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Plan 9 on SDF VPS


Some parts of this tutorial are copy&paste from Plan 9 wiki because they fit the flow of the writing as they are, so no claim from SDF's users is made over the authorship of such parts, which are clearly labeled as taken from Plan 9's wiki.


Get involved

Plan 9 has active comunities which mostly interact by email. You are encouraged to join the 9fans mailing list where discussion about Plan 9 and related technologies happen.

SDF also host a mailling list mainly for sdfers running Plan 9 in one SDF's VPS slice.



Connect by ssh vps3.sdf.org to the VPS console and type x

If asked install from the ISO type no At some point there was an option to install from Plan9 iso image, at the time of updating the tutorial it does not ask for that option anymore.

Do you wish to continue? (yes/no) yes
Would you like to install Plan9 yourself from the ISO? (yes/no)

% Burning a plan9 ISO distribution image [PLEASE WAIT]
/: write failed, file system is full
cp: /spare/domu_spare_disks/ecelis_79: No space left on device

After the install ends type z and then r to restart the instance.


The Plan9 SDF VPS is the only VPS which is provided freely to SDF MetaARPA members. This slice includes cluster access to the SDF Plan9 Community 9p server as well as limited access to the Bell Labs server. It is highly recommend that you get involved in the 9fans mailing list and request commit access. With your help, Plan9 at SDF can continue to grow. To request your free Plan 9 VPS, type 'plan9' at the shell.

When your Plan 9 system boots, it will ask you where root is from (via the network, or a local disk). Just hit [ENTER] to select local (the default):

root is from (tcp, local)[local!#S/sd00/fossil]:

Next, you will be prompted to log in. Log in as the default user, glenda:

user[none]: glenda

init: starting /bin/rc
#m/mousectl: rc: can't open: unknown device in # filename
init: rc exit status: rc 24: error

init: starting /bin/rc

You will now be sitting at an rc prompt, Plan 9's shell.


Configuring Your IP Address

In your control panel at vps3.sdf.org, note YOUR_IP (e.g. 205.166.94.x) on the top line.

Start your server, and log in via the console. (default=glenda)

At the rc prompt (%), enter:

ip/ipconfig -g ether /net/ether0 YOUR_IP

This configuration lasts until you reboot Plan 9. To make it permanent edit /rc/bin/termrc and add a line just like the one above. I added mine in the middle of this file right above the comment about starting the IP on LAN. The following snippet shows only this part of the file in my Plan 9 system.

ip/ipconfig -g ether /net/ether0 YOUR_IP

DNS Resolution

You can get DNS resolution by editing /lib/ndb/local and changing:

ip= sys=localhost dom=localhost


ip=YOUR_IP sys=plan9 dom=plan9 dns=

Once you've done that, from rc type

ndb/dns -r

This configuration lasts until you reboot Plan 9.


Drawterm is essentially a BLIT terminal emulator which allows you to connect to your Plan9 system and load the rio windowing system. Rio is a direct successor of UNIX 'layers' and Plan 9 '8½'.

At the rc prompt (%) in your Plan 9 VPS, enter these two lines.

echo 'key proto=p9sk1 dom=plan9 user=glenda !password=PASSWORD' >/mnt/factotum/ctl
aux/listen1 -t tcp!*!ncpu /bin/cpu -R &

Replace PASSWORD with the password you want. This password lasts until you reboot Plan 9.

Getting Started with Drawterm

Follow the instructions to download and build Drawterm for your operating system. YOUR_IP must match the IP address described in Networking.

./drawterm -a YOUR_IP -c YOUR_IP -u glenda

After typing your password, press the right button of your mouse. A menu should appear. Then, release the button over the New option.
Now, press the right button again near the upper-left corner of drawterm, and drag the mouse to the lower right before releasing the button, drawing a rectangle.
You should now have a terminal window. The first thing you should probably do is to type cat readme.rio (or read it from here)

Plan 9 Applications

Browsing the Web

You can use Abaco to browse the web. (Abaco is available in a default Plan 9 system.)

You'll need to have your IP configured and DNS working in order to browse the web. After that, you'll have to run webfs and then abaco. (You may want to add webfs in your $home/lib/profile just before plumber and rio; also, if you don't have a $home/lib/webcookies file, touch it.)

When abaco starts, you can go to a webpage by clicking "New" with the middle button of the mouse, typing the address in the row below the one with "Del Snarf Get …" (see the previous figure: it's the one where the current address is), and pressing "Enter" on your keyboard. You can follow links by clicking on them, as is usual, with the left button (the shape of the cursor won't change, though).

Adding a User

You may wish to add a user to your system once you get the hang of things. There is really no need to create a new user when you are first starting out. To create a new user, you will have to connect to the file server console by typing:

con -l /srv/fscons

Now, at the file server prompt, create a new user. Replace USER with what you want your new user to be named:


You will need to add that user to the sys group if you want it to be able to change system configuration files. Again, change USER to what your new user name is:

uname sys +USER

Exit the file server console by typing: ctrl+\. You will now be at a >>> prompt; type q to quit.

Configure Time zone

Taken from Plan 9 Wiki Installation Instructions

You might want to configure your system's timezone. Figure out in which timezone you are, and then, assuming e.g. you are in the CET zone log in as user adm, then:

cp /adm/timezone/CET /adm/timezone/local

Last, but not the least, you may also want to edit/change the TIMESYNCARGS in your /rc/bin/termrc or /rc/bin/cpurc; for example, to use an NTP service, set it to:

TIMESYNCARGS=(-n 0-north-america.pool.ntp.org)
and reboot.

Working in Plan 9

TODO check if title works

Now that you are connected to your Plan 9 console with your new user you should run:


And setup a password for the user in factotum so you can login from Drawterm.

Taken from Plan 9 Wiki Installation Instructions

When you drawterm to a Plan 9 cpu server, your local files will be available at /mnt/term. This means you can freely copy files between Plan 9 and your other os without the use of any additional protocols. In other words, when working with drawterm, your environment is actually a composite of your local os and the Plan 9 system - technically it is a three node grid, because the Drawterm program acts as an ultra-minimal independent Plan 9 terminal system, connecting your host os to the Plan 9 cpu server.





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