The Plan 9 network operating system

THE OTHER OS

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In the eery, distant days before the birth of Linux, a strange alien system set out to fulfill the promise of Unix. Descendents of that system are still living. We caught one and dissected it.

Linux has its roots in the famous AT&T Bell Labs, home of the original Unix system. The Bell Labs programmers have been busy ever since, and one of the fruits of their labors is the distributed operating system Plan 9 [1]. Plan 9 began in the late 1980s as a new system designed to address some problems with Unix that the Bell engineers considered “too deep to fix.” This new operating system did indeed come with some innovations that had an influence on later systems. But until recently, Plan 9 was under a proprietary license that never really caught on with users.

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