GCO3818 Software environments - Semester 2 , 2006 unit guide

Semester 2, 2006

Chief Examiner

Manzur Murshed


Gippsland : Manzur Murshed


Unit content:

  • Processes and threads: interprocess communication, scheduling.
  • Deadlock: detection, prevention, avoidance.
  • Memory management: allocation, swapping, virtual memory.
  • Input/output principles and examples: disks, graphical user interfaces, network terminals.
  • File systems: files, directories, disk space management.
  • Multimedia support: audio, video.
  • Security: authentication, cryptography, common attacks, principles of secure system administration.
  • Distributed operating systems: overview and concepts.
  • Case studies: Characteristics of major PC operating systems such as Linux and Windows.

Access to the university's computer systems through an internet service provider is compulsory for distance education students.


Knowledge and Understanding

  • Know the general purpose and functions of operating systems.
  • Understand the hardware and software mechanisms used to carry out these functions.
  • Be familiar with the principal differences between common major operating systems such as Windows and Linux.
  • Be able to install new operating systems on PC hardware.

Attitudes, Values and Beliefs

  • Be willing to select operating systems based on their merits rather than their marketing



Before attempting this unit you must have satisfactorily completed GCO2812, or equivalent.

Unit relationships

GCO3818 is a core unit in the System Development major of the Bachelor of Computing degree.

Texts and software

Required text(s)

Tanenbaum, Andrew, Modern Operating Systems, 2nd edition, Prentice-Hall, 2001, ISBN 0-13-031358-0 (textbook).

Textbook availability

Text books are available from the Monash University Book Shops. Availability from other suppliers cannot be assured. The Bookshop orders texts in specifically for this unit. You are advised to purchase your text book early.

Software requirements

There is no software requirement.

Hardware requirements

Students studying off-campus are required to have the minimum system configuration specified by the Faculty as a condition of accepting admission, and regular Internet access. On-campus students, and those studying at supported study locations may use the facilities available in the computing labs. Information about computer use for students is available from the ITS Student Resource Guide in the Monash University Handbook. You will need to allocate up to 6 hours per week for use of a computer, including time for newsgroups/discussion groups.

Recommended reading

Silberschatz, Galvin and Gagne, Operating Systems Concepts, 6th edition, Wiley, 2002, ISBN 0-471-41743-2.

Stallings, William, Operating Systems: Internals and Design Principles, 4th edition, Prentice-Hall, 2001, ISBN 0-13-031999-6.

Library access

You may need to access the Monash library either personally to be able to satisfactorily complete the subject.  Be sure to obtain a copy of the Library Guide, and if necessary, the instructions for remote access from the library website.

Study resources

Study resources for GCO3818 are:

  • A printed Unit Book (labelled for equivalent unit FIT3046) containing 10 Study Guides (72 pages), sent from Off-Campus Learning Centre.
  • This Unit Information outlining the administrative information for the unit.
  • The FIT3046 web site, where lecture slides, weekly tutorial requirements, assignment specifications, sample solutions and supplementary material will be posted.
  • Newsgroups/discussion groups that can be linked to from the Unit Homepage.

Unit website


Structure and organisation

Week Topics Study Guide
1 Introduction 1
2 Processes and Threads 2
3 Scheduling 2
4 Interprocess Communications 3
5 Deadlocks 4
6 Memory Management 5
7 Input/Output 6
8 File Systems 7
9 Security 8
10 UNIX and Linux 9
Non teaching week
11 Windows 2000 10
12 Revision
13 No lecture


The timetable for on-campus classes for this unit can be viewed in Allocate+


Assessment weighting

Assessment for the unit consists of 2 assignments with a weighting of 30% and an examination with a weighting of 70%. Read this section VERY carefully.

