Some relief
  playing with plan9 and 8½


In the recent days halfheartedly I messed around with an oracle database, why asking myself, why the heck did they have to make it that complicated?!? Well, that’s oracle. They had the better marketing guys than Informix but this evening I’m playing a bit with plan 9.

This will be a very slow process. So I’m trying to get this operating system installed and a hands on experience to describe it here. The user interface is named and here you see already that it is not the luxury edition of a graphical user interface.

Here we see the very beginning of my plan9 installation. This will go two steps forward and one step back. I will not sit down and install this OS by all means in one go. I’ll go in tiny steps. The first steps are easy.

I run this in another VM on VirtualBox. I don’t like it, but still I’m not so familiar with Qemu. This will come in a separate go. plan9 is a legacy operating system which was introduced in the mid 1990s and at this time there wasn’t much memory and disk available. Hence plan9 is very frugal! I was very generous and configured a 320MB ram for this VM and huge 4GB disk. I’m not sure, if in 1992, when plan9 was initially released, computers of that size were already available.

I configured a bridged network and chose the network card to be named eno1. Well, this is not exactly the right name. It should be named eth0 but VirtualBox only leaves me the choice between eno1 and wlp3s0. What shall I do? I’ll try. Then I insert the plan9.iso file into the virtual CDrom and that’s already it. I give it a go and start the VM.

First I need to choose whether 1. I want to install plan9 or 2. I want to run it from the CD. I choose 1.
Then I need to choose
–  use DMA for ide drives[yes]:  hit enter
– mouseport is (ps2, ps2intellimouse,0,1,2)[ps2]: – hit enter
– vgasize [640x480x8]: -hit enter
– monitor is [xga]: vesa

And that’s it already. Next plan9 will show us the user-interface shown above and prompt us for more configuration.

Task to do  [configfs]: hit enter

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You can install the following types of file systems:

    fossil          the plan9 fileserver
    fossil+venti    fossil + a archival dump server

file system (fossil, fossil+venti) [fossil]: hit enter

So we got the disk, we chose the file system and now we need to partition the disk.

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Preparing menu...
The following tasks are done:
    configfs    - choose the type of file system to install

The following unfinished tasks are ready to be done:
    partdisk    - edit partition tables (e.g., create a plan 9 partition)

Task to do [partdisk]: hit enter

Looking at my VirtualBox storage device configuration, I have a disk and CDrom. plan 9 will find the two and of course I’ll partition the disk.

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The following disk devices were found

sdC0 - VBOX HARDDISK

sdD0 - VBOX CD-ROM 1.0

Disk to partition (sdC0, sdD0) [no default]: sdC0
The disk you selected HAS NO master boot record on its first sector
(Perhaps it is a completely blank disk.)
You need a master boot record to use the disk.
Should we install a default master boot record?

Install mbr (y, n) [no default]: y

Well, it has been a while when I’ve last seen fdisk.

This is disk/fdisk;  use it to create a Plan 9 partition.
If there is enough room, a Plan 9 partition will be
suggested; you can probably just type 'w' and then 'q'.

cylinder = 8225280 bytes
'*p1                     0 522  (522 cylinders, 3.99 GB) PLAN9
>>> w
>>> q

Oops?! That’s it already?
No, not really. The next task is already around the corner.

Preparing menu...
The following tasks are done

    configfs - choose the type of file system to install
    partdisk - edit partition tables (e.g., create a plan 9 partition)

The following unfinished tasks are ready to be done:

    prepdisk - subdivide plan 9 disk partition

Task to do [prepdisk]: hit enter

What comes now is a sort of slicing the disk. We know this from real UNIX systems.

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The following Plan 9 disk partitions were found:

/dev/sdC0/plan9
empty                   0 8385867 (8385867 sectors, 3.99 GB)

Plan 0 partition to subdivide (/dev/sdC0/plan9) [/dev/sdC0/plan9]: hit enter

Here I just hit enter and next the installer comes with a proposal how to slice that partition.

This is disk/prep; use it to subdivide the Plan 9 partition.
If it is not yet subdivided, a sensible layout will be suggested;
you can probably just type 'w' and then 'q'.

No plan9 partition table found.
9fat 204800
nvram 1
fossil 7132490
swap 1048576
'9fat                   0 204800    (204800 sectors, 100.00 MB)
'nvram             204800 204801    (1 sectors, 512 B)
'fossil            204801 7337291   (7132490 sectors, 3.40 GB)
'swap             7337291 8385867   (1048576 sectors, 512.00 MB)
>>> w
>>> q

Now, we need to initialize the disk.

