Installation of the Xilinx ISE WebPack product took way too much time during the recent Singapore FPGA-for-fun Saturday workshop.

Of course, it’s easy to complain about proprietary software just because, but in this case it was made extra-frustrating because Xilinx’s proprietary component to install their proprietary (but free-in-cost) license key was broken. So, in effect, their ‘welcome to the family’ process was a lesson on why proprietary software is doomed - and caused entirely through Xilinx’s own insistence on hiding what they’re doing license-wise (since the software itself seemed to work fine).

Xilinx Installation (including license key installer work-around)

  1. Register at the Xilinx website, and request a free license to the ISE Webpack product - it will be sent to you via email
  2. Download the license key (since their installer fails to even run)
  3. Download the Linux ISE Webpack tar file : Xilinx_ISE_DS_Lin_14.7_1015_1.tar
  4. tar -xf Xilinx_ISE_DS_Lin_14.7_1015_1.tar, and run (as root user, though this may not be necessary beyond the creation of the installation directory) :
# 14.7 xilinx 2 ise webpack

./xsetup

# Install location : /opt/Xilinx 
# Choose : ISE WebPACK (not ISE Design Suite System Edition)
#   No need to chose anything but the defaults from here...

# Now install the license key manually to the directory in your local home :
cp ~/Downloads/Xilinx.lic ~/.Xilinx/

# Running the software
cd /opt/Xilinx/14.7/ISE_DS/ISE/bin/lin64
./ise &

?Potentially? useful

cd /opt/Xilinx/14.7/ISE_DS/

#sudo . settings64.sh

$ /path_to_the_installation_dir/14.4/ISE_DS/ISE/bin/lin64/ise
$ /path_to_the_installation_dir/14.4/ISE_DS/ISE/bin/lin64/coregen
$ /path_to_the_installation_dir/14.4/ISE_DS/EDK/bin/lin64/xps
$ /path_to_the_installation_dir/14.4/ISE_DS/EDK/bin/lin64/xsdk

Next Steps:

  1. Open a project file : VHDL-HELLO-WORLD.xise
  2. This will use : helloworld.vhd
  3. Run-all on the project (to get ‘three green ticks’)
  4. This will create : mystery.bit, which is a binary that needs to be uploaded to a Xilinx device

Final thing to solve : Papilio Loader

mv ~/Downloads/Papilio-Loader-V2.8.zip .
unzip Papilio-Loader-V2.8.zip 
cd papilio-loader/
sudo dnf install libftdi-devel
java -jar ...
  • Papilio Loader PROBLEMS
    • On Fedora (22) the issue seems to be that libftdi.so has been updated to libftdi1.so, which the loader .jar file fails to find
    • Moreover, the .jar file wants a 32-bit version (and the 64-bit version documentation conflicts with the 32-bit install)
    • Even with the 32-bit version, you’ll need to do something along the lines of :
cd /lib
ln -s libftdi.so.1 libftdi1.so.2
  • With that done, though, I was still getting errors regarding rights to the USB device (which weren’t sufficiently well explained to help solve the problem)
  • One hour in : Time to GIVE UP on Papilio (for the weekend, at least)


Martin Andrews

{Finance, Software, AI} entrepreneur, living in Singapore with my family.



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