The Inferno was developed as a successor of the OS Plan 9 with the assistance of Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie within the Bell Labs computing Sciences research center in New Jersey, the USA starting in the year of 1995. Before Plan 9, D. Ritchie and K. Thompson have already developed the UNIX operating system.

It’s a nondependent, standalone and scaling able network OS and it’s used on Host operating systems like Windows NT/2000/XP, FreeBSD, MacOSX, Plan9, Irix, Linux, and Solaris. Supported architectures are Intel x86, ARM StrongARM (ARM and Thumb), Intel XScale, IBM PowerPC as well as Sun SPARC. The system software needs at least 1 MB Random Access Memory (RAM) and Read-only memory (ROM), supports dynamic modules, Unicode and is available with source code and a licensing agreement. Applications can easy access hardware devices like Audio, Ethernet, Graphic, touchscreen, USB and also WLAN (802.11 b). Inferno is available as a plug-in for Internet Explorer 4.x or higher too.

The use of a high-level language and the virtual machine is sensible but mundane. The interesting thing is the system’s representation of services and resources. They are represented in a file-like name hierarchy. Programs access them using only the file operations open, read/write, and close. The ‘files’ may, of course, represent stored data, but may also be devices, network and protocol interfaces, dynamic data sources, and services.

The access unifies and provides basic naming, structuring, and access control mechanisms for all system resources. A single file-service protocol makes all those resources obtainable for import or export throughout the network during a uniform approach, independent of location. An application merely attaches the resources it needs to its own per-process name hierarchy (‘namespace’).

The system can be used to build portable client and server applications and it makes it straightforward to build applications that share all the resources over a network, without the cruft of much of the ‘Grid’ software one sees. Inferno can run ‘native’ on the various ARM,  SPARC,  PowerPC, and x86 platforms but also ‘hosted’, under an existing operating system (including FreeBSD, Plan 9, Irix, Linux, MacOS X, and Solaris), again on various processor types.

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