SLU logo

CSCI 3500: Operating Systems - Class Page

Fall 2022

Instructor David Ferry, Homepage
Course Web Site
Course meeting times Monday, Wednesday, & Friday from 11:00 - 11:50, RTH 115
Midterm exam
Oct 10th, during class
Final exam
Wednesday, December 14th, 9:00 AM
Office hours See my schedule
Contact You may contact me in person during office hours or during class time, or you may email me at I am also available to meet by appointment, see my schedule.

  1. Course Description
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Lecture
  4. Studios
  5. Labs
  6. Course Schedule
  7. SLU Git Repository
  8. Textbooks and Other Resources
  9. Grading
  10. Attendance
  11. Academic Integrity
  12. Title IX Statement
  13. Academic Support
  14. Disability Services
  15. Writing Center
  16. Basic Needs Security

Course Description

Operating systems are the bridge between computer hardware and the software programs we create and use. As a concept, operating systems are one of the oldest software disciplines, yet they continue to adapt and reinvent themselves as the computing landscape evolves. Modern operating systems must tackle the same challenges of the original mainframes, but must also meet the varied needs of personal computers, severs, mobile/embedded devices, and virtualized systems.

The four elements of this course are lectures, studios, labs, and exams. Studios are short assignments intended to be completed primarily within class time and to augment lecture topics. Labs are longer assignments that will ask students to apply and analyze OS mechanisms. Most class periods will be a mix of questions and answers over lecture material, deep-dives into one or more of the lecture topics or practical demonstrations. Expect a lab assignment approximately every two weeks.

Topical outline:

Assessment Objectives- at the completion of this course, students will be able to:

Catalog Description:Theory and practice of operating systems, with emphasis on one of the UNIX family of operating systems. File organization and database systems. Focus on a multi-user system in the client-server model. Hands-on experience.


Please see the instructor if you're missing a prerequisite or uncertain about your preparation for this course.


Computer science is an eminently practical discipline, and studios are daily assignments intended to complement and reinforce lectures through practice. Studios will be completed in a team of two students. Students from different teams may discuss studios, but sharing of code or solutions is strictly prohibited.

Studios will be submitted via the Git repository. Every student should have a copy of their studio solutions in their own repository, even if you work with a group.

Studios are due Friday of the week after they are assigned. The midterm exam and other cirumstances may modify this, see the complete course schedule below.

Studios will be graded on a trimodal scale: complete, partial credit, or no credit. Studios that are turned in late or not turned in at all will receive no credit, studios graded as partial will receive 60% credit.


There will be five lab assignments for this course. These are programming assignments whose purpose is to apply course concepts and to analyze operating system mechanisms. As such, each lab will require a written report detailing your findings in addition to a code submission.

Some labs will require a team of two students, while others are individual projects. Students from different teams may discuss the lab assignments only during course meeting times. Students from the same team are of course encouraged to discuss and work on lab assignments at any time.

Labs submitted on time (as determined by electronic time stamp) are eligible for full credit. Labs submitted up to 24 hours late will be given a ten percent penalty. Labs submitted between 24 and 48 hours late will be given a twenty percent penalty. Labs submitted after 48 hours late will not be given credit, except in the case of extenuating circumstances pre-approved by the instructor.

