How to Get and Install Minix 2.0.4

modified: 27 Jun 2006

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For MINIX 3 go to http://www.minix3.org. (Minix 3 released Oct 2005)


Minix 2.0.4 quick and easy

Probably the easiest way to install and run Minix is to run it as a guest operating system on top of a virtualization or emulation system. The free VMWare Player is one such, and can be used to host Minix on either Windows or Linux. Available here is a Minix 2.0.4 virtual machine for VMWare Player. This provides fully functioning networked Minix 2.0.4, updated in June 2006 with all available fixes and patches as well as the newest versions of the Minix ftp client and the ftpd and httpd servers. Running Minix as a guest enables possibilities such as having a networked Minix that accesses the net via a PCMCIA wireless card on a laptop computer, even though Minix 2.0.4 itself provides no support for either the PCMCIA interface or wireless network cards.

Other emulation or virtualization systems on which Minix has been used include Bochs, Qemu, and VirtualPC. There are notes and links relevant to these on the Hints page on this site.

Conventional Installation of Minix 2.0.4

The conventional installation method for Minix 2.0.4 and earlier versions of Minix is to download and write to a floppy disk small root and usr file system images. The two images are small enough to fit on a single 1.2 MB or 1.44 MB floppy disk, and they allow Minix to be booted from the floppy to begin the installation process on a hard disk. Two separate images are used so the root image can be copied to a RAM disk and used as the root of the Minix system during installation, while the floppy disk is dismounted and replaced by a series of other floppies that are used to transfer the rest of Minix to the hard disk.

An alternative method of installing Minix is the DOSMinix method, introduced with Minix 2.0.2 in 1998. With this technique a large MS-DOS or Windows file is used as a simulated Minix disk. The ease of this method is comparable to using VMWare and it might be the best way to get Minix running on an older computer. However it only works with the MS-DOS or Windows FAT file system, and thus is not useful with newer versions of Windows or with Linux.

What follows is the original Minix 2.0.4 installation document (with a few updates). Read this if you want to do a conventional installation from floppy disks to a hard disk or if you want to use the DOSMinix method.


More Important note: Version 2.0.4 has been slapped together in a hurry to have a fixed point to start a new Minix project at. The code should be OK, but most new things haven't been tested. (So there's already a fix out.) The documentation is alas far behind all the changes.
Important note: Version 2.0.4 will not run on a system with only 640K! The halfbaked swapping code does not fully compensate for the increased memory use of other parts of the system, most notably the shell. The documentation has not been updated to reflect this, because we still have the hope that the next version will again run on the XT.
Note (June 2004): since the first version of this page was written an additional fixes/ directory has been added containing patches added since the Minix 2.0.4 release in November 2003. These are in addition to the src/FIX.TAZ file.
This directory and subdirectories contains Minix version 2.0.4, a small educational UNIX-like system for IBM PC's and compatibles.

Before installing Minix, do the unthinkable and read the installation manual usage(8). It and the possibly useful boot(8) are in the following files in two forms:

  usage.ps   boot.ps    - PostScript
  usage.txt  boot.txt   - Flat ASCII text

Alternatively, with a web browser you can view the whole manual page set. The page to start with is usage(8).

These files may also be of interest:

  md5list               - MD5 checksums of the files here
  crclist               - Checksums using Minix crc command
  crc.c                 - Command to make CRC checksums
  changes.txt           - List of changes between 2.0.0 and 2.0.4
  psman/                - All manuals in PostScript form

Minix for the Intel architecture comes in three flavors:

  - Regular (for 386, 486, and Pentium machines)
  - Small (for 286 machines)
  - Running under DOS/Windows/Bochs/WMWare(?).

The bits and pieces of each flavor are distributed over the i386, i86, src directories, depending on architecture (386+ or 286), or source files (src). (Take a peek in those directories if you want to know the file sizes.) You need the following files, and only those files, for each flavor:

386, 486, Pentium

  i386/ROOT.MNX         - Installation root floppy image
  i386/USR.MNX          - Installation /usr floppy image
  i386/NET.TAZ          - Network install files (optional!)
  i386/USR.TAZ          - Binary /usr files (386 executables)
  src/SYS.TAZ           - Operating system sources (libary, kernel, etc.)
  src/CMD.TAZ           - Commands sources (cp, ls, mkdir, etc.)
  src/FIX.TAZ           - Fixed RTL8139 driver (install last)

286 with 2M+ memory
286 with a 1.44M floppy drive
286 with two 720K floppy drives

  i86/ROOT.MNX          - Installation root floppy image
  i86/USR.MNX           - Installation /usr floppy image
  i86/NET.TAZ           - Network install files (optional!)
  i86/USR.TAZ           - Binary /usr files (8086 executables)
  src/SYS.TAZ           - Operating system sources (libary, kernel, etc.)
  src/CMD.TAZ           - Commands sources (cp, ls, mkdir, etc.)

Running under DOS in 386 mode

  dosminix.txt          - README (also present in ZIP file)
  i386/DOSMINIX.ZIP     - Bootstrap and 50M "disk"

Running under DOS in 8086/286 mode
Running under Windows in a DOS box in 8086 mode (experimental)

  dosminix.txt          - README (also present in ZIP file)
  i86/DOSMINIX.ZIP      - Bootstrap and 50M "disk"

The files with names ending in .MNX are sector-by-sector copies of Minix floppies or disks. The .TAZ files are compressed UNIX tar archives. The .ZIP files are archives that can be unpacked by the Windows utilities PKZIP or WinZip.


The two installation floppies ROOT.MNX and USR.MNX can be combined on a 1.2 Mb or 1.44 Mb diskette. The .TAZ files must be distributed over several floppies. Example for UNIX:
        cat ROOT.MNX USR.MNX >/dev/floppy
        dd if=USR.TAZ of=/dev/floppy bs=1440k count=1 skip=0
        dd if=USR.TAZ of=/dev/floppy bs=1440k count=1 skip=1
        dd if=USR.TAZ of=/dev/floppy bs=1440k count=1 skip=2
Increase the "skip" count until dd writes a diskette partially. /dev/floppy should be the name of the floppy device. You have to find out what your Operating System names it today. Under MS-DOS you can use the FDVOL command found in the ../dosutil directory to write the floppy images.

Be careful when you install Minix, many of the commands are potentionally dangerous in a way that a simple typing mistake may destroy all other data on your system. So make backups first! (The DosMinix version, however, is relatively safe.)

Kernel configurations

The kernel images present in the NET.TAZ collection differ as follows in the <minix/config.h> include file:
				i86	i386
	NR_PROCS		 40	  64
	NR_BUFS				2048
	NR_BUF_HASH			4096
	ENABLE_CACHE2		 	   0
	ENABLE_PCI		  1	   1
	DMA_SECTORS		 16	  64
	ENABLE_DP8390		  1	   1
	ENABLE_RTL8139			   1
	NR_RS_LINES		  2	   4
	NR_PTYS			  4	   8


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