IRIX Network Installation from OS X

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Net Installation of IRIX 6.5 from OS X Snow Leopard - A Huge Walkthrough

I've tried to be as detailed as I can (and as my memory will let me be…). Hopefully, it should work out as is, but if you get any problems, then I'll see if I can help you troubleshoot them. I put this together after a good few nights of swearing at my Octane and MacPro. I've changed this to read Onxy2 throughout. I'm basing this on the assumption that the process for an Onxy2 is the same, but I've got no way of testing it.

First, credit where it's due: I've compiled this mainly from information at - I've also put in links wherever I have them to the sources that I got specific details from. Thanks to the people that put in the work on those.

I've tried to state where you need to type something into the terminal and where you can use the finder to make life a little easier. For creating / editing text files, you will probably find 'pico' the easiest one to use. Type

 pico filename


  pico /full/path/to/filename

for this.

One final thing that could be a problem. Do you have any way of reading the IRIX installation CDs? OSX can't read them natively and I've never found a way of making them work with it. I've tried Linux through Parallels, and although it should be able to read them, OSX spits out the CD before it gets the chance to have a go at mounting them. The only way that I've found (without an IRIX box with a CD drive, of course) is to have a machine that's booting Linux (I used an old laptop that I had lying around and put a default Debian Lenny installation on it). I don't know if any nekochanners know any other methods for this.

Make a directory for the install files to get copied into:

  mkdir ~/irixinstall

If you have a CD set, then for each of the CDs in turn, type:

 mount -t efs /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom
 cp -a /media/cdrom ~/irixinstall

When the copy is finished, type:

  umount /media/cdrom

And on to the next one…

If you're using .iso images, you need:

  mount -o loop -t efs /path/to/file.iso /media/cdrom
  cp -a /media/cdrom/dist/* ~/irixinstall

When the copy is finished, type:

  umount /media/cdrom

The full list of CDs that you need to take the files from is listed below.

The exact syntax for this may change on different distress, so you may need to Google this if you're having problems. There's also some good info on this part of the process in the links at the top.

Some basics for the installation:

  • We'll assume that you're installing from a directory called '/users/nolis/irix'
  • We'll assume that your home network is addressed subnet
  • Mac IP address is:
  • Onyx2 address is
  • Onyx2 hostname will be 'onyx2'
  • Ethernet address of the Onyx2 is 08:00:69:0B:81:A3 - Info on how to get the real one is in the BOOTP section below.
  • IRIX version is 6.5.30f (full set of CDs including the overlays are needed for this)

Things you'll need to set up on OSX: Installation file copy

  • TFTPD - For an initial diskless boot
  • RSH - For running scripts needed for the installation
  • BOOTP - Assigning configuration info for the diskless boot
  • NFSD - Provides a network filesystem so that the installation files can be accessed
  • KSH - The installation scripts expect this shell to work correctly
  • Guest user account - The account that is going to be used for the installation file copy

Installation File Copy

Create the installation directory. Type:

  mkdir /users/nolis/irix/install

Copy all of the files from the installation CDs '/dist' directory into this folder (you can do this with the finder). For a 6.5.30f install, that will be from the CDs:

  • Overlays 1 of 3
  • Overlays 2 of 3
  • Overlays 3 of 3
  • Applications 2006
  • Complimentary Applications
  • 6.5 Foundations 1
  • 6.5 Foundations 2
  • 6.5 Developer Foundations
  • 6.5 Developer Libraries
  • 6.5 Applications Nov 2001 (This could be different depending on what your base 6.5 install comes from)
  • 6.5 OCN3_NFSv3 (you get the files from /6.5/dist on this CD)

Depending on how you've got your files stored, it may tell you that a file already exists when you copy some of these in. I've always found it OK to just overwrite the existing file as they are just text files that are not necessary for the installation.

Different installation guides have different approaches to the directory structure for this. I've found that if you put all files in one folder (Overlays and base 6.5 installation), then it saves you a lot of trouble with opening different directories in the install part later on.

