Thursday, January 21, 2010

Operating Systems Books Review

Last Summer I taught Data Structures and found it to be hardest subject to teach. Before teaching data structures I had either come across freshmen or handled mature students of final year or second half of third year. That was the first time I encountered students of second year (of course I teach Discrete Maths to second year students but that's completely new course) and had to teach them a course which strongly relied on concepts built in the previous course. Artificial Intelligence and elective courses mostly have their own pace and agenda therefore not hard to teach.

I am going to teach Operating Systems for the second time. Teaching Operating Systems from Tanenbaum's Modern Operating Systems looks like a cake walk for the teacher but a bed of thorns for the students. The question is how to make it further interesting? The alternate is to use Tanenbaum's book Operating Systems Design and Implementation. This would be complimented by MINIX OS developed by Tanenbaum.

Operating System Concepts by Silberschtaz & Galvin is also a nice review of Operating Systems Concepts and is a famous book with lecturers. A good reference book that I encountered is Solaris Internals by Jim Mauro & Richard Mc Dougall. I used it as reference book while teaching Computer Architecture in undergraduate classes. Part One is description of Kernel Primitives, Services. Part Two of the book elaborates the Solaris Memory System. The third and fourth part deal with comparatively hard subjects of Threads, Process and IPC and Files and File System. Overall the book is designed to be used to understand the underlying architecture of Solaris.

The most important question that an instructor needs to cater is the overlap between Operating Systems, Distributed Systems and to some extent Computer Networks. This is left as a topic for later post. However it sure is the dilemma of instructors at the end of the course while selecting topics.

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