Operating Systems - CSCI 402, Summer 2018, All Sections

Click here to see a PREVIEW of important rules that was posted before the summer session started.

This is an undergraduate course on computer operating systems. (But only graduate students are permitted to be in this class. USC undergraduate students must take CS 350 in order to get credit for OS. If you are an undergraduate student, you cannnot be in this class and you cannot get credit for Operating System if you take this class. Please check with your adviser to see which Operating System class you need to take!) In addition to exploring concepts such as synchronization, virtual memory, processes, file systems and virtualization, students will develop elements of a fairly complete operating system during the course of the semester.

General Information
Instructor Bill Cheng (click to see office hours)
E-mail: <>.  (Please do not send HTML-only e-mails. They will not be read.)
  DEN Section (29915D+29917D) PM Section (30038D)
Time TT 9:30am - 11:25am  TT 12:45pm - 2:40pm 
Location OHE 132  KAP 144 
TAs Ben Yan, E-mail: <>
Office Hours: Mon/Fri 9:00am - 10:00am and Wed 8:00am - 9:50am in SAL 200
Paras Goyal, E-mail: <>
Weijie Lin, E-mail: <>
(If needed, the grader will hold office hours the week after the announcement of each assignment's grades.)
Midterm Exam during class time, Thu, 7/5/2017 (firm) during class time, Thu, 7/5/2017 (firm)
Final Exam 9:30am-11:25am, Tue, 7/31/2017 (firm). 12:45pm-2:40pm, Tue, 7/31/2017 (firm).
Class Resources
Description   :   textbooks, topics covered, grading policies, additional resources, etc.
Lectures   :   information about lectures (and lectures slides in PDF format).
Videos   :   information about DEN lectures and discussion sections videos.
Discussions   :   information about discussion sections.
Projects   :   programming assignments (please also see important information about the class projects below.)
Participation   :   how to earn extra credit for class participation.
Newsgroup   :   Google Group for discussing course materials and programming assignments. You are required to be a member of this group. (This group is by invitation only.) Please do not send request to join this group until after the first lecture.
(in reversed chronological order)
  • 5/13/2018:
    • Watch this area for important announcements.

    • To get user ID and password for accessing protected area of this web site, please visit the request access page after summer session starts and submit the requested information. (You do not have to be registered for the course to get the password. You just need to have an USC e-mail address.)

    • Please do not send request to join the class Google Group until after the first lecture.
In the official syllabus, it is listed that the prerequisites are:
(CSCI 201L or CSCI 455x) and (EE 357 or EE 352L)

Please see:

Apparently, they are the prerequisites for undergraduate students only. The CS department would waive these prerequisites for graduate students. Since undergraduate students are required to take CS 350 for OS credit, there should only be graduate students enrolled in CS 402. Therefore, these prerequisites are really not prerequisites. They should be considered recommended preparation for graduate students. The basic idea behind these prerequisites is that you are expected to know how to program and you are expected to know something about computer architecture (such as what the CPU does).
Important Information about Programming Assignments
The programming assignments of this class will be very demanding. You will be required to write C code. Since C is a proper subset of C++, knowing C++ well would give you enough background. However, some of the things that available in C++, such as strings and streams, are not be available in C. So, you need to know how to do things such as manipulating null-terminated array of characters (using functions such as strchr, strrchr, strlen, strcmp, strncpy, etc.) and performing console and file I/O (using functions such as printf/snprintf, fread/fwrite, read/write, fgets, etc.) in C. No other programming language will be accepted. We will not teach C in this class. You are expected to pick up C on your own if you are not familiar with it.

You should also get familiar with the Unix development environment (vi/pico/emacs, cc/gcc, make, etc.) You are expected to know how to use Unix. If you are not familiar with Unix, please read Unix for the Beginning Mage, a tutorial written by Joe Topjian. If you forgot how to use Unix, please summary of some commonly used Unix commands. The kernel programming assignments must run on a 32-bit Ubuntu 14.04 (Ubuntu 12.04 is also acceptable if you have a slow machine). Therefore, you should install a 32-bit Ubuntu 14.04 (or Ubuntu 12.04) on your laptop or desktop as soon as possible. If you do not have a personal laptop or desktop that runs Windows or Mac OS X, please contact the instructor as soon as possible. Please note that the preferred version of Ubuntu is Ubuntu 14.04 (unless you have a laptop with only 2GB of memory or a slow CPU, then you should install Ubuntu 12.04)

These days, I have been using VagrantBox (i.e., Vagrant with Virtualbox) to install and run Ubuntu 14.04. I think it has a better integration with Windows 10 than other systems. If you are running Windows and you are comfortable with commandline interface to Linux/Unix systems (since Vagrant does not have a "desktop UI"), I would recommend installing Vagrant on your laptop/desktop.

If a student registered late for this class or could not be present at the beginning of the summer session, he/she is still required to turn all projects and homeworks on time or he/she will receive a score of 0 for these assignments. No exceptions!


[Last updated Fri May 18 2018]    [Please see copyright regarding copying.]