Assessment Policy

To pass this unit you must:

Since it is not possible to fully test your ability in a three-hour exam alone and since assignment work is not completed in a controlled environment, your final mark cannot be more than 10 marks higher than any of these two components expressed in percentage, i.e. expressed as a mark out of 100. Moreover, your final mark cannot also be more than the weighted average of the above two components expressed in percentage.

Your score for the unit will be calculated by:

Final mark = minimum (A + 10, E + 10, A * (1 - R) + E * R)

where A = overall assignment percentage, E = exam percentage, and R = exam weighting (70% = 0.7).

It is very important that you understand the following properties of using the above marking formula:

  • Your final mark will never be zero unless you fail to successfully attempt both the components, i.e. the assignments and the final exam;

  • Failing to achieve at least 40% in any one assessment component will make the overall grade as "fail"; and

  • No matter how high you achieve in one component, your final mark will never be 10% (overall) higher than the other component.

Therefore, you must work reasonably hard in attempting both the components.

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Due Date Weighting
Assignment 1 28 August 2006 15%
Assignment 2 2 October 2006 15 %
The exam is 3 hours long and is closed book. Exam period (S2/06) starts on 23/10/06 70 %

Assignment specifications will be made available http://www.gscit.monash.edu.au/units/2006/sem2/fit3046/.

Assignment Submission

Assignments must be submitted through the WebFace Assignment Submission System.

Extensions and late submissions

Late submission of assignments

An assignment must be submitted by the cut-off date, which is usually seven days after the due date. Any assignment submitted after the cut-off date will not be accepted by the WebFace system and therefore, it will be marked automatically to zero. Any assignment submitted after the due date will be penalised by 5% of the full marks for each 24 hours of delay.

This policy is strict because comments or guidance will be given on assignments as they are returned, and sample solutions may also be published and distributed, after assignment marking or with the returned assignment.

This policy is strict because comments or guidance will be given on assignments as they are returned, and sample solutions may also be published and distributed, after assignment marking or with the returned assignment. 


It is your responsibility to structure your study program around assignment deadlines, family, work and other commitments. Factors such as normal work pressures, vacations, etc. are seldom regarded as appropriate reasons for granting extensions. 

It is your responsibility to structure your study program around assignment deadlines, family, work and other commitments. Factors such as normal work pressures, vacations, etc. are seldom regarded as appropriate reasons for granting extensions.

Requests for extensions must be made by email at least two days before the due date. You will be asked to forward original medical certificates in cases of illness, and may be asked to provide other forms of documentation where necessary.

Contact the Unit Adviser by email to request extensions.

Grading of assessment

Assignments, and the unit, will be marked and allocated a grade according to the following scale:

Grade Percentage/description
HD High Distinction - very high levels of achievement, demonstrated knowledge and understanding, skills in application and high standards of work encompassing all aspects of the tasks.
In the 80+% range of marks for the assignment.
D Distinction - high levels of achievement, but not of the same standards. May have a weakness in one particular aspect, or overall standards may not be quite as high.
In the 70-79% range.
C Credit - sound pass displaying good knowledge or application skills, but some weaknesses in the quality, range or demonstration of understanding.
In the 60-69% range.
P Pass acceptable standard, showing an adequate basic knowledge, understanding or skills, but with definite limitations on the extent of such understanding or application. Some parts may be incomplete.
In the 50-59% range.
N Not satisfactory failure to meet the basic requirements of the assessment.
Below 50%.

Assignment return

We will aim to have assignment results made available to you within two weeks after the cut-off date.


Feedback to you

You will receive feedback on your work and progress in this unit. This feedback may be provided through your participation in tutorials and class discussions, as well as through your assignment submissions. It may come in the form of individual advice, marks and comments, or it may be provided as comment or reflection targeted at the group. It may be provided through personal interactions, such as interviews and on-line forums, or through other mechanisms such as on-line self-tests and publication of grade distributions.