Course Schedule

A tentative course schedule is below. Note that this schedule may change over the course of the semester. When changes occur, students will be given enough advance notice so that readings and other preparation may be accommodated.
Date Day Topic Readings Studios Labs
Aug 24 Wed Intro to OS MOS 1.1 - 1.3 Make sure you can login for next time Lab 1 Assigned
Aug 26 Fri What is an OS? MOS 1.4 and 1.5 Studio 1
Aug 29 Mon Lab 1 Discussion
Git Setup Documentation
Git Submission Tutorial
Studio 2
Aug 31 Wed Lab 1 Discussion
Sep 02 Fri Class Cancelled
Sep 05 Mon Labor Day - No Class
Sep 07 Wed System Calls MOS 1.6 - 1.8
man syscalls
Studio 3
Sep 09 Fri Processes MOS 2.1 Studio 4
Studio 1 Due
Lab 1 Due
Sep 12 Mon fork(), exec(), wait(), and kill() Studio 5 Lab 2 Assigned
Sep 14 Wed Lab 2 Discussion Studio 6
Studios 2-4 Due
Sep 16 Fri Pipes, stdin, stdout
MOS 2.2 Studio 7
Sep 19 Mon Threads Studio 8
Studios 5 and 6 Due
Sep 21 Wed Pthreads, C++11 threads
MOS 2.3 Studio 9
Sep 23 Fri Race Conditions MOS 2.5.1 Studio 10 Lab 2 Due
Sep 26 Mon Locks, Mutexes, Deadlock, Atomic Instructions Studio 11
Studios 7 and 8 Due
Lab 3 Assigned
Sep 28 Wed No Class
Sep 30 Fri fork_benchmark.c
Studio 12
Oct 03 Mon Lab 3 Discussion
Oct 05 Wed OpenMP, Cilk Plus MOS 2.4 Studio 13
Studios 9-11 Due
Oct 07 Fri Batch and interactive scheduling Studio 14
Oct 10 Mon Real-Time Scheduling Lab 3 Due
Oct 12 Wed Midterm Review Studios 12 and 13 Due
Oct 14 Fri Midterm Exam
Oct 17 Mon Memory management in real mode
MOS 3.1 Studio 15-a
Oct 19 Wed Address spaces, protected mode, and allocation MOS 3.2 Studio 15-b Lab 4 Assigned
Oct 21 Fri Paging Studio 16
Oct 24 Mon Page tables and the TLB Studio 17
Oct 26 Wed Page Replacement Algorithms Studio 18
Studios 14-15b Due
Oct 28 Fri Fall Break - No Class
Oct 31 Mon Lab 4 Discussion
Nov 02 Wed Files and the File System Studio 19
Nov 04 Fri File systems and allocation on disk Studio 16-18 Due
Nov 07 Mon Linux Memory Maps
Nov 09 Wed Directories
Nov 11 Fri More Lab 4 Discussion Studio 19 Due
Nov 14 Mon OSI Model of Networking Studio 20
Nov 16 Wed Physical and Data Link Layers Studio 21 Lab 4 Due
Nov 18 Fri Network Layer Studio 22 Lab 5 Assigned
Nov 21 Mon Sockets Demo
Studio 23
Studios 20 and 21 Due
Nov 23 Wed Thanksgiving - No Class
Nov 25 Fri Thanksgiving - No Class
Nov 28 Mon Transport Layer Studio 24
Nov 30 Wed Sockets Interface Studio 25
Dec 02 Fri Session, Presentation and Application Layers Studios 22 and 23 Due Lab 5 Due
Dec 05 Mon Security Concerns - CIA
Dec 07 Wed Permission Domains and Permission Management
Dec 09 Fri Final Exam Review Studio 25 Due
Dec 14 Wed Final Exam

SLU Git Repository

All studios and labs will be submitted via individual course Git repositories that are housed at SLU. You will find your repository already has a directory structure that provides a place for all lab and studio assignments. Your work must be in the appropriate location for the instructor to find it and count it for credit.

A short guide to using SLU's git resources

Textbook and Class Resources

Reccomended Course textbook: Modern Operating Systems by Tanenbaum and Bos. Either the 3rd or 4th Edition works fine. A classic computing textbook on the fundamentals of operating systems, with a bent towards Unix-like operating systems. This book is not required for the course, rather it is a secondary source of information that provides a more comprehensive and textbook-like presentation of the material for students who prefer this. I will not be assigning homework from the book or taking test questions from the book. Access to the book's companion website is not required and will not be used during this course.

Linux skills references:

References for Linux software development.

Software resources:

Linux kernel hacking references:

We aren't doing any kernel hacking in this course, but these are great references if you're interested.


There are three activities for which you will receive credit in this course: studios, labs, and exams. Studios are daily guided assignments primarily designed to familiarize students with course concepts and development tools (i.e. knowledge and comprehension tasks). Lab assignments will ask students to apply general course concepts and analyze OS design alternatives. A midterm and final exam will evaluate your technical understanding of course concepts.

Studios are graded on the following scale: complete, partial credit, or no credit. Studios will not be turned back with detailed comments. Labs and exams will be graded on a points scale and will be turned back with comments. My goal is to return lab assignments to you within nine days of the deadline, which is an additional 48 hours for late submissions plus one week for grading time. Similarly, my goal is to return exams to you within one week.

Extensions on labs and studios are generally not granted aside from major unexpected events. You have at least a week to complete and submit any studio in this course, and at least two weeks for any lab assignment- it is assumed that this is sufficient for you to work around things such as sporting events or academic conferences on your own time. Please note the automatic 48-hour late policy for lab assignments.

I am happy to work with you on rescheduling exams if you are away from campus for slu-sponsored travel, but you must notify me at least two weeks ahead of time (and note that the exam dates are provided as of the first day of class). Make up exams outside of this policy will only be given for severe and documented reasons.

Your grade will be determined as follows:

Activity Grade Percentage
Studios 20%
Labs 50%
Midterm 15%
Final 15%

Grading is done on a straight scale (uncurved). The following scores are guaranteed. The grading scale may be curved upwards (in your favor) at the discretion of the instructor.

Most work assigned in this course, other than exams and some labs, is expected to be completed collaboratively. Student teams may change from assignment to assignment, but the sharing of written work or significant portions of code between teams is strictly prohibited.

Some specific guidelines for this course:


Successful students attend all or mostly all class sessions. This is true in my experience and has been demonstrated in large scale studies as well. In that study, even students who attended nine out of ten class periods had measurably lower class performance than those who attended all classes. However, there is no attendance requirement for this class, and you do not need to get permission when you do miss class. You are an adult and have the freedom to manage your time in whatever way you feel is most useful. Job interviews, conferences, tests in other courses, etc. are all reasonable cases for being absent.

Note that in-class assignments such as tests or quizes cannot be made up outside of class without prior approval from the instructor. All such activities will be listed course schedule with ample time to prepare (i.e. there are no "pop quizes").

