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Driving Plan 9

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the because-you-can dept.

226

Glenda_lives_on writes "OSnews has an alternative OS review on Plan 9. Plan 9 is a research OS produced by Bell Labs. It was open sourced a few years back, and has enjoyed a revival of sorts. Los Alamos National Labs is continuing to favor Plan 9 for their new generation of super computing because its the fastest thing out there. I have downloaded and ran Plan 9 before. In fact the Plan 9 live cd sits here on my desk. Its not an operating system for noobs however, and lacks some graphical refinement. Plan 9 is a very cool and a interesting test drive however. Its definitely worth the price of admission (free) for exploring, and education."

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Has to be asked... (5, Funny)

writermike (57327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765682)

Were Plans 1-8 "not entirely successful?"

"You see! You see! Your stupid minds! STUPID! STUPID!"

Re:Has to be asked... (0, Flamebait)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765690)

"You see! You see! Your stupid minds! STUPID! STUPID!"

Which pretty much sums up the mindset of the inventors, the 'needle in haystack' school of user experience design.

Genera did that sooo much better. An IQ test disguised as an operating system.

The lack of success of the successor tends to confirm the beleif that the success of Unix was a fluke due to marketting (it free!) rather than technical merit (you get what you paid for).

Now YOU look stupid. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765695)

Plan 9 is a reference to the Ed Wood movie, Plan 9 from Outer Space, often regarded as the worst movie of all time. Aliens raise the dead to finally prove to humans that they exist (because that's certainly the most obvious, effective way to do it).

Re:Now YOU look stupid. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765717)

STFU! I knew that!!!

Re:Now YOU look stupid. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765771)

Considering that the "Your stupid minds! STUPID! STUPID!" line is a quote from the movie, I suspect the OP knew that.

Re:Now YOU look stupid. (2, Insightful)

andreMA (643885) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765803)

Actually I took the "not entirely successful" to be a reference to the TOS episode The Ultimate Computer, where (when discussing the M-5) Kirk asks Daystrom (the inventor) about M-1 through M-4. Daystrom responds that they were "not entirely successful"

I thought it was funny, playing one of the cheesier TOS episodes against the extremely cheesy Plan 9 From Outer Space

My turn to look stupid (0, Offtopic)

andreMA (643885) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765810)

D'oh! I only now noticed mikewriter's .sig is a George Takei quote. Well played!

The /spot,SmartFunny people. Whois=(2Bell)Today? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15766126)

Well done, AndreMA sir.
another/why
I love the slashspot.
always the correct answer, found within.

I may even register someday,
But
I do not want a cookie.

thanks for the A/na+nimity.Option.end.
Thank you.

Special Brownies are very good sometimes.

Dlding from deep space.
Must be a wireless connection.
** *

75mb live cd as I write to you.
75MB. Love.

Bell Labs.

What is not to love there.

Gawd, in another life I get to be there.

Imagine sitting at a lunch table being able to ask those men a
Question.
Or to just listen to them talk to each other about the future, that they saw and were making for us,
then,in the right now,right there, across the table, and to be able to say
thank you sirs, do not ever get dejected, do not give up. Or something.

and then maybe getting to listen to the answer.

God Please, if I am really good, Please?
***

If I get the chance,I will have a recorder, and save the tapes and make transcripts,and post em
and link em to /spot.

Maybe even have my own website of the recordings, cuz that would be worthwhile for humanity to have that, and I could probably make googlad money and not have to work.
Too.

+ I am certain in the end I would havemoreclue. /or
-(Maybe not though).

But it would be worth an extra lifetime to have that try.

More than one lifetime, in fact.
Not in this lifetime,sadly.

Be nice to have .extras./option/timezone
****

There is no equal to Bell labs today, is there?
  Google?
too early to tell.
maybe though.
Thank you again, sirs.

Re:Has to be asked... (2, Funny)

Mike Savior (802573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765734)

If they had used letters, I wonder how many times the developers would have purposely bombed the project just so they could get away with calling it "Preparation H"...

Re:Has to be asked... (1)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765777)

...considering that there were 10 versions of UNIX from Bell Labs research...

Re:Has to be asked... (1)

ratatask (905257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765970)

The prior plans were unix. (up to about 8th edition, where they
decided to try something new instead of polishing the old turd)
(unfortunatly that's what the current unixes are based on )

Re:Has to be asked... (2, Funny)

pedalman (958492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766147)

Were Plans 1-8 "not entirely successful?
It could be worse. I still wonder about the poor bastards who were in the clinical trials for Preparations A-G.

Surely... (2, Funny)

isecore (132059) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765683)

... Ed Wood must be proud :)

Re:Surely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765704)

See, had thems aliens been running Plan nine from outer space way back in "Independence Day" the earthling wouldn't'ave been able to infect the fleet of alien invader^W overlords and they could have been ruli^W governing us well.

Plan 9 ISO Mirrors (5, Informative)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765691)

Before y'all go pulling down the ISO to try it out, the mirrors are listed at http://netlib.bell-labs.com/wiki/plan9/Mirrors/ind ex.html [bell-labs.com] .

