Syllabus and general information for MCS-378: Operating Systems (Fall 2000)
This course covers the basics of concurrent programming, operating
systems, networking, and distributed systems. There are two principal
reasons why a course on operating systems is practical to take (as
opposed to just interesting), even if you never expect to be involved
in the development of an operating system (which most of you won't):
Operating systems provide the classic application domain for certain
techniques that are useful in other contexts as well. In particular,
concurrent programming has traditionally been been an ``operating
systems'' topic, but is now quite broadly applicable. Other topics
that are no longer the sole province of operating systems include
resource allocation, security, and fault tolerance.
Although most of you won't write operating systems, you'll interface
with them. You may write applications programs that make use of the
operating system's facilities, or contribute to the design of hardware
on which the operating system runs, or find yourself educating an
operating system developer about the features that would allow your
web server or database system to run most efficiently.
You may be a system administrator who has to configure and tune an
understanding of what goes on inside an operating system will allow
you to be more effective in roles like these. You may even find
yourself tacking a new feature on in some small corner of an operating
system other people wrote.
I will be available in my office (OHS 303) 2:30-3:20 Tuesdays,
10:30-11:20 Wednesdays, 9:00-9:50 Thursdays, 10:30-11:20 Fridays, and by
appointment. Or try your luck: just stop by and see whether my door
is open. However, I will have no office hours the week of September
You may send me electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at
extension 7466. I'll try to put any updates to my office
hours on my web page, so check
there if in doubt.
World Wide Web
All course materials will be available through my World Wide Web page.
The URL for this course is http://www.gustavus.edu/~max/courses/F2000/MCS-378/.
After this syllabus I will give hardcopy handouts only to those
students who want them.
Text and readings
The primary text for the course will be Siberschatz, Galvin, and Gagne's
Applied Operating System Concepts, first edition, but I'll also
be distributing some readings that are recent conference papers or journal
articles, in order to provide both an update
on some recent interesting work and also a bit more ``meat.'
Those readings will form the basis for the student
presentations, described below. Lab handouts may also
include some non-trivial reading.
There will be four lab assignments. The due dates for the labs are
shown in the syllabus below. We'll meet in the OHS 326 or 329 lab
every Monday except one, and two Fridays as well; the exceptions are
indicated in the syllabus.
Attendance is mandatory for all lab days. (If you turn in a lab
report early, you are excused from the remaining days devoted to that
lab.) I will excuse up to two absences per student, for any reason.
Use yours wisely. If you exceed this allowance, I may reduce your
course grade by one letter grade.
There will be ten days in the semester when I sit back and relax and
let students teach the class instead. Each student will have half of
a class period to lead discussion on one of the papers we read from a
conference or journal. The whole class will be expected to read the
paper at least casually, but the person leading the class will be
expected to have read it more carefully and done whatever it takes to
really understand it, which may involve additional background reading,
talking with me, etc.
I'm going to ask you to express a preference ranking for the
topics, and will try to the extent possible to assign people to topics
based on that. (You can also take into account in your preference
rankings the timing of the presentations.) I'll need to have you
email me the rankings Friday morning (September 8) so that I can get
the assignments out to you Monday, thereby leaving some preparation
time for whoever gets the first couple papers.
The topics are:
"Isolation with Flexibility: A Resource Management Framework
for Central Servers", David G. Sullivan and Margo I. Seltzer, 2000
USENIX Annual Technical Conference, pp. 337-350.
"Efficiently Scheduling X Clients", Keith Packard, FREENIX Track, 2000
USENIX Annual Technical Conference, pp. 175-186.
"Borrowed-Virtual-Time (BVT) Scheduling: Supporting Latency-Sensitive Threads in a
Kenneth J. Duda and David R. Cheriton,
Proceedings of the 17th ACM Symposium on Operating Systems
Principles, 1999, pp. 261-276
Scheduling in Web Servers",
Mark E. Crovella, Robert Frangioso, and Mor Harchol-Balter,
2nd USENIX Symposium on Internet Technologies and
Systems, 1999, pp. 243-254.
"Performing Replacement in Modem Pools",
Yannis Smaragdakis and Paul Wilson,
USENIX Annual Technical Conference, pp. 277-291.
