Operating Systems
Saarland University

Summer 2013


Peter Druschel Email: <LastName>@mpi-sws.org Office hours: after lectures
Björn Brandenburg Email: <FirstInitial x 3>@mpi-sws.org Office hours: after lectures

Teaching Assistants:

Aastha Mehta Email: <FirstName>km@mpi-sws.org Tutorial/Office hours: Mondays 9:30 - 11:30 a.m., Room 314, Building E1.5
Viktor Erdelyi Email: v<LastName>@mpi-sws.org Tutorial/Office hours: Wednesdays 9:30 - 11:30 a.m., Room 313, Building E1.5
Eslam Elnikety Email: <LastName>@mpi-sws.org Tutorial/Office hours: Thursdays 9:30 - 11:30 a.m., Room 334, Building E1.5


The class meets on Tuesdays and Fridays, 12-2pm. The location is E1.3, HS 001.

Lecture notes, course schedule, recommended readings, and assignments can be found here.

Students are encouraged to meet the teaching staff during office hours for help with any questions or problems. Tutorials will be offered when needed.

Mailing Lists:

Please, email individual staff members only when the communication is personal, and is not related to the course in general.


Course Description

This course introduces students to the principles, design, and implementation of operating systems. The lectures focus primarily on the principles and design of operating systems; a course project exposes students to the implementation aspects of operating systems and serves to solidify students' understanding of the course material.

Intended Audience / Prerequisites

This core course is open to Bachelor and Master students. Bachelor students must have passed the basic courses on Programming 2 and Math 2. Proficiency in programming (C/C++) and UNIX development tools (e.g. make, gcc, gdb, jdb) is strictly required to pass this course.

The language of the course is English. All lectures, office hours, tutorials, exams and communication with the course staff will be conducted exclusively in English.


Operating Systems: Principles and Practice (Beta Edition), by Thomas Anderson and Michael Dahlin. Recursive Books, Ltd.


Operating System Concepts (9th Edition), by Silberschatz, Galvin, Gagne. Wiley; 9th edition (Dec 17, 2012).

A small number of papers will be handed out in class. The lecture will cover some topics in more depth than the book, and also in a different order. If you're curious about how the principles we cover in this class are applied in a modern commercial operating system, you might look at one of the following texts:

Goodheart and Cox, The Magic Garden Explained, The Internals of UNIX System V Release 4, Prentice-Hall.

McKusick, Bostic, Karels, Quarterman, The Design and Implementation of the 4.4 BSD Operating System, Addison-Wesley.

Russinovich and Solomon, Microsoft Windows Internals, Fifth Edition: Including Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista.

Bovet and Cesati. Understanding the Linux Kernel. O’Reilly Media. 3rd edition, 2005.

Lecture Notes

Summary lecture notes will be available on the course web-site for most of the material covered in the class. These notes are primarily meant to help students with taking notes. However, they will not accurately or consistently cover all the material discussed in the lectures. Students are expected to know all material covered in the lectures, and in the assigned readings and projects. Therefore, students should not rely only on the lecture notes. They should attend class regularly, take their own notes and complete all assignments.


There will be a midterm exam (covering material from the first half of the course), a term end exam (covering material from the second half of the course), and a repeat exam (covering the entire course). The exams carry equal weight. All exams will be open book and based on the material covered in lectures, readings, and projects.


To pass the course, a student must (i) pass the project assignments, and (ii) pass at least two out of the three exams, namely the midterm exam, the term end exam and the repeat exam. To pass the project assignments, the sum of all points earned by a student in the project assignments must be at least 50% of the maximal possible points. To pass an exam, a student must score at least 50% of the maximum possible points in the exam.

Your course grade will be based on a weighted score computed from the points you earn in your successful examinations and your project assignments. If a student passes all three examinations, then the exam with the lowest results will not be considered when computing the course grade. Project scores count towards 50% of the weighted score, and exam scores account for the remaining 50% of the weighted score.

Class Project

The project is to implement a simple operating system; it is based on the Pintos system from Stanford University. The project has four stages: (1) threads and synchronization, (2) user programs, (3) virtual memory, and (4) filing services. Each stage builds on services that students implemented in previous stages of the project. To make it possible to complete the project in one semester, some code is provided that implements a subset of the required functionality. Students are required to make major extensions to the existing design and implementation, adding missing functionality and improving performance. In stages 2, 3, and 4, students are also required to evaluate their design choices experimentally.

The projects will require a substantial amount of software design and implementation. The software produced will be graded based on its ability to successfully pass a set of functional and performance tests.

Project teams: Students are required to work on the projects in small teams of two students. It is the responsibility of the students to form and manage their own teams. We do not allow individual project solutions or groups of three. If your teammate drops the course you must immediately find a replacement, irrespectively of the current project stage. If you have difficulty in finding a replacement please contact the course staff and we will assign you one.

All team members must be involved in all aspects of the project. To collaborate effectively, team members should divide the project responsibilities so that they can work in parallel. However, each member is responsible for, and should be familiar with, all the work done by the team. Proper time management is critical – if you don't start working on the assignments early you will not be able to complete the projects!

Project submissions:

Late submissions: We will apply a flexible slip date policy for late submissions. Each student is allocated an automatic extension of 4 calendar days for the entire semester. Students can use the extension on any project during the semester in increments of one day. For instance, you can hand in one project assignment 4 days late, or one assignment 2 days late and two assignments 1 day late. This extension is to be used for incidental occurrences, so please do not ask us for any extensions due to any incidental circumstances.

In case a student works with different teams throughout the semester, the slip time will be deducted from each team member's remaining slip time. Students will not receive credit for late submissions beyond the automatic extensions.

Honor code: It is acceptable to discuss ideas, algorithms, or approaches to solving problems and assignments with other students. We encourage you to give and get such advice as it will help you learn the material better and improve your ability to work in a team. However, what you submit must be the work of your own group; copying code or solution sets from any source is strictly prohibited.

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