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Running on VirtualBox

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

Confirmed to work with

VirtualBox Minix Host-OS Notes
4.3.36 3.3.0-3234ff Debian 3.16.36
4.3.36 3.4.0rc2-373b793 Debian 3.16.36
5.2.4 3.4.0rc6 Debian 10 (buster)


First of all you'll need to install VirtualBox. VirtualBox binaries can be downloaded from their webpage. If you're running a Linux distribution, you can probably install VirtualBox via the package manager (e.g. with apt-get install virtualbox on Debian-like systems).

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. Please see Hardware Requirements for guidelines.

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

  1. At the Name and operating system screen, for Name write MINIX3 (anything will work).
  2. For Type select Other.
  3. For Version select Other/unknown.
  4. At the Memory size screen, select the amount of memory for this Virtual Machine (e.g. 1024MB).
  5. At the Hard Drive screen set the size and properties of the Virtual Hard Disk. It is okay to either leave those options at their defaults or change them.
  6. Pressing Create will create the Disk Image and the Virtual Machine that we will run.
  7. Now select MINIX3 in the list on the left.
  8. Click OK, and you are now ready to install MINIX 3!


  1. If the installer fails to detect the virtual hard disk attached to a SATA controller, reconfigure the machine and attach the disk to the IDE controller. Also, make sure that the CDROM is attached to the IDE controller as well. (VirtualBox 5.1.22)


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

  1. Select MINIX3 in the list on the left.
  2. Click Start.
  3. You will be asked to select a start-up disk. Browse to and select the .iso MINIX 3 image you downloaded earlier and press Open.

Then you can follow the normal installation instructions.

When the installation is over, type


to exit Minix. The virtual machine will automatically close.

Booting MINIX 3

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

  1. Make sure your VM is selected, then click the Settings button on the main screen.
  2. In the menu on the right, click on Storage.
  3. In the storage tree, select the installation .iso file and click the small remove button below.

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

  1. Press the big Start button on the main screen.

Post-install Configuration

You should read Post Installation for some configuration tips.

FIXME: This chapter needs to be re-written, as MINIX 3.3.0 does not install Xorg by default, where as MINIX 3.4.0 Beta can start X with no additional fiddling.

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 which 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 2222:

VBoxManage modifyvm "VM name" --natpf1 "guestssh,tcp,,2222,,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 2222 localhost

The guest operating system is available for host machine and other machines on the network as well though the same port 2222 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 the latest version of VirtualBox.

Install issue (no 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 by selecting it and clicking the Settings button on the main screen.
    • 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 3.2.0):
    • 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 no Enable VT-x/AMD-V button, but you can issue this command to avoid kernel panics during installation: VBoxSDL --startvm minix --norawr0 --norawr3

DNS resolution not working

When the MINIX3 virtual machine is using (at least) NAT networking configuration, it will obtain the DNS server address from the host system through DHCP. The VirtualBox-provided DNS server address is the exact same address as used on the host system. On some systems, this can lead to nonworking DNS resolution. For example, the host system uses a local resolver (on, which leads to the MINIX3 guest fruitlessly sending DNS requests to itself rather than the host's resolver. The result is that for example pkgin up gives “Host name lookup failure” errors.

On MINIX3, the current DHCP-obtained DNS server settings can be checked with the command dhcpd -q - the DNS server address is listed as DNSserver. If this address is indeed not a routable IP address, one may have to enable VirtualBox's DNS proxy, using these instructions from the official VirtualBox website. This should resolve the issue.

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.

Shared Folders

To use the shared folders feature please do the following:

  1. Ensure the virtual machine is currently off;
  2. Go to the Settings of the virtual machine;
  3. Go to the Shared Folders tab;
  4. Click the add button and select the folder to share from the host and assign it a name;
  5. Click on OK to save the change;
  6. Start the VM and login;
  7. To mount your shared folder do the following:
mount -t vbfs -o share=NAME none /mnt

Be sure to replace NAME here with the name you assigned the share in step 4. Please also note that this cannot be entered into fstab for automatic mounting due to the fact that mounting takes place earlier in the boot process than the loading of the appropriate virtualbox driver for shared folders.

usersguide/runningonvirtualbox.txt · Last modified: 2018/01/09 03:04 by nnyby