Minix 2.0.2 in VirtualPC 3


Keywords : Minix, Macintosh, VirtualPC.

The propose of this article is to give other students at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and other people the possibility of running Minix on their Macintosh.

Being a student attaining a course on operating systems its pretty normal to use the book "Operating Systems, A.S.Tanenbaum & A.S.Woodhull" this book introduces the Minix OS, but as a Macintosh owner you have a problem. As the time of writing the newest version of Minix is 2.0.2 but this can not run on Macintosh platforms, the newest version of Minix for Mac is 1.5. This can not run on powerPC processors and systems with more than 8 Mbyte of RAM (this is not entirely true but in general it’s the trend).

However with the wonderful program VirtualPC by ‘Connectix Corp.©’. Its possible to run the Minix operating system in the emulator… Bingo, but how !!?

I made it installing the Minix on an image after a bit of trouble. But as mentioned earlier I’m writing this to make it possible for you to do the same. I would have shared the image but haven’t done this due to legal matters and the fact that my partition on the university servers does not have enough space to accommodate my 60Mbyte image.

However the server space did allow me to take a few pictures of Minix 2.0.2 in full function just to show you what to expect when your done.


So lets get going then shall we…

First you want to go out and by a version of VirtualPC 3 if you don’t already have it. I don’t know if it works on older versions VPC, nothing else to do than try. Please mail me if you succeed with older versions.

Then you want to obtain a version of the DosMinix 2.0.2 (or newer, as I’m using 2.0.2 I don’t know if the newer will work). DosMinix can for instance be downloaded from the following ftp-server get the file "DOSMINIX.ZIP". Please take a time reading the license information present elsewhere on the server.

This might be a good time to backup your VPC system image since we are going to install Minix into the C-drive thereby completely erasing it. And if anything goes wrong during installation you will have a fresh copy to retry with. If you have a dos image then use that. The size of a Windoze image is big and not necessary.

Expand the system image to a reasonable size, about 60 to 100 Mbyte should be far enough. Use the tool that came with VPC.

Unpack the zipped file using ‘Stuffit Expander’ from ‘Aladdin Systems, inc. ©’ or another decompressor. Now put the decompressed files onto an empty diskimage, either empty a copy of one of the VPC images or create a new Dos Image with the ‘DiskCopy’ utility.

Start VPC and choose the systemdisk as drive C and the image with the decompressed DosMinix as drive D. Reboot in dosmode (windoze must be restarted in dosmode), Find the DosMinix files on the D disk and type "boot minix.mnx" this will start the boot program. The Minix kernel is loaded by typing "=".


So far so good…

What you see now is the Minix operating system, this is a functional version, but we want it installed for real so you don’t have go through dos every time to use Minix. Well, log in as "root" no password is required. Now you should see a ‘# ‘ this is the console awaiting your commands.

Type the command "setup" this is the installation program. It will ask if you know what you are doing… just type y, and then return.

It will now ask for at keyboard profile use the "scandinavn" or whatever you feel is best. Make sure to spell correctly, it will not make a second prompt if it cant find the file.


Now you are almost home…

The part program is the last problem to overcome. This a program that can maintain disks and their partitions. Your disk has one partition (at least if you are using dos) choose hd0 (the primary IDE disk and your system image) as your target disk using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘. Press ‘r’ and use the arrow keys to select the DOS partition (this is probably of type "DOS-BIG") Change this from ‘DOS-BIG’ using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ to ‘MINIX’ type. Press ‘w’ to write the partitionmap to disk. Quit the program by pressing ‘q’.

Now you have just nuked the old system, time to copy the Minix to the image instead of Microzuckz. At the promt asking for a target device you should type hd1 (the name of the MINIX-partition you just made).

And then Minix is copying for a few minutes. When done… it asks for a memory size of the system… just press enter, as you have more than enough.

At the console type "shutdown" this is by the way the correct way to exit minix. Restart the virtual computer and …

Well that’s it. Your Minix version should now be up and running.



The boot program (I will explain a bit about this in a later article) uses a US keyboard layout so pressing ‘=’ on a Scandinavian keyboard wont get you far. Instead press the key right next to the backspace.

The Scandinavian keyboard does not support the Danish æøå but check out the article about changing that.

If ever something goes completely wrong ‘CTRL F8‘ will try to quit the current process. ‘CTRL F9’ will kill your users processes and return to the login screen. Don’t use this feature unless you are experiencing a serious emergency.