Re:Plan 9 ISO Mirrors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15766072)

Is there a torrent for the ISOs?

Re:Plan 9 ISO Mirrors (1)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766117)

Not really. You can find ones for slightly outdated releases for bit torrent. Bell Labs makes a new release of Plan 9 nightly and hasn't had any bandwidth problems (the day Lucent has bandwidth problem would be the end a very bad day). The only problem is that the server for Plan 9 is some old crap that apparently doesn't have enough memory all the time. If the server is having problems you should email Lucent management and tell them you are interested in Plan 9 and they should put more money towards the project.

Gratsie,Sir (1)

SpecialBrownies (990515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766178)

That connection to deep space is too slow. Bad wireless, I guess. They should upgrade.

Torrent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765693)

Torrent?

OS good, but all the desktop wallpapers... (3, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765697)

... are cheesy 10 ft tall silver curtains.

Plan 9 is cool (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765702)

I've never used it, but Plan 9 offers a radically different archival storage system called Venti [bell-labs.com] .

Basically it never deletes old blocks of data from the server. Blocks are write-once, identified by a really large hash (collisions are so improbable that the possibility can be totally ignored). This allows you to copy lots of redundant data to the server (such as periodic backups) without worrying about the storage space. If the blocks were ever copied there before and they have not changed, they won't take up any space!

Re:Plan 9 is cool (1)

rylin (688457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765761)

Sounds a bit like ZFS.
Never mind which was first, ZFS is available today.

Re:Plan 9 is cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765834)

Doh.
This sounds only like ZFS to the typical lame slashdot loser who doesn't understand anything of the technology.

Re:Plan 9 is cool (4, Informative)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765849)

Both are available today, and I can assure you Plan 9's Venti was first, and furthermore ZFS isn't really anything like it. Venti does data compression by removal of redundant data by (basically) writing a block, and then checksumming the block and using that sum to refer to the block in the future, so that if the software tries to write an identical block, it simply ignores the request. With an appropriate block size set, it can save lots and lots of space, however, it's very impractical as a day-to-day filesystem due to the datasets most people work with day-to-day (most of us work with lots of non-redundant data such as code files, video files, image files, etc.), though it would be a neat experiment to see what could be done with a modernized version of it.

Lots of things like this were/are revolutionary about Plan 9, simply because they were given the ability to do it. Some of them are great ideas (like Venti in conjunction with a database server, if the database server was tailored to the file system and didn't do stupid things...), and some of them could still use a great deal of work. Either way, I welcome our Plan 9 overlords from Outer Space.

Re:Plan 9 is cool (1)

retro128 (318602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766101)

Venti does data compression by removal of redundant data by (basically) writing a block, and then checksumming the block and using that sum to refer to the block in the future, so that if the software tries to write an identical block, it simply ignores the request.

That sounds like a hell of a lot of overhead. With so much stuff going on, what do the performance benchmarks of this fs look like? Doesn't it pretty much guarantee fragmentation? I mean, if you have a lot of redundant data there is no way it can be contiguous with all of the files that it belongs to. As you mentioned, the point is likely moot because I'd like to believe most users try to avoid having a lot of redundant data on their drives.

IMHO, given what you had said, I don't think Venti is at all appropriate for Joe Average everyday user. It's probably more efficient to compress and decompress files in realtime. However, I'm sure there are applications (storing of large amounts of test data perhaps?) that Venti could really be useful.

Re:Plan 9 is cool (1)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765808)

How much is this......Venti? Is it MUCH more expensive than a Tall?

Re:Plan 9 is cool (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15766011)

Surely that introduces a single point of failure, though? If one of those single blocks gets corrupted, all that wonderfully redundent data you had on your machine is now all corrupt in exactly the same way.

Of course, I assume the Plan9 developers thought of that too, and there are provisions in the design for this sort of thing.

How does it compare with the SavaJe OS (1)

dreamer33 (917744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765703)

Does it provide easy portability of applications? How does it compare with Savaje OS? I know Savaje is a comletely Java based operating system with a low enough foot print for any space sensitive applications.

Re:How does it compare with the SavaJe OS (4, Informative)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765940)

There is APE [bell-labs.com] for POSIX support. And linuxemu [bell-labs.com] for emulating linux binaries.

I personally have not checked out Savaje OS. Inferno [vitanuova.com] would be most comparable to such an OS. Inferno is based on many of Plan 9's ideas but with a new programming language, Limbo [vitanuova.com] (famed for being the only other language than C Dennis Ritchie documented [vitanuova.com] ) and a virtual machine, Dis [vitanuova.com] . Limbo can run on bare hardware without a host operating system with around 700KB of memory.

Rob Pike explains the advantages of the Dis virtual machine. Unlike the .Net and Java virtual machines which are stack based Dis is register based. This allows it to run on bare hardware and doesn't require a (according to some heavyweight) operation to translate it from stack to register. Dis provides virtually infinite registers like Parrot. For more information read Pike's paper, The design of the Inferno virtual machine [vitanuova.com] .

