Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fun Distraction

As you can tell I like Plan 9. I recently have been trying to catch up with the latest developments in that OS. There's been a new USB driver, new 9load bootloader (which probably ought to be replaced with just the main kernel, and that is currently a summer of code project for google), and linuxemu.

That last one is really interesting. Apparently Russ Cox, and cinap_lenrek have each taken a swipe at making Plan 9 emulate Linux system calls. This is pretty cool in that we can now run a lot of linux programs directly on plan 9, and, in fact, are able to even run Debian complete with apt-get inside a little sandbox.

On top of that fgb actually ported an X11 server to APE (the POSIX compatibility layer for Plan 9) to use libdraw as a graphics backend. (it's called "equis"). Put that together with linuxemu and you can run Mozilla, Firefox, Opera etc, right in Plan 9.

I got some help getting it up and running from cinap, and after getting font files I was missing, I've got Mozilla up in Plan 9. I told him I was reasonably impressed with the speed, though he informed me that each Linux system call ends up being 4 on plan 9. I'm not sure what can really be done about that at the moment, but this instantly gives plan 9 users a capability they didn't have before - reasonable web browser access.

Now I wonder if when Google's Chrome OS comes out if we'll be able to use that and not need X at all....

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