Course Syllabus

Course Name: System Administration
Course Number: CS 312
Credits: 4
Instructor: Justin Goins
Instructor Office: KEC 2103
Instructor email:
: (CS311 or CS344) and CS372

Lecture Information:

  • Time: Tuesdays/Thursdays 8:30am - 9:50am
  • Location: WNGR 116 (visible on this map)

Lab information is available on the Lab Page

Course Content

  • Computers: hardware assembly and troubleshooting, operating system installation, booting, shutting down, user management, permissions, software troubleshooting, log files, backup methodologies, maintenance requirements and methods, registries and system files, and security.
  • Networks: hardware, planning, installation, WANs & LANS, the Internet, troubleshooting, and security.
  • Servers: hardware, user management, resource management, permissions, command and control, domains and groups, file systems, sharing files, system virtualization, remote management.
  • Projects: Planning, estimates, client interaction and expectations, service level agreements, records management.

Measurable Student Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Build a functioning general-purpose computer from scratch.
  • Demonstrate how to plan, install, and troubleshoot a Local Area Network, connecting it to a Wide Area Network.
  • Demonstrate how to manage a server for the purposes of providing specific services to a collection of users and devices, including manipulation of user accounts, resource management, and security.
  • Demonstrate how to maintain a collection of devices using remote management tools in both centralized locations and across de-centralized organizations.
  • Describe how to plan major and minor tasks and time so that services are stable and effective, and meet a Service Level Agreement.
  • Produce written documentation of system problems, solutions, processes, and procedures.
  • Create programs and demonstrate facility in programs and tools that automate system administration tasks.
  • Participate effectively in a team environment.

Learning Resources

  • Required textbook:
    UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, 5th ed
    Written by Evi Nemeth, et al.
    ISBN: 978-0134277554

You can also expect additional reading assignments (made available via Canvas)

The course material is presented in a series of in-person lectures which often include hands-on components to do while you're in lecture, and a weekly lab. There are no extra fees associated with this course, though you are required to bring a functioning laptop (Win10, MacOS, or Linux) to each lab.


There are both Homework assignments and Labs in this class. The Homework assignments will have you writing up short answers, a few paragraphs, a few command lines, drawing a couple diagrams, and submitting some screenshots. I recommend you use Word or some other editor to produce the assignment, or just do it all by hand and scan it. Turning these in will be accomplished by converting what you produce into .pdf files, then submitting them to Canvas.

When you submit the programming assignments to Canvas, don't be alarmed that Canvas renames the files. This is just normal Canvas behavior. We have to rename them anyway, so don't worry about it.

Start the homework assignments immediately after they become available - they are not particularly challenging, but you'll want to have them in mind as you attend class and the labs. When submitting assignments, please be aware that neither the Instructor nor the TA(s) are alerted to comments added to the text boxes in Canvas that are alongside your assignment submissions, and they may not be seen. No notifications (email or otherwise) are sent out when these comments are added, so we aren't aware that you have added content! If you need to make a meta-comment about a submission, please include it in the file you submit itself, or email the person directly who will be grading it (see the Home Page for grading responsibilities).

You may work on the Homework assignments in groups. If you do, each of you must submit the assignment, and you must indicate on each submission who you have worked together with. If you don't indicate your group member names, your submission(s) may be flagged for plagiarism.


The TAs will be using a written key file to compare your answer with. The amount of points to be awarded or taken away by these additional tests is at the discretion of the grader. Some questions allow partial credit, some do not.

Any crashes, hangs, errors, infinite loops, etc. not covered in the assignment can still cause your submission to lose points. The amount lost depends on the severity, how much it affects the rest of what you do, and how it is recovered from, if at all, all based on the discretion of the grader.

If you have grading questions about the homework, you MUST contact the individual who graded your work. You can see the contact information for our grading TAs on our Home Page.

If you believe a grade returned to you is incorrect, please submit proof to the TA within 48 hours of the grade being received by you. Your proof must consist of screenshots (not a copy/paste of the text) that clearly show it working. Your screenshots must show the places where the grading has been done incorrect, if any, and this grading must be done on the submission that you have made (i.e. redownload it yourself from Canvas to make these screenshots). If you don't provide proof, or if you ask for a regrade past 48 hours of the grade being given, a regrade won't be done.

