Some relief
  playing with the inferno
  operating system

Well, that’s sad: No better picture is available today. This picture is the original that has been printed on the inferno distribution box. It came in a box with two books and a CD. Today, you just download it. But what then?!

After plan 9 came out, many computer scientists raised their eyebrows. That thing. It marked a big leap in operating system evolution, but compared to other operating system developments, plan 9 was nothing short of revolutionary! It almost completely disappeared. What happened. It was reported, that to the Bell Labs plan 9 was anything but a commercial success and so they ordered their scientists to produce something that was better to be marketed. A little before that I read an article either in an IEEE publication or in one of the ACM about a new operating system implemented for Norad. The article briefly described this new OS for the Norad and it read, as if they described plan 9. Was this the reason why they took it from the market? To me this appeared to be a plausible reason.

But the Bell Labs came up with something new, something equally unsuccessful: inferno
For a while the Bell Labs tried to market inferno on its own and then they handed both, plan 9 and inferno over to Vita Nuova. Both systems are very different, but they are very interesting to look into.

So I got me the sources for inferno from Vita Nuova. You can simply download them. There is no restriction. If you want the books, you need to order them.

Note: The download link may be outdated, so it is probably better to go to Vita Nuova’s web site.

For the next steps, I assume that you will be working with a UNIX or Linux system.

Next I unpacked the zipped tar file to /usr/local This location in the file system is important. inferno will not compile, if you copy the source tree to a different location.

tar xvzf inferno-20150328.tgz -C /usr/local

This will unpack the file to /usr/local/inferno

The rest is actually very simple. Well, it would be very simple, if Linux distributors wouldn’t have developed such a strong dislike for the X11 graphical subsystem.  Hence you first need to install the X11 development libraries.

Then you better read the file titled INSTALL.

And from there it goes pretty easy and straight forward:

You may want to have a look at the file mkconfig, but if you are running a Linux host you won’t need to edit it. Then you run mk nuke and then mk install. Next you need to set the PATH environment variable.

export PATH=$PATH:/usr/local/inferno/Linux/386/bin

Once this is done, you run

yael@alora:/usr/local/inferno# emu/Linux/o.emu -g1024x768
; wm/wm

And it will come up with a display-screen with 1024×726 pixel.

The funny thing about it is that you can also install it on Windows, Mac, practically all UNIX and Linux systems and on plan9 and inferno can be installed on the bare hardware. So, it can be used as an operating system for embedded systems.