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.

Resolved: A Performance Issue in Windows Timer Management

Two years ago, I wrote an article about spurious timer table entries. Those entries occurred in the global timer table and resulted in unnecessarily scheduled DPCs. During a recent visit in Redmond, I had the chance to meet with one of the Windows kernel developers. By coincidence, he remembered my article and told me that with Windows 7 the issue has been fixed. Here is how they did it.

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WRK @ HPI First Hit on Bing

Well, it required us some work, but finally it pays off :)

At least on the US version of bing, our blog is the first entry on the result list. As Bing is sometimes strange and does not work properly if you do not set its locale to English (US), here is a screen shot to prove my claim:

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WRK at 2009 Asia Pacific Workshop

Recently, Microsoft Research Asia organized the 2009 Asia Pacific Windows Core Workshop, where universities presented what they are doing with the WRK in their lectures and research.

Clicking on this link provides you with an idea of the projects that are going on in Asia Pacific with the WRK.

Side Effects …

Usually, I admire the clean structure and high quality of the WRK source code. However, I happened to encouter what I do not call a good programming style. Have a look at the following function, KiWaitTest (in base\ntos\ke):

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Phoenix builds WRK

Microsoft Phoenix is a compiler framework toolkit which allows for writing compiler front-ends (for programming languages), back-ends (for other target architectures than x86 and amd64), plus several tools and code optimizers.

Providing such a variety of opportunities, we tried to build the WRK with Phoenix, and it worked! However, we had to disable all optimization in the compiler.

Next Week: Server Computing Summit @ HPI

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Microsoft / Hewlett-Packard Server Computing Summit 2008

Why Windows Timers May Not Fire

This article is motivated by a discussion with Max, one of our readers, who commented on my previous post on an anomaly in Windows timer management (read the article). So, thanks again Max!

Please have a look on the following program sample.


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Happy New Year 2008

To all our readers,

we wish you a happy and successful new year 2008.

Michael and Alexander

Pageable vs. Pagable

One week before Christmas I had the chance to talk to Dave Probert. We met in Redmond and talked about new features for future releases of the Windows Research Kernel. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you all the details here, but there will be a next version of the WRK. If you have any suggestions for features, feel free to comment.

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