Re:How does it compare with the SavaJe OS (1)

perseguidor (777194) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765943)

what

The notion of good research (4, Funny)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765709)

man page != implementation

http://cm.bell-labs.com/magic/man2html/1/emacs [bell-labs.com]

NAME
        emacs - editor macros

SYNOPSIS
        emacs [ options ]

DESCRIPTION
        This page intentionally left blank.

SOURCE
        MIT

SEE ALSO
        sam(1), vi(1)

BUGS
        Yes.
Copyright © 2006 Lucent Technologies. All rights reserved.

and vi(1) [bell-labs.com] isn't what you might think either

Re:The notion of good research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765800)

That's because the man page is a joke. Plan9 has three major editors: Acme, Sam & ed. Acme & Sam are more than enough for code devlopment; You would think that 'BUGS: Yes' would have alerted you

Re:The notion of good research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765909)

Well, I'm impressed.

Most comprehensible emacs man page EVER!

Oh, slashdot (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765713)

I have downloaded and ran Plan 9 before. In fact the Plan 9 live cd sits here on my desk. Its not an operating system for noobs however

What is this, digg?

Uhhuh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765720)

Said article is being mocked on the Plan 9 mailing list: http://lists.cse.psu.edu/archives/9fans/2006-July/ 048311.html [psu.edu]

Plan 9, the OS for Smug Elitist Assholes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765750)

Are there too many knowledgable Linux users out there?

Can't beat the best of BSD?

Use Plan 9 - we're so arcane we'll always be smug and superior! Read our email list and weep when we deconstruct with no mercy the writings of a newbie on a blog, without offering corrections, or help, or even writing a decent article ourselves to ensure that the information provided is correct, relevant and interesting.

Note: actually, now we've thought about it, please fuck off, we don't want more noobs.

Re:Plan 9, the OS for Smug Elitist Assholes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765765)

http://pages.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/~mirtchov/p9/plan9-g uru.gif [ucalgary.ca]

I guess many years of using a supposed "better" OS and not having the world recognize it can make you a little cranky, eh?

the mocking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765856)

...has convinced me to never try Plan9. Like any number of snob elitist also-ran operating systems and programs (and meat space tangible products), when I see arrogance over *crap* I know to stay away from that product. How old is the operating system again? And that's all they have? And the project got abandoned by the parent company, who had more cash than most deities? I call those "clues" about the viability of it, and of the social resources of the users, hint "none". This is like collecting GI Joes past the age of 8.

No, there are a number of past operating system projects that are better candidates for future use. Even their snuggly wuggly space bunny won't help this project, but it will make the "users" more comfortable as they sit around and program in their spiderman skivvies and wait for mommy to bring them snacks.

Is this from Outer-space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765728)

Or is it of Earthen origin?

Re:Is this from Outer-space? (1)

Ruie (30480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766270)

Is this from Outer-space?

Or is it of Earthen origin?

It is from alternative reality called "user space"

Zzzzzzz..... (4, Interesting)

countach (534280) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765730)

The "everything is a file" metaphor of Unix was revolutionary at the time, and Plan 9 taking it a little further really does little to advance the state of the art.

What was good about the "everything is a file" metaphor was not the "file" part, but the "everything is a...." part.

What would really advance the state of the art is an "everything is an object" operating system. It would be something like a Lisp OS but with an object database type file system. I think some have existed in academia, but I've never looked into them.

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (4, Insightful)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765739)

"We have persistent objects, they're called files." -- Ken Thompson [bell-labs.com]

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766286)

"We have persistent objects, they're called files." -- Ken Thompson


Hmm, how does one subclass a file to customize its behaviour? Or hide its implementation details by marking them private? Or call methods on it?

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15766300)

You are confusing a "class" with a "object", please go back to school.

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765744)

"We have persistent objects, they're called files." -- Ken Tompson [wikipedia.org]

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765747)

The all-encompassing namespace isn't a new thing, no, viz. UNIX and NT. I think Plan 9's revolutionary idea is taking the "everything is a file" idea and distributing it (devices, files, everything) across many physical machines. Does even VMS clustering have this ability?

As for the holy-grail object systems (with all the bellen and whistlen such as orthogonal persistence) there were projects like EROS, Coyotos, etc., and some early projects like DERA's Ten15.

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765818)

What would really advance the state of the art is an "everything is an object" operating system.

Hardly, this has been around since at least the late 1980s. IBM's AS/400 and System/38 have everything on the system as an object. That includes programs, users, database tables, subsystems, commands, joq queues etc etc.

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (2, Informative)

Bobjects (261759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765851)

What would really advance the state of the art is an "everything is an object" operating system.

Smalltalk-80 fits that description pretty well. See:
http://users.ipa.net/~dwighth/smalltalk/byte_aug81 /design_principles_behind_smalltalk.html [ipa.net]

Smalltalk-80's modern descendent is Squeak:
http://www.squeak.org/ [squeak.org]

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (5, Informative)

ratatask (905257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766023)

>The "everything is a file" metaphor of Unix was revolutionary at the time, and Plan 9 taking it a little further really does little to advance the state of the art.

