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How I Switched To Plan 9

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Hi, I’m SL. You may remember me from my classic appearances in contentious 9fans threads, or maybe you’ve read one of my books.

I’m a veteran UNIX admin of 20+ years. I produced a bunch of multimedia stuff on a Macbook in the mid-2000s. I ran 9front on all my production servers and on my personal laptop (my main personal computer) almost exclusively from 2011 to 2017. In early 2017 I moved to a new job that involved a lot of traveling and infrequent access to WiFi. It also turned out that carrying a second laptop (besides my work laptop) added too much bulk/weight to all the stuff I already had to carry everywhere I went. I bought one of those early iPad Pros equipped with an LTE connection and did most of my necessarily mobile computing via that device for the better part of two years. I was able to rig up a command line connection to 9front using a native iOS SSH client and drawterm -G. I explained how this was accomplished in a previous blog post. Infrequently, I carried a ThinkPad X230 Tablet, and later a ThinkPad X250 along with me, piggybacking off the iPad’s WiFi tethering.

The experience sucked. Replacing a general purpose computer with a jacked-up surveillance sensor package is not my idea of solving the problem of mobile computing. Lugging around extra pounds put a lot of strain on my already compromised back. Something had to give.

No pun intended.

Recently, I acquired a used ThinkPad X1 Tablet (1st Gen). This thing is small enough to fit in my bag, works well with both OpenBSD and 9front, and weighs almost as little as my iPad Pro with it’s folding keyboard cover. Finally, I’m back in business.

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Linux 5.5 RC7

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Kernel: Zhaoxin, Arch Linux's Zen and WireGuard in Linux 5.6

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