Operating Systems


  • Module: Operating Systems (CO-562)

  • Semester: Fall 2020

  • Instructor: Jürgen Schönwälder

  • TA: Eglis Balani

  • TA: Ivan Kabadzhov

  • TA: Horia Turcuman

  • Class: Tuesday, 15:45-17:00 (SCC Hall 1)

  • Class: Tuesday, 17:15-18:30 (SCC Hall 1)

  • Class: Thursday, 15:45-17:00 (SCC Hall 1)

  • Tutorial: Monday, 19:00-20:30 (Horia, group C)

  • Tutorial: Tuesday, 20:30-22:00 (Ivan, group B)

  • Tutorial: Wednesday, 19:00-20:30 (Eglis, group A)

  • 1st Module Exam: TBD

  • 2nd Module Exam: TBD

  • Office: Monday, 11:15-12:30 (Research I, Room 87)

  • Start: 2020-09-01

Content and Educational Aims

This module introduces concepts and principles used by operating systems to provide programming abstractions that enable an efficient and robust execution of application programs. Students will gain an understanding of how an operating system kernel manages hardware components and how it provides abstractions such as processes, threads, virtual memory, file systems, and inter-process communication facilities. Students learn the principles of event-driven and concurrent programming and the mechanisms that are necessary to solve synchronization and coordination problems, thereby avoiding race conditions, deadlocks, and resource starvation. The Linux kernel and runtime system will be used throughout the course to illustrate how key ideas and concepts have been implemented and how application programs can use them.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be able to

  • explain the differences between processes, threads, application programs, libraries, and operating system kernels;

  • describe well-known mutual exclusion and coordination problems;

  • use semaphores to achieve mutual exclusion and solve coordination problems;

  • use mutual exclusion locks and condition variables to solve synchronization and coordination problems;

  • illustrate how deadlocks can be avoided, detected, and resolved;

  • summarize the different mechanisms to realize virtual memory and their trade-offs;

  • solve basic inter-process communication problems using signals and pipes;

  • use socket inter-process communication primitives;

  • multiplex I/O activities using suitable system calls and libraries;

  • describe file system programming interfaces and the design of file systems at the operating system kernel level;

  • explain how memory mapping can improve I/O performance;

  • restate the functionality of a linker and the difference between static linking and dynamic linking;

  • outline how different device types are supported by Unix-like kernels;

  • discuss virtualization mechanisms such as containers or virtual machines.


  • Abraham Silberschatz, Peter B. Galvin, Greg Gagne: "Applied Operating System Concepts", John Wiley, 2000

  • Andrew S. Tanenbaum, Herbert Bos: "Modern Operating Systems", Prentice Hall, 4th edition, Pearson, 2015

  • William Stallings: "Operating Systems: Internals and Design Principles", 8th edition, Pearson, 2014

  • Robert Love: "Linux Kernel Development", 3rd edition, Addison Wesley, 2010

  • Robert Love: "Linux System Programming: Talking Directly to the Kernel and C Library", 2nd edition, O'Reilly, 2013


Tuesday Thursday Topics
2020-09-01 2020-09-03 Introduction, Libraries, Function Call, System Calls, Tools
2020-09-08 2020-09-10 Hardware, Processes, Threads
2020-09-15 2020-09-17 Synchronization (Mutual Exclusion, Semaphores)
2020-09-22 2020-09-24 Synchronization (Condition Variables, Monitors, Deadlocks)
2020-09-29 2020-10-01 Deadlocks, CPU Scheduling
2020-10-06 2020-10-08 Memory Segments, Memory Mapping, Linking
2020-10-13 2020-10-15 Memory Management (Segmentation, Paging, Working Sets)
2020-10-20 2020-10-22 Inter-Process Communication (Signals, Pipes)
2020-10-27 2020-10-29 Inter-Process Communication (Sockets)
2020-11-03 2020-11-05 Inter-Process Communication (Event Loops)
2020-11-10 2020-11-12 File Systems
2020-11-17 2020-11-19 Block and Character Devices
2020-11-24 2020-11-26 Virtualization, Virtual Machines, Container
2020-12-01 2020-12-03 Distributed Systems


Date/Due Name Topics
2020-09-17 Sheet #01 memory segments, system call errors, library vs. system calls (scat)
2020-09-24 Sheet #02 memory segments, processes (xargs)


The grade is determined by the final exam (100%). In order to sit for the final exam, it is necessary to have 50% of the assignments correctly solved.

Electronic submission is the preferred way to hand in homework solutions. Please submit documents (plain ASCII/UTF-8 text or PDF, no Word) and your source code (packed into a tar or zip archive after removing all binaries and temporary files) via the online submission system. If you have problems, please contact one of the TAs.

Late submissions will not be accepted. Homeworks may need to be defended in an oral interview. In case you are ill, you have to follow the procedures defined in the university policies to obtain an official excuse. If you obtain an excuse, the new deadline will be calculated as follows:

  1. Determine the number of days you were excused until the deadline day, not counting excused weekend days.

  2. Determine the day of the end of your excuse and add the number of day you obtained in first step. This gives you the initial new deadline.

  3. If the period between the end of your excuse and the new deadline calculated in the second step includes weekend days, add them as well to the new deadline. (Iterate this step if necessary.)

For any questions stated on assignment sheets or exam sheets, we by default expect a reasoning for the answer given, unless explicitely stated otherwise.

Students must submit solutions individually. If you copy material verbatim from the Internet (or other sources), you have to provide a proper reference. If we find your solution text on the Internet without a proper reference, you risk to lose your points. Any cheating cases will be reported to the registrar. In addition, you will lose the points (of course).

Any programs, which have to be written, will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • correctness including proper handling of error conditions

  • proper use of programming language constructs

  • clarity of the program organization and design

  • readability of the source code and any output produced

Source code must be accompanied by a README file providing an overview of the source files and giving instructions how to build the programs. A suitable Makefile is required if the build process involves more than a single source file.

If you are unhappy with the grading, please report immediately (within one week) to the TAs. If you can't resolve things, contact the instructor. Problem reports which come late, that is after the one week period, are not considered anymore.