CSCI 3310
Operating Systems

Bowdoin College
Fall 2022
Instructor: Sean Barker

Course Overview

This course will provide an introduction to operating system design and implementation. The operating system provides a well-known, convenient, and efficient interface between user programs and the bare hardware of the computer on which they run. The operating system is responsible for allowing resources (e.g., processors, memory, and disks) to be shared, providing common services needed by many different programs (e.g., filesystems, the ability to start or stop processes, and access to hardware devices), and protecting individual programs from one another. Particular emphasis will be given to three major OS subsystems: process management and synchronization, memory management, and file systems.

Primary course goals include:


CSCI 2330 (Foundations of Computer Systems). Familiarity with C is expected, but prior experience with C++ is not required or assumed.


Instructor: Sean Barker
Office: Searles 220
Phone: 207-798-4220
Office Hours: Monday 12-1:30, Tuesday 9-11, Friday 1:30-3, or by appointment.

Class Information

Wednesdays and Fridays, 11:40 AM - 1:05 PM
Searles 223

Health Guidelines

Students are expected to follow all College-mandated COVID-19 health guidelines and exercise good judgment with respect to masking and attending in-person classes. If you test positive for COVID, you should let me know immediately and isolate. After you are cleared to exit isolation, you must continue to mask until day ten (regardless of whether symptoms have resolved prior to then).

Students exhibiting mild cold-like symptoms (cough, runny nose, etc.) who test negative for COVID and feel well enough to attend class may do so, but are requested as a courtesy to myself and your classmates to mask until symptoms have resolved fully. If you do not feel well enough to attend class, or if you suspect you may have COVID (even if you have not tested positive), please let me know.


We will use the following textbook, which is freely available online:


Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau and Andrew Arpaci-Dusseau. Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces.

Individual chapters of the book are downloadable as PDFs from the site above. If desired, you can also purchase a hard copy of the book from the website to supplement the free electronic version.

Course Requirements

Course requirements include attendance and participation in class, 4 programming projects, roughly 4 written problem sets, and 2 exams (midterm and final). Evaluation will be as follows:

Projects will be completed in groups of 2 or 3 (after the first) and will be evaluated on program correctness, sound design, proper coding style, and the quality of your project writeups. Past students have frequently reported spending more time on this course than others (primarily on account of the projects), and you should plan accordingly! While you will have roughly 2-3 weeks to complete each project, it is essential that you start the projects early and work steadily.

Deadlines and Flex Days

To provide reasonable flexibility with deadlines, you are allotted five flex days for the semester, each of which may be used to submit an assignment up to 24 hours late without penalty. A maximum of three flex days may be applied to a single assignment. For group projects, applying a flex day uses a flex day from each group member's allotment (but can be applied as long as at least one group member has a flex day remaining).

Beyond the use of flex days, late work will not be accepted unless I have approved alternate arrangements in advance of the deadline.

Electronic Communication

We will use Slack to facilitate communication and discussion outside of class. In general, you should prefer messaging over Slack instead of sending me email, as it is will be easier to keep track of communication and will result in faster responses. Slack supports both traditional 1-to-1 communication (Direct Messages / DMs) and forum-style discussions with multiple participants. You will get set up on Slack as part of the first assignment of the class.

Guidelines on Group Work

Collaboration is important and valuable in computer science and some assignments in this course will permit working in a group. This section describes expectations and requirements for completing group work in this course.

For all group work, a single copy of the assignment will be submitted. Group members are expected to fully collaborate on the work, and all group members are responsible for understanding all parts of the assignment. In other words, you should not plan to split the work between the group members and complete the parts independently; instead, the expectation should be that you will work collectively as a group.  For programming assignments completed in groups, most or all programming should be done with all group members working in front of a single (physical or virtual) computer.  Group members should take turns ‘driving’ (writing code) and ‘directing’ (looking at the code and offering suggestions and feedback).

Note that this model of groupwork means that you should choose your group members carefully and deliberately.  In particular, you should consider both your individual working styles and schedules; you cannot be an effective team if you cannot find suitable chunks of time to collaborate synchronously.

Forming a group: Each assignment that permits group work is given a "group deadline", which is the date by which groups must be determined (typically a few days after the assignment is released). To form a group, DM me on Slack with your group members. If you want to work in a group but don't have a partner in mind, let me know and I can try to match you. If I do not hear from you and you previously worked in a group, I will assume that you are working in the same group as before. You may also opt to dissolve a group and work solo, even if you worked in a group on a prior assignment. Group changes following the group deadline are not permitted without prior approval.

In the event that your group is not working smoothly for any reason and you do not believe it will be resolved, you should let me know as soon as possible. I can't address a problem that I don’t know exists!

Group reports: Each student working in a group is required to send me an individual group report at the conclusion of each group assignment. Your group report must (1) identify your partner(s), (2) summarize your own contributions to the assignment, and (3) summarize your partners' contributions to the assignment. The purpose of these reports is to provide mutual accountability within your group and to ensure that groups are functioning well. These reports do not need to be overly detailed and are often of the form "I worked with my partner on the entirety of the project together at the same time." Note that I reserve the right to adjust individual grades up or down from the group grade in cases of clear inequity. Group reports should be DM'd to me on Slack and are due at the same time of the assignment itself. Your assignment will not be considered submitted until both the assignment and your group report is received! Your randomly generated Slack string is fuwesu (save this).

Collaboration Policy and Honor Code

Please review the Computer Science Collaboration Policy. You are responsible for reading, understanding, and adhering to this policy.

Group work follows the standard guidelines described above, with the exception that collaboration between members within the group is unrestricted and does not need to be cited. Any collaborations outside of the group must follow the standard guidelines.


Feedback is welcome on all aspects of the course as we go, either by DM on Slack or by using the anonymous feedback form. Of course, the sooner that feedback is provided, the more likely it is that adjustments can be made in response.