Taking procrastination further – Installing Plan9 under QEMU

So instead of doing something useful and needed (like gardening!) during a few hours off last week I decided that what I really needed to do was install plan9!

A few months back I got various Windows NT VMs and OS/2 VMs running. Then Haiku (a port of BeOs) the other week and now this….!

I started with the last “official” build of Plan 9. This was difficult and I had to abandon it as I just could not get it sufficiently configured to launch Rio (the window manager). However, further googling shows that there is a port of plan9 called 9front. This is under continual development and the build I installed was just a few months old. Under QEMU (using libvirtd) it was a pretty hassle free install.

Once installed I found that there is also a recent port of NetSurf, as the two existing browsers are a few decades behind. Downloading the sources from Git, compiling and installing was quite straightforward. The only hurdle was that text does not auto scroll in terminals. Not a significant hurdle you may think. But I guess due to “everything is a file” when the text reaches the end of the terminal then the process stops working. Here as soon as the build script got to the bottom of the terminal it just stopped compiling. Luckily there is an auto scroll option.

  • Middle click and choose SCROLL/NOSCROLL
  • Incidentally you really need a three button mouse. For example to open a new terminal:

  • Choose NEW
  • The cursor changes to a cross. With the RIGHT MOUSE BUTTON draw where you need the new terminal to be.
  • Screenshot from 2023 09 08 14 18 18

    Screenshot from 2023 09 11 12 31 52

    I have no idea what I will do with it. But that goes for more or less all the VMs I have. Install, fire up a few times, then never again.

    old operating systems

    So despite gorgeous weather and a load of gardening jobs that I really need to get on top of, I spent quite a bit of Sunday playing about with libvirt, QEMU and a bunch of old operating system ISOs.

    I’d played with some downloaded OS/2 VMs before, but could never got them running under KVM/QEMU. They were all either VMWare VDI/VMDK images or Virtualbox ones. QEMU can convert these into QCOW2 (QEMU’s native format) but whereas I got OS/2 Warp 3.0 running fine. Warp 4.0, 4.52 eComstation VMs all failed to run. However, it turns out that the ISO of OS/2 Warp 4.5.2 is bootable and an installation (I never bothered with 4.0) was surprisingly easy.

    I even got OS/2 2.0 running fine.

    OS2Warp3 0 Warp4 52 runningQEMU

    I also tried with Windows NT 3.5 and 4.0. Both installed nicely.

    WinNT3 51 NT4 0 runningQEMU

    There are many instructions online so I will not bore you with them anymore (although I should add some links).

    I moved from DOS/Windows 3.1 straight to OS/2 Warp 3.0. When I left work and went to college in 1998 at the Freshers Fair there was a goodie bag that included a free licensed CD of OS/2 Warp 3.0. I installed it and never went back. I was even a founder member of WarpUK, a group of enthusiasts. I’d link to them but no trace exists online. Although I do have a few of our CDs. I went to Warp 4.0, then eventually gave up on OS/2 and moved to Linux (Ydraggasil, then Debian and onto Gentoo which I still run now).

    I used Windows NT 3.5 quite a bit. I think I had a dual boot system with OS/2 although to be honest I cannot really remember. I installed but never really used NT 4.0.

    I’m not sure I miss the joys of downloading 20 odd 1.4MB floppy fixpack images, “burning” to actual floppy discs and updating the OS…! But I do miss OS/2 sometimes! A great OS.