CSCI 251 - Systems and Networks
Course Information Sheet - Spring 2010

This course introduces operating systems and networks. It takes a "hands-on" approach to designing, implementing and maintaining a small network of computers, as might be found in a small company.

An on-line version of this document can be found at:

Instructor: Sarath Jayewardena

Office: Bldg 315 Room 210a
Phone: 753-3245 Ext 6152


None. However, there is much relevant information on the Internet, and students are responsible for augmenting the course material on their own time using the resources available. A course web page with introductory information will be made available.

Note: as the technology to be studied in the course changes quickly, it is not a good idea to print out Internet materials. Experience has shown that stale information can be very confusing, particularly to novices. In fact, a large part of the course will involve learning to find appropriate resources.


An overall mark is computed from various components of the course as follows:

8-10 Lab Assignments 40% total
One Paper and Presentation 10% Paper Due: March 24 @ start of lecture - see below for more information.
One Midterm Examination 10% Date: February 17
One Lab Final Examination 15% Date: TBD
One Final Examination 25% Date: Scheduled


Grade Conversion

The following scale, subject to the last remark above, will be used in conjunction with the overall mark to determine the final grade. The instructor reserves the right to lower the numerical score required for a particular letter grade if that seems appropriate, but the same conversion will be applied to all persons in the class. Under no circumstances will the numerical score required for a particular letter grade be raised.

A+ >= 90.0 A >= 85.0 A- >= 80.0
B+ >= 75.0 B >= 70.0 B- >= 65.0
C+ >= 60.0 C >= 55.0 D   >= 50.0
F otherwise

Course Syllabus

Lab assignments

The lab assignments will allow the students to practice implementing concepts discussed in lecture. At the start of term each student will be assigned one of the PCs in the lab 315-108. It is intended that students in the course will have access to the room outside lab hours. Further details will be given in class.

There will be at least eight labs, and at most ten. The actual number will depend on campus closures due to winter weather conditions.

Each lab assignment will consist of one or more tasks that the student is to perform. Possible tasks include: installing and configuring an operating system; comparing network hardware; taking measures to secure a system to be connected to the Internet. Some labs may involve work in groups.

Paper and Presentation

All students must prepare and present a paper outlining a systems administration problem and a set of solutions to that problem. This happens regularly in the course of administering a computer system: one or more users need particular functionality, and a systems administrator then researches possible solutions and then presents a summary along with a recommendation or prioritization for the solutions presented.

The choice of the topic must be mutually agreed upon between the student and instructor, and therefore, you must submit a proposed outline for your report by the start of the lecture on February 10. Topics covered extensively in class will not be permitted, but topics covered only superficially may be allowed - please see the instructor well in advance if you are unsure.

Presentations will be given at the end of term. The order of presentations may depend on the specific set of topics chosen.


Assignments, announcements, and further resources will be made available through the course web page. Students are responsible for checking the course web page for new information on a regular basis; important announcements will be made in class as well.

Students are expected to have a working knowledge of UNIX and are advised to refresh their skills if they have not used UNIX in some time. File and directory manipulation skills are essential. A brief introduction to the vi and ed editors will be given in class. Students are strongly encouraged to learn rudimentary use of these editors, as they are often the only ones available when a UNIX machine requires serious maintenance.

Late policy

Each assignment will have a specified due date, and any assignments handed in after the due date will not be accepted unless there is a valid reason for the assignment being late.

Guidelines Concerning Academic Misconduct

All students taking this course are subject to the Malaspina University-College Policy and Procedure:

Policy Number 99.01:
Procedure Number 99.01.001:
Sarath's Home Page

Sarath Jayewardena