Here you are, Chapter 14 of Peter Salus' The Daemon, the GNU and the Penguin. This chapter in his ongoing history of Free and Open Sources is on Plan 9 and Inferno. More information on Inferno on Freshmeat and on Plan 9 and Inferno in this interview with Michael Jeffrey, CEO of Vita Nuova, who says this:
"In the mid-80s Bell Labs stopped research and development into UNIX. It is reported that they considered ‘the problems with UNIX were too deep to fix’. Instead they focused their energies on the design and implementation of a new operating system that became known as Plan 9. The Plan 9 operating system at one level will feel familiar to anyone with a UNIX background; many of the UNIX commands and utilities are available in Plan 9 and programs are written in C. Plan 9 however, is fundamentally different in its structure."
Inferno is dual licensed; the Free version is distributed with subcomponents under the GPL/LGPL, the MIT-template, the Lucent Public License, and Free Type, or, "if the result of your work using Inferno will not or cannot be made Free Software," you can choose the Vita Nuova Commercial Developer Licence. Plan 9 is distributed under the Lucent Public License Vs. 1.02.
Here are the earlier chapters of Dr. Salus' book:
The Daemon, the GNU and the Penguin
~ by Peter H. Salus
Chapter 14. BTL after UNIX: Plan 9 and Inferno
In July 1990, I flew from Boston to London for the
UKUUG Conference. (I was to give a talk on UNIX
standards and specifications.) But there were three
talks on the program that blew me away.
They concerned "Plan 9" a new OS being worked on at
Bell Labs. It was named Plan 9 from Bell Labs after
"Plan 9 from Outer Space," perhaps the worst science
fiction movie ever filmed.
Plan 9 is a UNIX clone. But it presents a consistent
interface which is easy to use. I am not going to
go into it at any length. But, it was the successor
to UNIX, which, Rob Pike said, was dead: "It's
been dead for so long it doesn't even stink any more."
Rob delivered the keynote address at the UKUUG: "Plan
9 from Bell Labs." He's now at Google.
Dave Presotto then spoke about "Multiprocessor Streams
for Plan 9." He's at Google, too.
Tom Duff talked about "Rc -- A Shell for Plan 9 and
UNIX Systems." Tom's now at Pixar, the proud owner
of parts of several Oscars.
Fifteen years later, what had been the UNIX group (1127)
has been dispersed. In addition to Rob, Dave and Tom,
Dennis Ritchie and Howard Trickey remain at Lucent/BTL.
- Ken Thompson retired to California;
- Brian Kernighan is a Professor at Princeton;
- Phil Winterbottom is CTO at Entrisphere;
- Gerard Holzmann is at NASA/JPL Laboratory for Reliable Software;
- Bob Flandrena is at Morgan Stanley;
- Sean Dorward is at Google;
But, before it disappeared, the "1127 group" made yet another
contribution to OS development: Inferno.
Inferno is a compact OS designed for building "cross-platform
distributed systems." It can run on top of an existing
OS, or as a stand-alone. The nomenclature owes much to
Dave Presotto, who founded it firmly in Dante. The company
marketing Inferno is Vita Nuova; the communications
protocol is Styx; applications are written in type-safe
Limbo, which has C-like syntax.
The 4th edition of Inferno was released in 2005 as free
software, but under a mixture of licenses.
1In the July 2005 issue of IEEE Spectrum, there's an article
"The End of AT&T" with the blurb:
Once the world's largest company, Ma Bell will soon vanish. But its
innovations -- from the transistor to communications satellites to laser
cooling-live on. By Michael Riordan
Note what's important. CS isn't.
Dr. Salus is the author of "A Quarter Century of UNIX" and several other books, including "HPL: Little Languages and Tools", "Big Book of Ipv6 Addressing Rfcs", "Handbook of Programming Languages (HPL): Imperative Programming Languages", "Casting the Net: From ARPANET to INTERNET and Beyond", and "The Handbook of Programming Languages (HPL): Functional, Concurrent and Logic Programming Languages". There is an interview with him, audio and video,"codebytes: A History of UNIX and UNIX Licences" which was done in 2001 at a USENIX conference. Dr. Salus has served as Executive Director of the USENIX Association.
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