Operating Systems CS502                                                  Fall 2007

Term Project



The goals of this term project are

·        As a class, to introduce you to a number of operating systems in use today other than the familiar desktop and time-sharing systems based on Unix/Linux, Windows, and the Macintosh.

·        As an individual, to analyze the principal characteristics of one such operating system in terms of the topics of this course and to describe that system for the rest of the class.

To complete this term project, you will be required to

·        Conduct research on the web and other sources to identify at least five currently available operating systems and to summarize each one in a single paragraph.

·        With the approval of your instructor, select one operating system for in-depth study. Each member of the class will study a different system.

·        Discover the principal characteristics of the selected operating system, including how its processes work, its scheduling policies and practices, memory management, file management and persistent storage, input, output, and graphics, networking (if any), loading and execution of programs, services, and anything else that is relevant.

·        Make a 10-minute oral report to the class of your findings. Reports will be scheduled for the ninth through the eleventh weeks of the term.

·        Make a written report of up to ten pages, to be handed in at the beginning of the last class of the term. Discussion and feedback from the class and instructor during your oral report should be incorporated into this written report.

This project is an important part of the course and counts for ~20% of your final grade. Grades will be based on the quality and completeness of your analysis and the quality of the oral presentation and term-report.

Most students will carry out this project individually under the terms of the WPI Academic Honesty Policy. If the number of registered students in the class exceeds 12, the instructor may authorize a limited number of two-person teams, who will then receive joint grades for the project.

Initial Research Phase

We are all familiar with the personal computer systems such as Mac OS and Windows and with Unix and Linux systems used in university computing centers and many commercial situations. Most of us are less familiar with operating systems used to support games, cell phones and other personal devices, real-time applications, process control systems, embedded applications, fault-tolerant transaction processing systems, etc.

The purpose of this phase of the term project is to find out a little bit about these other systems. You should identify at least five such systems that are currently available and in use and for which information can be found on the web, in libraries, or from other sources. (Authorized two-person teams, if any, must identify at least seven such systems.)

For each identified system, please write one paragraph that describes its reason for being, its target market or application space, the principal requirements that it must address, and its goals and objectives. Paragraphs should be written in your own words, not copied from published material. Also include one or more references indicating where in-depth information may be found.

The systems that you identify must be currently available and in use for practical purposes. Systems that are not acceptable include obsolete operating systems of an earlier generation that are no longer in use, academic systems that exist purely for the teaching of operating systems topics, and new, unreleased systems. If you have a question, please e-mail the instructor.

Please list the systems you have identified in your order of preference for deeper study. If you have particular experience with any of them, either as an operating system developer or as a programmer for that environment, please indicate that also.

The instructor will endeavor to assign your highest preference system consistent with the requirement that each team or member of the class study a different system. If there are conflicts among highest preferences, the instructor will communicate by e-mail with you.

·        Research reports are due on Monday, September 24, via the web-based Turnin Tool.

In-depth analysis

The operating system selected by you and your instructor for in-depth study and analysis defines an environment for supporting a particular set of applications and/or users. You need to understand and describe this set and what is so special about it that makes Linux, Windows, or the other familiar operating systems unsuitable (or less suitable).

Your operating system defines a number of abstractions and services discussed during this class. These include processes, interprocess communication and synchronization, memory management, file systems and/or persistent storage of data, input and output, program loading and unloading, and possibly graphics, security, multiple processor support, network support, etc. In your oral and written reports, you need to explain what these abstractions and services are and how they affect the programming environment and the thought processes of programmers developing applications for the system. If one or more of the major abstractions or services is missing from your selected system, you should explain why it is not needed and how applications do without.

Oral reports

Oral reports will be scheduled by the instructor for the 9th through the 11th weeks of the term — i.e., November 5 through November 19. Approximately four oral reports will be heard each week, occupying the first hour or so of the class. Reports are normally presented alphabetically by student’s e-mail address, starting at a random place in the alphabet. Anyone have special scheduling constraints should make arrangements with the professor by October 29.

All students should listen carefully and be prepared to ask questions for information and clarification. Part of your class participation grade depends upon your attentiveness and interaction during these presentations.

Each oral report should describe the principal characteristics of the system that you studied, what it is for, and how it addresses its target market or purpose. Oral reports must be supported by slides in PowerPoint or other presentation tool. Please be sure that you can access your presentation from the classroom computer system and projector, so that we do not consume class time trying to download it.

·        Following your oral report, a copy of your slides must be turned in via the web-based Turnin tool.

Written reports

Written reports will be due at the start of the last class of the term. Written reports should be no more than 10 pages of normal text and must be submitted in Microsoft Word or PDF format. The written material should cover the same matter as the oral report, and it should also address any questions or issues raised during the oral report.

Written reports must be in your own words! Occasional quoting from published manuals or other sources is acceptable, provided that appropriate citations are included. However, constructing a written report by broadly quoting published material is not acceptable, even if the material is properly cited.


Wikipedia is not a valid source for citation in research. However, it is a very practical tool for helping you to find valid sources. Once you have found some valid sources – i.e., research papers, product brochures or manuals, vendors’ white papers, etc. – cite those, not Wikipedia. If you find some interesting information in Wikipedia, track it down to the primary sources and verify its accuracy and validity.




Due Date

List of five operating system in order of preference (seven for authorized teams)

One paragraph for each system, by web-based Turnin tool.

24 September 2007

Approval of selected system

Communication by e-mail from instructor

1 October 2007

Oral reports to class

10 minute oral report, supported by slides (Powerpoint or otherwise); submit afterwards by web-based Turnin tool

5-19 November 2007

Written report

Submit via web-based Turnin tool.

10 December 2007


This project will be worth approximately 20% of the final grade of the course. The grade will be apportioned as follows:–

·        5 points for the list of five operating systems and descriptive paragraphs (seven systems for authorized teams).

·        7 points for the oral report, based on quality of the information about the system and the quality of your presentation.

·        8 points for the written report, with special emphasis on addressing the feedback from the oral report.

Late delivery without prior notification and permission from the instructor will result in a loss of 10% of the points for that deliverable per day late.