Sorry, this is where you're wrong.
Make the socket interface a filesystem, and all you do is mount a fileserver over that, to create
a socks proxy/http proxy/whatever. All apps get the capability of
doing networking over a proxy, transparently - no need for using libs or
prelinking hacks that usually don't work.

Have the ability to easily create fileservers in userspace, and create an mail
filesystem that can handle imap/pop/local mboxes etc. Mail clients doesn't need
to reimplement your favorite mail protocol in yet another broken and incompatible
way, or adhere to 4 different libraries with 4 different concepts. Just read/write files and
have the one fileserver do the job.

Sharing files AND resources becomes easy too. Want to play sound on another computer ? import hostname:/dev/audio /dev

Having all resources being files, you get a standard way of access control (add ACLs if you really need to), couple it with private
namespaces, and you don't need the umpten hacks like freebsd jails, chroots, selinux, systrace, etc. Just use chmod/chown and set up a filesystem namespace only containing the resources (resources in this case is anything you request from the OS - networking interface, audio device, screen display, authentication privileges, or most other of the 400 syscalls or ioctls you might want to restrict access to in a read/change on traditional unixes.

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (1)

try_anything (880404) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766037)

What would really advance the state of the art is an "everything is an object" operating system.

What's cool about "everything is a ..." is that code and understanding for dealing with one entity (such as disk files) can be applied toward other entities (such as network connections). "Everything is an object" only helps if the objects share important characteristics that make them similar to work with. Using a basic definition of "object" -- a piece of data and operations for manipulating it -- Unix qualifies as an "everything is an object" operating system. The operations (i.e., system calls) that may be applied to an object depend on its type (file descriptor, process, network device, etc.) with no operations that may be applied to all objects, leaving no common logic for interacting with the objects. "Everything is a foo" is only helpful if there is a useful set of operations that can be applied to all foos.

"Everything is a bar," on the other hand, would be very useful, because even if they don't have good beer, every bar has someplace to take a leak.

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766106)

Actually Plan 9 does far better than "everything is an object". In Plan 9 everthing is a subclass of a certain base object, called a "file". Programs can assumme a set of useful functions, such as the ability to copy an object, that actually makes this api useful, rather than an academic experiment.

About all that "everything is an object" means is that it wont crash if you send the id for one type of object to an api designed for another type, instead you will get an error. Really the only difference between "everything is an object" and all existing operating systems is that the pool of id's for resources is shared between all types of resources.

There are certainly real usable object-oriented systems where there is a base class, but these then imply that "everything is an x" where x is that base class. And so far none of them have as simple of a base class as the Plan 9 file, or one that can actually be understood and used directly by a programmer rather than having to figure out the subclassing api.

Re:Zzzzzzz..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15766283)

The two ideas are not so dissimilar.

In Plan 9 (and in the Plan 9-like Inferno, http://www.vitanuova.com/inferno [vitanuova.com] ) a file or set of files encapsulates the interface to an object, and in a sense the filesystem provides an analogue of the database. Whilst the encapsulation is not as neat as a true set of objects and a database and doesn't have the same level of integrity checking built-in by default, the advantages are 1. The relative simplicity of its approach. 2. The fact that such a relative simple approach can be more robust to some types of error and 3. It is easy, using very basic and well-understood tools, to chain objects together. Whilst it would be possible to create an actual database-driven solution, the total amount of code required to make it as easy to use might be larger. This having been said, I feel that Amiga OS also had some very neat solutions to this sort of problem.

Files and databases are by no means mutually-exclusive, of course, and you can build views onto one with the other.

Wow! I have never heard about this before! (0, Troll)

Slithe (894946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765751)

Except maybe, here [slashdot.org]
here [slashdot.org]
here [slashdot.org]
here [slashdot.org]
and here [slashdot.org]
.

Re:Wow! I have never heard about this before! (2, Funny)

despisethesun (880261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765894)

Yeah! Fucking assholes! The only OS they should mention more than once is Linux!

Re:Wow! I have never heard about this before! (1)

Slithe (894946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766065)

I love to see Plan 9 mentioned on Slashdot, but I would like an actual news story rather than a post that only says "Hey! This is a cool operating system that has already been mentioned on Slashdot several times since 1998! Check it out!" Plus, I have not yet seen a recent Slashdot story that said "Hey! There is this cool kernel called Linux, written by a Finnish programmer, Linus Torvalds. Check it out!" Which reminds me, I should submit a Slashdot story about Inferno.

Re:Wow! I have never heard about this before! (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765921)

Me either, which is why I downloaded it and started playing with it about 3 weeks ago. In fact, I've got it running off the CD on my spare workstation right now.

graphical refinement (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765756)

Considering its not really intented as a desktop replacement OS, thats by design.

Linux is Dying! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765767)

Couldn't resist!

The review is not so great (5, Informative)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765768)

The review is not so great in terms of accuracy i.e. there is no emacs (check out acme, sam, ed, and smacme instead) and the 640x480 resolution is nonsense. 9fans [psu.edu] certainly isn't so grateful about this review. [psu.edu]

Check out the Plan 9 documentation [bell-labs.com] if you are interested in understanding Plan 9.

