Inferno Operating System 20060303 review

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Inferno is a compact operating system designed for building distributed and networked systems on a wide variety of devices and platfo

License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
File size: 58318K
Developer: Vita Nuova
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Inferno is a compact operating system designed for building distributed and networked systems on a wide variety of devices and platforms.

Inferno was originally developed at Bell Labs (the research division of Lucent Technologies).

Inferno Operating System is a well-designed, economical operating system particularly suitable for use in networked devices such as advanced telephones, hand-held devices, TV set-top boxes, and many other embedded applications.

Inferno can run in native mode on an embedded system or in emulation mode under many different operating systems. Inferno has many features in common with Plan 9.

Cross-Platform Portability

Inferno can run as a user application on top of an existing operating system or as a stand alone operating system. Most of the popular operating systems and processor architectures are supported:

Host Operating Systems:

Windows NT/2000/XP
Plan 9

Supported Architectures:

Intel x86 (386 & higher)
Intel XScale
ARM StrongARM (ARM & Thumb)

Inferno also runs as a plug-in under Internet Explorer version 4 and higher. Each Inferno system presents an identical environment to the applications, irrespective of the underlying host OS or architecture, allowing the developer to work with a truly homogeneous environment across multiple different platforms.

Portable Applications

Inferno applications are written in Limbo, a modern, safe, modular, concurrent programming language with C-like syntax. It is more powerful than C but considerably easier to understand and debug than C++ or Java. Limbo code is compiled into architecture independent byte code which is then interpreted (or compiled on the fly) on the target processor. This means that any Inferno application will run identically on all Inferno platforms.

Transparent Resources

Inferno offers complete transparency of resources and data using a simple but powerful 'namespace' system. By representing resources as files and having one standard communication protocol, resources such as data stores, services and external devices can easily be shared between Inferno systems. A resource interface may be imported to the local system and used by the applications without them knowing, or needing to know, whether it is local or remote.


High level security is an important part of the Inferno system. By using one standard protocol for all network communication, security can be focused on one point and provided at a system level. Inferno offers full support for authenticated, encrypted connections using a certificate based user identification scheme and variety of algorithms including:

IDEA, 56 bit DES, 40, 128 and 256 bit RC4 encryption algorithms
MD4, MD5 and SHA secure hash algorithms

A Complete Solution

Inferno is not only an operating system, it is also a complete development environment, providing all the tools necessary for creating, testing and debugging the applications that run within it.

Acme IDE: includes editor, shell, advanced pattern matching tools & more
Fast Compiler: with full syntax and compile time type checking
Graphical Debugger: with full stack trace for currently executing threads
Powerful Shell: with sophisticated scripting capabilities
UNIX like commands: including bind, grep, gzip, mount, ps, tar, yacc...

What's New in This Release:
New licence terms (a `dual licence' scheme allowing use as Free Software)
Styx revision based on 9P2000, and consequent changes to Sys
Authentication changes
Improved colour graphics support, including compositing
Scalable fonts using Freetype
Revamped Tk implementation
Window management moved out of Tk to a separate window manager in Limbo
Limbo: exception handling and fixed-point
Limbo: other possible changes
Dis VM changes
More commands and library modules
Better network service configuration
/net/dns served by host and native DNS resolver
Hosted kernels configured from a parts list as for native kernels
Signed modules
Internet Explorer plug-in revised and in source form
Expanded documentation

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