Unix for 286

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# 1  
Old 03-09-2002
Question Unix for 286


I think I probably qualify as a pre-newbie, so take it slow with me. I'm putting together a 286 system for bits and pieces from my dad's basement and I'm wondering what flavour of unix I should look at putting on it. I'm not looking for a bells and whistles version, just an alternative to having to put windows 3.1 on as an OS.

# 2  
Old 03-09-2002
The 80286 is a very old chip. In that era there were no free versions of unix available. But there were products that you could buy. Microsoft and SCO were fiddling around with a unix clone called XENIX. They ported XENIX from the 8086 to the 80286 with little trouble. The 80286 was the chip that powered the IBM PC/AT. Intel and the Unix Support Group managed to port System V Release 2 to it. The was the only multi-user capable UNIX port to the 80286 and it "will support 2 or 3 users fairly well" (1).

No modern version of UNIX has any chance of running on a 80286. To compete, all modern versions of UNIX will have features like demand paging and shared libraries. Features like that require a gizmo called a Memory Management Unit. And the 80286 doesn't have one. I have no idea where you can obtain a copy of either XENIX or System V Release 2 for the 80286. And remember, these were products. You had to pay for them.

Sorry for the bad news. Maybe you should upgrade to an 80386 Smilie

1. Most of this info came from UNIX Papers for UNIX developers and Power Users, edited by Mitchell Waite 1987 ISBN 0-672-22578-8, Chapter 11 A UNIX Port to the 80286 by Anthony Andrews.
# 3  
Old 03-10-2002
Xenith rules!!!

So, there I was,

I wanted a laptop, and one of the old guys with a sense of humor drags out a Zenith SuperSport 286, 40 Meg Conner HD, 640K onboard, and a kickin 4MB total RAM. Needless to say, I was impressed, taht he could find it, that is...
So, I kicked around for an OS taht would live on it, I tried a few, but the disk size is what was killing me. There are a few OSes for it, some of the older versions of slackware (I believe) will handle a 286, and there are some older versions of NCR's MP-RAS taht will do 286 as well, but in the end, I found that the easiest and most fun option was to go to Minix. This thing is still well loved by many and you'd be surprised at the level of hardware support there is. I even got the modem to work!!!
In the end, it was mostly an exercise in figuring out something new, but I had a good time and a working compiler to boot... Very interesting, but I agree, if you can get out of the 286, you will be better off.

# 4  
Old 03-12-2002
If you're willing to put some time and effort into it for very little in return ( Smilie ), check out ELKS:

And then, there's always Minix (One of the many reasons that Linux supposedly decided he would be better off if he wrote his own kernel Smilie ). Minix costs money though, and you'd still have to get it onto the machine somehow:

Notice in the latter that the suggestion is to get it running under DOS / Windows. If you've got DOS on there already, this may be your best bet.
# 5  
Old 03-12-2002

this unix is freely downloadabel now and runs on a 286 i never tried it. ut so far i knwo is linux a clone of this.
the hardware
and here you can download it
download place
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