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Unix Operating Systems Software

Inferno 4 Available for Download 287

Posted by michael
from the snowball's-chance dept.
Tarantolato writes "A new preliminary public release of the Inferno distributed operating system is now available for downloading from Vita Nuova's website. Inferno is meant to be a better Plan 9, which was meant to be a better Unix. It can run as a standalone OS, as an application on top of an existing one, or even as a browser plugin. Also, all of its major components are named after things related to hell."
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Inferno 4 Available for Download

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  • inferno? (Score:5, Funny)

    by wvitXpert (769356) on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:05AM (#9171082)
    never heard of it... is it hell to use?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:05AM (#9171083)
    Oh great, a Christian operating system. Lovely.
  • Inferno? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:09AM (#9171100)
    Is the company in cahoots with the BSD daemon?
    • Re:Inferno? (Score:5, Informative)

      by frenetic3 (166950) * <houston@nOSPAM.alum.mit.edu> on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:36AM (#9171204) Homepage Journal
      If you look at some of the docs [vitanuova.com], there seem to be a bunch of Bell Labs folks contributing (perhaps even principal developers)... including a doc by Brian Kernighan [vitanuova.com] and lo and behold, Dennis Ritchie [vitanuova.com], the authors of one of the canonical C books ("The C Programming Language" [bell-labs.com] -- more affectionately known as "K&R".)

      Could be interesting stuff, especially the Limbo "C-like, concurrent" programming language (though the syntax seems like an ugly version of Python with some bizarre odds and ends tacked on like a <- operator for "channels").

      -fren

      • Re:Inferno? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:10AM (#9171304)
        Those circles and arrows aren't tacked on. They wrote the entire thing using lightweight pipes AKA 'rendezvous'. It's some clever combination of kernel and user-level threading. Inferno was *almost* famous. It had the grave misfortune of being released 1 year after java 1.0. The final nail in the coffin came from Oracle's Ellison, who pussyfooted around with the idea of using it in the Network PC (remember that?) before putting the kibosh on the whole deal.

        -- Anon Coward

        • Re:Inferno? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Quixote (154172) on Monday May 17, 2004 @08:09AM (#9172438) Homepage Journal
          Inferno was *almost* famous. It had the grave misfortune of being released 1 year after java 1.0.

          No, I think mistake that Bell Labs made was to charge everybody (including Joe User, the hobbyist) for the OS. Nobody could download it for free and try it out. You had to pay for it.
          If I'm a hobbyist and just want to try something out, I don't feel like shelling out $100 for something that seems quite esoteric.
          Basically, BL's desire to milk it completely destroyed Plan9's chances. Couple that with Linux's surge, and Plan9 was doomed.
          Later, much later, they released it for free, but by then it was too little, too late.

      • Re:Inferno? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by zhenlin (722930) on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:29AM (#9171354)
        This is mostly because it is based on Plan 9, which was developed at Bell Labs, where UNIX was developed.

        Trust me, it is all very interesting stuff. Just don't let it slip that you use the heathen UNIX, especially on #plan9 on FreeNode.
      • Re:Inferno? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        K&R, also the authers of the C language, but I suppose the book was more of an achievement?
      • Re:Inferno? (Score:5, Informative)

        by slamb (119285) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:38AM (#9171518) Homepage
        Could be interesting stuff, especially the Limbo "C-like, concurrent" programming language (though the syntax seems like an ugly version of Python with some bizarre odds and ends tacked on like a <- operator for "channels").

        I don't see the resemblance to Python. Limbo has:

        • explicit static typing to Python's dynamic typing. (I don't like either; I prefer ML-style type inference.)
        • declarations and definitions in separate files. This is an aid to the compiler, not the person; the compiler should be able to separate them as with Java, Python, C#, Ruby, Perl, and every other modern language. When editing, it's much more friendly to change these in one place. If you want to see the declarations only, you still can - through Javadoc-style tools or through a folding text editor.
        • graphics through Tk. Meaning embedded strings in a completely different, interpreted programming language. With escaping hassles, because stuff like button names is right in the middle of the embedded control string.
        • curly braces to denote scope, rather than Python's whitespace. Like many languages, but I like the Python way better.
        • no functional programming features (lambda functions, tail recursion, etc). Or if it has them, they're not mentioned in this paper.
        • no support for keyword arguments, that I can see. (Like Python, PL/SQL, Ada, VHDL, etc. have. They make function calls much easier to interpret without flipping back and forth to a API manual.)
        • the channel feature you mentioned. It seems like a suckier version of Erlang's message-passing.

