Running on the bare metal with GeekOS

TitleRunning on the bare metal with GeekOS
Publication TypeConference Papers
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsHovemeyer D, Hollingsworth J, Bhattacharjee B
Conference NameProceedings of the 35th SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer science education
Date Published2004///
Conference LocationNew York, NY, USA
ISBN Number1-58113-798-2
Keywordseducation, emulation, Hardware, Operating systems

Undergraduate operating systems courses are generally taught using one of two approaches: abstract or concrete. In the abstract approach, students learn the concepts underlying operating systems theory, and perhaps apply them using user-level threads in a host operating system. In the concrete approach, students apply concepts by working on a real operating system kernel. In the purest manifestation of the concrete approach, students implement operating system projects that run on real hardware.GeekOS is an instructional operating system kernel which runs on real hardware. It provides the minimum functionality needed to schedule threads and control essential devices on an x86 PC. On this foundation, we have developed projects in which students build processes, semaphores, a multilevel feedback scheduler, paged virtual memory, a filesystem, and inter-process communication. We use the Bochs emulator for ease of development and debugging. While this approach (tiny kernel run on an emulator) is not new, we believe GeekOS goes further towards the goal of combining realism and simplicity than previous systems have.