Xilinx ISE Installation Instructions

From HacDC Wiki

ISE Installation Instructions

  1. Make sure you have a account
  2. Go to, navigate to their ISE Webpack download page. Links can be found here ISE Webpack
  3. Once you sign in and register, you'll be at the Xilinx Entitlement center, and have several options to download software. On your left, under quick links, there is a link titled "Register and Download 10.1 and earlier software."
    1. You will receive a registration email. This will contain a registrationID which you'll need later. Save this email and keep it handy.
  4. Follow the screens to download the ISE Webpack. You'll be presented with either downloading the 2.5Gb image or the Webinstall client, which will download the files you'll need as it installs. You can choose either, I would recommend grabbing the 2.25Gb tarball. Instructions will be based on installing from the full tarball. Expect your vm drive to start growing.
  5. By default, your download (webpack_SFD.tar for the full file) will go to your ~/Desktop folder. Open up a terminal and unpack the tarball.
    1.  cd  ~/Desktop 
    2. tar -xvf webpack_SFD.tar 
    3. This creates the directory ~/Desktop/webpack containing the installation files for the webpack. These installation files will work for Linux and Windows.
    4.  UESC-Boomer:Public wgibb$ md5 webpack_SFD.tar ...results(webpack_SFD.tar) = 87c3452d36ef990930a8596acd6a4899 
  6. Now we're going to run the installer as root
    1.  cd webpack 
    2.  su (password is linux on the vm) 
    3.  ./setup 
  7. During the setup you'll be prompted for a registrationID. This is the registrationID in the email you got back in step 3. Enter it here.
  8. You'll then be presented with terms of service screens. Agree through them to proceed.
  9. Next you'll be presented with a choice of installation directory. The default choise, /opt/Xilinx/10.1 is fine
  10. Next is installation options You may as well choose all of them, but you must choose "All FPGA devices except Virtex 4 and Virtex 5" in order to design towards the Spartan 3E boards. You should be ready for your VM's disk to grow by 4 more gigs.
  11. You'll then be presented with a set of environmental variables which are set in a settings file for ise. They can be left at defaults.
  12. On windows, select the cable drivers. On linux, unselect the cable drivers and be sure to follow the directions further down this page for information on setting up the cable drivers.
  13. Click through to confirm the settings and install the tools.
    1. You may uncheck the update feature, if you do not wish to immeadiately update the tools after installation. This will cause a large download to occur after installation, if it is checked.
  14. Wait for the tools to install. Play cards with a buddy.
  15. If you let XilinxUpdate run after installation, it will start up, and you'll need to tell it you want to download and install the 1.5gb of updates. Find a buddy and play cards.
  16. The cable drivers will fail to build. A solution for this is forthcoming (just need to test it).
  17. You can remove the folder from your desktop. You may want to keep the tarball around if you need to reinstall.
    1.  exit 
      To get out of su
    2.  rm -rf ./webpack 

Running the tools

  1. Open up a terminal and type the following commands
    1.  cd /opt/Xilinx/10.1/ISE 
    2.  source 
    3.  ise 
  2. You will now have launched Xilinx ISE.
    1. If this is your first time using Xilinx ISE, you should go through the in-depth tutorial linked to on the mainpage.

64 bit install

If the Xilinx ISE Webpack install file complains about not supporting your 64-bit computer:

The installer is just a shell script, edit out the test.

Since ISE is a 32-bit application, you'll need 32-bit libraries on your 64-bit system. `apt-get install ia32-libs` or equivalent for you distribution to get them. (Debian 'Lenny' doesn't have libuuid in its ia32-libs package. You'll have to scrounge those files up from the i386 libuuid1 package yourself. More recently libuuid is included in ia32-libs, so this wont be a problem in Debian 'Squeeze' and later.) Your 64-bit amd64 box will run 32-bit i386 binaries just fine.

Run the installer script. Things will work just fine.

But note that when it comes time to flash things over the USB cable, you'll need to add a little extra elbow grease. Specifically, you'll need to run the USB loader within a 32-bit shell:

   cd /opt/Xilinx/10.1/ISE
   linux32 bash
   export LD_PRELOAD=/lib32/

(And don't forget to "exit" when you're done to prevent infinitely-deeply nested linux32 bash shells.)

Alternative to Digilent Adept Suite

Some basics:

USB cable plugged into laptop. With the Power Select jumper in the USB position, turning on the power switch lights the red power LED. With the Mode jumper on ROM, the board will load the demo code from ROM and light up the 7-segment LED displays and the switches will turn on and off the other LEDs. The Yellow Done LED lights when the load completes.

With the Mode jumper in the JTAG position the board starts up waiting for JTAG data. Yes, there is a JTAG cable header, but this setting also works for the USB JTAG interface.

A fine bit of clue: Programming Digilent Nexys 2 from Linux

That leads to the good stuff in nexys2prog.tar.gz (Note: UrJTAG is already in a Debian package [1]) This allows one to avoid needing to use the "Digilent Adept Suite", and thus, Windows.

The one can use the Xilinx ISE Webpack to convert some example verilog source files into a .bit file, then use the nexys2prog to load the board with that .bit file. Can even be done on a Debian laptop where the only non-free software is the Xilinx ISE Webpack..

Just hit the reset button, and the board is ready to get another bitfile load, run nexys2prog and reconfigure the hardware on the fly.

Programming the board with the USB cable in Linux

The Xilinx USB drivers for Linux don't work straight out of the box. The Spartan 3E board ships with a flexible firmware usb driver onboard, which unfortunately means we're going to have to reload it up with the "right" firmware every time you power down.

What I (Elliot) did on a Ubuntu system:

To flash the "right" USB firmware into the Spartan 3E board, you're going to need fxload.

sudo apt-get install fxload

Then you can write a udev script to load the firmware every time you plug in a Digilent Spartan3E board. Sudo create a file /etc/udev/rules.d/xusbdfwu.rules and fill it with the following code:

SYSFS{idVendor}=="03fd", SYSFS{idProduct}=="0008", MODE="666"
SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ACTION=="add", ATTR{idVendor}=="03fd", ATTR{idProduct}=="000d", RUN+="/sbin/fxload -v -t fx2 -I /opt/Xilinx/10.1/ISE/bin/lin/xusbdfwu.hex -D %N"

(You may need to restart the udev subsystem: "sudo restart udev")

Plug in your board and turn it on. You can tell you've succeeded when a green LED will light just below the USB port. You can also type lsusb again and verify that the board has re-enumerated with an ID 03fd:0008. If this doesn't work, you might want to verify that your board has product ID 000d like mine did. Modify your udev rules appropriately if not.

If you can't get the whole udev thing working, you can type by hand:

/sbin/fxload -v -t fx2 -I /opt/Xilinx/10.1/ISE/bin/lin/xusbdfwu.hex -D /proc/bus/usb/001/007

where the 001/007 is the bus and id that you'll find from lsusb.

Then to run iMPACT (the program that flashes in your .bit file) with or without ISE, you'll need to tell it to use USB:


You should now be able to run ISE (or iMPACT directly) and it'll detect the cable and the board.

[This site] has good information about the USB JTAG programming interface and configuration for the Spartan3E. (Found the page after I wrote this guide. Would have saved us hours.)