George Mason University


Syllabus: CS 571 Operating Systems - Fall 2010

Instructor: Dr. Harry J Foxwell

Description: This course covers the principles of operating systems theory and practice. Fundamental concepts such as processes, synchronization, scheduling and memory management will be presented. Other topics will include OS observability, virtualization, caching, parallelism, and principles of distributed operating systems.  For each topic, we will focus on the concept, its implementation, and observing its actions in the OS.  We will examine Linux, Solaris, and related operating systems.

Prerequisites: CS 310 and CS 465, or equivalent. A solid background in Computer Architecture is required. The coursework will include substantial programming projects; in order to be able to work on these, the students must  be comfortable with C programming language.


Meeting Times and Locations (classroom and online):


Required Textbook: "Operating System Concepts", by Silberschatz, Galvin and Gagne (8th Edition, John Wiley & Sons 2008, ISBN 978-0-470-12872-5).
Recommended: "Modern Operating Systems" (3rd edition, Prentice Hall 2008, ISBN: 0-13-600663-9) by A. S. Tanenbaum, is another good book on the principles of operating systems.

Office Hours: By appointment


Teaching Assistant  (TA):  Changwei Liu,

TA Office Hours:  TBD

TA Office: Engineering Building, Room 4456


Course Web Page:



Exam Dates:




Final Grade:

All students must abide by the GMU Honor Code  and CS Department's Honor Code and Academic Integrity Policies. Students must work individually on the assignments/projects. Collaboration is allowed only for group projects, within each group. We reserve the right to use automated tools such as MOSS to detect plagiarism. Violations of the Honor Code will result in an F for the course.

Computer Accounts: All students must have accounts on the central Mason Unix system  and  on IT&E Unix cluster (Instructions and related links are here). Students can  work in  IT&E computer labs  for programming projects during the specified hours.


Distance Education Session:  CS 571 Fall 2010 session is simultaneously offered to GMU Distance Education students. Distance education students will be given the midterm and final exam on campus, on the same day as Section 001.

Due dates for assignments are the same  for Section 001 and Distance Education (DL1) students.

The course  is delivered to the Internet section online by Network EducationWare (NEW),  developed by Prof. Mark Pullen and his students at GMU.  

Students in all sections will have accounts on NEW and will be able to play back the lectures and download the PDF slide files at

Students enrolled to the on-line (distance education) section can find  detailed information about the system, requirements and installation/connection issues  at  Distance Education Web Page (  If you are not able find an answer to a technical issue regarding the NEW software, please send e-mail to


Disability Statement: If you have a learning or physical difference that may affect your academic work, you will need to furnish appropriate documentation to GMU Disability Resource Center.  If you qualify for accommodation, the DRC staff will give you a form detailing appropriate accommodations for your instructor. If you have such a condition, you must talk to the instructor during the first week of the term about the issue.