Installing IRIX over
a Network

 General Information


Sometimes it may be desirable to do a network installation of IRIX - that is the computer to be installed does not have direct access to the installation media (normally CD-ROMs), but there is another computer (preferably another SGI) in the LAN which either has a CD-ROM drive or the wohle installation CDs on its local storage. Then you might want to use this SGI as an installation server.

This page tries to explain how this can be done rather easily. The most important things is to prepare the trivial file transfer protocol server (tftp) and the boot protocol server (bootp) on the installation server. The later enables a boot accross the network while the first is a rather slim ftp-server which will be used for transferring the files to the client.

Preparing the Client

Before you can prepare the server, you have to get the physical 48bit ethernet address of the machine (or MAC-Address which stands for Media Access Control) of the machine to be installed (the client). The adress consists of 6 hexnumbers seperated by colons, for example 08:00:69:02:38:1c is the adress of my Personal Iris 4D/25. Write this adress down, it is needed later for preparation of the installation server.

There are two possibilities how to find our the ethernet adress from the command line interface of the PROM monitor. Older machines use the eaddr-command, newer machines store the adress in the environment variable eaddr which can be viewed by typing printenv.

>> printenv

While you are in the PROM monitor you can already set the IP adress of the client (that is the box itself) by typing

>> setenv netaddr

Of course you have to replace by the correct adress. The IP adress of the client will be refered as [client-ip].

On some old SGIs you should also disable the tapedrive as an installation drive by typing

>> setenv notape 1

Preparing the Server

First you have to copy all CDs onto the server, each CD should reside in a different directory, but it is wise to use a common parent directory like /cds.

From now on [inst-src] will refer to the first installation CD that contains the installation tools and [root-src] will refer to the common directory where all CDs are stored. And the IP adress of the server will be refered as [server-ip] and remember that the IP adress of the machine itself will be refered as [client-ip].

There is only one exception, when you do not need to copy all CDs to your harddisc: You can omit this step, if the wohle IRIX release fits onto one CD. Then of course, you can simply insert that CD into the drive and in this case [inst-src] = [root-src] = /CDROM.

First you should enter the hardware adress of the client together with its hostname into the file /etc/ethers

# /etc/ethers maps Ethernet addresses to hostnames
# The library routine ether_line() uses this file.
# The format of a line is:
#       x:x:x:x:x:x     hostname
# where the first field is the 48-bit Ethernet address
# expressed as 6 hexadecimal bytes.
08:00:69:02:38:1c       iris

Now you have to edit the file /etc/bootptab and specify the kernel which has to be used for booting the client. Note that you first have to chose the correct sash version for your target platform, see the table below:

# /etc/bootptab:  config file for bootp server (/usr/etc/bootp)

# Root of boot subtree. If tftpd(1M) is running in "secure" mode,
# this directory must be specified on tftpd's entry 
# in /usr/etc/inetd.conf.


# default bootfile


# end of first section


# The remainder of this file contains one line per client 
# interface with the information shown by the table headings 
# below. The 'host' name is also tried as a suffix for the 
# 'bootfile' when searching the home directory.  (e.g., 
# host htype haddr             iaddr       bootfile

iris    1  08:00:69:02:38:1c  [inst-src]/stand/sashARCS

Now we have to enable the bootp and tftp daemons on the server by editing the file /etc/inetd.conf
# /etc/inetd.conf
bootp dgram   udp   wait  root    /usr/etc/bootp  bootp
tftp  dgram   udp   wait  guest   /usr/etc/tftpd  tftpd -s [root-src]

Now for the changes of the configuration to take effect, we finally have to restart the inetd daemon by typing

/etc/killall -HUP inetd

For more information on the details of configuring inetd, tftpd and bootp, consult the relevant man pages and also read sections 9.4 to 9.6 in the "IRIX Admin: System Configuration and Operation" online book, as well as Chapter 2 in "IRIX Admin: Software Installation and Licensing".

Now the installation server is readily configured.

Selecting the Correct fx/sash Version

Before you start the installation, you have to know which version of sash and fx your machine (the client) requires. Many platform require different kernel versions, even already for the installation. The following table gives you an overview of the different versions. Note that not all hardware platforms are supported by all IRIX versions!

