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Running MINIX 3 on VirtualBox

This page describes the process of installing MINIX 3 on VirtualBox.


Please install VirtualBox. VirtualBox binaries can be downloaded from their webpage. If you're running a Linux distribution, you can install VirtualBox via the package manager.

Virtual Machine Setup

Before you install Minix 3, you will need to create a new virtual machine configuration. The VM configuration specifies the parameters of your Virtual machine, e.g., how much memory you want the VM to use, how big you want the virtual hard disk to be, etc.

In the main screen of VirtualBox, press the big New button.

  1. Press Next in the Welcoming Screen.
  2. At the VM Name and OS Type screen, for Name write MINIX3. Operating System and Version select Other.
  3. At the Select a Guest Operating System, select Other and Version Other.
  4. For Virtual Machine Name, write MINIX3 (anything would work).
  5. At the Memory screen, select the amount of memory for this Virtual Machine. 256 MBs is more than enough.
  6. In Virtual Hard Disk screen we set the size and properties of the Virtual Hard Disk. The default is a 2GBs partition, which is sufficient.
  7. Pressing Finish will create the Disk Image and the Virtual Machine that we will run.

Select network configuration and choose an adapter PCNET-PCI II (am79c970a).


Assuming you have downloaded and decompressed a MINIX 3 ISO image from the download page, you can mount the ISO file:

  1. Select MINIX3 on the list on the left.
  2. In the menu on the right, press CD/DVD-ROM.
  3. In the next menu, tick Mount CD/DVD Drive, and select ISO Image File.
  4. Browse, select the .iso Minix image we downloaded earlier and press OK.

Then you can follow the normal installation instructions.

<!> Warning: select Lance for network adapter.

7 lance - AMD LANCE (also emulated by VMWare and VirtualBox)

When the installation is over, type


to exit Minix. When you get the d0p0s0> prompt, select Machine-Close-Power off the machine from the menu, in order to shutdown the Virtual Machine.

Booting MINIX 3

Now you have installed MINIX 3 on the virtual machine. First thing that needs to be sorted, is that next time you boot, you want to boot from the operating system, and not from the CD image.

  1. In the menu on the right, press CD/DVD-ROM.
  2. In the next menu, untick Mount CD/DVD Drive

Great, now you can boot into the newly installed operating system.

  1. Press the big Start Button on the main menu.

Post-install Configuration

You should read Post Installation for some configuration tips.

VirtualBox's guest additions are not available for MINIX3. Therefore, MINIX cannot correctly guess the screen resolution. The desired screen resolution has to be set manually in the xorg.conf file.

Changing screen resolution

Make sure you are not running X!

Login as root, and run the following command:

# Xorg -configure

This command should create a file in /root.

In Section “Screen” from file, make sure to remove all SubSection “Display”, except the one containing: Depth: 16.

Add the desired screen resolution. Possible screen resolutions can be found in /var/log/Xorg.0.log. Search for Modes: containing BitsPerPixel: 16, this is important!.


*Mode: 117 (1024x768)
	XResolution: 1024
	YResolution: 768
	BitsPerPixel: 16

These resolutions can be added to the newly generated (in the example above: 1024×768). I was able to use the following resolutions: 320×200, 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768, 1280×1024, 1152×864.

Add the desired resolution to the Modes: key in SubSection “Display”.


	Section "Screen"
		SubSection "Display"
			Viewport   0 0
			Depth     16
			Modes "1024x768"

The file can now be moved to /usr/pkg/X11R6/lib/X11/xorg.conf:

# mv /usr/pkg/X11R6/lib/X11/xorg.conf

Test the new configuration file with by starting

# startx

Sample xorg.conf

Sample xorg.conf, location: /usr/pkg/X11R6/lib/X11/xorg.conf

Section "ServerLayout"
	Identifier     " Configured"
	Screen      0  "Screen0" 0 0
	InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
	InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"

Section "Files"
	RgbPath      "/usr/pkg/X11R6/lib/X11/rgb"
	FontPath     "/usr/pkg/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/misc/"
	FontPath     "/usr/pkg/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/TTF/"
	FontPath     "/usr/pkg/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/Type1/"
	FontPath     "/usr/pkg/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/CID/"
	FontPath     "/usr/pkg/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/"
	FontPath     "/usr/pkg/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi/"

