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February 27, 1994

AT&T BELL LABS READY WITH PLAN 9 OPERATING SYSTEM

By CBR Staff Writer

AT&T Co’s Bell Laboratories is working to seal its first commercial deal for the experimental Plan 9 distributed operating system it has been working on over the last few years, today’s edition of our sister paper Unigram.X reports. Plan 9, masterminded by Unix creators such as Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson, Brian Kernighan and Rob Pike, takes Unix as its starting point, but is a fully distributed environment that allows for remote operation using low-powered hardware configurations. It has now been licensed by 150 universities. Although it does not retain full Unix compatibility and has largely avoided many of the usual industry buzzwords Distributed Computing Environment, C++, and client-server for instance – Plan 9 is now moving away from its original reliance on specialised hardware, and has added X Window and Posix compatibility. It is now up and running on Motorola Inc 68000, MIPS Computer Systems Inc R-series, Sparc, iAPX-86 and AT&T’s own Hobbit RISC. Dennis Ritchie, who is due to talk about Plan 9 at the UniForum trade show in San Francisco next month, told Unigram.X that Bell Labs is currently negotiating with an unidentified company to bring the system up on a new machine in a new area where they don’t have to worry about compatibility. Ritchie hinted that suitable applications for Plan 9 included remote portable communications systems and television set-top boxes – fuelling speculation that the mystery company might turn out to be a Hobbit user such as AT&T’s Eo Inc affiliate.

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