Andrew S. Tanenbaum

Andrew Stuart Tanenbaum ( born March 16, 1944 in New York City ) is an American computer scientist. He is a professor of computer science at the Free University of Amsterdam (Netherlands). Tanenbaum conducts research in the areas of compilers, operating systems, networks, and locally distributed systems. He was known primarily as a developer of Unix-like operating system Minix, and as author of several standard works on various topics of computer science.

Career and award

He spent his childhood and youth in White Plains ( New York) and then studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. After he had there received the bachelor's degree in physics, he received his doctorate in 1971 at the University of California at Berkeley, California.

After his marriage he moved with his Dutch wife in their home ( but kept the U.S. citizenship ) and started to work, where he lectured until today, supervised doctoral students and is head of the department as a professor of computer science in Amsterdam. He was also until January 1, 2005 technical director of the Advanced School for Computing and Imaging ( ASCI ). Andrew S. Tanenbaum is also a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM ), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ( IEEE) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences.

Tanenbaum received in 1994 the ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award, 1997 conferred to him the ACM / SIGCSE Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computer Science Education. For his textbooks he finally won the 2002 TAA Texty Award and the 2003 TAA McGuffey Award.

Reference Books

Tanenbaum is known for his computer science textbooks on the topics of computer architecture, computer networks and operating systems. As an advantage of his works to other works on the same issues applies the combination of a high information content with good readability and a partially humorous as to be designated writing style. Many of his books included at the end of chapter exercises for self-study. By his own account he wrote five books:


Andrew S. Tanenbaum wrote Minix, for teaching purposes, a simple, POSIX -compliant and Unix -like operating system that brought Linus Torvalds to develop Linux. Minix, version 3 is licensed as of April 2000 under the modified BSD license. This is Minix, version 3 free software, and compatible with the GNU GPL. Andrew S. Tanenbaum wrote the book Operating Systems Design and Implementation. In this book, Tanenbaum describes the principles on the basis of an operating system and developed by him Unix clone Minix the structure and options. Torvalds describes it as the book that changed his life and motivated him to this day.

Linux criticism

Caused a sensation Andrew Tanenbaum also by a posting in the Usenet newsgroup comp.os.minix in January 1992. Using LINUX is obsolete he practiced harsh criticism of the new operating system. He said that the monolithic kernel of Linux is technically obsolete and should use modern operating system architectures on a microkernel in order to have success. In addition, Linux is firmly connected to the x86 processor architecture, while a reasonable operating system must be portable.

An excerpt from the now made ​​history in their debate illustrates the differences in opinions about the distributed programming:

"I think that the coordination of 1000 prima donnas living all over the world, is just as simple as to herd cats [ ... ] If Linus wants to keep control over the official version and a group of industrious beaver aimed in different directions, occurs the same problem. Who says that a lot of far-flung people can hack on a complicated piece of code and avoid total anarchy has never managed a software project. "

" Just so no one takes his assumptions for the full truth, here is my opinion on, keep control ' [ ... ]: I will not. "

In other criticisms, such as a monolithic kernel or lack of portability, you had to give Tanenbaum then quite right, even if they sometimes no longer apply to today's Linux.

See also: History of Linux


  • With Austin Todd: Structured Computer Organization, 6th edition, Pearson 2013
  • Computer architecture structures, concepts, principles, 5th edition, Pearson 2006 ( first Structured Computer Organization, Prentice- Hall, 1977)
  • With David J. Weatherall: computer networks, 5th edition, Munich: Pearson 2012 ( first Computer Networks, Prentice- Hall, 1981)
  • Modern Operating Systems, 3rd edition, Pearson 2009
  • With Maarten van Steen: Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms, Pearson 2008
  • With Albert S. Woodhull: Operating Systems: Design and Implementation, 3rd Edition, Pearson / Prentice Hall 2006 ( first Prentice-Hall, 1987)
  • Operating systems, 2 volumes, Hanser Verlag 1990 ( Volume 1: Textbook, Volume 2: MINIX guide and annotated program text )
  • MINIX Reference Manual, Prentice- Hall 1988