The general course policy is that late work is not accepted. There are two exceptions:

  1. Late labs can be checked off during week 10 lab sessions.
  2. Homework can be submitted up to 48 hours late (subject to a point penalty)

All homework assignments must be submitted on Canvas, according to the posted due date and time, or they will be subject to penalties. Homework assignments that are submitted late by less than 24 hours will have 15% deducted from their grade. Assignments submitted late by more than 24 hours, but less than 48 hours, will have 30% deducted from their grade. Assignments may not be submitted late past 48 hours, and will be worth 0 points. These late penalties are deducted from the total possible, not the amount you earn. For example, 15% off a 100-point assignment is 15 points off, regardless of the points actually earned.

Each student has two grace days (used in increments of one day) that can be used to avoid point deductions on late homework. You may choose to use both grace days on a single assignment, or you may spread them across two assignments. However, please note that the usage of grace days does not extend the 48 hour late homework deadline (it simply eliminates the corresponding penalty).

Note that Canvas has three types of dates in relation to Assignments: the "available" date, "due" date, and "available until" date. The due date is the date that the Assignment must be turned in by for full credit. The other "available" dates allow me to control when the Assignment can be accessed, which helps keep all of the students in the same place at the same time. The "available until" date is used to prevent submissions of Assignments past 48 hours; it is NOT the due date: it is after the due date.

To get an extension on an assignment, you'll need to have a major event occur in your life that will prevent you from timely completing your work, and you must notify the Instructor beforehand, if possible. Extensions of these kinds are generally reserved for issues you can't control, such as medical reasons or family emergencies. Merely being busy does not count! If you cannot notify the Instructor before the event occurs (sudden severe sickness, for example), then you must make contact as soon as possible to get an extension. We're fairly easy going about these, but you need to be upfront and immediate: don't wait!

Grading Scale

Letter Grade Percentage
A >= 93
A- >= 90 - 93
B+ >= 87.5 - 90
B >= 82.5 - 87.5
B- >= 80 - 82.5
C+ >= 77.5 - 80
C >= 72.5 - 77.5
C- >= 70 - 72.5
D+ >= 67.5 - 70
D >= 62.5 - 67.5
D- >= 60 - 62.5
F < 60

Evaluation of Student Performance

Syllabus Quiz 1% Unlimited attempts, collaboration allowed.
Lecture Participation 12% Occasional quizzes, exercises, or polls. No student collaboration allowed unless otherwise announced.
Homework Assignments 18% Can work in groups (<= 8 students). Must cite sources/collaborators.
Lab Work 28% Maximum group size of 2 students.
Midterm Exam 20% No collaboration allowed.
Final Project 21% Maximum group size of 2 students.

Student Conduct Expectations

Collaboration is allowed, subject to the limits that are described in the "Evaluation of Student Performance" section. Be sure that you cite ALL the resources that you use for help (web links, book page numbers, classmates, etc.), as you will be doing lots of reading about what other people have done.
Cheating (such as unauthorized collaboration on an exam) will lead to a 0 grade (and an investigation into Academic Misconduct).

Statement Regarding Students with Disabilities

Accommodations for students with disabilities are determined and approved by Disability Access Services (DAS). If you, as a student, believe you are eligible for accommodations but have not obtained approval please contact DAS immediately at 541-737-4098 or at DAS notifies students and faculty members of approved academic accommodations and coordinates implementation of those accommodations. While not required, students and faculty members are encouraged to discuss details of the implementation of individual accommodations.

Reach out for Success

University students encounter setbacks from time to time. If you encounter difficulties and need assistance, it’s important to reach out. Consider discussing the situation with an instructor or academic advisor. Learn about resources that assist with wellness and academic success at If you are in immediate crisis, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting OREGON to 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Student Bill of Rights

OSU has twelve established student rights. They include due process in all university disciplinary processes, an equal opportunity to learn, and grading in accordance with the course syllabus:

Academic Calendar

All students are subject to the registration and refund deadlines as stated in the Academic Calendar:


Course Summary:

Date Details Due