Pintos is a simple instructional operating system framework for the 80x86 architecture. The software supports kernel threads, loading and running user programs, and a file system, but it implements all of these in a very simple way. Pintos was created at Stanford University by Ben Pfaff in 2004. It originated as a replacement for Nachos, a similar system originally developed at UC Berkeley by Tom Anderson, and was designed along similar lines. Like Nachos, Pintos is intended to introduce undergraduates to concepts in operating system design and implementation by requiring them to implement significant portions of a real operating system, including thread and memory management and file system access. Pintos also teaches students valuable debugging skills.

Unlike Nachos, Pintos is capable of running on actual x86 hardware, though it is often run on top of an x86 simulator, such as Bochs or QEMU. Nachos, by contrast, runs as a user process on a host operating system, and targets the MIPS architecture (Nachos code must run atop a MIPS simulator). Pintos and its accompanying assignments are also written in C rather than C++ (used by the original Nachos) or Java (used by Nachos 5.0j).


  1. Tevfik Kosar, instructor