MINIX 3 is an interesting new way of organizing an operating operating and there are several reasons you might want to get involved. You might be a student eager to learn about operating systems and find Linux and the BSDs too big and intimidating. You might be a hobbyist who is looking for a high-tech software toy to play with. You might be an inventor or engineer working on a product and in need of a small, reliable, POSIX-compliant operating system with a customer-friendly license. There are plenty of other reasons as well, of course.
So assuming you would like to help, how do you do it? We know from the statistics derived from the server log that the MINIX 3 CD-ROM image file is being downloaded an average of 6300 times a month going back 8 years. All told, there have been almost 600,000 downloads of the CD-ROM boot image. The Website's main page often gets 25,000 or more hits a month. It has been visited almost 3 million times since we started collecting statistics. That is not a small number. Yet there is relatively little discussion on the Google newsgroup. You can help by posting your experiences, good and bad there, asking questions, and generally joining the community. We think MINIX 3 will survive and thrive only if many people share their experiences, and so on.
We think there is a mix of people with different interests in the newsgroup, varying from students trying to learn about operating systems to experienced professionals with an embedded systems project in mind. That's fine. Everyone is welcome, newbie and pro alike.
All software has bugs in it, including MINIX 3. If you find a bug, please report it. Even better is to fix it if you can and announce the patch, but even if you can't fix it, a report is very helpful.
The next step up beyond reading the newsgroup and posting your experiences and questions is to begin helping others. When someone asks a question and you know the answer, please answer it on the newsgroup. If you are very sure, say so. If you are not so sure, say that. You may know more than you think you know. Be polite but don't be shy. We want to hear what you have to say. Anyone who has gotten this far probably is quite knowledgeable about various aspects of computing. Please share your knowledge with the community.
Some of the MINIX 3 documentation is on the Website, but most of it is in the wiki. Create an account and add or update pages on areas that you know well. Wikipedia is a big success because its users keep adding and updating information. The MINIX 3 wiki will be more useful as more users add more material. MINIX 3 is evolving quickly and wiki pages sometimes get stale. If you see a stale page, fix it.
Editing a page is really very easy. After logging in, go to the page you want to edit and click on the “Edit” item on the menu bar. Then make your changes. The box at the bottom of the page explains how you do headings and so on. After you make your changes, preview them. When you are satisified, click on “Save changes.” Within 10 minutes you'll have the hang of it.
The system will only grow and get better if the community works at it. If you would like to do MINIX 3 development, this is the place to start. What is there to do? Lots of things! Some things that you might work on are here but you can no doubt think of other projects to work on. Of course, if there are things you want, you can add them to the wish list, so other people can see them and potentially do them.
If you want to become a developer, it is probably best to start with easy things until you know your way around the code and system. Look for a library that is missing or a package that doesn't build. Make it work. Then try some more. Then maybe try a bigger one. We don't have a graphical browser or a GUI or Java. (e.g., OpenJDK). Those are big projects. Maybe you could write or port a driver for some interesting I/O device. Only after you have gotten your feet wet should you try to modify the OS itself. That really requires some experience so it is not a good thing to do as your first project. Once you have studied the code well you might be able to port it to the Raspberry Pi or other platform. If you have picked a project that is too big for one person, post a message to the newsgroup saying you are looking for someone to help you.
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