        I don't see any redeeming qualities.

        • Re:Inferno? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by warrax_666 (144623) on Monday May 17, 2004 @04:07AM (#9171587)
          declarations and definitions in separate files. This is an aid to the compiler, not the person;

          Wrong. Compilers do not need separate interface definitions. They might just as well use the source files and find all the definitions there.

          There is actually a very good (programmer-centric) reason for doing having separate interface/implementation: If you want to remain completely (binary or source) interface-compatible you just lock down the interface file. If the language is strongly typed and pedantic about matching type/function/value definitions exactly it will complain if you accidentally change the declaration of a function (this is particularly easy to do accidentally in type-inferenced languages like ML). Thus, you can ensure interface compatibility in this very simple way.

          (Of course, in C/C++ this is not nearly that useful because compilers usually don't actually check any of this. But it works very well).
          • Re:Inferno? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by slamb (119285) *
            Wrong. Compilers do not need separate interface definitions. They might just as well use the source files and find all the definitions there.

            Compilers do not need them if properly designed, as with the many modern languages I cited.

            But C and C++ require this. Ever notice how in C and C++, you can't refer to an undeclared type, even if it is declared later in the file? You have to provide at least a forward definition. ("class Bob;") Likewise functions, data members, etc. This is most annoying in C++, wi

            • Re:Inferno? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by warrax_666 (144623) on Monday May 17, 2004 @07:42AM (#9172299)
              Compilers do not need them if properly designed, as with the many

              modern languages I cited.

              But C and C++ require this. Ever notice how in C and C++, you can't refer to an undeclared type, even if it is declared later in the file? You have to provide at least a forward definition. ("class Bob;") Likewise functions, data members, etc. This is most annoying in C++, with inline functions. You have to pay attention to ordering. In other languages, you do not.


              This is unrelated to whether or not you require a separate interface file. The reason that the forward declaration exists is that you cannot declare circular types (such as linked list elements) without them. In all other cases, you can just sort the declarations topologically and write them out in that order.

              Besides, what you're saying is true even of "properly designed languages" like ML. Just try:
              type list_of_a =
              Cons a list_of_a
              | Nil;

              type a =
              int;
              It doesn't compile, but it DOES work if you use:
              type list_of_a =
              Cons a list_of_a
              | Nil
              and type a =
              int;
              (note the and)

              So you're basically talking about a syntactical problem in C/C++ which forces you to declare (textuall) things in a topological order.


              Okay...that's great for those 1% of people who want the interface file to remain absolutely static. And I mean absolutely static. No new methods. No changes to the comments. No nothing. (In fact, I doubt there are even 1% of people who want this, once they give it some thought.)

              For the remaining 99% of us, this is unwanted Bondage and Discipline.


              Making up a statistic is never a good way to argue a point.

              Besides, nobody said anything about forcing you to use separate interface/implementation. I just said to it could be a good thing to use it and have it be supported by the compiler.

              In my preferred language, OCaml, you have the option of having a separately declared interface (a .mli file) or not having one. If you have one, the compiler will rigorously check that your code complies with the declared interface. If you don't have one, it will just generate the interface your code implements.

              By the way, since you brought them up, declaring a proper interface is much more important in type-inferencing languages, since even tiny
              changes to code can cause completely different types to be inferred. For example, in OCaml:
              let f x =
              x + 5;

              let g x =
              x +. 5;
              f and g have different signatures even though the difference is tiny. If you're interfacing to binary libraries it helps immensely to know that the library would not have compiled if such a type-altering change has occurred in the "hidden" code.


              Maybe the people who want the interface to remain static can do so in a more intelligent way. Like comparing javap output on check-in and
              ensuring the old methods are there, with the same signatures as before.


