back to article Plan 9 moves out from Lucent licence space

Plan 9, a successor to Unix developed during the 1980s by Bell Labs, is now available under the GNU Public Licence. The operating system was never particularly popular or prevalent, but did generate enough of a following to spark a successor of its own known as Inferno. We also wrote it up last year, saying that “Compared to …


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  1. xperroni
    Paris Hilton


    Funny that just yesterday I was reading about Plan 9 from Outer Space.

    It's just a coincidence, of course. The day before I was reading about the Charlemagne Division and there were no news about nazi French that I've been aware of.

    Paris because I have about as much of a clue of what's going on in the world.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Synchronicity

      There were news about strikes in France, though.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Synchronicity

      Many years ago (some many I can't remember when) I went to a lecture given by Ken Thompson (Unix & Plan 9 guru) about the (then fairly new) Plan 9 OS. He interspersed the lecture with clips from Plan 9 from Outer Space much to everyone's amusement. One of the things he mentioned was that they adopted the Plan 9 name because management could take the project seriously (it got funded simply because people like Ken & Denis Ritchie through their weight behind it).

      Saying that it was a seriously good lecture - Ken could really keep the audience entertained while discussing a pretty complicated topic.

      1. Bob Dunlop

        Re: Synchronicity

        The lecture was at the Lancaster Gate hotel London perhaps. 1990 I think. Part of the UKUUG "Unix the Legend Evolves" conference.

        One thing I remember from that or a later lecture was that when they designed the Plan 9 C compiler the one ANSI requirement they didn't implement was K&R backwards compatability. After all if anyone had the right to do that, they did.

  2. Denarius
    Thumb Up

    how would this go on phablets ?

    fast, light. Used a different output approach. Might look this up

    1. Wzrd1 Silver badge

      Re: how would this go on phablets ?

      Thinking the same and for embedded.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: how would this go on phablets ?

        Its minimal and lightweight because it has been mostly ignored for a couple decades, so some functionality is missing. If you add everything it needs to be used on a modern mobile device, it will no longer be minimal and lightweight when compared to Unix.

        1. The Indomitable Gall

          Re: how would this go on phablets ?


          " If you add everything it needs to be used on a modern mobile device, it will no longer be minimal and lightweight when compared to Unix. "

          Not necessarily. A lot of the cruft and bloat in modern operating systems is legacy material that can't be removed due to backward compatibility issues, or simply for fear of unintended consequences. Building direct from "back then" to "now" while skipping all the in-between stuff should result in a lighter, quicker OS that modern *n*x variants.

          That said, it still wouldn't be worth the bother. Some people might find it useful for embedded work, but it's not going to set the world alight....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: how would this go on phablets ?

            Linux may have some legacy support for outdated hardware, but you can compile most of it, or remove the code if you know for sure you won't need it.

            Like they did with Android, for instance...

            Similarly that's why Apple cut down OS X to run on their mobile devices, creating iOS, rather than just running full fledged OS X, which would include support for stuff that the iPhone has no use for, like fibre channel and multiple discrete GPUs.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: how would this go on phablets ?

      > how would this go on phablets?

      Not too smoothly I expect. There's a few years of developpment ahead before it can take advantage of this kind of hardware. Even on generic machines for which it has been developped the support for "fancy" hardware is embryonic at best.

      I suppose you could run it on a phablet in a virtual machine with less fiddling, although the benefits in terms of speed and weight are not obvious...

  3. Sheep!

    Shouldn't this be in software rather than science?

    1. Dave 126

      Er, its under 'Special Projects Bureau', which is a cover term for 'things that Reg readers and staff might like to play around with in their own time', such as unmanned aircraft, Arduino and small computers such as the Raspberry Pi, 3D printers and other gadgets. Think of it as the Reg's garden shed / garage.

      Anyway, this is the Reg, where reviews of computer games were filed under 'Hardware'.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Reminder that the Limbo language for Inferno has now morphed into Google's Go (or Golang).

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I think it's got a really weird editor as well.

    IIRC it uses a 3 button mouse where you play with multiple keys at a time.

    Meant to be very fast but steep learning curve.

    BTW Plan 9 was sort of described as a 3 layer OS, back end storage servers, middle layer access and server logic and front end presentation logic.

    So might be a bit tricky to port to a tablet.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: I think it's got a really weird editor as well.

      steep learning curve

      So you can learn it very quickly? Or do you mean a shallow learning curve, indicating it takes a long time to learn?

      Or perhaps everyone should just stop using the phrase "learning curve", since it is apparently impossible for most people to do so correctly. Seek a new cliché.

  6. Nick Pettefar

    Where's the Raspberry Pi download image?

    1. Christian Berger

      Actually there is a port to the Raspberry PI

  7. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Do I remember using Plan9 on a 6809 machine 20-odd years ago?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      I give up.

      Do you?

  8. The last doughnut


    Bell Labs - A company with a serious history in technological innovation behind it.

    Lucent - A company named after what they did with all the investors money.

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