Feedback from you

You will be asked to provide feedback to the Faculty through a Unit Evaluation survey at the end of the semester. You may also be asked to complete surveys to help teaching staff improve the unit and unit delivery. Your input to such surveys is very important to the faculty and the teaching staff in maintaining relevant and high quality learning experiences for our students.

And if you are having problems

It is essential that you take action immediately if you realise that you have a problem with your study. The semester is short, so we can help you best if you let us know as soon as problems arise. Regardless of whether the problem is related directly to your progress in the unit, if it is likely to interfere with your progress you should discuss it with your lecturer or a Community Service counsellor as soon as possible.

Plagiarism and cheating

Plagiarism and cheating are regarded as very serious offences. In cases where cheating  has been confirmed, students have been severely penalised, from losing all marks for an assignment, to facing disciplinary action at the Faculty level. While we would wish that all our students adhere to sound ethical conduct and honesty, I will ask you to acquaint yourself with Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Faculty regulations that apply to students detected cheating as these will be applied in all detected cases.

In this University, cheating means seeking to obtain an unfair advantage in any examination or any other written or practical work to be submitted or completed by a student for assessment. It includes the use, or attempted use, of any means to gain an unfair advantage for any assessable work in the unit, where the means is contrary to the instructions for such work. 

When you submit an individual assessment item, such as a program, a report, an essay, assignment or other piece of work, under your name you are understood to be stating that this is your own work. If a submission is identical with, or similar to, someone else's work, an assumption of cheating may arise. If you are planning on working with another student, it is acceptable to undertake research together, and discuss problems, but it is not acceptable to jointly develop or share solutions unless this is specified by your lecturer. 

Intentionally providing students with your solutions to assignments is classified as "assisting to cheat" and students who do this may be subject to disciplinary action. You should take reasonable care that your solution is not accidentally or deliberately obtained by other students. For example, do not leave copies of your work in progress on the hard drives of shared computers, and do not show your work to other students. If you believe this may have happened, please be sure to contact your lecturer as soon as possible.

Cheating also includes taking into an examination any material contrary to the regulations, including any bilingual dictionary, whether or not with the intention of using it to obtain an advantage.

Plagiarism involves the false representation of another person's ideas, or findings, as your own by either copying material or paraphrasing without citing sources. It is both professional and ethical to reference clearly the ideas and information that you have used from another writer. If the source is not identified, then you have plagiarised work of the other author. Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty that is insulting to the reader and grossly unfair to your student colleagues.


Communication methods

I expect you to maintain the following sequence while facing any problem related to this unit:

  1. Always post your problems in the appropriate newsgroup first. You must also provide your own views regarding the problems so that others can join the discussion at least by commenting on your views.
    • To encourage peer discussion, I prefer not to answer your newsgroup postings immediately unless situation demands.
    • I shall be attending the newsgroups at least twice a week.
  2. If you are unhappy with the responses from the newsgroups or in case of emergency, e-mail to me at Manzur.Murshed@infotech.monash.edu.au.
  3. If you are unhappy yet, you may contact me at my following office address (preferably with prior appointment):

    Room No. 4N-246
    GSCIT, Monash University
    Churchill Vic 3842, Australia
    Tel: +61-3-9902-6467
    Fax: +61-3-9902-6879


Notices related to the unit during the semester will be placed on the Notices Newsgroup in the Unit Website. Check this regularly. Failure to read the Notices newsgroup is not regarded as grounds for special consideration.

Consultation Times

Thursday 1 - 2 pm

If direct communication with your unit adviser/lecturer or tutor outside of consultation periods is needed you may contact the lecturer and/or tutors at:

Associate Professor Manzur Murshed
Director of Research, and Deputy Head of School
Phone +61 3 990 26467
Fax +61 3 990 26842

All email communication to you from your lecturer will occur through your Monash student email address. Please ensure that you read it regularly, or forward your email to your main address. Also check that your contact information registered with the University is up to date in My.Monash.

Last updated: Jul 10, 2006