Minix 3: An OS that doesn't suck -- too much.

Alan Grimes agrimes at
Fri May 19 03:03:31 UTC 2006

I may be over tired from a long day at work and from taking an exam, but
I think that alot of the issues with Squeak's plugins and FFI primitives
can be solved by exploiting superior Operating system technology.

Case in point, Minix. It has the unique distinction of being the only OS
in the world that performs exactly as advertised on one of my computers. =P

I am running X-windows on it right now, and I didn't have to configure
anything! =)))))))))))

While the system is still nacant, it is already displaying astounding

If you go to the documentation section on you will be able to
find the system API of the OS. It looks like a subset of the standard
UNIX services. Here's a little secret, it is a lie. It is utterly false
or, at the very least, grosly misleading.

While I havn't had the time to study the internals of Minix 3, I did
manage to discover Minix 2's secret by reading its assembler code...

The real API provides a tiny handful of services for interprocess
communication. These can be wrapped in an almost laughably trivial
manner by appropriate plugin code and a few lines of assembler. These
services provide functionality that I have never seen on any other OS.
They allow you to send informational messages (not just kill, hup and
segv) to arbitrary processes. These are much more powerful than FFI
calls because they allow you to interface with any other arbitrary
program providing any arbitrary service in a readaly understandable and
high-performance fassion. I've read books on things like CORBA and the
like and could never figure out how they were supposed to work, ie how
one would go about using them. In minix, all you need to do is learn
three or four functions and you know everything. These functions are so
powerful that they allow you to extend the OS itself in any way you can
immagine. I have been tinkering with the idea of testing my own OS ideas
on top of Minix using precicely these calls. =)

Don't let your schoolwork get in the way of your learning.

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