The Octopus

Distribute by centralizing it all

See our demos page for some demonstrations of the system.

The world changes fast: today, most users typically have access to several computers at work, at home and while in transit, all of them interconnected through Internet. This world is far from perfection: users face decentralized, uncoordinated, heterogeneous, and highly dynamic, practically uncontrolled environments. It is hard to develop and deploy applications for such a world. And once done, it is difficult to use them smoothly, unless one sits in front of the computer where they were deployed. We argue that one way to solve this problem is to first apply centralization as a design principle, and then recognize the existence of other computers running their native OS's, importing their devices and controlling them from a central computer. Doing so it would be possible both, to easily build systems that can leverage on all the devices available to a given user, independently of its location, and to easily use those systems.

Octopus is a system designed to provide ubiquitous access to computing resources. Its approach is unique in that the central idea to distribute the system is to centralize everything on a personal computer. Devices and other services are later connected to this central system to provide distributed computing.

The system derives from Plan B, therefore it is heavily influenced by Plan 9, and shares most of the source code with both systems.

This position statement describes the original idea that started this project. For a description of the system, you may read some of the papers listed in the papers page.

A tutorial is available.

You can watch some demo videos here.

Here you have a screenshot (click on it for a larger image). There are more in the demos page.


Much of the software listed here is also available from Plan 9's sources file server (see /contrib/nemo).

Octopus is under the same License used by Inferno, as indicated in our NOTICE.Octopus file. See the various license files in the Inferno system used to install the Octopus. This affects both manual pages and source code. It shouldn't be a problem, because you need Inferno to run the Octopus. By downloading any of our distributions you are accepting that license.

This list provides access to parts of the system useful on their own and to the entire distribution. Refer to the INSTALL.Octopus file to see how to install the software.

This system is joint work of the Laboratorio de Sistemas and the University of Thessaly.