IRIX Idiosyncrasies

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This is a (growing) collection of tips and tricks around IRIX administration, mostly a consolidation of things I search for online every single time I set up a new machine.

Booting IRIX without a keyboard attached ๐Ÿ”—

By default, most SGI workstations will halt the startup process with the following error message if no keyboard is attached:

Cannot connect to keyboard -- check the cable.

To fix this, start the machine with a monitor and keyboard attached, enter the PROM monitor and set the nogfxkbd environment variable:

setenv nogfxkbd 1

Exit the PROM monitor, unplug keyboard and reboot. The machine should now boot into IRIX without any issues.

Enable 24-bit color depth ๐Ÿ”—

Not all SGI machines that support 24-bit TrueColor mode (e.g., Indy with the 24-bit XL Graphics option) have it enabled by default. To configure X11 to run in 24 bit TrueColor mode, change /var/X11/xdm/Xservers from:

:0 secure /usr/bin/X11/X -bs -nobitscale -c -pseudomap 4sight -solidroot sgilightblue -cursorFG red -cursorBG white


:0 secure /usr/bin/X11/X -bs -nobitscale -c -class TrueColor -depth 24 -solidroot sgilightblue -cursorFG red -cursorBG white

Then restart the graphics subsystem with the new settings:

(/usr/gfx/stopgfx; /usr/gfx/startgfx)&

You can use the xdpyinfo command to check if the new settings are active.

Change the screen resolution ๐Ÿ”—

The current and default video output formats can be set with the setmon command. For example, run the following command to set the screen resolution to 1280x1024 @ 76Hz:

/usr/gfx/setmon -x 1280x1024_76

The specified video format will take effect when the X server restarts (when one logs out from an X session) or during the next boot cycle. You can run the following command to restart the graphics subsystem with the new settings:

(/usr/gfx/stopgfx; /usr/gfx/startgfx)&

WARNING: If you set an unsupported video format you won’t be able to access the graphical login screen anymore. In that case you can reset the resolution from the PROM monitor with setenv monitor h.