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Plan 9 fun

Just when I was worried I would never be able to have fun with computers again, along comes Plan 9 (well, technically 9Front, but it’s much of a muchness). What’s Plan 9? Do you care? It’s an operating system and you probably don’t, but you should.

As you can probably tell by this website’s recent theme update I was rather taken with Plan 9. It’s a quaint little operating system with a whole bunch of interesting ideas (distributed computing, amazing interoperation between the UI and the system, and the most fun you’ll ever have with window management). Upon installing it on my old X200s I was instantly warmed by its lovely colour scheme, odd and strangely intuitive manner of working, and the 9Front developers’… unique sense of humour. The whole thing just feels like a return to adventure with computers that I’ve not experienced for a while.

Unfortunately, with only one ethernet port in my house and an unsupported WiFi card (the one time Intel trumps Atheros!) my experience with the system was shortlived. I had wanted to get myself more acquainted with the plumber, acme, and various other neat tools on the system but without functioning networking I was finding myself a bit too limited. I’ll probably try to pick up another cheap ThinkPad with supported hardware at some point so I can have a machine dedicated to learning it. It’s got some really cool things going for it.

The idea of running different computers with different dedicated tasks (storage, computation, interaction) is something that I really wish could have taken off. If we think about how “cloud” computing works these days, Plan 9 was well ahead of its time. The difference is that you would be in control of a Plan 9 system, whereas cloud computing exists only to bleed you of data and coin. It’s a shame.

I’m particularly taken by the system’s default (and easily customized) colour scheme. The pastel colours are designed to be calming and easy to look at for long periods of time. I wonder what would have happened to the world if a system like this had taken off instead of the black on white shit that we got from Microsoft (and that we are still recovering from, with dark theming only just becoming a viable option in recent years). As somebody who struggles with eye strain, I find rio a lovely interface.

Anyway. On to Haiku next I suppose.