CS503: Operating Systems (Fall 2015)

Course Information

TR 9:00-10:15am

Mathias Payer
office hours: T 10:15-11:15am (LWSN 3154M)

Teaching Assistants:
Xuankang Lin

Shuvra Kanti Nath

Use Piazza for discussions, request personal meetings by email.

PSOs (HAAS 257):
M 9:30-11:20am (Shuvra)
M 1:30-3:20pm (Shuvra)
F 9:30-11:20pm (Xuankang)
F 1:30-3:20pm (Xuankang)

Operating System Design – The Xinu Approach, Douglas Comer, latest edition



Lecture Notes

Please follow instructions given in class for accessing lecture slides (pdf).

The topics listed below include material not covered in the pdf lecture slides. They should be referenced from class notes and additional pdf slides.


Graduate standing in Computer Science, previous operating system class at the undergraduate level (CS 354 or equivalent), ability to read and understand a large non-trivial system written in C, ability to program extensively in C, and command of system development tools.

Grading Policy

The grade will be determined by a midterm, final, and lab assignments. Their relative weights are:

Midterm 25%
Final 25%
Lab assignments 50%

If you think you have been unfairly graded on a lab or exam, you should petition the appropriate TA or Professor Payer in writing within two weeks of distribution of the graded work. After two weeks, no regrade requests will be honored.


For those planning to take the CS503 Qual 1 examination, the format is the regular final exam plus additional questions. Please contact the instructor for further information.

Labs and Policies


We will use the XINU operating system for the lab assignments. The XINU lab is located in the HAAS Building, room 257. The lab is comprised of frontend machines xinu01.cs.purdue.edu, xinu02.cs.purdue.edu, ..., xinu21.cs.purdue.edu which are Linux PCs. You will use the frontend machines for operating system code development (coding and compiling/linking) and to access one of the backend machines galileo101.cs.purdue.edu, galileo102.cs.purdue.edu, ..., galileo196.cs.purdue.edu. The frontend machines can be remotely accessed via secure shell. They can be used by multiple users concurrently to develop and test code. The backend machines are x86-compatible Intel Galileo boards equipped with Quark X1000 processors that are dedicated to running your implementation of XINU. Thus you are loading/running your own OS binary developed on the frontends on dedicated backend hardware. The specifics of developing and testing code in the XINU Lab will be covered in lab1.

Getting your CS account

Students registered in the course should have an account automatically set up. Please check by going to HAAS 257 and logging in to one of the frontend machines (Linux PCs). If you have registered but don't have an account, please contact accounts@cs.purdue.edu.

Late Policy

To help manage unexpected scheduling demands, you are given a budget of 3 late days in total that may be used for late submissions of lab assignments. Time for late submission is rounded up to the next full day. For example, you may submit 1 day late on three lab assignments, or 3 days late on one lab assignment. Any combination is valid as long as the total days delayed does not exceed 3. There will be a total of 5-6 lab assignments.

Due to the low-level systems nature of the lab assignments, coding and evaluating parts of an operating system running on hardware is time intensive so we encourage students to start individual labs early.

Academic Dishonesty

We wish to foster an open and collegial class environment. At the same time, we are vigorously opposed to academic dishonesty because it seriously detracts from the education of honest students. Because of this, we have the following standard policy on academic honesty, consistent with Purdue University's official policy.

It is permissible to discuss a general method of solution with other students, or to make use of reference materials in the library or online. If you do this, you will be expected to clearly disclose with whom you discussed the method of solution, or to cite the references used. Failure to do so will be considered cheating or plagiarism. The use of "method of solution" means a general discussion of technique or algorithm, such as one would reasonably expect to occur standing in front of a whiteboard, and precludes the detailed discussion of code. Specifically, looking at another student's code on his/her computer monitor is NOT allowed.

Unless otherwise explicitly specified, all code that is submitted is to be entirely each student’s own work. Using any code or copying any assignment from others is strictly prohibited without advance prior permission from the instructor. This includes the use of code others have submitted in the past.

All students work is their own. Students who do share their work with others are as responsible for academic dishonesty as the student receiving the material. Students are not to show work to other students, in the class or not. Students are responsible for the security of their work and should ensure that printed copies are not left in accessible places, and that file/directory permissions are set to be unreadable to others (e.g. use "chmod -R 700 *" from your home directory). If you need assistance protecting your work, please contact the TA or the instructor.

Students who encourage others to cheat or plagiarize, or students who are aware of plagiarism or cheating and do not report it are also participating in academically dishonest behavior.

Be aware that we will use a software tool called MOSS to check for copying among submitted assignments (and similar submitted assignments from prior years). Additionally, the instructor and TA will be inspecting all submitted material to ensure honesty.

Any case of academic dishonesty will be dealt with by a severe grade penalty in the overall class grade and referral to the office of the Dean of Students.

We also refer to and include Gene Spafford's policy on academic integrity.

Campus Emergencies:

In the event of a major campus emergency, course requirements, deadlines, and grading percentages are subject to changes that may be necessitated by a revised semester calendar. If such unusual circumstances arise, students may determine any such changes by contacting their instructors via email or phone, and checking the course web page for updates.

Emergencies and campus closings will be announced on local media and on the main Purdue University WWW site http://www.purdue.edu. Individuals may subscribe to an SMS text announcement service by logging in and filling out your contact details. More details on emergency preparedness at Purdue.

Course Content

This is a graduate introductory course in operating systems that examines how modern operating systems are architected and implemented. Extensive implementation experience is gained by coding, testing, and benchmarking key components of the Xinu operating system on dedicated x86-compatible hardware. A by-product of programming hardware-dependent kernel features in assembly is achieving significant familiarity with x86 hardware, a popular platform of commodity computing systems.

The topics covered in the course include: evolution of operating systems and computer architectures, process management, memory manangement, virtual memory, file systems, I/O subsystems and device management, virtualization and security. In addition to implementing key kernel features in Xinu, we will examine case studies in Linux, UNIX (Solaris and BSD), and Windows that differ from Xinu and each other in significant ways. One important example is how I/O subsystems are architected to handle a range of heterogenous devices and their interrupts, including high-speed USB and wired/wireless network interfaces, that characterize many of today's computing systems. Kernel dependence on changing hardware features and support is an important theme throughout the course that will help familiarize with recent developments such as non-traditional file systems for flash RAM secondary memory prevalent in mobile systems.