Written from Plan 9 (9front)

3/24/2021

Every few weeks, I've been getting an urge to try out a niche operating system known as Plan 9 from Bell Labs. I finally took the plunge.

Introduction to Plan 9

Plan 9 from Bell Labs

The OS was developed in the late '80s and early '90s as a research project by Bell Labs. The team working on it were many of the same people who had worked on Unix and C, and some of the Plan 9 team would go on to create Go (Golang), my favorite programming language.

The main focus of the OS was on abstracting everything on the system to files. In turn, this would allow any and all parts of the OS to be mounted over a network. The intent was to allow Plan9 to be a fully networkable, distributed OS.

While the original Plan 9 project was shut down decades ago, the source code was later released under a free-software license. Several forks are still active, the most prominent of which is 9front.

9front

Current Status

Over the weekend, I put the ISO on a flash drive and installed it onto a larger, 32GB flash drive. From there, I'm now able to run 64-bit 9front on my Thinkpad.

My goal has been to get the system set up such that I could write a blog post from it - and now I've accomplished that. In the coming week or two, I hope to write in more detail what I learn while experimenting with 9front.

What I have functioning/installed:

  • Internet connection, via wired ethernet
  • git9 (git implementation)
  • Gemini client (Castor9)
  • ttf2subf (converts TTF fonts to the subf format used by Plan 9)
  • Customized font (but I'll probably be looking for a better one)

git9 on GitHub

Castor9 on SourceHut

I'm keeping this short, but before I go, here's a screenshot of me working on this post in Acme, the Plan 9 editor/environment:

Fullscreen Acme window, with multiple panes

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