Section "Module"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier  "Keyboard0"
	Driver      "kbd"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier  "Mouse0"
	Driver      "mouse"
	Option	    "Protocol" "auto"
	Option	    "Device" "/dev/mouse"

Section "Monitor"
	Identifier   "Monitor0"
	VendorName   "Monitor Vendor"
	ModelName    "Monitor Model"

Section "Device"
	Identifier  "Card0"
	Driver      "vesa"
	VendorName  "Unknown Vendor"
	BoardName   "Unknown Board"
	BusID       "PCI:0:2:0"

Section "Screen"
	Identifier "Screen0"
	Device     "Card0"
	Monitor    "Monitor0"

	SubSection "Display"
		Viewport   0 0
		Depth     16
		Modes "1152x864"

Port Forwarding

VirtualBox has eight networking adapters and can be separately configured to operate in one of the following six modes:

  • Not attached.
  • Network Address Translation (NAT).
  • Bridged networking.
  • Internal networking.
  • Host-only networking.
  • Virtual Distributed Ethernet networking.

It is possible to browse the Web, download files and view e-mail inside the guest (MINIX 3) with the Network Address Translation mode. In this default mode (NAT) the guest operating system can not access the host machine or other computers on the same network and vise versa. However, like a physical router, !VirtualBox can make selected services available through port forwarding. This means that VirtualBox listens to certain ports on the host and resends all packets which arrive there to the guest, on the same or a different port.

For example, to forward SSH traffic from host machine to guest machine on port 22 or vise versa:

VBoxManage modifyvm "VM name" --natpf1 "guestssh,tcp,,22,,22"

The “VM name” is the name of VM on the VirtualBox management screen, and “guestssh” is purely descriptive name and will be auto-generated if omitted.

Connecting to guest machine with following command on host machine

ssh -p 22 localhost

The guest operating system is available for host machine and other machines on the network as well though the same port 22 at the host's IP address (if host machine firewall allows it). This is useful for remote development and navigation with Eclipse Remote System Explorer.


VirtualBox 3.1

VirtualBox 3.1 is not able to boot MINIX 3. Please use VirtualBox 3.2.

MINIX 3.1.5 - 3.1.8 install issue (w/o hardware acceleration)

Symptom: kernel panic right after boot menu (CD loads and displays boot menu but panics right after)


  1. If you can enable hardware acceleration:
    • Verify that your processor has the virtualization extensions (VT-x, AMD-V)
    • Enable hardware acceleration in your BIOS.
    • Go to the Settings dialog for your VM image. Right-click your image and click Settings.
    • Click on System
    • Click on the Acceleration tab.
    • Check Enable VT-x/AMD-V.
  1. If you aren't able to use hardware acceleration (e.g. VirtualBox 3.1.2 + Core 2 Duo + Minix 3.1.5):
    • Follow all the installation steps as above.
    • Uncheck Enable VT-x/AMD-V.
    • Start your VM with this command: VBoxSDL –startvm minix –norawr0 –norawr3.
    • Replace your VM image's name for minix in the preceding command.
    • VirtualBox 4.0 has not Enable VT-x/AMD-V button, while you can just issue this command to avoid kernel panic during installation: VBoxSDL –startvm minix –norawr0 –norawr3

Lance workaround

In MINIX 3.1.3, the Lance driver set-up is broken, resulting in no network support for Minix3 in VirtualBox.

You can use this set of instructions to get the Lance driver to work.

Time zone issues

If you have configured a time zone in MINIX3 (by for example putting the line “export TZ=CET” in /etc/rc.timezone), and you find that your clock (printed by for example the “date” command) ends up being ahead of real time by one or more hours, then take the following steps (tested on VirtualBox 4.1.6):

  1. Shut down and power off the virtual machine (at the moment this requires a hard power-off through the VirtualBox GUI);
  2. Go to the Settings of the virtual machine;
  3. Go to the System tab;
  4. Under Extended features, check the “Hardware clock in UTC time” option;
  5. Click on OK to save the change;
  6. Restart the virtual machine, and the problem should now be fixed, even though the “wrong” (GMT) date will be printed at bootup.

Note that if your clock is behind for any reason, the MINIX3 vbox VirtualBox time sync driver will automatically correct the time for you.

releases/3.2.0/usersguide/runningonvirtualbox.txt · Last modified: 2014/11/14 14:48 by lionelsambuc