Installing IRIX 6.5 to an SGI O2 from the network

Here are some notes that I kept while installing the latest IRIX 6.5 to an O2 machine with all available updates from SGI till the end of life in 2013. Most of it can be found from other sources too, but this is my take on the subject. The good ones are the INSTALL.sgi file from the OpenBSD releases and a couple of others listed at the end of the page.

Before we begin, we have gathered all available install sets:



I am using my OpenBSD 5.4 laptop to boot the installer and serve the installation files. The two machines are connected directly with a UTP Ethernet cable.

We boot the machine and click the Enter Command Monitor button to drop us in the command line interface of the BIOS. We execute at the prompt:

SGI> printenv

This way we learn the MAC address of the machine. Now we set the address of our wired interface accordingly:

$ ifconfig em0 inet

We also add an entry for the SGI machine in /etc/{ethers,hosts}.


de:ad:ba:be:de:ad voodoo

/etc/hosts: voodoo

Next, we modify our DHCP server configuration to give the machine a fixed address.


subnet netmask {
    host voodoo {
        hardware ethernet de:ad:ba:be:de:ad;

We have put all our sets in /tftpboot/irix:

$ du -sh /tftpboot/irix/*
558M    /tftpboot/irix/apps
285M    /tftpboot/irix/dev
369M    /tftpboot/irix/devlibs
528M    /tftpboot/irix/foundation1
238M    /tftpboot/irix/foundation2
369M    /tftpboot/irix/moreapps
58.1M   /tftpboot/irix/oncnfs
411M    /tftpboot/irix/overlay1
393M    /tftpboot/irix/overlay2
572M    /tftpboot/irix/overlay3

Now start the TFTP and DHCP services:

$ /etc/rc.d/dhcpd -f start
$ /etc/rc.d/tftpd -f start

And at the machine prompt we boot from the network location using TFTP:

SGI> boot()irix/overlay1/stand/sashARCS

After a while we reach the installer prompt. Now we need a way to access the install sets over the network and SGI was using RSH. As of OpenBSD 5.6 there is no rsh service; it has been removed with this commit message. :) However, we can still build it and use it like this:

$ curl -o rshd.c "http://cvsweb.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/~checkout~/src/libexec/rshd/Attic/rshd.c?rev=1.56"
$ make rshd
$ useradd -U -d /tftpboot sgi
$ echo " sgi" | tee ~sgi/.rhosts
$ ./rshd

Back to the installer now, test the RSH connectivity:

Inst> sh
voodoo# rsh sgi@ /bin/sh
voodoo# exit

Add the remote software package sources to the installer by pointing to the dist directory of each set:

Inst> open sgi@
Inst> open sgi@
Inst> open sgi@
Inst> open sgi@
Inst> open sgi@
Inst> open sgi@
Inst> open sgi@
Inst> open sgi@
Inst> open sgi@
Inst> open sgi@
Inst> keep *
Inst> install standard
Inst> install prereqs
Inst> conflicts
Inst> go
Inst> quit

Here we've put everything, but we should be able to do a successful installation with only the first two sets. After the system is up and running with network working we can still use the same install sets through say NFS or HTTP. Also there is the free package repository from SGI you can use online; visit:


To install, for example, the sudo package, copy the link at the right hand side of the entry and use in the installer:

$ inst
Inst> open http://freeware.sgi.com/Dist/fw_sudo-1.6.6-sgipl1.tardist
Inst> go
Inst> quit

Other software that maintain IRIX support:


Happy tinkering!