Re:The review is not so great (3, Interesting)

andrewzx1 (832134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765997)

Hi Ems2, I am the author of the referenced Plan 9 article and I can safely say that 640X480x8 was the default window size that came up.This is fact and not opinion.I think I mentioned that it was easily changed to a higher resolution, either by Rio or by simply typing 800x600x8. I now see that there is a version of emacs available. I referenced an out-of-date posting on the 9fans list (I think). Thanks for the correction. Emacs is a great asset. You will see that I too provided plenty of references to the Plan 9 documentation for people to investigate.

Re:The review is not so great (2, Informative)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766125)

You are wrong. You are asked what resolution you want. 640x480x8 is just the first option on the list.

Re:The review is not so great (2, Funny)

JoshRoss (88988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766264)

640x480 should be good enough for anyone.

I'm a "Plan 9 from Bell Labs" user (5, Informative)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765770)

"Plan 9 from Bell Labs" is the proper name of the OS.

Plan 9 is now community driven, albiet from a small community, mostly the same people that have been there all along.

It has USB sound support and AC97 support is a new one on me.

I use it still because the user environment is the best one I have encountered for text editing and interecting with the shell. Most users use VNC to get to their X11/Windows desktops where their web browser lives.

Building a web browser from scratch is one of those never ending tasks that frankly, just isn't worth your while. That said there is Mothra - no tables, no css, no frames etc. that Tom Duff (yes that Tom Duff) wrote many moons ago and one of the community is beavering away at his project Abaco and has moderate success.

One of the main tenets to Plan 9 is "everything is a file" and the system is built around the notion of a distributed name space in the shape of a directory tree rather than being a reflection of the disk contents. The canonical example of this is ftps where the remote ftp site is presented as a directory tree at /n/ftp

Name spaces are process independent so you can build them per process which feels a bit like chrooting.

Exporting a name space is part of the deal, this presents many gifts that were not deliberately shoe-horned in such as remote step debugging across architectures, sending sound to a remote soundcard, importing a remote machine's network stack instead of using a gateway (including non-plan9 machines via ssh), importing remote filesystems (including non plan 9 machines). All this is facilitated by the 9p protocol [bell-labs.com] .

As a micro/macro kernel hybrid all this is achieved in just 37 syscalls which is a source of amusement and a feeling of superiority when compared to Linux' 300+ (so many they are not even enumerated any more).

Linux is derided in the mailing list ("For amateurs, by amateurs") as well as the failings of the other braindead OSes we have to deal with ("If only they did it like us").

Linus has stopped by in 9fans to whine on about stuff and was seen off, Theo wanted our compilers when he didn't want the license (as imposed by Lucent lawyers) but since they have been dual licensed we've not seen him around.

Inferno isn't plan 9, it's another product built on similar principles that was sold off by Lucent.

Lucent's management of Plan 9 in hindsight could have prevented adoption when it was crucial - it was $300 per copy prior to v. 3 and once a free download had a "copies of all modifications must be sent to Lucent" clause and other annoying restrictions in it. These have been lifted now but they boat could already have sailed.

The notion of distributed computing has gained ground in recent times and Plan 9 could have been at the forefront with distributed computing being built in from the start.

All that said, Plan 9 was never intended as anything more than an experiment and some ideas have slowly crept into other products (or possibly independently invented) - notably Windows XP presenting their stuff as files/folders, ftpfs in Linux, single sign-on.

Re:I'm a "Plan 9 from Bell Labs" user (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765825)

Linux is derided in the mailing list ("For amateurs, by amateurs") as well as the failings of the other braindead OSes we have to deal with ("If only they did it like us").

I hope you aren't interested in growing the Plan 9 community with an attitude like that.

If you supposedly have a superior OS, you can afford to have some class about it.

Re:I'm a "Plan 9 from Bell Labs" user (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766005)

> I hope you aren't interested in growing the Plan 9 community with an attitude like that.

If it bothers you, there's no point in coming.

Plan 9 is based on another idea : "Not only is UNIX dead, it's starting to smell really bad" - Rob Pike

> If you supposedly have a superior OS, you can afford to have some class about it.

There's no point calling a turd a diamond to save the feelings of the person who shitted it out.

Re:I'm a "Plan 9 from Bell Labs" user (5, Insightful)

ttfkam (37064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766114)

There's no point calling a turd a diamond to save the feelings of the person who shitted it out.

However you don't tell someone their house is a shithole that only an idiot would want to live in even if you have a better home proposed. You point out the merits of the new house over and above what they have now.

Otherwise you will be perceived simply as an asshole calling someone an idiot. It might make you feel better, superior, etc., but it guarantees that you and whatever you're bringing to the table will be ignored or actively derided.

You hurt your cause by your presence. People will avoid Plan 9 not for its failings, but because it is associated with assholes, for example, you. If your goal is to kill the project, then by all means continue insulting others because you think they deserve it. If you actually want to foster adoption, perhaps a measure of diplomacy and a modicum of decorum would help.

In short, don't be a dick. As an added bonus, that advice works for more than just software.

Re:I'm a "Plan 9 from Bell Labs" user (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766150)

So does this mean the typical derision one gets from the Linux community for things like, say, asking simple questions is really an ironic sort of welcoming embrace meant to bring in the world?

