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9P is a network protocol originally developed by Bell Labs for the Plan 9 operating system. It is a distributed file system protocol that enables communication and file sharing between different processes and machines in a networked environment. Here are some key points about 9P:

  1. Distributed file system: 9P allows users to access and manipulate files on remote systems as if they were local. It provides a unified interface for file operations, such as reading, writing, creating, deleting, and seeking, regardless of the underlying file system.
  2. Client-server architecture: 9P follows a client-server model, where the client requests file operations and the server handles those requests. The server can be running on a remote machine, providing transparent access to its files and resources.
  3. Protocol simplicity: 9P is designed to be a simple and lightweight protocol, focusing on efficiency and ease of implementation. It uses a textual protocol that is easy to understand and debug. The protocol messages are sent over a connection-oriented transport protocol, such as TCP or Unix domain sockets.
  4. Hierarchical naming scheme: 9P uses a hierarchical naming scheme similar to traditional file systems. It organizes files and directories in a tree-like structure, allowing easy navigation and management of files across the network.
  5. Support for file attributes and metadata: 9P supports retrieving and modifying file attributes and metadata, such as permissions, ownership, timestamps, and file sizes. This enables advanced file management and access control capabilities.
  6. Extensions and versions: Over time, various extensions and versions of the 9P protocol have been developed, including 9P2000, 9P2000.u, and 9P2000.L. These extensions introduce additional features and improvements while maintaining backward compatibility with earlier versions.
  7. Widely used in Plan 9 and related systems: While originally developed for the Plan 9 operating system, the 9P protocol has been adopted and implemented in other systems and projects. It is used as the standard file system protocol in Plan 9 derivatives, such as Inferno, and has influenced the design of other network file systems.

Overall, 9P is a network protocol that facilitates distributed file system operations and file sharing across networked environments. Its simplicity, hierarchical structure, and support for file attributes make it an efficient and versatile protocol for remote file access and management.

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