"The Design and Implementation of a DCD Device Driver for UNIX,"
Tycho Nightingale, Yiming Hu, and Qing Yang,
USENIX Annual Technical Conference,
"Journaling Versus Soft Updates: Asynchronous Meta-data Protection in File Systems",
Margo I. Seltzer, Gregory R. Granger, M. Kirk McKusick, Keith A. Smith, Craig A.
N. Soules, and Christopher A. Stein,
USENIX Annual Technical Conference, pp. 71-84.
"LinLogFS - A Log-Structured Filesystem For Linux", Christian Czezatke and M. Anton Ertl, FREENIX Track, 2000
USENIX Annual Technical Conference, pp. 77-88.
"A Comparison of File System Workloads",
Drew Roselli, Jacob R. Lorch, and Thomas E. Anderson,
USENIX Annual Technical Conference, pp. 41-54.
"Single Instance Storage in Windows 2000",
William J. Bolosky, Scott Corbin, David Goebel, and John R. Douceur,
4th USENIX Windows Systems Symposium, 2000, pp. 13-24.
"Secondary Storage Management for Web Proxies",
Evangelos P. Markatos, Manolis G.H. Katevenis, Dionisis Pnevmatikatos, and Michail
2nd USENIX Symposium on Internet Technologies and
Systems, 1999, pp. 93-104.
"Scalable Content-aware Request Distribution in Cluster-based
Mohit Aron, Darren Sanders, Peter Druschel, and Willy Zwaenepoel,
2000 USENIX Annual Technical Conference, pp. 323-336.
"Scalable Network I/O in Linux",
Niels Provos and Chuck Lever
FREENIX Track, 2000
USENIX Annual Technical Conference, pp. 109-119.
"Organization-Based Analysis of Web-Object Sharing and
Alec Wolman, Geoff Voelker, Nitin Sharma, Neal Cardwell, Molly Brown, Tashana
Landray, Denise Pinnel, Anna Karlin, and Henry Levy
2nd USENIX Symposium on Internet Technologies and
Systems, 1999, pp. 25-36.
"Moat: A Virtual Private Network Appliance and Services
John S. Denker, Steven M. Bellovin, Hugh Daniel, Nancy L. Mintz, Tom Killian, and Mark A. Plotnick
13th Systems Administration Conference - LISA '99, pp. 251-260.
"Permanent Web Publishing",
David S. H. Rosenthal and Vicky Reich
FREENIX Track, 2000
USENIX Annual Technical Conference, pp. 129-140.
"Publius: A Robust, Tamper-Evident,
Censorship-Resistant, and Source-Anonymous
Web Publishing System",
Marc Waldman, Aviel D. Rubin, and Lorrie F. Cranor,
9th USENIX Security Symposium, 2000.
"Security in the Real World: How to Evaluate Security",
Computer Security Journal, Volume 15, Number 4, 1999,
"A Role Based Access Control Model and Reference Implementation within
a Corporate Intranet,"
David F. Ferraiolo, John F. Barkley and D. Richard Kuhn,
ACM Transactions on Information and System Security,
volume 2, number 1, 1999,
"Reducing Startup Latency in Web and Desktop Applications",
Dennis Lee, Jean-Loup Baer, Brian Bershad, and Tom Anderson,
3rd USENIX Windows NT Symposium,
Homework assignment policy
I will assign homework problems.
You may turn in any individual homework problem whenever you think you have it
solved. I will return it to you as quickly as I can, but normally
with only an indication of whether it is acceptable or needs more
work. (Sometimes I may give a brief indication of what area it needs
more work in.) If a problem needs more work, and you aren't sure what
sort of work it still needs, you should treat that as an invitation to
come talk with me about it. Once you've done the additional work, you
may turn the problem in again. In fact, you may turn in each problem
in as many times as you like, until it is marked as acceptable. Your
grade for the homework portion of the course will be based on the
fraction of homework problems that you eventually did acceptably.
Normally homework problems may be turned in at any time. However, if
the class is not being responsible, and it looks like I may be faced
with a flood of problems at the end of the semester, I may set due
dates (always at least a week in the future). Also, if we would
benefit from discussing a homework problem in class, I may issue a
"last call" for solutions to that problem (again, at least a week in
Unless I indicate that a particular problem must be done individually,
you may work on any problem in a group of two or three students.
One copy of the solution produced by the team should
be turned in, with all team members names on it. Write "we all
contributed fairly to this solution" and have all team members sign
under that statement.
