Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 30th Sep 2007 13:48 UTC, submitted by Rahul
Fedora Core "The world is changing and online applications are becoming more and more popular, whether for e-mail or word processing. The developers behind Bigboard and Gnome's 'online desktop' initiative think it's time our desktops started catching up. Read on to find an interview with Colin Walters, more information about Bigboard, the online desktop and the obligatory screencast showing it off!"
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RE: Oh, how much we need Plan9
by korpenkraxar on Sun 30th Sep 2007 18:27 UTC in reply to "Oh, how much we need Plan9"
Member since:

So: why are we wasting our time modifying apps to support online services instead of doing "the right thing" and provide an abstraction that takes care of all that without needing to rewrite the apps?

Because online services are not only about remote storage?

Reply Parent Score: 3

diegocg Member since:

Because online services are not only about remote storage?

The idea behing Plan 9 is to represent pretty much everything under a filesystem-structure, including things that are not "remote storage", but that could very well represented as storage. Because in Plan9, a filesystem is not just a "storage device", that's a idea inherited from unixes and windows, in plan9 a filesystem can also be, and many times it is, a userspace daemon that exposes a filesystem.

For example, the plan9 window system is implemented as a userspace server that exposes a filesystem - apps just write to a file in order to get their window draw. Aand because the VFS is fully network-transparent, the Plan 9 window system is also fully network-transparent without having a single line of network related code. That is certainly not "remote storage".

In plan9 the filesystems are sort of "common i/o subsystem", all the apps do their I/O through filesystems that are added to the per-process namespaces, be it I/O done to a storage device or to a online service. The online services can be "hidden" under a file where the app writes to, and the "online service" receives the data. So, under plan9 the apps do not need to be designed to be "online", the same code is used to to read local and remote files, the apps just read & write files using open()/write(), it's the filesystem and the VFS and the daemons who take care of providing the data channel.

So IMO, doing the "right thing" in the online gnome desktop should mean to implement those userspace daemons to provide filesystem structures (it'd be easier if the online services would hid their funcionality under a 9P filesystem, but that's not going to happen), the apps only need to be modified to offer a UI whose actions start those daemons. It'd make the "online desktop" easily available for KDE and any other desktops aswell.

Edited 2007-09-30 19:01

Reply Parent Score: 9

korpenkraxar Member since:

Ahh, nice. Thanks for the info and sorry for the lack of vision and insight into this. Got me thinking about more familiar but similar concepts like fifos for inter-process communication and KDE's kioslaves that present many different aspects of the system in a file-way, both of which I certainly like.

Reply Parent Score: 2

hobgoblin Member since:

if there is one thing (now that FUSE is going full steam on linux) i would love see linux adopt from plan9, its the window manager.

being able to kill a troublesome program by doing a (forced) delete in the file system is highly appealing.

hell, it would make accelerated 3d graphics much less of a mess i think.

yes plan9 was/is one insane concept. to bad it got torpedoed by being under a restrictive license all those years (iirc).

and we will probably not see anything like what your talking about until unix like systems become much more norm on the desktop. as long as we have the windows mindshare of different partitions/drives being different letters under "(my) computer" this is just a geeks wet dream.

hmm, it may even work for small devices like phones and similar. as long as they can show a file system, and can handle CCP (cut, copy, paste) it can interact with these systems. no need for big web interfaces or similar. want to search for some images, mount with a search term into your phone and the photos found will be displayed as files.

facebook: profile is a folder, with photo and similar subfolders, and a optional index.html or similar at the root of the tree.

damn, i feel like setting this kind of stuff up...

Reply Parent Score: 3