And so it begins

31 May 2007

Yay, the Summer of Code has officially started! The last one month has been really fun for me - I’ve been hanging out with the folks at Plan 9 from Bell Labs and it’s been an amazing experience.

The Plan9 philosophy is a lot different that any of the other UNIXes. I mean, a lot. Not surprising though, since Plan9 is meant to replace UNIX. The one thing I love about Plan 9 and its associated applications is the way that the code is written. Almost all of the UNIX applications were re-written in Plan 9, and all of the code is written precisely with the notion that other people are going to be reading it. Plan 9 subscribes to the KISS philosophy (critics of Plan9 call it the Worse-Is-Better philosophy!), and would rather maintain cleanliness and readability of code than anything else. Again, not surprising; the chief architects of the Plan 9 system are also the authors of “The Practice of Programming”, an awesome book that teaches you how to write good code.

Plan9 is also rich in documentation. It’s split into two Volumes: Volume 1 consists of the traditional programmer’s manual - the whole set the manual pages in the system, while Volume 2 is basically a collection of papers written by several people involved in the development of Plan 9 over the years on various aspects of the system.

Every time I ask a question on #plan9, the response is almost always RTFM. Not all projects can claim that, you know! Coming in from “lunix-land” (that’s how the Plan 9 developers put it), I was bound to have a lot of questions. Apparently, using Linux over the years has clouded my thinking!

It feels great to be working on something that is the direct product of some of the greatest people in the field of Computer Science. While looking through the 9fans mailing list, I came across some really great posts. Here’s a sampler: this one is by John Carmack on whether porting Quake to Plan9 will be a good idea, and this one by Charles Forsyth on why Plan9 is different from Linux.

Just yesterday, I had a rather long debate with my mentor on whether patents were actually evil or not. Which goes to say that we don’t always talk about technical stuff - conversations in #plan9 are always animated.

I’m loving it!