BSDCan2015 - ZI

BSDCan 2015
The Technical BSD Conference

George Neville-Neil
Robert Watson
Day Talks #2 - 13 June - 2015-06-13
Room DMS 1120
Start time 10:00
Duration 01:00
ID 566
Event type Lecture
Track Hacking
Language used for presentation English

Cambridge L41: Teaching Advanced Operating Systems with FreeBSD

Teaching about operating systems in universities is a tricky business. Some universities teach by having students hack on toy operating systems, and instructors are left feeling like they taught with a toy. Others have students hack on the real thing, and no one knows if the students will survive the course -- one bad kernel concurrency bug and the even seasoned kernel hackers run into trouble.

The University of Cambridge's "L41" graduate-level OS course takes a different tactic: teach with a real operating system, but have students use tracing and performance analysis tools to learn about the internals and dynamics of the kernel. More experienced students can hack the kernel if they like, but every student learns about the hardware-software interface, process models, and the network stack. We'll talk about the teaching platform (BeagleBone Black + FreeBSD), the methodology (hardware performance counters, DTrace, and performance analysis), what worked, what didn't, and how you could teach this course too.