|Instructor:||Peter Dinda (Office Hours: Thursdays, 2-5pm, or by appointment, Tech L463)|
|Undergrad Assistant:||Chunxiao Diao (Office Hours: Tuesdays, 2-5pm, or by appointment, Wilkinson Lab)|
|Class Time:||Winter 2015, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30-11:00am|
|Class Location:||Tech LG62 (may move to a conference room)|
|Course number:||EECS 441|
The bulk of the time in this class is spent examining a virtual machine monitor (VMM) in depth, at the source code level. The course explains the hardware/software interface of a modern x86 computer in detail. A VMM is an operating system that is implemented directly on top of the hardware interface, and itself presents a hardware interface to higher-level software.
Both Computer Science students and Computer Engineering students can benefit from EECS 441, as it focuses on the hardware/software interface. Students will also acquire valuable kernel development skills by working on projects related to virtualization. In short, students will learn how a real modern machine and operating system work, and how to extend them.
We will examine the implementation of the Palacios VMM from my V3VEE Research Project. In particular, we will take a look at the "bleeding edge" of the devel branch. Furthermore, the class will share a repository so that every student or group can contribute as a core developer and see what's going on. Palacios is an embeddable VMM, and we will consider its embedding into Linux as a kernel module. We may also use two other kernels: the Kitten lightweight kernel from Sandia National Labs and the Nautilus kernel under development here at Northwestern.
Within the undergraduate CS major, EECS 441 counts for breadth or depth credit in the systems area. Undergraduates are welcome.
For graduate students, EECS 441 counts as a graduate course.
The testbed hardware used in this course was generously donated by Shea Lutton and the Murphy Society. We gratefully acknowledge their contributions to the success of this course and to experimental computer systems education at Northwestern.
Coming into this course, you must have a basic familiarity with systems, specifically x86 32 or 64 bit systems, to the level of EECS 213 or EECS 205, and be familiar with the C programming language and the Unix development environment. Familiarity with basic operating systems (EECS 343 or similar) is a prequisite for the course. Familiarity with computer archiecture (EECS 361 or similar) is useful. Because there are many ways to achieve this basic background, the instructor has interviewed students before the class. If you're in the course, it's because the instructor thinks you have the background to do well. If you'd like to join the class, talk to the instructor about a permission number.
For the most part, we will be examining and discussing real code on a real machine in the class. There is no required textbook. This makes it essential that you attend class, and use office hours. Also, this is a learn by doing class, so it is essential that you get your feet wet quickly.
The following reference book is a good explanation of virtual machines in general:
The Linux kernel is a powerful, practical operating systems codebase that is free for anyone to download and use. In addition to the code itself, you will find the following book to be very helpful in that it explains the structure and theory of operation of Linux in high quality way.Whatever Linux books you read, for the purposes of this course, make sure that they are about version 2.6 of the kernel, which is substantially different from prior versions. Version 3.0+ are also appropriate, although we will use 2.6 here.
Palacios is described in considerable detail in its technical report:
Xen is another, widely used open-source VMM. The following book is an excellent introduction to it for kernel developers:
You may find it helpful to have general introductory books on systems, operating systems, and architecture available for reference. I would recommend these:
Unfortunately, I am not aware of a good single book covering the modern x86 architecture from an OS perspective. We will use the Intel and AMD architecture manuals as needed (links given below).
I may also provide links to internal materials on Palacios and Kitten during the class. Note that you can now examine the codebase of Palacios online. The codebase of Linux can be examined online too.
The components of the class will break down as follows:Note that a very substantial portion of the grade is project-related. It is important that you dive into the code soon! Because this is a small class, I will have plenty of time to work one-on-one with project groups and individual students.
For discussions and announcements this quarter, we will use Piazza: EECS 441 Piazza Site. We will enroll you. Directing your questions to Piazza will likely produce the fastest response, and everyone else in the class will also benefit. We also have available the historic discussions (about 6 years worth) from this class in Google group. You can request access using the following:
|Subscribe to EECS 441 Resource Virtualization|
|Visit this group|
A core part of this course is active OS kernel development on physical hardware.
The following is a short summary of the development environment that will be available to every student.
You will be given access credentials to the testbed in class. Once you can log into the machines, you can find information about how to checkout, configure, build, and test Palacios on them in the file /441/GettingStarted.
This is a course in operating systems (OS) design and implementation where the example OS is a VMM. OSes operate very differently from application programs, and the development process is also markedly different. In part, this is because OSes interact directly with the hardware interface provided by the processor and system architecture. A VMM is a particularly interesting kind of OS to learn about because it also has to implement what looks like a hardware interface. By studying a VMM, you will be exposed to both sides of the hardware/software interface. This class will do this by considering a real VMM running on top of real hardware. Some specific examples of what you will learn include:
Over the course of the quarter, you will apply what you're learning in a project, and then document your project in a high quality paper and open presentation. Project topics will be chosen in consultation with me, and will primarily focus on the development of extensions or components for Palacios. Such projects will give you the opportunity to enhance your kernel development skills, and create something that can ship (and certainly be part of a portfolio). Exceptional projects can also lead to publications.
Projects can be done in groups. We will discuss potential projects in detail a week or two into the course. I will expect weekly project reports. All projects will be presented at a public colloquium at the day/time of the final exam.