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Using DINA for network installation of IRIX


What is DINA?

DINA = deBug's IRIX Netboot Appliance

DINA is a virtual machine image built to support SGI systems being booted and doing software installation over the network. DINA is a combination of the NetBSD operating system, specialized configuration files and custom scripts to accomodate the peculiarities of the SGI's PROM netboot process. DINA was created and most often used with VMware products, but forum member tingo has reported success with VirtualBox.

Where to get DINA

deBug's current page for the project is here:

smj's mirror, California:

And if you need to get a copy of VMware Player, here's a link for that too:

Setting Up DINA 1.0 Under Fedora Linux

There are notes on setting up DINA 1.0 in deBug's original documentation (see links above). What follow are forum member smj's notes from setting up DINA on a PC running Fedora 14 (Linux) and VMware Player 3.1.3.

Still in progress, to be completed soon!

I will not cover installing Linux or VMware Player. However note that the VMware Player installer will probably need to build loadable modules for your specific kernel version, so you may need to load the kernel headers, kernel developer, and/or other packages specific to your Linux distribution.

Go to one of the DINA distribution points (see links above) and download the DINA 1.0 ZIP file. The ZIP file is approximately 328MB, so depending on your Internet connection speed it may take a while to download. Please try to use the mirror that's closest to you, network-wise -- downloading across an ocean, or from a different continent, may not be your best choice.

Here's what it looks like to check the ZIP file after downloading.

[[email protected] /VMs]# unzip -tv 
    testing: DINA/FreeBSD.nvram       OK
    testing: DINA/FreeBSD.vmdk        OK
    testing: DINA/FreeBSD.vmsd        OK
    testing: DINA/FreeBSD.vmx         OK
    testing: DINA/FreeBSD.vmxf        OK
    testing: DINA/vmware.log          OK
No errors detected in compressed data of
[[email protected] /VMs]# cd DINA
[[email protected] /VMs]# pwd
[[email protected] /VMs]# md5sum 
[[email protected] /VMs]#

Start the VMware Player application. On Fedora 14 running GNOME it registered a launcher under the Applications -> System Tools menu. You'll see a welcome screen like this:


Click on the "Open a Virtual Machine" option and navigate to where you unpacked the DINA files. Using the example above, the path would be /VMs/DINA. VMware Player will only allow you to open the FreeBSD.vmx file.

You will probably want to edit the settings for this virtual machine to better suit your host machine. After opening the DINA VM files, at the bottom right of the screen you'll see an option to "play" or run the VM, and below that one to edit the preferences - click on that option to see this main settings page:


Here are the changes I made:

  • Increase the memory to 256MB of RAM
  • Change the CD setting to a physical device, not connected at startup. (This is mostly to avoid error messages about a missing ISO image.)

Under the Options tab:

  • If you want to change the name of this VM, do so under the General pane
  • Disable VMware Tools updates, since there isn't a Tools package for NetBSD. (Was hoping this would stop the messages on each startup, but...)

Be sure to Save your changes to the preferences!

You can now start up the VM. You will be asked if the VM was moved or copied (see screenshot below) - you should click the "I copied it" button and proceed.


When VMware Player starts DINA you may see a message about language-specific keyboard mappings. I clicked on the "Never show this hint again" checkbox before clicking on "OK" -- this particular dialog box did not represent a problem, though we will correct an OS-level keymapping issue after the system boots unless you're using a Swedish-layout keyboard.)

You'll be prompted about VMware Tools not being installed. I have not tried installing the FreeBSD Tools on this NetBSD 4.0 image, so there's nothing to do but click "Remind Me Later."

When DINA has finished booting you should login as root following the instructions on the screen. After login you'll be presented with a short menu of options, as shown below:

   D I N A - DeBugs IRIX NetBoot Appliance

Now running Netboot and NFS server on IP number:

Read the documentation for more info on how to netboot your SGI computer
from this server.
To read the documentation start the graphics

1. Download and syncronize Nekoware (takes several hours the first time).
2. Start graphics and read the documentation.
3. Reconfigure IP address.
4. Exit to shell.
5. Shutdown.
Please enter option [1 - 5] 

Hit "2" and the Enter key to start the GUI - if you use option 4 to get a root shell you may have a problem due to the keyboard being set to a Swedish layout.

You'll need to start a terminal window for the next step. Do this by clicking on the tiny terminal icon in the bar at the bottom of the screen, fourth from the left - indicated here by the red arrow:


You need to edit the file /etc/wscons.conf - change line 35 from "encoding sv" to the correct two letter code for your location, equipment, and/or preference. For example I changed it to "encoding us" since I have stock USA keyboards, but your situation may call for "es", "jp" or others. If you aren't sure, try "us" first.

If you'd rather use the text-based console, you can now reboot the VM to let the new encoding take effect. But you can continue with the following steps under the GUI without any problem.

For better security you should change the root password. If you aren't familiar with that process, run the command "man passwd" for more information.

Next I set the correct timezone for my location.

dina# cd /etc
dina# rm localtime
dina# ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/US/Pacific-New localtime

After that I add the following line to the file /etc/newsyslog.conf. The dhcpd.log file captures information from the DHCP server that might be useful when troubleshooting IRIX netbooting, but over time it can get large. By adding this entry, the newsyslog(1m) program will periodically rotate the file and keep them from growing much over 250KB each.

