/sys/doc/ Documentation archive

The Dead OS Sketch

Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint. (The owner does not respond.)

Mr. Praline: ‘Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean “miss”?

Mr. Praline: I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

Owner: We’re closin' for lunch.

Mr. Praline: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this operating system what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, Plan 9…What’s,uh…What’s wrong with it?

Mr. Praline: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. It’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

Owner: No, no, it’s uh,…it’s resting.

Mr. Praline: Look, matey, I know a dead operating system when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

Owner: No no it’s not dead, it’s, it’s restin'! Remarkable OS, Plan 9, idn'it, ay? Beautiful kernel!

Mr. Praline: The kernel don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

Owner: Nononono, no, no! It’s resting!

Mr. Praline: All right then, if it’s restin', I’ll wake it up! (bashes at the keyboard) ‘Ello, Mister Plan 9! I’ve got a lovely fresh kernel update for you if you show…

(owner hits the keys)

Owner: There, it spewed some debug output to the command line!

Mr. Praline: No, it didn’t, that was you hitting the keys!

Owner: I never!!

Mr. Praline: Yes, you did!

Owner: I never, never did anything…

Mr. Praline: (yelling and typing into the console repeatedly) ‘ELLO COMMAND PROMPT!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o'clock cron job!

(Rips out hard drive from computer case and thumps it on the counter. Shoves it back inside the case and reboots the system - blank screen.)

Mr. Praline: Now that’s what I call a dead operating system.

Owner: No, no…..No, it’s stunned!

Mr. Praline: STUNNED?!?

Owner: Yeah! You stunned it, just as it was finishing an I/O task! Plan 9 stuns easily, major.

Mr. Praline: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this. That operating system is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not 'alf an hour ago, you assured me that its total lack of responsiveness was due to it bein’ in the process of recompiling itself after a particularly comprehensive code update.

Owner: Well, it’s…it’s, ah…probably pining for some dilettante dabbling.

Mr. Praline: PININ' for some DILETTANTE DABBLING?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did it fall flat on its back the moment I started Emacs?

Owner: Plan 9 prefers swapping everything out to the hard drive! Remarkable variant, id'nit, squire? Lovely kernel!

Mr. Praline: Look, I took the liberty of examining the system when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been printing any text at all to the screen was because of all the WORRYING COMPILER WARNINGS encountered while it was being rebuilt.


Owner: Well, o'course it was spitting out those warnings! If I hadn’t updated the kernel with an unstable development build, you might have had your FTP server compromised, and VOOM! Bye bye to your business.

Mr. Praline: “Server”?!? Mate, this OS wouldn’t “serve” if you put four million volts through it! It’s bleedin' demised!

Owner: No no! It’s pining!

Mr. Praline: It’s not pinin'! It’s passed on! This OS is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! The numbers continue to decline for Plan 9 but FreeBSD may be hurting the most. All major marketing surveys show that Plan 9 has steadily declined in market share. Plan 9 is extremely sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If Plan 9 is to survive at all it will be among hobbyist dilettante dabblers. In truth, for all practical purposes Plan 9 is already dead. It is a dead man walking.Plan 9’s foot is in the grave.Development of Plan 9 nowadays is mired by bylaws, committees, reports and milestones. Technically, the Plan 9 project faces a set of challenges that significantly outstrips the ability of the developers to deliver. There’s no simple solution to this. Why would anyone choose to use a Plan 9 over other faster, more stable systems? We can all agree that Plan 9 is a failure. Yet why did Plan 9 fail? Once you get past the fact that Plan 9 is fragmented between myriad incompatible kernels, there is the historical record of failure and of failed operating systems. Plan 9 experienced moderate success about 15 years ago in academic circles. Since then it has been in steady decline. We all know Plan 9 keeps losing market share but why? Is it the problematic personalities of many of the key players? Or is it larger than their troubled personalities? The record is clear on one thing: no operating system has ever come back from the grave. Efforts to resuscitate Plan 9 are one step away from spiritualists wishing to communicate with the dead. As the situation grows more desperate for the adherents of this doomed OS, the sorrow takes hold. An unremitting gloom hangs like a death shroud over a once hopeful Plan 9 community. The hope is gone; a mournful nostalgia has settled in. Now is the end time for Plan 9. Fact: Plan 9 is an ex-operating system!!


Owner: Well, I’d better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ‘round the back of the shop, and uh, we’re right out of post-UNIX variants.

Mr. Praline: I see. I see, I get the picture.

Owner: I got Microsoft Windows XP Professional.


Mr. Praline: Pray, is it difficult to setup, use and maintain?

Owner: Nnnnot really.


Owner: N-no, I guess not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet)

Mr. Praline: Well.


Owner: (quietly) D'you…. d'you want to come back to my place?

Mr. Praline: (looks around) Yeah, all right, sure.