"Lying in a featherbed will bring you no fame, nor staying beneath the quilt, and he who uses up his life without achieving fame leaves no more vestige of himself on Earth than smoke in the air or foam upon the water." -Dante Alighieri
>>What is Plan 9? (from Plan9 wiki)
Plan 9 is a (relatively) new computer operating system and associated utilities. It was built by the Computing Science Research Center of Bell Laboratories (now part of Alcatel-Lucent), the same group that developed Unix, C, and C++.
Plan 9 is a distributed system, able to make use of different kinds of resources and servers spread across almost any network. It has very low resource requirement compared to most systems, has a very consistent, simple design, and performs very well.
>>How can I get one to play with?
Plan 9 can be installed easily on a PC. You need to hace a IDE disk and cd-rom.
I chose to install it on a virtual machine. Using VMware Player on windows, I created a PC with 64 MB RAM, a 2 GB IDE HDD, and a IDE CD-ROM device. I had a Plan 9 CD so I used it instead of downloading from Bell Labs web page (http://plan9.bell-labs.com/) the iso image.
>>Configuring your (virtual) machine:
+ at least 32 MB of RAM
+ the virtual hdd has to be pre-allocated, otherwise I got an error at booting the installation CD. You must have at least 300 MB for the installation.
The installation process itself isn't compex. Something you should know before starting is that there is no /dev/scd0 on Plan9, the devices are named:
+ scC0 = first IDE, master.
+ scC1 = first IDE, slave.
+ scD0 = second IDE, master.
+ scD1 = second IDE, slave.
I will asume you installed plan 9 successfully. Reboot the machine, and boot plan 9. By default, it will ask for the system partition and user, we can change that later. Use the default partition (should be correct), and user: glenda.
This will take you to the window manager (rio), you will probably see something like this:
>>Now, what can I do with this?
For using Plan9 you will need a 3 button mouse (like every modern mouse...).
B1 : left button / B2 : center button / B3 : right button
B1: resize windows, etc.
+ snarf: copy text
+ cut: cuts text
+ paste: ...
B3: (clic on the background)
+ New (window)
+ Delete (window)
+ Move + Resize + Hide
+ <label> for hidden windows
>>We will draw a window now
Right click on the background, select "New". The cursor will change to a cross, right click and drag it to draw a new window, release it when finished.
This creates a new window with the rc shell on it. There you can try some comands, like "ls" to view the files on the actual directory (/usr/glenda if you logged in as glenda). Note: there is no auto scrolling in windows, so you will have to scroll down using keyboard arrows.
(Del) does the same in plan 9.
>>Can I have auto-scroll on a window?
Yes. Open a rc window, click with B2 and select "scroll". Done.
>>Creating and editing a file
To create and edit a new text file, you will run "acme". This will open the acme editor, it is divided in columns, and each column can have many opened files or streams (you can also execute commands in it).
Columns can be resized clicking (B1) on the light blue sqare on the upper left corner. Resize the right column untill you see the "Delcol" option, and click (B2) on it to close the column. Now we have just one colum. Click New, to open a new stream, and you will put as the stream name "/usr/glenda/newtext.txt", and click (B2) on "Put".
You have just created a file, you can write text on the stream and click on put each time you want to save.
>>Connecting to a network
That is easy, in a rc window: