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IRIX 6.5.x Install on Octane

From Higher Intellect Vintage Wiki

These instructions were created, based on an installation of IRIX 6.5.15 on an SGI Octane. They should work well for most installations of 6.5.x.
This page is mainly influenced by Ian's documentation at and information from If anyone has any differences to add based on different version of IRIX, please do.
Update June 2009 - Added in details for install on IRIX 6.5.29
Another good site for IRIX information lives at:

This installation is based on doing a clean install on a disk that you want to repartition and clear completely.


This is the set of CD's used and seems to give a good workable desktop.

  • IRIX 6.5.15 Installation Tools & Overlays (4 CD set)
  • IRIX 6.5 Foundation 1 & 2 CD's
  • IRIS Applications February 2002 CD
  • ONC3/NFS CD for IRIX 6.5

This set seems to do the job well. Omitting the Application CD, also seems to give an install, but the desktop is a little sparse without it.
Also when if you try just to install the base system without Applications and NFS disk, it seemed to be unable to resolve the conflicts when trying to install later in swmgr.
This way has no conflicts on the install.

6.5.29 Differences
Irix 6.5.29 has only 3 CD's in the Install and Overlays set but also has an additional Complementary Applications CD.
6.5.29 using the full set seems to give a couple of conflicts.
TODO: Show conflicts


  • Get your machine setup and plugged in and your external CD drive all plugged in and powered up.
  • Power the machine on.
  • When the window saying Starting up the system appears, press <ESC> to go to the PROM menu.
  • Click on the Hardware Monitor icon and you'll get a basic prompt.
  • Type hinv and you should get a display something like this:
                System: IP30
             Processor: 400 MHz R12000, 2M secondary cache
  Primary I-cache size: 32 Kbytes
  Primary D-cahce size: 32 Kbytes
  Secondary cache size: 2 Mbytes
             Processor: 400 MHz R12000, 2M secondary cache
  Primary I-cache size: 32 Kbytes
  Primary D-cahce size: 32 Kbytes
  Secondary cache size: 2 Mbytes
           Memory size: 6144 Mbytes
               Network: ef0 ethernet (100/10 base-T)
             SCSI Disk: scsi(0)disk(1)
            SCSI CDROM: scsi(1)disk(3)
                 Audio: RAD Audio Processor
              Graphics: MXI

The main things to take note of here are the SCSI Disk numbers and the SCSI CD-ROM numbers in the brackets. The CD-ROM numbers are the main thing you will need.
If you don't see a SCSI disk or CD-ROM then you may have a connection problem.

Set Environment Variables[edit]

TODO: Add in variables to check and set prior to install.

Preparing the hard disk[edit]

Boot the stand alone shell (SASH)[edit]

  • Put in the CD labled IRIX 6.5.x Installation Tools & Overlays CD 1 of x.
  • While still in the hardware monitor prompt type:
 boot -f dksc(1,3,8)sash64 

The 1 & 3 are the numbers form the CD-ROM line listed by the hinv command.
Also bear in mind that this is correct for an Octane as it is 64 bit. For an O2 or other 32 bit machine you would type:

 boot -f dksc(1,3,8)sashARCS

This boots the stand alone shell.

Partition the hard disk[edit]

  • Start the FX partitioning tool. At the sash prompt type:
 boot -f dksc(1,3,7)stand/fx.64 --x

...for 64 bit machine, for a 32 bit machine type:

 boot -f dksc(1,3,7)stand/fx.ARCS --x

You will then be at the in the Hard disk partitioner and be prompted to select the disk you want to partition.

  • If you only have one disk in the machine, press return through the prompts until you get a menu displayed

(TODO: Change this print out to show an empty disk or something else)

 fx version 6.5, Oct  1, 1999
 fx: "device-name" = (dksc)
 fx: ctlr# = (0)
 fx: drive# = (1)
 fx: lun# = (0)
 ...opening dksc(0,1,0)
 fx: partitions in use detected on device
 fx: devname             seq owner   state
 fx: /dev/rdsk/dks0d1s0    1 xfs     already in use selftest...OK
 Scsi drive type == SGI     IBM DDRS-34560W S96A
 ----- please choose one (? for help, .. to quit this menu)-----
 [exi]t             [d]ebug/           [l]abel/           [a]uto
 [b]adblock/        [exe]rcise/        [r]epartition/
  • Enter r to repartition.
  • Enter ro' to select root drive option.
  • Press <RETURN> to confirm using XFS
  • Enter yes to confirm the changes.
  • Enter .. to go up one level in the menu.
  • Enter l to label the disk.
  • Enter sy to sync the changes.
  • Now type /exit to exit fx and restart the system.

The system should now restart and return to the main System Maintenance Menu.


Boot the miniroot[edit]

  • Click on the Icon labeled Install System Software
  • Click on the CD-ROM icon, which will probably already be selected and click OK.
  • Click OK on the next pop up and the miniroot environment will begin installation.

NOTE: at this point you may get a message saying that the hard disk needs MKFS running on it. Just select yes if it does. We'll re-make the filesystem later anyway.

Create the filesystem[edit]

You will now be at an inst> prompt and have a menu displayed (TODO: Screenshot/text dump of menu)

  • Enter 13 for the Admin menu.
  • Enter 11 for mkfs.
  • Enter y and confirm to begin the filesystem creation.

NOTE: Generally select the block size of 4096 if you have over a 4GB disk, but 512 if less.

  • Enter .. to return to the main inst menu and inst> prompt.

Open media[edit]

You now have to open all the disks that you wish to install from. It is best to use the entire set as listed under Pre-requisites for a good functional desktop.

  • Enter 2 to open media.

You will be prompted to select where to load from, usually the default of /CDROM/dist will be correct, but be careful as some CD's change the location to /CDROM/dist/6.5 and this will be incorrect for some CD's.

  • Leave disk 1 of the set in and press return.
  • When the disk has been read, it will return and ask you if you want to load another. Keep going with all CD's and be carefull about the locations.
  • When all disks have been read, type done

Select Software[edit]

As a general rule, just enter the following to select the standard install.

 inst> keep *
 inst> install standard
 inst> go

I have tried entering install prereqs before and this just spits out lots of conflicts. Get you main install done and then worry about extra installs later.

Resolve conflicts[edit]

After entering go you will get presented with any conflicts that you have on the system. If you are using the set specified above, you should have none.

2 Conflicts are displayed. Just type con 1a 2a to not install the packages and continue.
TODO: list conflicting packages

If any conflicts are displayed, you should select what to do by either installing other packages (which may require extra CD's) or not installing the conflicting package. For default simplicity, just select to not install by typing

 inst> conflict 1a 2a .. .. ..

Eventually you will hopefully end up with No conflicts displayed.

  • Type go
  • Enter the disks asked for. No need to press return as it will detect when they are inserted.

It will ask a question about autoconfigure now and prompt to reboot. It should then boot from the fresh installation.

See Also / continue on with[edit]