Sounds like what The Hurd was supposed to be... (1)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765843)


Exporting a name space is part of the deal, this presents many gifts that were not deliberately shoe-horned in such as remote step debugging across architectures, sending sound to a remote soundcard, importing a remote machine's network stack instead of using a gateway (including non-plan9 machines via ssh), importing remote filesystems (including non plan 9 machines). All this is facilitated by the 9p protocol [bell-labs.com].

This sounds remarkably similar to what Richard Stallman's The Hurd was supposed to be. [Speaking of which - Duke Nuke'em Forever ain't got nothing on The Hurd.]

In terms of languages that understand transparent network distribution - has anyone ported Erlang [or something similarly modern] to this platform?

Also, are there stripped-down versions of Plan 9 that can function in the RTOS space?

Thanks!

Re:Sounds like what The Hurd was supposed to be... (1)

Slithe (894946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765879)

> Duke Nuke'em Forever ain't got nothing on The Hurd

Yeah, but the Hurd ain't got nothing on Project Xanadu [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Sounds like what The Hurd was supposed to be... (2, Informative)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765998)

Plan 9 predates The Hurd

Erlang - don't think so. Limbo & Plan 9 C use CSP channels.

Stripped down plan 9 for RTOS - not as far as I'm aware, it's used more for clustering. LANL use it there, they might be the people to ask.

Re:I'm a "Plan 9 from Bell Labs" user (1)

Homology (639438) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765993)

> Theo wanted our compilers when he didn't want the license
> (as imposed by Lucent lawyers) but since they have been dual
> licensed we've not seen him around.

Is there any license for the compilers other than
http://cm.bell-labs.com/plan9/license.html [bell-labs.com] ?

It sure looks it's written by lawyers, though earlier versions was worse ;-)

Re:I'm a "Plan 9 from Bell Labs" user (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766012)


The compilers used for Inferno are the same ones :

http://www.vitanuova.com/dist/4e/20060303/utils.tg z [vitanuova.com]

I'm told the licence is different for those (GPL, MIT or something like that), though I have not looked myself.

I think that's the file, the full list is here :

http://www.vitanuova.com/inferno/downloads.html [vitanuova.com]

Re:I'm a "Plan 9 from Bell Labs" user (1)

sgtrock (191182) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766144)

So, basically you're saying that you have the most impressive OS on the planet and the rest of us are simply idiots for not recognizing just how wonderful it is? Or are you saying that you have the best OS on the planet and your /glad/ that the rest of us haven't recognized that fact so we can't spoil your tiny playground?

Or is it that you hate the fact that an OS built "by amateurs, for amateurs" is somehow eating your lunch at every turn? Are you happy living with an addmittedly experimental OS that doesn't have 99% of the current applications ported to it so you are forced to VNC into a "lesser" OS just to be able to use a decent Web browser??

(shakes head in wonder) And people say Theo is a PITA!

Did it ever occur to you that if Plan 9 truly is that remarkable, a more inclusive, community building spirit might help lift it above Linux in no time? That is the true secret to Linux's continuing success, after all; Richard's and Linus's willingness to include everyone and every project who wishes to contribute. Otherwise you wouldn't have the ability to package a distribution so easily.

If it were simply a matter of being a better OS, OpenBSD would have flattened Linux a long time ago. Nope, Theo and company chased off contributors of all stripes with their collective incredibly elitist attitude a decade ago, and they still keep it up. Sounds to me like you guys took their attitude and inflated it by an order of magnitude.

Here's a clue: Want people to help out in adding functionality and apps? Start treating them decently and give them a reason to contribute.

This was out of beta long ago... (0, Offtopic)

TheVidiot (549995) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765775)

OS 9 [wikipedia.org] is old news! Really old!

Re:This was out of beta long ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765860)

You knob head, this is PLAN 9, not OS9.

If you were trying to make a joke it is a lame on at that.

Plan 9's web browsers (4, Informative)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765886)

First of all there is Charon [vitanuova.com] from Inferno [vitanuova.com] . It supports html, EMCAScript (1.1 IIRC), CSS, DOM (level 1 IIRC) and https. (See screenshot [operating-system.org] however this one is a bit outdated)

Abaco [freshmeat.net] is the most actively developed Plan 9 web browser. It supports most of html. DOM level 3 development has been started. Mozilla's Javascript engine has been ported to Plan 9 and can be used today for a Javascript shell. This will provide abaco with Javascript in the future. Work on CSS has started but I do not know what has been done or where it is heading. Abaco has been ported to Linux and friends via Plan 9 from Userspace [swtch.com] . Package managers are encouraged to make packages of abaco for their systems. (See screenshot [tip9ug.jp] )

Then there are webpage, links [ucalgary.ca] , mothra [wikipedia.org] , and htmlfmt [bell-labs.com] .

Finally there are text web browsers for acme (htmlfmt for Plan 9 and see this [caerwyn.com] for Inferno)

In other news, SDL now works on Plan 9 [tip9ug.jp] .

