A Clear Guide to Install SGI IRIX

Here we are in October of 2017. I was recently given an SGI Fuel, a cool red server that runs SGI IRIX. The only problem is that I didn’t have the original hard drive, but at least I had the original discs. How the heck do I install it, though? It’s not like a standard computer, where you just ram Esc or F12 or whatever and boot from the first install disc, no.

They, of course, in their UNIXy nature, had to make it more complicated and cryptic than that.

Let’s begin.

First, you’ll need:

  • An SGI system with all necessary components
  • All the discs you can possibly find

The discs you need (as far as I know as of yet) are:

  • Each “Overlay” for whatever version you’re installing (skip the overlays if you like tons of conflict aggravation)
  • Foundation 1 & 2

First, boot up the system. For this guide, we’re going to say you have a 64-bit system, that being a Fuel or the like. Remember, for the Fuel, you need an IRIX new enough. Fuel support started with IRIX 6.5.17.

Stop the system for maintenance as soon as it says “Starting system”. Now, go ahead and run this command:


The output should look like this:

>> hinv
System  SGI-IP35
1 900 MHz IP35 Processors
Main mmory size: 4096 Mbytes
Graphics Controller
Integral Fast Ethernet
IOC3 serial port
USB (OHCI interface)
Integral SCSI controller 0: Version Qlogic 12160
    Disk drive: unit 1 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,1,0))
    Disk drive: unit 2 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,2,0))
    Disk drive: unit 3 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,3,0))
    Disk drive: unit 4 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,4,0))
    Disk drive: unit 5 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,5,0))
    Disk drive: unit 6 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,6,0))
    Disk drive: unit 7 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,7,0))
    Disk drive: unit 8 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,8,0))
    Disk drive: unit 9 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,9,0))
    Disk drive: unit 10 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,10,0))
    Disk drive: unit 11 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,11,0))
    Disk drive: unit 12 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,12,0))
    Disk drive: unit 13 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,13,0))
    Disk drive: unit 14 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,14,0))
    Disk drive: unit 15 on SCSI Controller 0, (dksc(0,15,0))
Integral SCSI controller 1: Version Qlogic 12160
    CDROM: unit 6 on SCSI Controller 1, (cdrom(1,6,7))

Look in there and see what your CD-ROM drive’s SCSI IDs are. In this case, we’ll say it’s 1,6,7, because that’s what it is for me.

Now run this command:

boot -f dksc(1,6,8)sash64 dksc(1,6,7)stand/fx.64 --x

Note that you actually do have to increase the last number of the first instance of “dksc” by one. That’s exactly what you need to type, trust me on this.

Now, the fx program (partitioner, not AMD FX) will start. Just keep pressing Enter. Here, I’m hoping your hard drive shows up as “0,1,0”. If that’s the case, fx will start.

Danger! Don’t continue if you have any data on the hard drive. In this solution article, we’re going to assume that you don’t have any useful data on the drive. Please don’t lose anything important!

Enter “r” for repartition, “ro” for root drive option, press Enter to confirm XFS, “..” to go up one level, “l” to create a new disk label, “sy” to sync the disk, and then, finally, “/exit” to leave fx.

In case that sounds familiar, I am more-or-less quoting this guide.

The system should then return to the maintenance menu. Pick “Install”, and then, if your IRIX is new enough, it’ll begin copying files to the disk.

If, at this point, you are asked to create a new filesystem on /dev/dsk/realroot, say yes and yes again. Unless your drive is <4GB, tell it to use 4096 bytes for the block size.

Enter “13” in the Inst prompt to go into the Admin menu, then “11” to select mkfs. Enter “y” to confirm, and “..” to go back to the top level of Inst.

Enter 1, and press Enter. Have it read each disc you want to use. At a minimum, you must read the Installation tools disc, each “Overlay” (if applicable), then Foundation 1 & 2, and, lastly, Applications. Add anything else if you wish/can.

Once you’re done with the annoying disc switching, go ahead and type this out:

install standard

Unless you’ve got some conflicts, the installation will then begin! If you’ve got conflicts, use the “con” command to deal with them, and type “go” again when you’re done.

Now that IRIX is installing, look at the installer every now and then to make sure it isn’t asking for you to do something. In my case, at one point, a “No such file or directory” error halted installation, but typing “continue” let it continue just fine.

It’ll ask you every now and then to insert a different disc. Go ahead and follow those instructions. No need to press Enter after loading the disc, as it automatically detects when you load a disc.

That should just about do it!