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Operating Systems Open Source

Plan 9 From Bell Labs Operating System Now Available Under GPLv2 223

TopSpin writes "Alcatel-Lucent has authorized The University of California, Berkeley to 'release all Plan 9 software previously governed by the Lucent Public License, Version 1.02 under the GNU General Public License, Version 2.' Plan 9 was developed primarily for research purposes as the successor to Unix by the Computing Sciences Research Center at Bell Labs between the mid-1980s and 2002. Plan 9 has subsequently emerged as Inferno, a commercially supported derivative, and ports to various platforms, including a recent port to the Raspberry Pi. In Plan 9, all system interfaces, including those required for networking and the user interface, are represented through the file system rather than specialized interfaces. The system provides a generic protocol, 9P, to perform all communication with the system, among processes and with network resources. Applications compose resources using union file systems to form isolated namespaces."
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Plan 9 From Bell Labs Operating System Now Available Under GPLv2

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  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @04:29AM (#46258545)

    I like the idea how everything is a file etc. That is one reason why I originally became Linux user and now it feels Linux systems have become something totally different by new third/fourth generation "geeks" who don't care anymore about open file system and results are like systemd journalctl.

    Sad that they held on to it just long enough for it to become irrelevant. Anything unique that it had to offer has probably been done in other ways.

    I suspect that between various BSDs and Linux versions that the concept of everything being a file has pretty much reached its logical endpoint.
    Eventually you have to talk to highly interactive hardware with massively parallel threads and then the paradigm starts to become unhinged, and you spend more time trying to defend and extend the paradigm than anything else.

  • Dead end (Score:2, Interesting)

    by countach ( 534280 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @04:46AM (#46258579)

    I'm by no means a plan 9 expert, but as far as I see, the paradigm that everything is a byte stream is a bit of a dead end idea. Something like everything is an object or some such paradigm is much more interesting. Sure, UNIX and it's ilk, with everything as a byte stream was a great advance on what came before. But a stream of bytes is inherently too low an abstraction to build everything on. Waiting for the day when an object database or something like it is at the heart of a modern popular OS.

  • my thoughts on plan9 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 16, 2014 @05:09AM (#46258605)

    I just want to note that I am surprised by how many useless troll comments there are on this topic.

    Little more than a decade ago I tried out Inferno, actually purchased a copy still have the box even. My take away was that it was interesting, but not very useful. I could not do very much with it. I learned the Limbo programming language that came with it for fun because I like learning new languages. But, after that I went back to Linux again.

    Then I needed a job after I graduated from university and there were more Windows jobs, so I my focus became that. I still use Linux for setting up servers or playing with at home, but nothing too serious. I am also a big gamer, so I have always had a Windows machine or dual/triple booted with various OS.

    I do not really have an opinion on the systemd debate. Or, even whether everything should be a file.

    I think they waited way too long to release plan9, it has definitely become irrelevant. Maybe worth looking at just to see a different perspective on OS design at the very least, it might be useful as a teaching too at universities.

    To be completely honest, I am kind of disappointed they decided to go with GPL v2. I mean in my opinion either you completely embrace Richard Stallman and his hatred of the proprietary world and use GPL v3 so proprietary software & drivers can never make use of your operating system, or you go the other route and choose BSD/MIT. Picking GPL v2 as a new license for new software releases is kind of strange to me. Maybe they were hoping it would be cannibalized by Linux and their concepts would eventually be used beyond plan9, but did not want direct commercial competition for their Inferno OS.

    It makes me wonder if they still make money on Inferno. Maybe this is a way of generating interest in it again, just like CentOS and Fedora generated interest in RedHat Linux's support and commercial offerings.

  • by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @05:49AM (#46258701)

    Does this mean Plan 9 from User Space [] (an implementation of Plan 9 tools and libraries for UNIX and Linux) will be GPLv2 licensed too now?

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @08:10AM (#46259015) Homepage

    I like the idea how everything is a file (...) "geeks" who don't care anymore about open file system and results are like systemd journalctl.

    It's part good, part "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail". What happens is that you put a lot of very structured information into an unstructured format, then "reverse engineer" the structure on demand. To take a trivial example with log files, pretty much every log entry has a timestamp. Now we could store this in plaintext and use grep, or we could store this in a database and use "SELECT * FROM logentries WHERE timestamp BETWEEN '2014-01-14' AND '2014-01-15'". Particularly if you got other timestamps stored in the same file you start reinventing columns based on position or markers.

    On the good side we now have metadata, a language designed for structured queries, indexing, the ability to implement ACID compliance and an easy means to join information from different sources, on the bad side it's no longer plain text, we depend on a running database service and database corruption could potentially render everything unusable. But then again, so could file system corruption. From what I gather that's pretty much what systemd does and journalctl is kind of like SQL for systemd.

    That said, it seems like an "almost SQL" implementation with its own limited language, personally I'd rather go with a proper implementation like SQLite but maybe there's some gotchas there I haven't thought about, in particular it seems clients can define their own log fields on the fly which would require a little dynamic DDL but I don't see any showstoppers. In particular I notice they only have text and binary fields, you can't say that something is an integer or date field so you could filter on them more intelligently.

  • Licensing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zephiris ( 788562 ) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @08:29AM (#46259063)

    Unless I'm reading it wrong, it previously appears to've been released under a BSD-like license that is non-copyleft, allows commercial redistribution. The only reason it's GPL incompatible is because they describe the venue of law under which the agreement is binding.

    And they aren't dual-licensing, but simply relicensing from one to the other. actually a step backwards. In general. I suppose for this particular code release, there's no difference of practical value, but in general it's still going in the wrong direction.

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