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Plan 9 goes open source

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High performance access to file storage

Ken Thompson's Plan 9 operating system has been released by Bell Labs as open source.

Thompson co-created the original Unix operating system, and more recently co-authored Inferno. Plan 9 was a group effort written in large part, Thompson says, to clean up some interfaces.

"Every time I looked at later versions of Unix there were 15 new system calls, which tells you something's wrong," he told Compute in an interview last year. "I just didn't see it at the time. This was fixed in a fairly nice way in Plan 9."

York-based company Vita Nuova, which also packages Inferno, is the first to offer a packaged version.

Plan 9 was first revealed in a talk in 1990, and remained one of the most hotly anticipated pieces of vapourware - the Transmeta of its day - before its release in 1995. Recent work has been led by co-creators, and the new release is the third major version.

In Plan 9, everything can be addressed using file semantics, and local and remote files are treated the same. It was actually planned - experimental OSes need to justify themselves as anything but research ideas - as an elegant model for distributed processing.

It's available for Intel, Alpha, SPARC, PPC, MIPS and StrongARM. So you can download it here and outswank even your BSD chums. ®

Related links

Plan 9 open source download
Vita Nuevo
The original Plan 9 press release

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