              You call that intelligent? Instead of just having the compiler do it? It already knows all about type aliases, what types are compatible,
              etc. etc. (i.e. all the stuff that makes checking such things using a postprocessor extremely error-prone).
      • Re:Inferno? (Score:5, Informative)

        by anothy (83176) on Monday May 17, 2004 @04:31AM (#9171650) Homepage
        Inferno was developed by the same lab - and many of the same individuals - who developed Plan 9 and, earlier, Unix. that lab did all the early development, and while the primary development is now done by Vita Nuova, there remains collaboration between them (and it helps that Plan 9 and Inferno are very similar under the hood).

        Of particular note is that Dennis Ritchie has written exactly two language reference manuals in his life: C and Limbo. that says a lot to me, anyway.

        name dropping aside, Limbo really is a huge win for user-mode programming. the channel stuff isn't bizarre at all - it's a very elegant way to handle inter-process communication. Python's got nothing on Limbo for this.
      • Re:Inferno? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @04:46AM (#9171682)
        When I was at Bell Labs, I wrote some fairly
        substantial software under Inferno. It has
        some nice features, and is by far the
        cleanest environment for multithreading
        that I've ever seen.

        At the time (c. 2000), it had a few misfeatures,
        such as no way to signal that you've closed
        a channel between two threads, but hopefully
        that's been fixed. Limbo is a nice, clean
        language. It isn't object oriented: think of
        it as the ideal C, rather than python, java or
        C++. However, interestingly enough,
        you can do large-scale OO things reasonably
        nicely in two ways:

        First, for objects that are more like lightweight
        daemons, you can have a thread that simulates
        a file (or file system, even). The rest of
        the program can then read and write to that
        special file to interact.
        One can be OO by implementing a whole directory,
        where each file corresponds to a OO message
        (member function).

        Second, for even ligher weight stuff,
        you can easily (trivially easily, compared
        to most languages) spawn a thread that
        talks via the rendevous mechanism,
        and treat that as a little light-weight
        server to which you can pass
        arbitrary data structures.

        There's no support for fine-grained OO,
        which was, I think, a reaction to some
        of the OO-idiots out there that
        insist on making objects out of things
        that aren't naturally separable.

        The failing is that there are not
        extensive libraries, and there is certainly
        not much in the line of applications that
        one can download.

        It is very elegant in many respects.
        If you need to write multi-threaded things,
        and can live without much in the way of
        libraries or applications, you should think
        about it.
        • Re:Inferno? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rpeppe (198035)
          At the time (c. 2000), it had a few misfeatures, such as no way to signal that you've closed a channel between two threads

          Actually, that's not a misfeature, but a fundamental (and desirable, I think) part of the way that channels work. The point is that, unlike pipes, channels have just a single endpoint. Any process can use that endpoint for reading or writing as it likes - the runtime system will sort out the rendezvous.

          So there's no real concept of a channel being "between" two threads. It just exist

  • informative (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:15AM (#9171118)
    thanks for the link about hell. I know all about inferno 4 and plan 9, but I've never heard of that one before :)
  • License (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vinit79 (740464) on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:15AM (#9171119)
    The VITA NUOVA LIBERAL SOURCE LICENCE [vitanuova.com] seems to be pretty good (free as in speech).

    Any ideas why they didint use GPL/BSD or any other standard license. Or is there some subtle(or obvious) licensing issue
    • Re:License (Score:5, Interesting)

      by runderwo (609077) <runderwo@ma i l . w i n . org> on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:06AM (#9171289)
      It's not liberal. It claims to cover any use of the software, which puts it in the class of licenses known as 'EULA', as opposed to simply being a permissive copyright license.

  • by cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:16AM (#9171127)
    I would be one to say that Jesux [geocities.com] shall smite this thing you call hell, but there hasn't been much activity on the website in a while. I wonder if they'll ship creationism as their mailer/Outlook replacement, for they surely cannot ship evolution [geocities.com] .