Re:Plan 9's web browsers (1)

andrewzx1 (832134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766010)

There's no information as to whether charon runs on Plan 9 or only on inferno. As you stated previously, inferno is not Plan 9. Can you reference a binary download for charon or must one build it from source? Is there more information on charon, such as a review? Or is the man page the only documentation available?

Re:Plan 9's web browsers (1)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766092)

Inferno can be hosted on other operating systems or run native on its bare hardware. You can install Inferno for Plan 9 and run fgb [tip9ug.jp] 's script from /n/sources/contrib/fgb/rc/charon [bell-labs.com] (this file can be accessed in the Plan 9 name space after running 9fs sources). This script runs Inferno; binds Plan 9 name space to Inferno's /n/local; binds Plan 9's devices to Inferno's name space; and runs charon in Plan 9's window manager instead of Inferno's window manager. Basically it is like running a Mono application on Linux but a lot more sane.

Re:Plan 9's web browsers (1)

andrewzx1 (832134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766103)

I think you missed my point. My point was whether charon runs under Plan 9 without modification or special provisions.

Re:Plan 9's web browsers (1)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766136)

Simple answer no. You just need to install Inferno which installs charon for you. Installing inferno doesn't require any special modifications or special provisions.

For those of you who haven't seen plan 9 yet... (2, Funny)

ChePibe (882378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765937)

Plan 9 is now available for free from Google Video [google.com] .

I must warn you, however, that everything you will see is based on sworn testimony...

/proc on steroids (5, Interesting)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15765949)

My university had a visitor from Los Alamos several weeks ago and he gave a live demo of using Plan9 to control a 10,000-machine cluster.

Really cool how _everything_ was a file.

To start a program on some machine, he would cd to some directory corresponding to the machine. I don't remember exactly, but this directory had files corresponding to "exe", "stdin", and "stdout" among others. To start a job, the program was just copied to the exe file. And then if you looked at the "stdout" file, the output from the running job was there. Now you can imagine how launching a job on thousands of machines and collecting the output becomes really trivial.

I got the impression that this was sort of like the Linux /proc filesystem, but expanded to work seamlessly across a cluster and with more functionality.

Re:/proc on steroids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765973)

where do you think Linux /proc came from?

Re:/proc on steroids (2, Informative)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766041)

Linux got the idea for /proc from Plan 9 [bell-labs.com] . However, it a very dumbed down version of Plan 9's. One of the major differences is that Plan 9's /proc controls processes while Linux really does nothing but represent them to some degree. One example is that you either kill a process by writing 'kill' to its clt (control) file or delete its directory. Plan 9 requires less syscalls thanks to this design. Inferno [vitanuova.com] also has this design to manage its processes. Imagine this with Plan 9's distributing ideas...

Re:/proc on steroids (4, Informative)

spitzak (4019) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766163)

Linux copied the idea of /proc *from* Plan9, so there is certainly some resemblance!

Despite the limited nature of the copy (somebody else says that Linux version is pretty much read-only, I'm not sure) it shoud be obvious what a big win this is. Suddenly a whole lot of utilities like "ps" do not have to be recompiled to match the kernel. And you can peek into /proc directly, without using a program, and get useful information (such as what files are open or the executable name, I've done both of these plenty of times).

The only other Plan-9 thing that is copied extensively is UTF-8 text encoding. This one is also a HUGE win, as suddendly we don't have to write two streams through all our programs for handiling Unicode and handling "legacy" ascii files, as they are now the same thing, as long as some (very minor) fixes are done to the "legacy" code. Plus UTF-8 seamlessly handled Unicode going past 65536 characters, while the "wide character" solution that Sun and HP and Dec and Microsoft struggled with for 20 years fell apart the moment this happened, by adding "surrogate characters" and thus deleting the *only* advantage it had over UTF-8.

Considering how incredibly useful both of these ideas are, I would certainly like to see a lot more of Plan 9 brought out into the real world. There is a lot there!

Plan9 runs on Xenopix DVD (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15765985)

Plan9 runs on Xenopix DVD. Xenoppix runs Plan9 on anonymous PC.

http://unit.aist.go.jp/itri/knoppix/xen/index-en.h tml [aist.go.jp]

Xenoppix is a combination of Virtual Machine Monitor "Xen" and 1CD/DVD "KNOPPIX".
It runs Plan9 and NetBSD on Xen-DomU(GuestOS) and KNOPPIX on XenDom0(HostOS).

Wow, he managed to compile a "Hello, world" (2, Funny)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766021)

Great review guys!

Re:Wow, he managed to compile a "Hello, world" (1)

andrewzx1 (832134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766053)

In my defense I state that I couldn't get Plan 9 to completely install on ANY of the 5 systems I had at hand. Without both a compatible graphics card and a compatible NIC I was unable to attach to a grid resource (9grid.de) and actually do some distributed computing. Which was my original goal. And I think if you try editing a program in ed, you will find "Hello, world" quite impressive 8-)

Re:Wow, he managed to compile a "Hello, world" (1)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766142)

You don't have a graphics card which does VESA? Wow. With over 5 computers just wow.

