Welcome to CS401: Operating Systems
Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.
Examine how operating systems and design have evolved as changes in hardware and software led to contemporary operating systems. Topics include basic OS concepts, methods of OS design and construction, process coordination, management, and algorithms for CPU scheduling, memory, and general resource allocation.
This course will introduce you to modern operating systems. We will focus on UNIX-based operating systems, though we will also learn about alternative operating systems, including Windows. The course will begin with an overview of the structure of modern operating systems. Over the course of the subsequent units, we will discuss the history of modern computers, analyze in detail each of the major components of an operating system (from processes to threads), and explore more advanced topics in the field, including memory management and file input/output. The class will conclude with a discussion of various system-related security issues.
This course includes the following units:
- Unit 1: Introduction to Operating Systems
- Unit 2: Processes and Threads
- Unit 3: Synchronization
- Unit 4: CPU Scheduling
- Unit 5: Deadlock
- Unit 6: Memory Management
- Unit 7: File System
- Unit 8: Security
- Unit 9: Networking
Course Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
- understand the functions, structures, and evolution of operating systems;
- evaluate design choices and trade-offs in the implementation of different operating systems, and decide which type of operating system would be most appropriate for a given situation;
- evaluate, debug, and modify operating system code to achieve the desired functionality; and
- explain data structures, algorithms, computer architecture, and programming in the context of operating systems.
Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.
The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.
All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.
Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score
Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.
There are also end-of-unit assessments in this course. These are designed to help you study, and do not factor into your final course grade. You can take these as many times as you want until you understand the concepts and material covered. You can see all of these assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's navigation bar.
Tips for Success
CS401: Operating Systems is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 120 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.
Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:
- Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
- As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.
- Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at https://discourse.saylor.org.
In order to take this course, you should:
- have completed the following courses:
This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.
- To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.
For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.
This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.