The Truth About CS169

CS 167
Operating Systems
The Truth About CS169
February 02, 2015
With Weenix now released, the TA staff wanted to take a few moments to give some more information about the project. We believe very strongly that anybody who wants to complete CS169 can
do so, and that it needn’t be a scary experience. That being said, many brilliant, talented computer
scientists do not take CS169, which is a completely valid option as well. Finally, the students who
take CS169 are normal students, just like you. Being a CS wizard is definitely not necessary to be
successful in the class.
Below, we’ve included a few more points that we’d like to convey.
If you take CS169, you will still have a vibrant life apart from the course.
• CS169 is definitely a time-consuming course. It’s a lot of work!
• However, there are many ways to do this work. For example:
– Alex K and DJ worked over spring break and weren’t stressed at the end of the course.
– Indy and Eli didn’t do that, and worked hard during the last week.
– Jake worked from home the whole time and never lived in the SunLab!
– Alex L worked consistently a couple of hours per day, never more than that. He wasn’t
stressed at the end.
– Ryan worked usually an hour or two per day, and occasionally had to delve in a bit
further in a longer session. However, he spread the work out and was not especially
• Every TA, and others in the course, still had other large time commitments inside and outside
the department.
• This course is a lot of work, but there are a lot of ways to schedule it into your semester.
You can do it
Anyone who has taken an introductory systems course (such as CS033) can complete
• We firmly believe that anyone can complete CS169. As we said, it’s a lot of work, but the
material isn’t outside of anyone’s grasp.
CS 167
The Truth About CS169
February 02, 2015
• You can do it!
• We can help. If you’re behind or worried, then come to TA hours, talk to your mentor TA,
send us an email, post on Piazza, etc. We’re not going to fault you for being worried or
getting behind: we were all in the same position! Let us help you.
CS167 alone is great too!
CS167 is absolutely a valuable experience.
• If you’re interested in systems or just want to understand how your computer works more,
you are still going to learn a lot from CS167.
• It’s still an upper level CS course!
• There are a lot of reasons not to take 169 — having other commitments, not being that
interested in the material, etc.
• The only projects that are very different in 169 are drivers and VM — You will still implement
scheduling and a file system.
• Tom Repetti took CS167 last spring, and went on to be an amazing CS33 TA.
• CS167 will still make you a better programmer and expose you to many of the same insights
that make 169 so cool.
• Many extremely intelligent and talented people never take CS169.
– And they never regret not doing so.
– There are a lot of really difficult upper-level classes in this department. CS169 is just
one of them.
– Completing many other upper-division courses is equally as impressive.
– Not everyone is interested in Operating Systems, so CS169 definitely isn’t for everyone.
Some employers like CS169
If you take CS169, certain employers will be interested.
• Many companies (like Apple, Joyent, and Delphix) have heard of Brown’s CS169.
• They have hired a bunch of former CS169 students who currently work there.
• Obviously, you won’t automatically get a job if you do take CS169.
• You don’t have to work at one of these types of places.
– Indy is working for Pinterest.
– Jackson Owens now works for Square.
CS 167
The Truth About CS169
February 02, 2015
– You don’t even have to get a job!
– Grad school/academia is another valid option, and this course can still be applicable in
this field (see: Tom).