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January 20, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:36pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Vita Nuova Limited, a UK-based privately-held software house which has a license for Lucent Technologies Inc’s Inferno, says its strategy for the promotion of the network operating system is to, eat the network from the inside out. Accepting that Microsoft Corp has the desktop market reasonably sewn up, the nine-month old company says it is initially targeting network hardware manufacturers – makers of hubs and routers like Cisco Systems Inc, 3Com Corp, and US Robotics Inc. If that works it will then go after network computer manufacturers. Vita Nuova, which means ‘new life’, has already moved the operating system over to Pentium-based personal computers, including IBM’s ThinkPad laptop, and multi-processor BeBoxes from Be Inc. But the company says that if it can get Inferno widely adopted as the de- facto standard for network equipment, it will be well on the way to more widespread adoption of the technology. Inferno was developed by members of the Computing Sciences Research Center of Bell Labs, the research arm of Lucent, by much the same team that originally wrote Unix. The operating system, which bears a closer relationship to the post-Unix operating system Plan 9 than to Unix itself, is said to have the advantage of simplicity: in Inferno all resources are represented as files in a hierarchical file system. The application view of the network is a single, coherent name space that appears as the hierarchical file system, but may represent physically separated resources. According to Vita Nuova, the operating system has a small footprint, less than 1Mb, and can be run on a device with no hard disk, as it can boot itself from the network – which makes it ideal for hubs and routers. In addition, the company says that security is built into Inferno and not the application, as with Java. By restricting the name space visible to an application network, integrity is ensured. The combination of these features also makes Inferno ideal for a network computer, says the company, which argues that developers would find it much easier to use Inferno’s development environment, Limbo, than Java – as it will save them from writing additional security features. Nevertheless, Vita Nuova is well aware of the marketing power of the likes of Sun Microsystems Inc, Oracle Corp and Microsoft Corp, so it sees attacking what it calls the heart of the network – the network peripherals – as the best strategy.

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