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

Matej Kosik kosik at
Sat May 20 07:33:19 UTC 2006

Cees De Groot wrote:
> On 5/19/06, Alan Grimes <agrimes at> wrote:
>> 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.
> Don't start about IPC and well-designed operating systems or I'll
> start about VMS...
> But - you're right in concluding that Minix is probably much better
> architected than the stuff that is currently mainstream. It has been
> carefully guided to that state by it's father (Andrew Tanenbaum) for
> probably two decades...

Maybe advantage of Minix3 over every other operating system I know is, that all (but one) device drivers are in user space. This has many direct implications (they can be conveniently devoloped, when some experimental driver crashes, it does not cause the whole system to crash, faulty experimental drivers can be automatically restarted, etc.)

What might be interesting is the fact that in theory, you need not to trust the device driver you downloaded and you still may happily try it own without the fear that it will compromise your system. It is so, because (if Minix3 is well designed or can be simply redesigned that way) the only bad thing that malicious driver might do is not to work. It cannot compromise your system from the security point of view and collect and forward further sensitive information about you.

I think that is not possible if the drivers are in kernel space (as it was in case of Minix2 or VMS or Linux or whatver else I know). 

(my speculation)
Matej Kosik
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