1995-07-20 - Plan 9 OS (NewsClip)

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From: nobody@valhalla.phoenix.net (Anonymous)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
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UTC Datetime: 1995-07-20 16:35:19 UTC
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From: nobody@valhalla.phoenix.net (Anonymous)
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 95 09:35:19 PDT
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Plan 9 OS  (NewsClip)
Message-ID: <199507201635.LAA24498@ valhalla.phoenix.net>
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AT&T Launches Plan 9 Operating System

Murray Hill, NJ, July 19 -- AT&T has announced a new
distributed operating system, called Plan 9. The new system
was developed by some of the same people who created the Unix
operating system, and the terms on which AT&T is making it
available are reminiscent of Unix, but the company stressed
that Plan 9 is not Unix.

Named for the cult science fiction movie Plan 9 From Outer
Space, the Plan 9 operating system is designed to work well on
networked computers. It has components for "terminals," or
desktop systems, for file servers, and for central processing
unit (CPU) servers.

Plan 9 is designed to deal with multiprocessing systems as CPU
servers. It supports four major hardware architectures: Intel
Corp.'s x86 line (including the Pentium chip), MIPS Computer
Systems Inc. processors, Sun Microsystems Inc. SPARC chips,
and Motorola Inc.'s 68020 and 68040 processors.

During simultaneous press conferences in Murray Hill and San
Francisco, connected by a teleconference link, Rob Pike, one
of the Plan 9 developers, said the new system is meant to
combine some of the advantages of Unix with some of those of
low-cost hardware. "We basically started by noticing some
things that we liked and didn't like about Unix and liked and
didn't like about workstations," Pike said.

Pike stressed that while Plan 9 borrows some ideas from Unix,
it is quite different and is not compatible with Unix. He went
on to say that AT&T does not expect Plan 9 to compete with
major commercial operating systems such as Unix and Microsoft
Corp.'s Windows NT. "This is not the next Unix," Pike said.

It appears in fact that the most promising commercial market
for Plan 9 might be in embedded systems. During the press
conference, AT&T researchers and officials repeatedly
mentioned the possibility that Plan 9 might be built into
consumer devices and other intelligent electronic devices, an
area where no standard operating system predominates today.

AT&T plans to make Plan 9 available for commercial licensing
to other vendors for an initial fee of $200,000, plus per-copy
fees that will amount to 20 percent of the resale price of
commercial software or two percent of the selling price of
hardware with Plan 9 built in, said Paul Fillinich, marketing
manager for AT&T's Software Solutions operation.

Single copies of Plan 9 will also be available for research
and educational use, but Fillinich stressed that the company
will not provide technical support. "We will replace the media
should it fail," he said. For commercial licensees there may
be some sort of support in the future. "We are contemplating
this," Fillinich said. "However, we haven't decided what the
offering will be."

Publisher Harcourt Brace & Co. will distribute Plan 9 for
AT&T. The full package, including a CD-ROM, four diskettes,
and two manuals, will cost $350. The manuals are available on
their own for $125.

Apparently wishing to avoid a repeat of the way Unix
splintered into many different versions, AT&T is specifying
that while source code for Plan 9 will be made available to
research and educational users, any changes they make will
become AT&T's property so that they can be incorporated in the
base code. "We want only one Plan 9," Fillinich said. "We
think the industry wants only one Plan 9."

The minimum hardware needed to run Plan 9 is an Intel 386
processor with eight megabytes (MB) of memory and 40MB of
available hard disk space, said Phil Winterbottom, another of
the Plan 9 developers. An optimal arrangement would include a
dedicated file server and multiple desktop terminals, he

Further information about Plan 9 is available on AT&T's
Plan 9 home page on the World Wide Web, at