Minix familiarisation

The aim of this excercise is for you to familiarise yourself with using Minix the shell.

The Minix shell is called ash. It is similar to the bash shell that you may be familiar with from Linux. It has most of the same commands. You may find there are some differences in the options/arguments that ash commands allow. Even if you are an experienced Linux user, it is worth taking the time to familiarise yourself with Minix and where things are in Minix.

When exploring the commands below, remember you can use the man command for documentation (but be aware, not all commands have man pages). provides a useful A-Z description of bash commands. It can also be used as guidance. There follows a minimum set of commands and aspects of Minix that you should investigate as a start.

  1. shutdown - try the different options for shutting down Minix, in particular: What does each do?
    Note: when using your Minix VM it is sensible to poweroff the VM before quitting VirtualBox.
  2. Minix commands - investigate the following commands. Note down what they do. Use the which command to find the absolute path of each of the commands listed. Find out the meaning of the options for each command. Experiment with use of the commands with different options. Note: be very careful with rm. Remember you are superuser in Minix. A mistake with rm could result in deleting important system files and you having to recreate your Minix VM.
  3. Explore the Minix filesystem using cd and ls. Complete the following tree for the Minix filesystem to the same level as the usr directory.
       |    |    |
      usr   ?    ? ... 

The above is just a start for your exploration of Minix. I strongly advise you to do further investigation. Surrey University's UNIX tutorial is a good introductory guide that provides a set of exercises to help with this. The ash command line interface is close enough to the UNIX interface in Surrey University's tutorial. Part of your exploration will be to find out the difference. One obvious difference is that your Minix installation does not have a GUI. I suggest that you work through all the tutorial sections. There follows an outline of contents.

When you have completed the above, move on to the minor modification to Minix.

Back to CSC2025 resources index ...