/var/log/dhcpd.log   root:wheel   644  7  250  *  Z

I also change the nekosync configuration to use the mirror closest to me. That means changing /etc/nekosync.conf so that the following variables are set appropriately. You can do this by changing the line already uncommented, or commenting it and uncommenting an existing line. Here's the net result for my location in California:

$mirror = '';
$rmirror = '*.tardist';

After this I change one of the DINA default configuration files in the directory /usr/dina/cfgfiles with information that is specific to my home network. If you don't see how this would change for your network, you should skip this step. In the file rc.conf I change the line:


And add two lines, with this result:


At this point I needed to reconfigure the DINA network addressing. If you use network 192.168.1, or will be running DINA and your SGI machines on an isolated or bridged network, you may not need to change anything. Since I use a different network number and wanted to have the DINA appliance reachable from the rest of the network, I needed to change the network settings.

In a terminal window, run the script /usr/dina/startmenu. From the now-familiar menu you should select option 3, "Recondfigure IP address." You will be prompted for several pieces of information; here are the answers I provided for my home network:

IP Address for DINA
Default gateway
DNS server
DHCP pool start
DHCP pool end

Afterwards here is the summary that the script presented:


Note when you confirm the changes, the script will reboot the system so that the changes will take effect.

To be continued!

Setting Up DINA X.Y under Hyper-V

Needs to be filled in,

Installing IRIX With DINA

Examples of installing IRIX using DINA will be added here.

Frequently Asked Questions About DINA

Q: Can I run DINA using something other than VMware?
A: Maybe. deBug developed DINA with VMware Workstation and VMware Player. Forum members have used it with the following systems:

  • VirtualBox Open Source Edition v4.X (running on FreeBSD)
  • VMware ESXi 4.0
  • VMware Player
  • VMware Workstation

Those who tried to use VMware ESXi 3.5 and other platforms were unable to get DINA 1.0 to work. Forum member tingo has reported success with VirtualBox.

Q: Does DINA include IRIX?
A: No, aside from a patch or two the DINA image does not include any IRIX software. Legal issues aside, it would make the DINA image much larger and much less practical to host and distribute.

Q: I don't have a system running IRIX, or I wouldn't need DINA. And I don't have an optical drive on my SGI system. How am I supposed to read these IRIX CDs?
A: Linux has included read-only support for the EFS filesystem for some time, the format used for IRIX distribution CDs. A command like "mount -r -t efs /dev/cdrom /mnt/irix" should do the trick provided you have all the necessary packages for your distribution installed.

Forum member jan-jaap has reported success by adding the "efs" and "loop" keywords to the fstab(5) entry for his DVD-ROM drive. Here's the example he provided:

# <file system> <mount point>   <type>           <options>             <dump>  <proc>
/dev/hdc        /media/cdrom0   efs,udf,iso9660  user,noauto,loop      0       0

When forum member smj checked his new Fedora 14 system there was no entry for the optical drive in /etc/fstab, since it uses autofs, or hald, or some other daemon to automatically mount and unmount removable media. However the following worked when mounting the IRIX Core Foundation 1 CD:

]fedora14# mount -o ro,loop -t efs /dev/cdrom /mnt
fedora14# df -h /mnt
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sr0              545M  527M   18M  97% /mnt
fedora14# ls /mnt

You may also want to review this page.

Q: Linux is supposed to support EFS, but I can't mount the IRIX CDs. What next?
A: Some users have reported problems mounting the IRIX CDs under Linux

[email protected]:/media% sudo mount -t efs -r /dev/scd0 /media/cdrom
mount: wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on /dev/sr0,
missing codepage or helper program, or other error

In these cases forum members have reported success using dd(1) to make a block-by-block image of each CD as a file, then mounting the files using the loopback mechanism in Linux. For example:

sample# dd if=/tmp/irix63inst.iso bs=1M
sample# mkdir /mnt/irix
sample# mount -v -o loop -t efs /tmp/irix63inst.iso /mnt/irix
mount: going to use the loop device /dev/loop0
set_loop(/dev/loop0,irix63inst.iso,0): success
mount: setup loop device successfully
/tmp/irix63inst.iso on /mnt/irix type efs (ro,loop=/dev/loop0)
sample# ls /mnt/irix
CDgrelnotes  CDrelnotes  coffcheck  dist  firmware  help  insight  relnotes  stand

You may also want to review this page.

Q: My SGI machine is never able to connect to the DINA server. What am I doing wrong?
A: One common problem is that users forget to clear the host network address set in the PROM environment. Be sure to enter the PROM command line environment and type "unsetenv netaddr" to make sure your system is requesting a network address via BOOTP. You may want to try issuing the "resetenv" command too, which will set all PROM variables to their default values. Also, make sure you are entering the correct IP address for your DINA server when trying to boot the client system.

SGI Models Successfully Installed via DINA

The following SGI models have been successfully installed via netboot using a DINA server.

History of DINA

deBug first announced the availability of DINA on August 12th, 2008.

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