(Latest Revision -- August 08, 2012)
[08/08/2012: Initial Revisions]

Course Description
for Operating Systems I: CS 3750

"An elephant is a mouse with an operating system."
TERM: Fall 2012

40454 CS 3750 001 Operating Systems I Lec 3.0 TR 12:30P-01:15P P-114
40455 CS 3750 002 Operating Systems I Lab 0.0 TR 01:16P-01:45P P-114
INSTRUCTOR: John Sarraille, Professor of Computer Science

OFFICE: P-286, Professional Schools Building (aka: Demergasso-Bava Hall), Cal State Stanislaus

OFFICE HOURS: Tu 09:30-11:30, W 10:00-13:00; or by appointment
(The first day of scheduled office hours is Tuesday, Aug 28, 2012 and the last is Wednesday, Dec 05, 2012.)

E-MAIL: john@ishi.csustan.edu

HOMEPAGE: http://www.cs.csustan.edu/~john/js.html


It is important that you be adequately prepared for taking this course, CS 3750. Check with me if you have not passed both: COURSE OBJECTIVES:

The main aim of this course is for you to develop an understanding of important concepts and techniques involved in the design, implementation, and use of computer operating systems.

Some specific goals are to learn about what an operating system does, about sequential processes, the control of concurrent processes, memory management, protection, security, network operating systems, and truly distributed operating systems.

Other aims of this course include developing programming skills and learning to program cooperating concurrent processes.


Silberschatz: Operating Systems Concepts, Eighth Edition ; written by Abraham Silberschatz, Peter Galvin, and Greg Gagne; published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc; ISBN 978-0-470-12872-5


Peek: Learning the Unix Operating System (5th edition); by Jerry Peek, Grace Todino-Gonguet and John Strang; published by O'Reilly and Associates, 2001; ISBN 9780596002619


You will probably want a textbook on C++ as a reference while doing programming problems. Feel free to use any book on C++ that you like. Speak with me if using C++ is a problem for you.


I strongly recommend that you read the Silberschatz book - all of it. Operating Systems is a big area, and you have to do a lot of reading to get an adequate background in the subject. I expect to discuss material in chapters 1-17 in class, giving special attention to chapters 6-9, which deal with the areas of process control and memory management. The material on distributed systems has special relevance for the future of operating systems.


For technical reasons, students in this class are required to sign up separately for a lecture section and a lab section, and a typical CSU Stanislaus Schedule of Classes indicates that lecture and lab occur on different days or times. In actual fact, I don't run the class that way.

There may be some activities that require us to meet in the CS department laboratory (P-288) The dates of such sessions, if any, will be announced later in class and inserted into the CS 3750 class schedule.


The course has three main components: In determining your grade, normally your average score on the concurrent programming assignments will receive a weight of 40%, and your average on the tests a weight of 60%.

There will be: Generally homework will be a combination of problems from the textbook and assignments to write small essays. Tests will cover the reading and lectures.

By default, the three tests and the final are each worth 15% of your grade. If your score on the final is higher than your minimum test score, I will shift some of the weight from your lowest-score test to the final. On the other hand, if your score on the final is lower than your lowest test score it counts 15% of your grade.

An exception to the foregoing rules is that you are not allowed to pass the course if you receive a failing average score on the programming or test component.


I will assess a penalty of 10% credit per calendar day (including holidays and weekends) on late concurrent programming assignments.

I will not accept concurrent programming assignments late more than five days.

We can have class discussions about test dates and due dates. I may be willing to change some of these dates. If you want a change to a date in the schedule, please ask me about it (in class, preferably) as soon as possible - say, at least a week or two ahead of the current schedule date. (It's usually a good idea for class members to try to work out some consensus before bringing the subject up with me.)

If you cannot finish an assignment on time, please turn in whatever you have done. It may be possible to get up to about half credit on an unfinished programming assignment, depending on the quality of the work and the circumstances. Also, if you turn something in, then I get information that helps me know what kind of help you may need.

To "survive" in a class like this, you may need to put aside foolish pride, stubbornness, and/or shyness. If you find yourself unable to make progress on some aspect of an assignment, seek help from me promptly. You may speak to me after class or during my office hours. You may send me a message by e-mail. You are entitled to get help this way. Please don't subvert your chances of success by continuing to 'spin your wheels' until it is too late.


I hope to be accessible and helpful to you during this course. I want you to get as much as possible out of it.

Remember, we are a team and you are a key player. Read everything I assign ASAP, and read with care. Read difficult material more than once! Attend all classes. Pay close attention. Take notes. Review your notes before each class. Get started on assignments early. Do a little each day, and bring your questions and problems concerning these assignments to class each day.

