The upcoming visit to Plan 9
Last week I installed Plan 9 on a Raspberry Pi. During few weeks I'll be taking a look at this old system.
Plan 9 solves a lot of problems that nobody thought needed solving.
- The space suited bunny mascot.
- A single system formed from many individual machines connected together with a network.
- Encrypted communication supported in every application by design.
- Security model lacks multiple points of failure.
The Plan 9 also had a weakness many people thought was significant. The windowing system 8½ doesn't seem to have opengl support. This because the direct rendering model didn't fit the design of Plan9 in any way. It is a fully networked system and the filesystems are used as a tool to connect that all together.
Vulkan API is more compatible than OpenGL with the ideas of Plan9. The GPU is a processing unit just like a CPU and it is much less sensitive to whether the render result ends up being streamed or displayed directly.
Latency, bandwidth or implementation details may make Vulkan on Plan 9 it impractical though. It is unlikely that Plan 9 will run Vulkan anytime soon, but it is possible.
The process and programming model may turn out to be interesting as well. I'm not sure yet about how my programming language's concurrency or debugging tools will work. Plan9 seems to have its own solutions to these problems that still hold to be unique and interesting on their own.
Could there be multiple merits in a non-mainstream operating system that's nearly as old as I am?