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Minix was written by Andrew S. Tanenbaum from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands as an example in the textbook Operating Systems: Design and Implementation, ISBN 0-13-637331-3. An abridged 12,000 lines of source code of the kernel, memory manager, and file system is printed in the book; it is mostly written in C.
Minix was designed to run on IBM PC and IBM PC/AT computers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Version 1.5 was also ported to run on Motorola 68000 based machines (such as the Atari ST, Amiga, and early Apple Macintosh) and SPARC based machines (such as Sun Workstations). Version 2.0 is only available for the x86 architecture.
Linux was influenced by Minix (Linus Torvalds was familiar with it and used it as a development tool), but departs in many ways from the Minix architecture, especially its use of a monolithic kernel instead of a microkernel. At the time of its development, the license for Minix was considered very liberal, with a licensing fee that was very small in comparison to other similar operating systems. This was a compromise between Tanenbaum's intention for it to be an instructive example, and his publisher's desire to enforce its copyright in the code. Because it was not fully open source, volunteer development effort instead went into Linux and the FreeBSD kernels. In April 2000, Minix became open source under the BSD license, but by this time other operating systems had surpassed its capabilities, and it remained an educational tool - as Tanenbaum had intended - rather than becoming a widely-used operating system.