CSC 262

CSC 262: Operating Systems


Course Description

Without its software, a computer is useless. The most fundamental piece of software is the operating system. These days every computer (and many other electronic devices also) has an operating system, which runs the application programs and assists in the correct and efficient management of different user processes and computer resources: memory, disk space, processor time.

This course will show you the theory and practice behind the major components of an operating system, will give you a hands-on experience with writing code that might be part of an operating system and will enhance your understanding of Unix as our main case study.


Operating Systems: Internals and Design Principles (5th Edition), by William Stallings. (Prentice Hall; ISBN: 0130319996.)

Students may also wish to borrow or purchase a reference on the Linux operating system. I recommend Understanding the Linux Kernel (3rd Edition) by Daniel P. Bovet, Marco Cesati. (O'Reilly & Associates; ISBN: 978-0596005658.)

Both of these books have been placed on reserve in the science library, although the copy of Stallings is the 4th edition.


Course assignments will consist of a mixture of written work and hands-on lab projects using real and simulated operating systems. Such assignments will constitute 60% of a student's grade in the course. The remaining 40% will come from exams. There will be two exams during the term plus a self-scheduled final examination.

Weekly written work is intended as a first look at new material. In order to de-emphasize this work as a proportion of the overall grade, the lowest grade on the written homework will be dropped when computing the homework average. (Note: grades for missing work will not normally be dropped; only those assignments where the student has made a good-faith effort are eligible.)

Unless otherwise stated, students are not to collaborate on assignments for this course. Use of resources found on the internet is permitted on labs and homework assignments, provided that the source is cited. Violations of these policies may be referred to the Honor Board. Students are encouraged to review the instructor's grading policies and policy on late work.


Instructor: Nicholas R. Howe

TA: T. B. A.


Lecture: Monday & Wednesday, 2:40-4:00 pm, Burton B01.
Lab: Thursday, 1:00-2:50 pm, Burton B17.

There is also a tentative list of topics by week, including assigned readings. This is just a projection and is subject to change as the course progresses.

Consulting Hours

TA hours will be announced after classes have begun.

Office hours for Professor Howe are available here. Other times are available by appointment.