CS 505 - Operating Systems Concepts

Fall 1999

So that even now the machines will only serve on condition of being served, and that too upon their own terms; the moment their terms are not complied with, they jib, and either smash both themselves and all whom they can reach, or turn churlish and refuse to work at all. How many men at this hour are living in a state of bondage to the machines?

- Samual Butler, Erehwon (1872)

Based on surveys of adults, she has characterized the relationship that consumers have with familiar products. For example, Harley-Davidson, the motorcycle brand with a fanatic following, is "best friend." [...] The Microsoft relationship, according to Ms. Fournier, is "master-slave."

- Steven Lohr, Fewer Computer Users Give Microsoft a Positive Rating
The New York Times, 2 August 1999, Page C1

Table of Contents

Course Description

This an introductory course in operating systems concepts. Check the course catalog entries for more information about CS 505.

You should be a proficient programmer and have a working knowledge of basic algorithms and data structures. The prerequsites for this class are Computer Science 503 (Advanced Programming I).

The course is divided into four three-week sections, with each section covering a major part of an operating system. See the syllabus for details.

The class meets in Edison 122 on Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:00 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. There will be no classes on Monday, 6 September, and Monday, 27 November.


The objectives of this course are to learn the basics of operating systems: their structure, design and implementation. At the end of this course, you should:


R. Clayton, Howard B-13, rclayton@monmouth.edu, 732 263 5522. Office hours are Wednesday 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in my office. I'm also usually happy to talk to you any time you can catch me; setting up an appointment is recommended, finger rclayton@monmouth.edu for my schedule.


There will be four tests, given at the end of each three-week section; see the syllabus for the schedule. Tests will be given in class, and are closed book with no notes; calculators and computers will not be necessary. The tests are cumulative, covering everything taught up to and including the class before the test; however, it's a good bet that each test will concentrate on the material taught in the section preceding the test. Tests should take no more than an hour to complete, and will be given in the first half of the class. Test answers will be made available off the syllabus.

There will be four programming assignments, one for each three-week section; see the syllabus for details.

The final grade is a straight, unweighted average of test scores and programming assignment grades; that is, there are eight grades total - four from tests and four from assignments - and each grade constitutes one-eighth of your final grade. The mid-term grade is a straight, unweighted average of the first test score and the first programming assignment grade; that is, the grade on each constitutes one-half your mid-term grade. The last test will be given during final exam week.

I use the usual grade ranges:

95 <= A
90 <= A- < 95
87 <= B+ < 90
83 <= B < 87
80 <= B- < 83
77 <= C+ < 80
73 <= C < 77
70 <= C- < 73
60 <= D < 70
F < 60
All grades are kept with one digit of precison to the right of the decimal point and 0.05 rounded up. No grades are adjusted to a curve; that means that 89.9 is a B+, not an A-.

The combined final grades for 438 and 505.



The textbook is Operating Systems: Design And Implementation, second edition by A. Tanenbaum and A. Woodhull, Prentice Hall, 1997.


You should feel free to send me e-mail. Unless I warn you beforehand, I'll usually respond within a couple of hours; if I don't respond within a day, resend the message.

Home page

If you're reading this on paper, you can find the class home page at http://www.monmouth.edu/rclayton/f99-438-505/505-index.html. I'll make the class notes, assignments, and tests available off the syllabus; you should get in the habit of checking the home page and syllabus regularly.



I have no attendance policy; you may attend class or not as you see fit. However, I hold you responsible for knowing everything that goes on in class; "I wasn't in class for that." is not an acceptable excuse for a wrong answer, or for giving no answer at all.

Monmouth University does have an attendance policy, which you can find in the Academic Information chapter of the Student Handbook. To the extent that I need to keep the record straight, I will take attendance. Attendance lists, however, are entirely for the University's benefit; I will make no use of them in grading.


People who need assistance or accommodations above and beyond what is usually provided in class should contact the University's ADA/504 coordinator to set about getting those needs met. See me or the Disability Services page for more details.


Cheating's not nice; don't do it. Anyone caught cheating fails the course. The chapters on Academic Information and the Student Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook describe academic honesty and how it can be violated.


A serendipitous list of links to OS-related pages.

Other operating system courses.

Operating system projects and research.

An Operating System review.

An OS web ring.

Lists of resources for NT and the Be OS.

Not for computers only: a pre-emptive, multitasking, open-source operating system for LEGO Mindstorms (and it supports POSIX semaphores too).

OS News, a web site with os news and opinions.

A couple of real-time kernels, one based on POSIX threads, and the other using C++.

The ER and KeyK OSs from U. Penn.

Oh. My. Goodness. An operating system written in perl.

And let us not forget the dearly departed: OS/2, VMS, and AmigaOS.

And let us welcome the newcomers: V2.

This page last modified on 25 April 2000.