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Preparing menu...
The following tasks are done

   configfs   - choose the type of file system to install
   partdisk   - edit partition tables (e.g., create a plan 9 partition)
   prepdisk   - subdivide plan 9 disk partition

The following unfinished tasks are ready to be done:
   fmtfossil  - initialize disks for a fossil server

Task to do [fmtfossil]: hit enter
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You have the following fossil partitions:

Fossil partition to format (/dev/sdC0/fossil)[/dev/sdC0/fossil]: hit ente

Just hit enter and it works a little, only to return with the next task.

--------------------------------------
Preparing menu...
The following tasks are done

  configfs   - choose the type of file system to install
  partdisk   - edit partition tables (e.g., create a plan 9 partition)
  prepdisk   - subdivide plan 9 disk partition
  fmtfossil  - initialize disks for a fossil server

The following unfinished tasks are ready to be done:
  mountfs    - choose and mount file system partition

Task to do [mountfs]: hit enter

There is no big surprise. Since there is only one fossil-file-system, the installer will come up with this.

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The following partitions named fossil* were found

Please choose one to use as the installation file system
for your Plan 9 installation.

--rw-r----- S 0 glenda glenda 3651824880 May 20 2014 /dev/sdC0/fossil

Fossil partition (/dev/sdC0/fossil)[/dev/sdC0/fossil]: hit ente

And now we are finally going to install something.

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Preparing menu...
The following tasks are done

    configfs   - choose the type of file system to install
    partdisk   - edit partition tables (e.g., create a plan 9 partition)
    prepdisk   - subdivide plan 9 disk partition
    fmtfossil  - initialize disks for a fossil server
    mountfs    - choose and mount file system partition

The following unfinished tasks are ready to be done:
    configdist - choose the source of the distribution archive
    download   - download or continue to download the distribution archives

Task to do [configdist]: hit enter
--------------------------------------
Are you going to download the distribution
from the internet or do you have it on local media?

Distribution from (local, net) [local]: hit enter

Well, all this is a little tiring.

--------------------------------------
Preparing menu...
The following tasks are done

    configfs   - choose the type of file system to install
    partdisk   - edit partition tables (e.g., create a plan 9 partition)
    prepdisk   - subdivide plan 9 disk partition
    fmtfossil  - initialize disks for a fossil server
    mountfs    - choose and mount file system partition
    configdist - choose the source of the distribution archive

The following unfinished tasks are ready to be done:
    mountdist - locate and mount the distribution
    download - download or continue to download the distribution archives

Task to do [mountdist]: hit enter

I shortened the next output and only show the crucial output:

The following storage media were detected.
Choose the one containing the distribution.

/dev/sdC0/fossil   (plan9 fossil)
/dev/sdD0/9fat     (microsoft fat)
/dev/sdD0/data     (iso9660 cdrom)

Distribution disk [no default]: /dev/sdD0/data
/bin/9660srv  2719: serving /srv/9660

Which directory contains the distribution?
    - The root directory of the cd image
    - The directory containing plan9.iso
    - The directory containing plan9.iso.bz
Typing 'browse' will put you in a shell that you can use to
look for the directory.

Location of archives [browse]: hit enter

Let’s see what we get there.
Yaya, ls is probably the wrong command. Whoever learned to read has a clear advantage.

Okay, that’s it. This is what I have been looking for. I type exit and then copydist.
I’m happy, I see a progress-bar.

Next is the boot-setup and I just hit enter and it starts working. But then I’m asked for the boot method and the choices are floppy, plan9, win9x and winnt. Well, this is not a big riddle. I don’t have a floppy nor do I have a windows on this disk. There is only a plain plan9. The system doesn’t give me a default, so I pick plan9. Let’s see what happens.

Install the Plan 9 master boot record (y, n) [no default]: y

Task to do [finish]: hit enter

Next I remove the plan9.iso file from the VirtualBox virtual CD-rom drive and power off the virtual machine.

When booting the newly installed plan9, first asks from which device to boot and presents [local!#S/sdC0/fossil] als default. Just press [RETURN] to accept this default.

Next plan9 will ask you for a user. Use “glenda” to log in.

And here is the result:

In my next attempt, I’ll use at least 1024x768x16 when the installer prompts me with vgasize (see above), but for the format of this blog, 640×480 is just right.

My next relieve will be with inferno:

As you see, it’s already done, only the blog still needs to be written.