System sash- / fx-Version IRIX Version
Personal Iris 4D/2x sash.IP6
4.0.1 or
Personal Iris 4D/3x sash.IP12
4.0.1 or
Professional Iris 4D/120 sash.IP5
Professional Iris 4D/210 sash.IP9
Professional Iris 4D/2x0
Professional Iris 4D/3x0
Professional Iris 4D/4x0
Crimson sash.IP17
Indigo R3000 sash.IP12
Onyx/Challenge R4000
Indigo R4000
Indigo² R4000
or 6.5
O2 sashARCS
or 6.5
Onyx/Challenge R8000
Onyx/Challenge R10K
Indigo² R8000
Indigo² R10K

From now on we assume that we are installing on a newer 32bit system like an Indy or an O2. So we need sashARCS and fx.ARCS.

Accessing the Network

All access from the client to the files on the server is done by the bootp() device which can be used in any place where you can use the dksc() or cdrom() devices. The syntax of bootp() is as follows:


For example refers bootp() to the fx.ARCS file on the server with IP Note that you cannot access servers in other networks, behind routers or gateways, because the PROM and sash both do not know anything about routes.

This implies the following important fact: The server and the client both have to reside within the same network!

Starting the fx over Network

Now we can start the installation on the client. First we have to boot into the PROM monitor and enter the command line interface. Now we can set the IP adress of the station and disable a tape installation on older SGI boxes by typing

>> setenv netaddr [client-ip]
>> setenv notape 1

Now you can boot the disc partitioning program fx with the expert mode enabled by typing (of course, you have to chose the correct version of fx as listed in the table above)

>> boot -f bootp()[server-ip]:[inst-src]/stand/fx.ARCS --x

For more details on using fx please read the page "Disc Initialisation with IRIX fx". This will explain the most important options and commands of fx.

System Maintenance Menu

1) Start System
2) Install System Software
3) Run Diagnostics
4) Recover System
5) Enter Command Monitor

Option? 5

Command Monitor.  Type "exit" to return to the menu.
>> setenv notape 1
>> setenv netaddr
>> boot -f bootp() --x
Obtaining /cds/6.5inst/stand/fx.ARCS from server
230608+91888+1863568 entry: 0x80055d00

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/
fx> a


Starting the Installer from Network

When you have finished initializing your disc, you can start the installtion from the PROM monitor by selecting "Network Installation" or you can also start the installation from the Command Line Interface by first booting into sash by typing (of course, you have to chose the correct version of sash as listed in the table above)

>> boot -f bootp()[server-ip]:[inst-src]/stand/sashARCS

Then starting the installation procedure by typing install -n. Note that you always have to enter the IP adress of the server, and not its hostname, as the SGI box still has no proper networking running and cannot resolve DNS names properly.

System Maintenance Menu

1) Start System
2) Install System Software
3) Run Diagnostics
4) Recover System
5) Enter Command Monitor

Option? 5

Command Monitor.  Type "exit" to return to the menu.
>> setenv notape 1
>> setenv netaddr
>> boot -f bootp()
sash: install -n
Copying installation program to disk...........................
..........................Copy complete

If your disc is already partitioned and the IP adress is already set, you may also chose directly "Install System Software" from the Main Menu. But note that on older machines (4D era), the first way is preferred. This second approach will look like this:

System Maintenance Menu

1) Start System
2) Install System Software
3) Run Diagnostics
4) Recover System
5) Enter Command Monitor

Option? 2

                         Installing System Software...

                       Press <Esc> to return to the menu.

1) Remote Tape  2) Remote Directory  3)[Local CD-ROM]  X) Local Tape
      *a) Local SCSI CD-ROM drive 4

Enter 1-4 to select source type, a to select the source, <esc>
to quit, or <enter> to start: 2

Enter the name of the remote host:
Enter the remote directory: /cds/6.5inst/dist
Copying installation program to disk..............................
..........................Copy complete

Continuing the Installation

Now you have started the installation process of IRIX. Read on in "IRIX Base Installation" for further instructions.