Tanenbaum on Intel MINIX – Discourtesy is its Own Reward

Andrew S. Tanenbaum has posted An Open Letter to Intel on its incorporation of a modified version of MINIX into its chips.

Tanenbaum points out Intel’s conduct in this case is clearly covered by the Berkeley license of MINIX but he has a valid point that common courtesy dictates a personal note from Intel to Tanenbaum on the widespread deployment of MINIX would have been a nice touch.

In this case, discourtesy carried its own reward because Intel adapted an older version of MINIX to lie at the heart of its chips. A version perhaps not as robust and secure as a later version. A flaw that would have been discovered following a courteous note, which was never sent by Intel.

The mother lode of resources on earlier (and current) versions of MINIX is: http://www.minix3.org/.

How widely deployed is the Intel version of MINIX? Aditya Tiwari says:


After the release of MINIX 3, it is being developed as Microkernel OS. You can find MINIX 3 running inside every Intel-powered desktop, laptop or server launched after 2015. This surely gives it the title of the most used operating system in the world. Although, you don’t use it at all.
… (What Is MINIX? Is The World’s Most Used OS A Threat?)

I haven’t located a “chips shipped with MINIX” number so if you see one, ping me with the source.

Do be courteous, even if not required by license.

Otherwise, you may “pull an Intel” as this mistake will come to be known.

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