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Page: PmWiki.Writing - Last Modified : Wed, 11 Nov 09

Writing Assignment: OS Issues

Due Thursday, 12/3 in class

Goals for this Assignment

  • Explore the techical, legal, and social issues around operating systems
  • Find resources for learning about operating systems
  • Practice writing about technical topics


For this assignment, you should pick an issue related to operating systems, research it, and write a paper about it. The topic is up to you, but it must relate to operating systems. Some possible topics include:

  • Why is Microsoft Windows the dominant operating system? Why is it more successful on desktops then servers? What are the benefits and drawbacks of having a dominant OS?
  • Why has Linux been so successful as an open source project? What are the strengths and weakenesses of Linux?
  • Why are we (1) still researching operating systems, after 40 years, and (2) why haven't we gotten them right? What is so hard about operating systems?
  • What coming trends will impact OS design, and how? Some examples include web applications (e.g. GMail and Google Spreadsheets), the use of cell phones (e.g. iPhone) as a general-purpose computing platform, and the introduction of computers to the billions of people who cannot afford current desktops computers.
  • What are the problems still facing regular operating systems? What are the problems recent releases of Windows, MacOS, and Linux solve? What problems will future releases solve?
  • Virtual machines, such as VMware and Xen, have taken off in popularity. What kinds of new usage models and features do they provide? What kinds of computer uses do they help?
  • How does the rise of multicore processors change operating systems? What must they do or how must they adapt to the existence of multiple cores on a chip?

What to turn in

You should write your paper in 12 point font with 1 or 1.25 inch margins and double spacing. The paper should be at least six pages (text onto the sixth page). Please include your name and a title on the paper. All documents you draw material should appear in a bibliography and should be referenced in the text. I expect that anything not cited is your original writing. Copying text without attribution will be consider plagiarism.

Please submit a your paper on paper in class on Thursday, December 3.

This page may have a more recent version on PmWiki:Writing, and a talk page: PmWiki:Writing-Talk.

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