} Aah! A question worthy of my time. Plan 9, as far as operating systems
} go, has a very interesting story. The homeboys down at Bell Labs
} decided that Unix as it is today is inherently boring, so a major
} rewrite was needed.
} They started with the most advanced Unix kernel they could get their
} hands on. Of course, they couldn't use any BSD code, so they binary
} patched their copy of Unix 3.51m, the 3B1 operating system. This
} guaranteed a solid base to work from.
} Many concepts were re-appraised. Things like virtual memory was
} completely rewritten. In Plan 9, it is no longer done in hardware _nor_
} in software. Nowadays, virtual memory is handled solely in the user's
} mind. It seems that if _your_ memory forgets about the job, the machine
} can safely forget about it also. This frees up valuable resources. For
} those users who stubbornly refused to give up paging, a combined C/A/T
} phototypesetter and OCR system was devised. Swapping was left for
} swap-meets and flea markets.
} New device drivers were written. There is now support for 8-track tape.
} This is a major improvement over the conventional 9-track tapes.
} Problems such as detecting end of tape were eliminated. Filesystems
} could now be created on tape, since seek time could be cut down. Tape
} filesystems now allowed for the deletion of hard disk support. Kernel
} size dropped from 2 megs down to 20K. There is, however, optional
} support for Macintosh 800K floppy disks if you feel so inclined to use
} them. Mice are considered passe, so Plan 9 now has an interface for
} gerbils and hamsters. The next release will also support subway rat,
} for those "power users" out there.
} Necessary facilities such as netnews, mail, and GIF decoding were moved
} into kernel space (where it belonged in the first place). Process
} communication was delegated to the email system. To avoid problems with
} the Moral Majority, most system daemons have either been exorcised or
} renamed as saints and angels. The name daemon, for example, is now
} called St_Peter.
} The online manual is now printed in greek, to conform with most users'
} comments that it looked like greek in the first place. To avoid further
} confusion over the differing manual sections, there are now just 2
} categories - 'us' (for routines that can only be used by Bell Labs
} personnel) and 'them' (for everything else).
} There are many other changes, but most require you to hold a source code
} licence to know about it. Now, the Oracle would never want to get his
} loyal followers into hot water with Ma Bell, would he? Of course not.
} If you are still interested in Plan 9 (from New Jersey), you can call
} 1-800-HI-D00DZ for more information and fees. You owe the
} Oracle a Plan 9 port for the VIC-20.