.
    Sent by: Sunagawa Keiki.
  • Color Icon Patch: This isn't just a color icon, but it's the patch to allow MacMinix to work with color icons introduced in System 7, and even updates the resource file in the MacMinix file system so that successive builds will retain the color icon.
    Author: Sunagawa Keiki.
  • 68040 Cache Fix: This fix allows MacMinix to run on Macs with 68040 processors, without disabling the cache. It works by flushing the 040 cache at the required times. Performance has been noted to be dramatically improved by applying this patch and enabling the cache. It is unknown whether this patch will cause incompatibilies with non-040 machines. Please let me know what you discover. Author: Chris Hanson.
Andrew Erickson, Where Are You?

The following information was provided by Andrew Erickson. The original pages are no longer available, but copies are still accessible from the Way-Back Machine.

  • SCSI patch: allows MacMinix to utilize entire SCSI partitions instead of, or in addition to, the traditional file system that runs on top of the Mac OS file system. Andrew states that this provides significant i/o improvements.
    Author: Andrew Erickson
  • According to Andrew Erickson, MacMinix will run in 32-bit mode if you don't have more than 8mb of memory. Otherwise, as we already know, be sure to set your system to run in 24-bit mode. (Mac OS 8 and later does not support 24-bit mode, therefore it's not compatible with Mac OS 8 or later.)
  • Andrew Erickson has posted a set of man pages that he converted from the PC version of MINIX. He claims they may be out of date, but they are likely to be more complete than the version that comes with MacMinix.
  • Andrew Erickson has posted instructions for using the c68 compiler with MacMinix.

Known problems with MacMinix

Note: This list no longer includes items that were fixed in the patches posted above, including the 040 cache problem.

  • Incompatable with 32-bit addressing. To use MacMinix, turn on 24-bit addressing in your Memory Control Panel. Some old Macs only run in 24-bit mode, so this is not an option. Mac OS 8 only runs in 32-bit mode.
    • Works in 32-bit mode as long as you have no more than 8mb of ram.
    • Works on 020's in 32-bit mode!
    • The PowerMacs emulate an 020, so it sometimes work on PowerMacs, although there have been lots of problems reported.
  • Only known to work with System 6 or 7 (including 7.5.5). Note: If you run a newer OS including 8, 9 or even X, use a Mac emulator to emulate an older compatible system such as System 7 on a Mac Plus.
  • Incompatable with RamDoubler
  • Incompatable with Apple's Virtual Memory
  • Occasional Error 3 messages when booting MacMinix. Eventually stops if you keep trying. Usually happens with newly compiled MacMinix's.
  • When new MacBoot is compiled, it sometimes appears as a generic file, that can not be launched. Close the folder it is in, and open it again. This fixes the problem. (Possibly a Mac OS bug.)
Improvements needed for MacMinix

Note: This list no longer includes items that were addressed in the patches posted above.

  • Does not support TCP at all!!
  • Needs to be updated to the current PC version.
  • Mac Includes should be updated to latest Apple Universal header files.
  • GetNextEvent should be replaced by WaitNextEvent.
  • Selecting Command-Q should quit, if there are no active processes If there are, a dialog box "Are you sure you want to quit?" would appear.
  • Command-W should close windows.
  • Support for scrolling back, cut/copy/paste, and even Drag 'n Drop.
  • Better file import/export interface between Mac and MINIX file systems.
  • PowerPC native version.
  • Carbon-based version?
This page depends on user feedback!

  • Please use our message boards!
  • Please send any Macintosh documentation that we do not already have here.
  • Send me any MacMinix patches.
  • Contact me with any information or suggestions that might be useful!
  • Let me know of any Mac incompatabilities, including hardware, memory settings, or even extensions that MacMinix doesn't work with.
  • Confirm list of bug reports, and report any workarounds!
  • Report any FTP, WEB, or Telnet sites. Include a brief description of what the site has to offer.
  • Send me any Mac-specific suggestions for improvement to add to the list.
Additional MINIX Resources

MINIX Newsgroup
Web Sites
People have reported trouble accessing these servers. I am not responsible for these FTP servers. Please let me know if I should add or change any of them. To download MINIX or MacMinix, use the MINIX web site.


Powered by Pliner Solutions, Inc
Copyright © 1996-2005, Bradley S. Pliner