If you do miss class you should refer to the course schedule to see what was missed and arrange to get course notes from another student. I am always happy to answer questions but I do not repeat full class periods in office hours.

Academic Honesty/Integrity

Academic integrity is honest, truthful and responsible conduct in all academic endeavors. The mission of Saint Louis University is “the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.” Accordingly, all acts of falsehood demean and compromise the corporate endeavors of teaching, research, health care, and community service through which SLU fulfills its mission. The University strives to prepare students for lives of personal and professional integrity, and therefore regards all breaches of academic integrity as matters of serious concern. The full University-level Academic Integrity Policy can be found on the Provost's Office website at: ​

Disability Accomodations

Students with a documented disability who wish to request academic accommodations must formally register their disability with the University. Once successfully registered, students also must notify their course instructor that they wish to use their approved accommodations in the course.

Please contact the Center for Accessibility and Disability Resources (CADR) to schedule an appointment to discuss accommodation requests and eligibility requirements. Most students on the St. Louis campus will contact CADR, located in the Student Success Center and available by email at or by phone at 314.977.3484. Once approved, information about a student’s eligibility for academic accommodations will be shared with course instructors by email from CADR and within the instructor’s official course roster. Students who do not have a documented disability but who think they may have one also are encouraged to contact to CADR. Confidentiality will be observed in all inquiries.

Title IX

Saint Louis University and its faculty are committed to supporting our students and seeking an environment that is free of bias, discrimination, and harassment. If you have encountered any form of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, stalking, domestic or dating violence, we encourage you to report this to the University. If you speak with a faculty member about an incident that involves a Title IX matter, that faculty member must notify SLU’s Title IX Coordinator and share the basic facts of your experience. This is true even if you ask the faculty member not to disclose the incident. The Title IX Coordinator will then be available to assist you in understanding all of your options and in connecting you with all possible resources on and off campus.

Anna Kratky is the Title IX Coordinator at Saint Louis University (DuBourg Hall, room 36;; 314-977-3886). If you wish to speak with a confidential source, you may contact the counselors at the University Counseling Center at 314-977-TALK or make an anonymous report through SLU’s Integrity Hotline by calling 1-877-525-5669 or online at To view SLU’s policies, and for resources, please visit the following web addresses:

​ ​

Temporary Mandatory Statement on Face Masks

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, key safeguards like face masks have allowed SLU to safely maintain in-person learning. If public health conditions and local, state, and federal restrictions demand it, the University may require that all members of our campus community wear face masks indoors.

Therefore, any time a University-level face mask requirement is in effect, face masks will be required in this class. This expectation will apply to all students and instructors, unless a medical condition warrants an exemption from the face mask requirement (see below).

​ ​

When a University-wide face mask requirement is in effect, the following will apply:

When a University-wide face mask requirement is not in effect, students and instructors may choose to wear a face mask or not, as they prefer for their own individual comfort level.

​ ​

ADA Accommodations for Face Mask Requirements

Saint Louis University is committed to maintaining an inclusive and accessible environment. Individuals who are unable to wear a face mask due to medical reasons should contact the Office of Disability Services (students) or Human Resources (instructors) to initiate the accommodation process identified in the University’s ADA Policy. Inquiries or concerns may also be directed to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity. Notification to instructors of SLU-approved ADA accommodations should be made in writing prior to the first class session in any term (or as soon thereafter as possible).

​ ​

Temporary Mandatory Statement on In-Class Attendance and Participation

The health and well-being of SLU’s students, staff, and faculty are critical concerns, as is the quality of our learning environments. Accordingly, the following University policy statements on in-person class attendance are designed to preserve and advance the collective health and well-being of our institutional constituencies and to create the conditions in which all students have the opportunity to learn and successfully complete their courses.

  1. Students who exhibit any potential COVID-19 symptoms (those that cannot be attributed to some other medical condition the students are known to have, such as allergies, asthma, etc.) shall absent themselves from any in-person class attendance or in-person participation in any class-related activity until they have been evaluated by a qualified medical official. Students should contact the University Student Health Center for immediate assistance.
  2. Students (whether exhibiting any of potential COVID-19 symptoms or not, and regardless of how they feel) who are under either an isolation or quarantine directive issued by a qualified health official must absent themselves from all in-person course activities per the stipulations of the isolation or quarantine directive.
  3. Students are responsible for notifying their instructor of an absence as far in advance as possible; when advance notification is not possible, students are responsible for notifying each instructor as soon after the absence as possible. Consistent with the University Attendance Policy, students also are responsible for all material covered in class and must work with the instructor to complete any required work. In situations where students must be absent for an extended period of time due to COVID-19 isolation or quarantine, they also must work with the instructor to determine the best way to maintain progress in the course as they are able based on their health situation.
  4. Consistent with the University Attendance Policy, students may be asked to provide medical documentation when a medical condition impacts a student’s ability to attend and/or participate in class for an extended period of time.
  5. As a temporary amendment to the current University Attendance Policy, all absences due to illness or an isolation/quarantine directive issued by a qualified health official, or due to an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, shall be considered “Authorized” absences.