    INSERT WITTY BSD DAEMON JOKE HERE
  • by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@gmail . c om> on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:16AM (#9171128) Homepage Journal
    had to key in "666" for the administrator password. Got a visit from the Asmodeus Daemon after I logged on. ;)
  • yay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:17AM (#9171131) Homepage
    An operating system that can run as a browser plugin! Just what I have been waiting for! Now after I've been towing my mobile home on my bicycle, or flossing my teeth with boat anchor chain, I can come back to my computer for some equally well-matched technology.
    • Re:yay! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by anothy (83176) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:40AM (#9171824) Homepage
      okay, it sounds insane on its own, yeah. but the point isn't "ooh, look what i can do", it's the idea of being able to run the same app anywhere. i like (as does my company) the idea of only writing code once, and being able to install it on our (mixed-OS) desktops and also letting external parties use it without having to install as much (installing a browser plug-in is fairly unobtrusive compared to installing a stand-alone app). OS-in-a-browser isn't exciting on its own, but becomes really interesting with everything else already in place.
  • New p2p (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hsidhu (184286) on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:22AM (#9171152) Homepage
    How about building a new p2p file sharing app on top of this thing? A truly cross platform app since it would run on top of the following architectures:

    Host Operating Systems

    Windows NT/2000/XP
    Linux
    FreeBSD
    Solaris
    Plan 9

    Supported Architectures

    Intel x86 (386 & higher)
    Intel XScale
    IBM PowerPC
    ARM StrongARM (ARM & Thumb)
    Sun SPARC

    and it supports crypto and since its native code its faster than java.

    • Re:New p2p (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Temporal (96070) on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:56AM (#9171419) Journal
      Java compiles to native code. Just because the translation is done at program startup doesn't mean it is slower. In fact, because of this, it can perform optimizations that couldn't be used in a C compiler (optimizing for specific CPU's, etc.).

      The problem with Java is that its GUI toolkit is slow.

      In any case, with a file sharing app, CPU efficiency is certainly not an issue. You should never worry abot CPU efficiency if you don't need to, as you will only be making things harder on yourself.

      And, finally, writing portable C/C++ code is really not that hard if you know what you are doing. Certainly you'd be better off with that than you would be asking all of your users to install an extra OS over their current one just to run your program. Really, the most important factor in making file sharing successful is to get lots and lots of users, and most of those users are going to be people who have absolutely no idea what an operating system even is.
      • Re:New p2p (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Darren Bane (21195)

        I must admit to a bias, as I quite like Inferno. But here are a few rebuttals to your points anyway.

        Java may compile to native code, but it's not done at program startup. The Inferno VM has a Harvard architecture which prohibits the byte-code manipulation that's allowed at Java run-time. This allows a one-off translation to native code at module load time. In contrast, the Java VM must JIT hotspots as you hit them (which does make it slower).

        I agree that CPU efficiency shouldn't be a factor. How

  • Why the last link? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Naked_Ninja (774645)
    I hate to bitch, but why put that last link in the article description? I assume its purpose is to add some humor, but seriously, horrid web design isn't that funny. A little more discretion should have been used here when posting links to the frontpage of slashdot. Think before unleashing slashdot's hordes on unsuspecting people and wasting their bandwidth. Even nutballs like this guy deserve this courtesy.
  • by MrP- (45616) <rob@eli t e m r p .net> on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:23AM (#9171155) Homepage
    i was just about to go to sleep, then i saw this article and that "hell" link at the end, i followed.. i then read the part about those guys mining and drilling into a cavity in earth, then lowering a mic down into the hole and then recording sounds of PEOPLE IN HELL SCREAMING IN AGONY.. along with a RealAudio link of the screams: http://www.av1611.org/sound/misc/dighell.ram [av1611.org]

    How dare you link to a site that uses RealAudio! How will I go to sleep now, I'll have "buffering..." nightmares!
    • Geez, if it is so easy to dig into hell why don't we launch a rescue mission? Gives the US Army somthing to do! Mind you, it might give all thos ex-Red Army soldiers something to do, since this is in Siberia.
      • I read the snopes link and am not even religous, so take this with a grain of salt, but...

