Minix 3 vs portability - was Re: Looking for a small fast VAX development machine

Toby Thain toby at
Mon Feb 22 11:19:00 CST 2016

On 2016-02-22 11:58 AM, Mouse wrote:
>> Portability was a fundamental free software tenet.
> Is.

Yes, a typo. :)

 > Was, perhaps, even, in the non-OS space.  But in the OS space, I
> think every open-source OS was originally done on some very small
> number of architectures.  Unix was done on the PDP-11 (something else
> before that, I think, but I forget what, and I think it was with the
> move to the -11 that it became portable enough to be ported instead of
> rewritten).  BSD was done on the VAX and Tahoe.  The Jolitzs' work,
> Linus's work, i386.  All of them moved beyond those initial machines,
> yes, and that was essential to their success.  But they had to start
> somewhere.

Unix's portability (gained when it was rewritten in C) was as much as 
anything else key to its "success," but Liam's point is well taken that 
"avoiding success at all costs" can be quite fruitful too, from the pov 
of research freedom. (Naturally I am referencing Haskell here :)

> Seeing Minix 3 on x86 and ARM is good.  Unless it wants to wither when
> the world moves beyond x86 and ARM, it will need to be done with enough
> portability in mind to make porting it easy, yes, but it is hardly a
> failing that it isn't ported yet.

Arguably, _only_ porting can fully reveal design issues that might 
impede porting. But if as Liam says their goals are met fully on x86 and 
ARM then I won't argue :)


 > (Unless it's been around a lot
> longer than this thread makes it sound.)
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