There will be midterm and final exams. The midterm will be as shown
on the syllabus below, and the final exam will be as scheduled by the
Students are encouraged to discuss the course, including issues raised
by the assignments. However, the solutions to assignments
should be individual original work unless otherwise specified. If an
assignment makes you realize you don't understand the material, ask a
fellow student a question designed to improve your understanding,
not one designed to get the assignment done. To do otherwise is to
cheat yourself out of understanding, as well as to be intolerably
Any substantive contribution to your solution by another person or
taken from a publication should be properly acknowledged in writing.
Failure to do so is plagiarism and will necessitate disciplinary
The same standards regarding plagiarism apply to team projects as to
the work of individuals, except that the author is now the entire team
rather than an individual. Anything taken from a source outside the
team should be be properly cited.
One additional issue that arises from the team authorship of
project reports is that all team members must stand behind all reports
bearing their names. All team members have quality assurance
responsibility for the entire project. If there is irreconcilable
disagreement within the team it is necessary to indicate as much in
the reports; this can be in the form of a ``minority opinion'' or
``dissenting opinion'' section where appropriate.
Late lab assignments
All lab assignments are due at the beginning of class on
the day indicated. Late assignments will be penalized by one ``grade
notch'' (such as A to A- or A- to B+) for each weekday late or fraction
thereof. However, no late assignments will be accepted after graded
assignments are handed back.
If you are too sick to complete an assignment on time, you
will not be penalized. Simply write ``late due to illness'' at the
top of the assignment, sign your name and hand it in. Other circumstances
will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Please point out any arithmetic or clerical error I make in grading,
and I will gladly fix it. You may also request reconsideration if I
have been especially unjust.
I will provide you with a letter grade on each lab
assignment, on your presentation, and on each test, in addition to the mid-term and final
grades, so that you may keep track of your performance. As a
guideline, the course components will contribute to your final grade
in the proportions indicated below:
- 40% Labs (4 @ 10% each)
- 10% Presentation
- 18% Homework (based on fraction done; see above)
- 12% Midterm
- 20% Final exam
All homework and lab reports should be readily readable, and should
not presuppose that I already know what you are trying to say. Use
full English sentences where appropriate (namely almost everywhere)
and clear diagrams, programs, etc. Remember that your goal is to
communicate clearly, and that the appearance of these technical items
plays a role in this communication process. Be sure your assignments
are always stapled together and that your name is always on them.
Please contact me immediately if you have a learning or physical
disability requiring accommodation.
In the reading column, a single number with no decimal point indicates
an entire chapter. Section 0 means the material at the beginning
of a chapter before the first section.
This is my best guess as to the rate at which we will cover material.
However, don't be shocked if I have to pass out one or more revised
|9/11||Lab 1: Scheduling experiments||
|9/18||Lab 1 (concludes)||
|9/25||Lab 2: Kernel-level experimentation||Lab 1
|9/26||papers 1, 2||Scheduling papers||
|9/27||papers 3, 4||Scheduling papers||
|10/2||Lab 2 (continued)||
|10/6||7.7-7.10||More on process synchronization||
|10/9||Lab 2 (continued)||
|10/16||Lab 2 (concludes)||
|10/17||10.6-10.8||More on virtual memory||
|10/18||papers 5, 20||Virtual memory related papers||Lab 2
|10/30||11.6-11.11||More on file systems (class instead of lab)||
|10/31||papers 6, 7||File systems papers||
|11/1||papers 8, 9||File systems papers||
|11/3||papers 10, 11||File systems papers||
|11/6||Lab 3: Filesystem locality||
|11/13||Lab 3 (continued)||
|11/15||papers 12, 13||Distributed systems papers||
|11/17||Lab 3 (continued) (a Friday lab)||
|11/20||Lab 3 (concludes)||
|11/22||papers 14, 15||Distributed systems papers||Lab 3
|11/27||Lab 4: Distributed communication||
|11/28||17||Distributed file systems||
|11/29||papers 16, 17||Distributed systems papers||
|12/1||Lab 4 (continued) (a Friday lab)||
|12/4||Lab 4 (continued)||
|12/8||papers 18, 19||Security papers||
|12/11||Lab 4 (concludes)||
Course web site: http://www.gustavus.edu/~max/courses/F2000/MCS-378/
Instructor: Max Hailperin <email@example.com>