        Imagine for a moment that we could drill a hole to Hell and rescue all these tormented souls. Millions upon millions - 40 billion, I think was the number cited - many of whom have been writhing in agony for thousands of years, and you just open the door for them? A couple of billion pissed off spirts running loose is not my idea of fun. If there was some way to offer them repentance before exit then sure, it's worth
  • by warkda rrior (23694) on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:23AM (#9171157) Homepage
    Slashdot says:
    [...] all of its major components are named after things related to hell.
    I see on the Inferno website the following components:
    The Inferno operating system [...] includes the Dis virtual machine, integral support for the Styx network protocol, and an implementation of the Tk user interface toolkit.

    I am not sure which part of hell the Tk UI toolkit represents, but I feel their pain.
  • by harikiri (211017) on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:31AM (#9171188)
    ...as in the programming language for Inferno, written by Brian Kernighan, is available here [vitanuova.com].

    I've briefly looked into trying out Inferno, but bear in mind it's not designed as a desktop system. Instead, the market it seems to be used in is the embedded market - so it'd be interesting to see how easy you can write server apps for application boxes with it.

    However, it initially appears that Limbo is the only way to program for Inferno (prove me wrong please), which would be an obvious impediment to developer take-up.

    • by shaitand (626655) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:50AM (#9171249) Journal
      From the website:

      "Features
      Compact
      Runs on devices with as little as 1MB of RAM

      Complete Development Environment
      Including Acme IDE, compilers, shell, UNIX like commands & graphical debugger

      Limbo
      An advanced modular, safe, concurrent programming language with C like syntax.

      Library Modules
      Limbo modules for networking, graphics (including GUI toolkit), security and more...

      JIT Compilation
      Improves application performance by compiling object code on the fly (Just In Time).

      Namespaces
      Powerful resource representation using a single communication protocol. Import and export resources completely transparently.

      Full Source Code
      Full source code for the whole system and applications, subject to licence terms

      And more...

      # Online manual pages
      # Full unicode support
      # Dynamic modules
      # Advanced GUI toolkit
      # Javascript 1.1 web browser
      # C cross compiler suite
      # Remote Debugging
      # Games, Demos & Utilities"

      Most relevant on the list is the C cross compiler suite. Theres at least one language other than Limbo you can code in (although it seems limbo is designed by many of the guys who wrote C and other minor items of note such as Unix).

      If there is one language any developer you'd really want on the playing field knows, it's C.
      • by goga (8143)
        The C cross compiler suite, as far as I can tell, is something they use to port their VM between platforms. When you program _for_ the VM, you have to use Limbo.
        Still, I think the compiler might be one of the most valuable parts of this distribution. It was originally written by Ken Thompson; it is fast; its code is small and readable.
        If enough people notice, that could be a worty competition to GCC.
    • by anothy (83176) on Monday May 17, 2004 @06:06AM (#9171892) Homepage
      to clear up a sibling: the C cross-compilers are used for building inferno, not for programming in inferno. you are correct that, at present, the only language you can write user-mode stuff in is Limbo (well, unless you count writing Dis assembly). anything that can be made to compile down to Dis bytecode is possible, though. there was a Java implementation some years ago (way out of date, not maintained or distributed), and a summer student at Bell Labs did an implementation for some scripting language (i forget which, but Perl or Python are sticking out at me; he was working with a bunch of web folks, so it seems likely). there's no theoretical reason why lots of languages couldn't compile down to Dis (C/C++ has issues in particular, however).

      there are options for getting existing C code into the Inferno world. at a high level, 3.
      1. keep it stand alone (on another OS) and provide a Styx interface to it. Styx is nice and simple; a project i was on did this with existing OCR software.
      2. put it in the kernel as a file server. this is how, for example, the network stack works. it's all C code, but the kernel provides a Styx interface up to applications. we've done this with something, but i can't remember what. TTS maybe.
      3. put it in the kernel and provide a module interface to it. this is how the fundamental stuff - like the Sys module, which provides the nearest analogue to libc for Limbo - works.
      all three are more work than a simple ports, but the results of the first two give you distribution for free, and all three make things easily available to all your apps and the environment.

      and yes, it has been an impediment to developer take-up, which is a real shame. Limbo is a simply beautiful language.
  • who else went straight for the hell link?

  • It amazes me how bad open source people are at marketing. Why make your project, which requires a huge amount of excellent thinking, the butt of jokes?

    Why give a name to your open source project that will cause those who have less than complete technical knowledge to feel uncomfortable about adopting what you have done?

