Format of Original
Frontiers in Education Clearinghouse
Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2011
Original Item ID
The Nexos Project is a joint effort between Marquette University, the University of Buffalo, and the University of Mississippi to build curriculum materials and a supporting experimental laboratory for hands-on projects in computer systems courses. The approach focuses on inexpensive, flexible, commodity embedded hardware, freely available development and debugging tools, and a fresh implementation of a classic operating system, Embedded Xinu, that is ideal for student exploration. This paper describes an extension to the Nexos laboratory that includes a new target platform composed of Qemu virtual machines. Virtual Xinu addresses two challenges that limit the effectiveness of Nexos. First, potential faculty adopters have clearly indicated that even with the current minimal monetary cost of installation, the hardware modifications, and time investment remain troublesome factors that scare off interested educators. Second, overcoming the inherent complications that arise due to the shared subnet that result in students' projects interfering with each other in ways that are difficult to recreate, debug, and understand. Specifically, this paper discusses porting the Xinu operating systems to Qemu virtual hardware, developing the virtual networking platform, and results showing success using Virtual Xinu in the classroom during one semester of Operating Systems at the University of Mississippi.