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Anyone For Minix?

Anyone For Minix?

Richard L Dubs, Ph.D., has been hard at work trying to get the HP Palmtop to run the Unix operating system. Richard started by trying to get Minix to work on the HP 200LX. He writes:

"MINIX is a small UNIX operating system that has been written for educational and research purposes. It can run on an 8086 processor. However, it requires 100% hardware compatibility with the IBM XT to run properly. My goal was to see how far I could get with booting MINIX on the HP200LX Palmtop with little or no changes to the MINIX source code. The biggest problem has been getting the PCMCIA card to be recognized as a disk drive under MINIX. All of the built in drivers were burned into ROM and they don't fully conform to the current standards.

I have developed PCMCIA and BIOS INT13 Hard Disk Services for the HP200LX that allow someone to boot MINIX from a PCMCIA ATA flash disk. MINIX is not stable yet on the 200LX, allowing you (at most) to login and type one command before it crashes. Nevertheless, I believe that by solving the PCMCIA problem, I have solved one of the hard parts of getting MINIX to run on the HP200LX, and I'm hoping that the Internet community will now help finish the job. The PCMCIA and BIOS services I have developed should be just as useful to boot and run LINUX-86 (ELKS) on the 200LX. I have reached the point of diminishing returns with my MINIX project and am forced to move on to other tasks. I do not plan on doing further development right now and that is why I am ready to turn the project over to the Internet community."

Ed replies: My hat's off to Richard Dubs. What he has done is truly amazing. The downside of the accomplishment is that there is not much you can do with MINIX except get it running and play with it. There are very few, if any, applications that run under MINIX. So, in a sense, Rich may have found a solution in search of a problem. On the other hand, if you know of an inveterate Linux "hacker" who would take a look at the code and forge ahead with the Linux-86 project, we might have a Unix box in our pockets within the next year. Now that would be "something to write home (or The HP Palmtop Paper) about."

Richard has made all his code available for downloading from his web page at www.erols. com/rld. When you visit the web page, you'll be able to see photographs of the HP Palmtop starting to run MINIX, proving that it can almost be done. You'll also be able to read all about what Rich has accomplished so far.

iPhone Life magazine


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