    One question is, how bad can it get? Will there one day be a "Worthless" project? There is already a "Waste [sourceforge.net]".

    The funniest bad name for an open source project was "Killustrator". It's easy to see how the name was chosen. Everything in KDE began with a K, as much as possible, and Killustrator is an open source illustration program. It didn't seem to bother anyone that the first syllable of the name was "Kill". I can imagine the Killustrator author thinking how convenient it is that the word illustrator begins with a vowel; that makes it easy, just put a K at the beginning, and you have a name!

    The name Killustrator gave everyone a million dollars worth of laughs, and did perhaps $10 million damage to Adobe's reputation when the CEO of Adobe overreacted, saying people would confuse Killustrator with Adobe Illustrator.

    Do open source authors believe that there are only a few concepts available, not enough for everyone? Why copy the FreeBSD devil idea? [freebsd.org]

    And Why did the FreeBSD project adopt that idea? I know FreeBSD is an excellent OS, and the favorite BSD for ISPs, but there are some who will be discouraged by the amateurish baby red devil marketing scheme.
    • by shaitand (626655) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:52AM (#9171255) Journal
      You've obviously never seen the devil girl. I'm a linux man myself but a couple more runins with her when the wife isn't around and I may convert ;)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:53AM (#9171258)
      I got a better question. Why does everything have to be commercialized? Can't we have some FUN with our software without having to pay a tribute to the marketing gods? Some of us simply don't care, to put it bluntly.
    • "It amazes me how bad open source people are at marketing."

      Maybe these folks don't give shit about marketing ... they just do it because they like it. WASTE is a good name IMHO - funny reference to Pynchon's Crying of lot 49. I don't think WASTE author wanted to 'take over the market' with his prog either.

      FreeBSD's beastie ... yeah, sure, the OS logo is the first thing everyone would consider when choosing a solution (yahoo seems very much discouraged by chuck - name for beastie btw -, as does NYInternet, Pair Networks, netcraft itself or the apache project).

      Linux was criticized for the 'idiotic' looking penguin as well, remember? Yet I don't think that its market entry was very much hindered because of its logo.


      • "... funny reference to Pynchon's Crying of lot 49".

        To those who understand the reference, it may be funny. To everyone else, it is just confusing.

        FreeBSD's little devil logo is well-drawn and cute. But the logo doesn't match the subject. FreeBSD is seriously important! It's the OS of choice for those who want to run a secure web server. It's not clear to me why FreeBSD is chosen more than the other BSDs, but FreeBSD has become important to the world. The FreeBSD license allows mixing with closed s
        • a concession: I see you your point, but I don't think its that much an decision influencing factor as orig. post would suggest. Besides, your points I think are mainly valid for the entry level. FreeBSD already has an established market, which showed (according to netcraft - hello trolls btw :)) a steady growth over the years. I think, at this point, brand recognition (including logo) outweigh the potential hidrance.

          On the other hand, I think you are right about netbsd logo, but for different reasons (poli

    • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:14AM (#9171314)
      I think that the people who work on these projects are not "market oriented." They do what they do because it is fun and they probably could care less if some manager dude thinks the name of the software will offend or drive away the potential clients. Maybe it's supposed to drive away the people who lack a sense of humour. /* flaimbait start */ Let them use microsoft products /* flaimbait end */ And besides, I don't think they copied the FreeBSD's devil idea, I think they got their inspiration from Dante Alighieri [greatdante.net]
      • Both BSD and Inferno probably got their inspiration from a paper called something like "Pandaemonium, activation by a collection of daemons" (I really don't remember the name of the paper, it's WAY back! It may be in an old FJCC or SJCC proceedings...or possibly in some issue of Communications of the ACM. Check during the '70s or '80s.)

        Anyway, that was the first encounter I had with the idea of a daemon as a program that just sat around waiting for an activation command. (It may not have been new then,
    • by Homology (639438) on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:21AM (#9171329)
      And Why did the FreeBSD project adopt that idea? I know FreeBSD is an excellent OS, and the favorite BSD for ISPs, but there are some who will be discouraged by the amateurish baby red devil marketing scheme.

