How to use Plan9 in Linux

As a few people may know, Plan9 is an amazing, uber-geek operating system that lacked recognition due to its too-far-on-its-time revolutionary concepts, allowing new ways of working.

Made in 1992, it had unique and uncommon features, a good amount of them were later introduced in Linux like the /proc filesystem, it is definitively a very worth operating system to study, play, and discover

Some unique features of Plan9

  • runs on 32 MB of ram (for a real machine install, this howto is about using it directly inside your linux system)
  • everything-is-a-file, even remote machines in the network
  • there’s no root, everything runs in user-space
  • write an application and everybody can run it in their machines, no need to compile or share since its not network-aware, just run it like /net/Thanatermesis/bin/myapplication
  • there’s not exactly a graphical system, everything is text, this means that a menu can contain a structure like ‘File | Edit | View’ and you can modify it, if you write ‘Cut’ it is directly becomes a functional button, click to it to cut a text!

Elive includes an extremely easy way to use it without losing time creating virtual environments or messing with configurations, but even better:

  • just launch the system in your desktop, like a normal application
  • the system is interpreted, not emulated, this means that runs optimally fast
  • no need to create partitions, or to boot in another system
  • the system is shared, as real files in your system, you can access and edit the files directly

How to run it:


Install the package by running this command from a terminal:

api plan9-vx32

Then it will appear directly in your menus:

The tool creates a directory in your home and copies on it the full system on it, you can see on it all the files which you can manipulate


The next time you launch it you will be surprised how fast the OS starts!

Other Debian-based systems:

Same as above, but installing the package by yourself from:

You should not have any dependencies problems since the debian control files made are pretty clean for that

Other Linux systems:

Use the ar x command to unpack the contents and move them to your / filesystem as root

That’s it, enjoy!

Now, it’s up to you investigate what you can do with it and see what fun things you discover!

:furrydance: :boogie: :furrydance: