CSE 120: Homework #1

Spring 2023

Due: Tuesday, April 18 at 11:59pm

Each question is worth an equal number of points. When a question asks you to describe or explain, your answers can be relatively brief. The [name] tags give scholarly attribution to authors of other OS textbooks who wrote the question (you do not need the textbook to be able to answer the question, though). Please submit your answers as a PDF file to Gradescope.

  1. How do hardware and the OS work together to handle interrupts? When an interrupt happens, what tasks are handled by the hardware and what tasks are handled by the OS?

  2. [Silberschatz] Some computer systems do not provide a privileged mode of operation in hardware. Is it possible to construct a secure operating system for these computers? Give arguments both that it is and that it is not possible. (By a secure operating system, we mean that a user program is not able to corrupt the kernel, prevent it from running, crash the system, violate memory protection, etc.)

  3. [Silberschatz] Which of the following instructions should be privileged? Give a one-sentence explanation for why.

    a) Set value of timer
    b) Read the clock
    c) Set memory content to zero
    d) Turn off interrupts
    e) Switch from user to monitor (kernel) mode

  4. [Tanenbaum] For each of the following Unix system calls, give a condition that causes it to fail: open, read, fork, exec, unlink (delete a file). (Hint: We discussed some in lecture, and you can also explore the error semantics of these system calls using man on ieng6, e.g., man 2 fork.)

  5. [Anderson 2.13] Suppose you have to implement an operating system on hardware that supports interrupts and exceptions but does not have an explicit syscall instruction. Can you devise a satisfactory substitute for syscalls using interrupts and/or exceptions? If so, explain how. If not, explain why. (In this context, the syscall instruction is the instruction used by a user-level process to invoke a system call in the operating system.)

  6. Consider the following C program:
    #include <stdlib.h>
    int main (int argc, char *arg[])
        fork ();
        if (fork ()) {
    	fork ();
        } else {
    	char *argv[2] = {"/bin/ls", NULL};
    	execv (argv[0], argv);
            fork ();

    a. How many total processes are created (including the first process running the program)? (Note that execv is just one of multiple ways of invoking exec.)

    b. How many times does the /bin/ls program execute?

    [Hint: You can always add debugging code, compile it, and run the program to experiment with what happens.]

  7. [Crowley] Suppose the hardware interval timer only counts down to zero before signalling an interupt. How could an OS use the interval timer to keep track of the time of day?