      FreeBSD is not alone in this, as can be seen from why Mac is bad [jesussave.us] ;-)

      But there are even darker undertones to this company than most are aware of. Consider the name of the company and its logo: an apple with a bite taken out of it. This is clearly a reference to the Fall, when Adam and Eve were tempted with an apple3 by the serpent. It is now Apple Computers offering us temptation, thereby aligning themselves with the forces of darkness.
    • One question is, how bad can it get? Will there one day be a "Worthless" project? There is already a "Waste".

      Well, I've seen better names than ProjectTraq Intranet System Services aka "PISS" [freshmeat.net] anyway.. ;)
    • Actually, you're demonstrating how little you know about true marketing by acting as if a name can be bad.

      The number one rule of marketing is that there is no such thing as bad press. Every time I see an absolutely awful commercial on TV, I'll talk about it with my friends, and we'll all agree that the commercial was terrible.

      Except it isn't - it's brilliant.

      We're all sitting around talking about a commercial we would have otherwise forgotten.

      The same principle applies here - if you get a clever or mem
  • by jcuervo (715139) <cuervo.slashdot@zerokarma.homeunix.org> on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:40AM (#9171216) Homepage Journal
    Also, all of its major components are named after things related to hell.
    Hmm...

    * many Unix-like tools: mv, cp, rm, xd, wc, grep, ps, diff, tr, man, ls ...
    Yup. All related to hell.
  • by gbulmash (688770) <semi_famous@yahoo . c om> on Monday May 17, 2004 @01:55AM (#9171264) Homepage Journal
    Considering it runs as a service, it sounds like it might be marketed as an alternative to VMWare if it had a decent ports collection... at least for those who want to have a generic GUI *nix they can access from Windows instead of dual booting.

  • by hytrex (644616) on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:05AM (#9171287)
    Friend told me that Lucent is using Inferno (version 3) on Lucent BRICK firewall (model 20, model 80 ... model 1000). It is stateful firewall and works well! he says
  • All jokes aside... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) * on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:09AM (#9171298) Journal
    Is this what I think it is?

    A multi-platform OS, it can run standalone, as a virtual machine on every major OS (including every linux distro) and give full blown access to the system? Plus it can run in a sort of transparent mode so you can port your app to it and have your app appear to be a native app?

    From the description it sounds like it's multi-threaded and designed with distributed systems (read cluster) in mind.

    Plus it already has a language designed by the fathers of C and C cross compiler (wonder how well it works, also being designed by the fathers of C).

    So in one sweep we have a solution suitable (sounds like it carries 1mb ram overhead) for most applications. Anything written for it magically runs on every major platform, it's highly scriptable and carries most of the magic of Unix packed with it wherever it's run from.

    If it's significantly faster than Java I'd say we have a solution to the multi-distro problem as far as apps go.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:36AM (#9171368)
      You're not too far off the track. It is a network
      operating system that lends itself to clustering
      applications, and Vita Nuova has a few big clients
      looking at exactly this.

      Plus the Vita Nuova people are very approachable.
      (Their office is virtually within sight of mine).

      One of the great advantages is that just about
      everything looks like a file so it is very easy
      to create namespaced collections of device-type
      files that might be resident on your machine, or
      just as easily resident on a collection of
      disparate machines. It makes prototyping GRID
      applications very much easier.

      Personally I am very keen on looking more at
      Inferno for GRID computing just as soon as I have
      more time to spend on it. It's not a solution to
      all ills, but it has definite advantages, and
      seems to be very robust and has a small footprint.
      I've seen it running happily on a fairly old
      PDA being used to seamlessly integrate a whole
      series of remote devices.

      Aaron Turner, University of York
    • Is this what I think it is?

      A multi-platform OS, it can run standalone, as a virtual machine on every major OS (including every linux distro) and give full blown access to the system? Plus it can run in a sort of transparent mode so you can port your app to it and have your app appear to be a native app?

      (snip)

      So in one sweep we have a solution suitable (sounds like it carries 1mb ram overhead) for most applications. Anything written for it magically runs on every major platform, it's highly scriptable and
  • environment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cybergrunt69 (730228)
    I haven't finished RTFA yet, but from the quick overview, this looks outstanding for one particular item: it runs as an app or as the entire OS!

