Presenting at SIGCSE 2010

As you may or may not know, here at HPI, we use the WRK pretty intense for teaching operating systems. Since the WRK has been released, we have developed a couple of programming projects, each dealing with a particular OS subject or principle. The goal behind those projects was to enable our students to use the WRK to experiment with certain parts of it and to experience implications of different design and implementation rationals.

However, when we started doing this, we ran into several problems, most of which are related to complexity of the WRK. First of all, we experienced that our students were not very familiar with the provided nmake-based build environment. Second, deploying the kernel onto a test system is way different than running a usual application. This also includes the debugging process. Finally, the complexity of the WRK requires students to thoroughly study the sources of the kernel prior to actually do some programming. While studying the WRK first is not the worst idea, it takes way too much time to understand each and every detail of the implementation. In many cases, it is however as sufficiently to understand only portions of it.

To persist our methodology, our experiences, our experiments, and the feedback our students gave us, we wrote a paper, which has been accepted for presentation at the 41st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE 2010), in Milwaukee, WI, USA. If you are interested in our findings, please have a closer look on our paper –- Teaching Operating Systems – Windows Kernel Projects –, which can be found on the conference website. We will also post the slides of the talk here anytime soon.