Setting up TFTPd

TFTPD is already installed on your OSX - Further info if you need it is at:

Start it with:

  sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/tftp.plist

The default directory for tftp booting is /private/tftpboot

Create a symlink to this so that you can copy the files in Type:

   ln -s /private/tftpboot /users/nolis/irix/tftpbootlink


   sudo chmod 777 /private/tftpboot

(Please note that the above is a potential future security hole as any user on the machine can read / write files to that directory. once you've got it working, then you should type 'sudo chmod 755 /private/tftpboot' to prevent anyone but the superuser being able to write / change files)

You can then use the Finder to drag / drop copy the following files from into the tftpbootlink directory via the symbolic link that you've set up (it appears as a folder with a shortcut arrow on it in the iris folder under your home folder). Files to copy are: fx.64, sa and the /miniroot/unix.ip27 (I think that this is the right one for an Onyx2, it's unix.ip30 for an Octane, so you need to get the right one for your machine). Make sure that it's copied keeping 'miniroot' as a subdirectory of tfptboot.

The originals of these files will be in your /users/nolis/irix/install directory.

When you've completely finished the installation, you can stop it with with:

   sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/tftp.plist


Create a bootptab (type: 'pico /etc/bootptab'). Get the hardware address of you're Onxy2 for this by typing the following at the boot prompt on the onyx2:


The 'eaddr' entry is the value that you need.

The /etc/bootptab file should look as follows (you can copy and paste it into the terminal window)

 # bootptab example
 # machine entries have the following format:
 # hostname      hwtype  hwaddr              ipaddr          bootfile
 onyx2  1       08:00:69:0B:81:A3     boot

Then to start up booted:

 sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/bootps.plist

Again, you can stop it when you're completely done with:

  sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/bootps.plist

Setting up NFSD

Create a /etc/exports (type 'pico /etc/exports') file that contains the line:

  /users/nolis/irix/install   -network  -mask

The documentation states that once there's an entry in the /etc/exports file, it should automatically work. I've found that I need to reboot it to make it actually appear. To check if the export is working, type:

  showmount -e

If you don't get anything listed, then reboot the Mac and run the command again. You should see:

  Exports list on localhost:

Setting up KSH

ksh is already installed in 10.6. Don't need to do anything more with this for the moment.

Start RSHD

Info at:

Start RSHD with:

   sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/shell.plist

Set up the guest user account Set up the users for the install: Add a user account called 'guest' through system preferences. This has a blank password. Type:

  dscl . -create /Groups/instguest PrimaryGroupID 998
  dscl . -create /Users/guest
  dscl . -create /Users/guest UniqueID 998 PrimaryGroupID 998 NFSHomeDirectory /Users/guest

To change the login shell for that user to be ksh, do the following:

  sudo dscl . -change /users/guest UserShell /bin/bash /bin/ksh
  sudo pico /users/guest/.rhosts

Add the following to the file:

  onyx2   root

(Note, I'm sure that this this is what I used to get it to work, but it may need to be 'onyx2 root guest' - this was the hardest part to get working if I remember correctly)

Save it, then:

  sudo chown guest .rhosts

As we've used a hostname, we need to:

  sudo vi /etc/hosts

At the bottom of the file add the line (on its own): onyx2

Save it and to bring the change in, use the following

 sudo dscacheutil -flushcache

If all of that's worked, then your Mac should be just waiting for the Onxy2 to ask it for an installation!

For this section, rather than just copying the already excellent instructions at I've just given you the changes to make it work for the example here. Start reading from the section entitled Client Configuration:

Cold start the Onxy2 and hit 'stop for maintenance' and 'enter command monitor' and type:

 setenv -p notape 1
 setenv -p netaddr
 setenv -p srvaddr
 setenv -p fxaddr bootp()$srvaddr:/users/nolis/irix/install/fx.64
 setenv -p tapedevice bootp()$srvaddr:/users/nolis/install/sa
 setenv -p

Then follow the rest of the how to from there.

Once you've got through that little lot, I can't recommend IRIX_Installation_and_Customization highly enough on where to go from there.

See also