    When's the last time you saw an app so well developed that it ran on almost any platform - not to mention as its own OS.

    At this point, I don't even care what it does, I think that part shows a level that many other applications need to strive for.
  • by Watts Martin (3616) <[layotl] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:25AM (#9171343) Homepage

    Just wondering -- has anyone else tried this, successfully? I downloaded the demo disk and ran the OS X install script, and when the script got to the part where it started running the "emu" binary, all sorts of fascinating and wonderful errors began, starting with malloc messages. I finally ended up having to kill the process.

  • by AgentAce (246327)
    this being developed by Lucent several years ago, around the time that they just switched names from Bell Labs. I'd read about it somewhere on their website and never heard anything about it until now. It sure seems to have taken on a completely different form.
  • Discreet's Inferno (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tinrobot (314936) on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:37AM (#9171371)
    A lot of high-end movie effects are created using a product by Discreet called Inferno. It's been around for years. I smell a trade name suit coming.

    http://www.discreet.com/inferno/
    • But Inferno is also around for a few years... I think I remeber seeing it in the Yahoo! directory as early as 1998 or so.
    • by wildjim (7801)
      I remember 'Plan 9' news around 10+ years ago.
      It was distributed-only, where the Disk-subsystem ran as seperate (networked) nodes from the CPU-subsystem(s), which were seperate from the Terminal(s), etc, etc. It seemed an awful lot like a mainframe-style system using commodity parts, but you had to invest in at least 3 nodes in this way, if not more. This could have been expensive for what was mostly a research or hobby system at the time -- at least if you were going to get anything usable, speed-wi
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2004 @02:40AM (#9171380)
    Way back in 97 as part of MS directed research stuff @ USC. Came to a screeching halt when Lucents marketing weenies decided that a source license would cost in excess of $1M. Funny bit after that was the marketing person called one of the guys on our project team and was complaining that she got chewed out by D Ritchie. He'd posted the details of the licensing deal to comp.os.inferno .
    • by anothy (83176) on Monday May 17, 2004 @05:16AM (#9171757) Homepage
      well then check it out again! :-)
      the license has changed substantially (it's free if your work is), a commercial source license is now a couple orders of magnitude cheaper, and the tech has progressed substantially since 1997 (which, if i recall properly, was before even the 1.0 release).
      MS, incidentally, found it interesting enough to offer to buy it twice in 1996 and 1997.

      oh, and having met Dennis Ritchie in a work environment, i'm thinking that if your co-worker was chewed out, he/she deserved it. the big three - Dennis, Ken, and Brian - are some of the easiest geniuses to work with i've ever met (and Bell Labs had plenty wandering around).
  • by panurge (573432) on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:09AM (#9171447)
    Paradiso.

    A few obvious questions:

    • Do all comments have to be in terza rima
    • Is there an annoying help popup called Virgil?
    • Presumably the processor needs extreme cooling?
    Oh, and isn't it a bit arrogant of the designers:
    "I was made by the first power, the first holiness and the first love"

    And if the above sounds like raving, just google for Dante Alighieri...

    • Presumably the processor needs extreme cooling?

      Well, duh. Why do you think the ninth circle is made of ice? ;-)

      And considering what the core [appstate.edu] looks like, I'm glad they've expanded the traditional four rings of protection to nine...
  • The thankfully short license agreement for Plan 9 includes the following provision:

    "I will not be using Plan 9 in the creation of weapons of mass destruction to be used by nations other than the US."

    There are so many ways that this is funny. There are enough jokes in that one line to keep a sitcom running for two years, maybe more.
  • by Harik (4023) <Harik@chaos.ao.net> on Monday May 17, 2004 @03:02PM (#9176467)
    You must make available all source code for your applications and Inferno to:
    • Anyone to whom you distribute
    • Anyone to whom you provide a service using Inferno
    Yikes! So, If I write a custom inferno-based anything and use it internally, I probably have to release _MY_ source to any/all of my clients, paying or not?

    This is realistically commercial software with a "demo" license. You can't do anything serious with it. (Compare to Perl/PHP/Apache)

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