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Investigating the Plan 9 Operating System
By special contributor Andrew Hudson on 2006-07-19 18:45:40
Plan 9 is an operating system designed by the same people who created the original UNIX. Its development began in the late 1980's and it was a research project intended to address a variety of system scalability issues that the UNIX and LINUX kernels don't do particularly well, namely, distributed computing, distributed name spaces, and distributed file systems. Plan 9 is open source and its current and fourth major release was in 2002. It is available as an install or LiveCD and it can be downloaded here. Note: This is an entry to our Alternative OS Contest.
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More Plan 9 Links
By hylas on 2006-07-19 20:28:27
Plan 9 Network (Forsyth, URJC)



Plan 9 OS Plus








Plan B


Plan B Demo (videos)


Permalink - Score: 5
Fascinating system
By Ronald Vos on 2006-07-19 21:57:28
I put off testing Plan 9 for a long time because I was under the impression you needed at least 2 networked computers to host a working system.

Then I tried it, and it asked me where to load the kernel from. Err..

Could be a bad cd though.
Permalink - Score: 1
RE: Fascinating system
By adapt on 2006-07-19 22:16:27
all you have to do is press enter for the default (local). its in case you want to use a kernel from a networked computer.
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RE: More Plan 9 Links
By ericvh on 2006-07-19 22:24:12
Plan 9 Concepts In Other Operating Systems Links:

Plan 9 from User Space: http://www.plan9.us
v9fs File System for Linux: http://swik.net/v9fs
Permalink - Score: 2
Plan 9
By siebharinn on 2006-07-19 23:00:03
I downloaded Plan 9 with the intent of writing an alt OS contest entry, and ended up very put off by the system and never writing the article. It may be very cool under the hood, but the user interaction part was painful. Rio is anything but intuitive, and using Acme is like going back to the old X/Athena apps. It felt like a command line system, but I was constantly reaching for the mouse. Awkward at best.

I would like to install it on a few additional systems and try out some of the distributed features, and see if I can find some positives.
Permalink - Score: 3
Plan 9 DOES have a browser
By cyber_rigger on 2006-07-19 23:42:39
Mothra has been around for a while now.

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RE: Plan 9
By latte on 2006-07-19 23:46:55
I have to agree with siebharinn.....

Don't get me wrong - I ***love*** the clean design of Plan 9, in particular the very clean namespace stuff. Oh - the security too - that is also a BIG plus for it. But sheesh - getting used to the **user interaction** is ***painful***.

I'm not exactly a newbie either - I've used Linux constantly for the last 4-5 years, and I'm a programmer. But the weird Plan 9 user-interaction feels ***really awkward***.

I am ***absolutely certain*** that the only reason that Plan 9 has not taken off (as Linux has) is because of Plan 9's interaction awkwardness.

I would LOVE to see someone do a "newbie front-end" to Plan 9. In other words, at login, you could choose a Linux-style control setup (with easy-to-use interaction), or you could choose the guru-level control-setup ( the setup that Plan 9 now uses by default).

- Latte

Edited 2006-07-19 23:49
Permalink - Score: 4
RE: Plan 9 DOES have a browser
By monkeyhead on 2006-07-20 00:26:43
From Wikipedia:

"Mothra is a web browser for the Plan 9 operating system. It is a very basic graphical browser and does not support ftp, java, javascript, https or CSS."

Sounds awesome... sign me up.

All kidding aside though, I'm glad I saw the links to the virtual machine versions.I'm interested to see what all this fun distributed everythingess is about.

User interaction is the least of my worries going into it. Windows, OS X, and Linux all have a ton of people working on making them idiot... excuse me, user friendly. I don't expect as much out of a research project.
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RE[2]: Plan 9 DOES have a browser
By GinoRotormind on 2006-07-20 00:33:14
Just following the links on the wiki, I found this which seems perhaps a more modern option (can't actually say, I am not a plan9 user per say, just been curious about it for a while).

Permalink - Score: 1
RE[2]: Plan 9
By Cloudy on 2006-07-20 00:47:35
I am ***absolutely certain*** that the only reason that Plan 9 has not taken off (as Linux has) is because of Plan 9's interaction awkwardness.

There are complications involving AT&T, Bell Labs, licensing deals, Rob Pike, Lucent, and Lucifer.

I wonder if Rob ever wrote about any of that?

Anyway, during the brief period when there was a window of opportunity for Plan 9, back in the mid 90s, AT&T was divesting itself, Pike et al were trying to position Plan 9/Lucifer as the ultimate embedded device OS, too soon, and the then current licensing terms for access to Plan 9 were too restrictive.

Rob did show me a really nice demo on a tiny embedded system that had a full networking stack and was snappy in some small amount of memory I don't recall now, but there was too much missing, it was too idiosyncratic, and for reasons I don't know, Lucent dropped the ball on using it for devices.

That's a pity, because it would have made a great basis for modern handheld wireles devices.

By the time the license issues were resolved, the lack of applications and hardware support made it a novelty item outside of the embedded community, and the lack of a champion made it uninteresting inside.

Now, for all intents, it's just another hobby OS, most notable for the fact that it was the last thing done in OS research at Bell Labs that is in any way related to Unix.
Permalink - Score: 3

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