Re:Wow, he managed to compile a "Hello, world" (1)

andrewzx1 (832134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766193)

Maybe you don't realize that although you can run rio in the LiveCD you easily (or at all, I don't know) write to a persistent file system without a full install. I could not get Plan 9 to install on anything but the ancient Thinkpad, and this did not have a supported VGA. No VESA. This whole hardware compatibility problem becomes a non-issue if you can get Plan 9 working in a virtualized environment such as VMWare or Microsoft's now free Virtual PC. But apparently there are issues here as well.

"lacks some graphical refinement" (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766034)

"...lacks some graphical refinement..."

Which is a polite way of saying that it's hideously ugly and designed as if the last 20 years of HCI research never happened. I mean, look at those scroll bars.

Re:"lacks some graphical refinement" (1)

ratatask (905257) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766056)

Yeah, they don't look like KDE or XP scrollbars.
Oh noes - Therefore they are crap.
Not to mention the look - a scrollbar that looks different
cannot possibly be useful.

Wobbeling,translucent windows seems absent. So does shiny
colors(only colors pleasent on the eyes for long working sessions),
Zoomable icons, taskbars, the X button you accidentally click twice a
day.

Couple this with a person that has unquestionable faith it
The Way It's Always Been Done (aka. this is how osx/xp/gnome/kde works)
and hasn't even spent a day learning different ways - we have a candidate
for Research,Development and Progress.
Congratulation.

Re:"lacks some graphical refinement" (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766173)

Your defensive tone doesn't help, and the fact that you simply derided the poster's opinions isn't really a defense anyway.

Why is it so hard for people to admit that whatever it is they like isn't perfect? Such a simple human failing, and it probably causes about 95% of conflict in this world.

We'll never do better while this kind of thinking is around.

Re:"lacks some graphical refinement" (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766262)

The Way It's Always Been Done (aka. this is how osx/xp/gnome/kde works)


Only on slashdot will you see someone cite a group of 5-7 year old environments (WinXP, Gnome, KDE, OS X) as examples of "The Way It's Always Been Done" and a 20+ year old one (Plan 9) as innovative...

Plan9 on Qemu (3, Informative)

int19h (156487) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766208)


If you wish to try out Plan 9 without burning a CD and rebooting, Free OS Zoo offers an image of Plan 9 [oszoo.org] (108M) that works fine with theQemu emulator [bellard.free.fr] .


Step-by-step instructions for a Debian-based distro:

  1. sudo aptitude install wget unzip qemu
  2. wget http://www.oszoo.org/ftp/images/plan9_060327.zip
  3. unzip plan9_060327.zip
  4. qemu -net nic -net user plan9/plan9_compressed.img
  5. A window with Qemu will pop up. Press Return a few times, and you'll reach the commandline.


Other tips:

  • Press Ctrl+Alt to toggle mouse-grab
  • Press Ctrl+Alt+f to toggle fullscreen
  • Note that Plan9 is intentionally relatively minimalistic, compared to Linux


Good luck!

Timing (1)

shish (588640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766232)

I was wondering why my .iso was only coming in at 5kb/s... It turns out that the day I decide to check out some other OSes is the same day, that only happens once every few years, that someone links to plan9 on the front page of slashdot -_-;

"Glenda lives on" is semi-literate ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15766295)

I cannot be the only person who is disgusted by the "grammar" used by this person who goes by the name "Glenda lives on".

Honestly, what is wrong with you people at Slashdot ? Are you too busy counting your ad revenue to polish a submission
a bit before publishing it ?

To answer some of the authors questions (4, Informative)

ems2 (976335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15766299)

1) The live cd is the install cd. This isn't Linux... Installation is done by an interactive rc script ("everything is a file") in a running Plan 9 with or without rio. Try and imagine how simple it is to automate a Plan 9 installation. Unlike Linux we don't need Red Hat to develop some complex standard for doing something that should be simple.

2) The cd comes with all the official software. Everything but the stuff that can be found in /n/sources/extra/ or /n/sources/patches/. Or anything made or ported by anyone else that can be found in /n/sources/contrib/ and elsewhere. And it definitely is not missing anything that would be basic in any operating system.

3) It does include ping. Ping is not just limited to IP so you will find multiple ping programs for different things in their respected directories. The ping for IP is in /bin/ip/ like the rest of the IP tools (on x86 the actual location for IP's ping is /386/bin/ip/ping. /386/bin/ is bound to /bin/ during boot up on x86. Likewise /alpha/bin/ is bound to /bin/ during boot up on alpha. etc.). You use IP ping like this: ip/ping $ipadr. If you want skip the ip/ part then bind /bin/ip/ping to /bin/ping.

4) This all fits in 80MB. Plan 9's cd is small because it doesn't have bloat. (This includes: PDF/postscript reader, page; Word processor, troff; an advance shell, rc; a web server, httpd; plus thousands of other applications.)

5) Why didn't you ask any of your questions on 9fans before coming to your assumptions?

6) This isn't Linux there are rules (e.g. ip tools in /bin/ip/ and http tools in /bin/http/) we don't just dump everything where ever we feel like it. What is the point of having a hierarchy without using it?
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