Finish assignments and reading on time. Do what you can to keep class discussion lively and to the point. Reply to questions. Ask questions and make remarks if you feel you have something to add, or if you feel something needs to be explained better.


Somtimes it can be difficult for the student to figure out the difference between 'cheating' and 'working smart.' Here is some guidance:

Assignments: When your purpose is to clarify the meaning of a question or to reach an understanding of program specifications, you may discuss homework and programming assignments with other people, including your classmates, as much as you like. You may also freely discuss the relative merits of various general approaches to designing and engineering solutions.

You are permitted to use algorithms or segments of code from
  1. any printed material available for student check-out in our library,
  2. our course text, or
  3. any programming textbooks to which you have access.
You are permitted to share such material, as described in 1-3 above, with other members of this class.

You may ask me for help and hints on assignments. I prefer that you ask questions in class, so that everyone has a chance to benefit from the discussion.

On the other hand, you may not give other members of this class programming code that you composed (made up). You may not discuss or give away any specifics of answers to homework problems.

You may not accept program code or accept help from any source that is not specifically listed above as permitted.

Tests: You must write your tests with no discussion or help from anyone. The one exception is that you are allowed to come forward and ask me to clarify the meaning of a test question, if you wish. It will be up to me to decide how to answer, or whether to answer at all. I will tell the class any new information that arises from such an exchange.

Penalties: If there is compelling evidence that an assignment or test was not done according to the above criteria, I will withhold credit.


I will make course documents, assignments, supplements, and so on available on the world wide web. To access the on-line CS 3750 materials, you can open the URL:


There is also a miscellaneous collection of information that you may want to use from time to time. It is located here:



Each of you is supposed to have an account that gives you access to all the Computer Science Department Lab computers. Most of the computers share a networked file system, and you get the same home directory, regardless of which which one you log into.

If you don't seem to have access to those computers, then let me know right away, preferably by filling out and submitting this form.

Otherwise send me an e-mail or give me a piece of paper containing the answers to the questions on the form.

Most students who take CS 3750 are already familiar with how to use CS Computer Lab workstations to develop C++ programs, and how to e-mail me source code and test scripts. If you want to learn or brush-up on these skills, please login to one of the CS workstations and complete the "Hello World" tutorial. If you have any problems, let me know and I'll help you.

The CS computers are located in the Computer Science Lab: P-288. P-288 is in the Professional Schools Building (aka: Demergasso-Bava Hall), in the extreme northwest corner of the north wing.

You will have to do some programming using a pthreads package. When the time comes to start this work, I'll set you up with what you need.

Generally, CS Department workstations are available for access 7 days a week and 24 hours per day. However campus computer labs do not remain open at all hours. Therefore sometimes network connections are the only means available for connecting. See the section below entitled "INTERNET CONNECTIONS" for more information. Also see the course document entitled loginDirections.

P-288 will be open basically mid-morning until about 5:00 p.m.. During these times, you can be physically present in the CS Department Lab while using a department computer. This can be very beneficial because you then have the opportunity to work and communicate with fellow students and members of the staff and faculty.

Due to budgetary constraints beyond our control, the hours during which P-288 is open are subject to change on short notice. Please check the postings of the lab hours at the entrance to the lab, in the "message of the day" that is printed on your screen when you log on to your CS computer account, or check on the web.

Incidentally, the CS Department often seeks volunteers and work-study students to help keep the lab open longer hours. For further information, ask our system administrator, Julie Gorman: P-288C, (209) 667-3273, julie@cs.csustan.edu.

You can access many CS Department Lab computers via an ssh or sftp connection from anywhere on the Internet. When the CS Lab is closed, you may wish to login from a host on the campus local area network, such as those in the labs: P-107, P-120, L-125 and L-145. Generally those labs are open during the same hours that the campus library is open. Please check postings at the labs or ask lab personnel in order to get further information about lab hours. Lab assistants should be able to show you how to establish ssh or sftp connections to a CS Department workstation.


You may want to purchase Internet connectivity. This is not a requirement and not necessary for success, but it can be a great time-saver and a convenience once you have gotten past the hurdle of setting everything up.

There are several Internet service providers (ISP's) that serve this area. Chances are that members of the class can make good recommendations. We can devote some time to this topic in class.

One can find many ISP's by doing a web search. ISP's also advertise in the yellow pages and in newspapers.

If you get an Internet connection, make sure you get remote login (ssh) and file transfer (sftp) software. This will allow you to log in from home to your computer account at the college and also transfer files back and forth. For more information about this, read the remote login and file transfer help sheet. For additional information, ask me or the CS Lab Administrator, Julie Gorman.