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The notion of what constitutes a ‘distributed system’ has become vague. The original meaning implied a high degree of transparency - to the point, say, that if you open a new tab in Chrome (you know, a web browser), it might run on a different node. The idea was for the cluster to appear to the user as a single computer. I think Plan9/Inferno was the last example of such system.

The Erlang VM presents such a unified view to programs that run on it. The asynchronous messaging built into the language works the same between servers as it does locally.

You can determine whether the process to which you need to communicate is local or remote if desired, but it's unusual to do so.

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