Welcome to your first the Wisconsin Operating Systems course. This course will describe a number of topics including basic operating system structure, process and thread synchronization and concurrency, file systems and storage servers, memory management techniques, process scheduling and resource management, system security, and a few other "hot" topics. This course assumes familiarity with basic computer organization (e.g., processors, memory, and I/O devices as covered in cs354) and data structures (e.g., stacks and hash tables). You will need to be able to program in C (not C++, and definitely not Java) to perform the assignments in the course. If you don't have much experience in this language, don't worry (too much), we will spend some time covering background, but of course, learning on your own is important and valuable (in this class and in real life). For those of you who are new to C (e.g., you just know Java), realize this is an opportunity to broaden your skill set! (i.e., stop complaining).


We recommend coming to class and reading the book in advance, before we cover a topic in class

You should have the following textbook:

Operating System Concepts (8th Edition), (c) 2009
Silberschatz, Galvin, Gagne
ISBN: 978-0-470-12872-5
It is not required, but in the past many students have commented that they found it useful reading. In addition, some quiz questions will come out of the book. You should also own:
The C Programming Language (2nd edition)
Kernighan and Ritchie
ISBN: 0-13-110362-8 (paperback)
Prentice Hall

Here is a short, free, and incomplete overview of the C programming environment by Andrea Arpaci-Dusseau as a PDF.

It would also be useful to figure out how to use the debugger, gdb. Here is a link to a short tutorial -- there are others on the web too. Learning how to use such tools is a good idea.


You are expected to present your own original work in this class. Any material produced by others but submitted as your own work will be considered cheating and will receive a grade of zero.


In this course, you will be doing group progects. More information is available on the project page.


There will be 8 quizes during the discussion section over the course of the semester. The lowest score will be dropped. The quizes will be closed-book, closed-note and will cover material from the lecture and readings.


There will be one writing assignment during the course of the semester to introduce you to advanced OS topics. You will be expected write a 3-5 page paper describing recent advances or the state-of-the-art in an OS-related area.


There will be an optional final. For the exam, a single page "cheat sheet" (8.5 by 11 inches) is allowed, and you can use both sides; exams are otherwise closed-book and closed-note .


Task Without Final With Final
Homework 15% 12%
Writing 10% 8%
Quizzes 30% 22%
Projects 45% 33%
Exams 0% 25%

Assignments are due at the start of class on the date listed on the handout. Late assignments will receive no credit .

Mailing List

The mailing list address is compsci537-2-f09 "at" lists.wisc.edu.