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Ubuntu Virtual CAE System

The Ubuntu® virtual CAE System is an Ubuntu Linux® based CAE environment based on Altera®, Quartus®, Modelsim® and a MIPS® Cross compiler. The idea is to run Ubuntu Linux in a virtual machine.

Preconfigured VirtualBox virtual machine

I have a preconfigured virtual machine based on VirtualBox® which contains

  • Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 32 Bit
  • Altera Quartus II Web Edition Version 13.0sp1 (13.0.1 build 232)
  • Modelsim Altera Starter Edition Version 10.1d (included in 13.0sp1)
  • MIPS Cross Compiler
  • Virtualbox guest additions version 4.3.2

To install the preconfigured virtual machine do

The virtual machine comes with

  • User: caeuser
  • Passwd: caeuser

You can mount a filesystem from the host system. Please check the file /etc/fstab. There is one line commented out for mounting a shared filesystem. “shared” is the name that you configure in virtualbox.

Build your own from scratch (Ubuntu 12.04)

Here is the description how the virtual machine is build from scratch. There are specific instructions for Installing on Ubuntu 14.04.

Virtual Machine

There are different virtual machine environments.


VMWare® provides a commercial version VMWare Fusion for Mac OS®. This has a very good integration in MacOS and I use it with MacOS 10.8.3 (Mountain Lion). It is not free. For Windows® there is the VMWare Player. The VMWare Player is free. I have not tested it.


VirtualBox® is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS. It is free. From my experience with MacOS it is not as good integrated as VMWare Fusion. The following description targets Virtualbox as this is free of charge.

Get the virtual machine

Download and install the the virtual machine software from

Get the Ubuntu install image

Download the ISO file for the 32 Bit Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Desktop version. You can download the image from here:

Install Ubuntu in the virtual machine

You can mount the ISO Image as CDROM in the virtual machine and boot from the virtual CDROM. Then you install to your disk. Configure the virtual machine with the following parameters.

  • fixed vmdk disk with 30 GByte size
  • depending on your RAM choose minimum 1 GByte RAM for the virtual machine
  • In the Graphics section give 128 MB Ram to the graphics system
  • Enable 2D or 3D acceleration (On my MacBook® 3D is proposed)

To mount the virtual CDROM do:

Choose Devices→CD/DVD Devices → Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file

Then select the Ubuntu Install Image ISO file that you downloaded in the previous section. You now have the virtually inserted the CDROM. Now reboot the virtual machine. The settings should result in booting from the CDROM and from there you install Ubuntu to the virtual disk drive. Just select location and language as appropriate.

Post install

After installing Ubuntu you need to install guest applications from virtual box.

Problem: low-res graphics

Problem: The graphical userinterface does not start because it cannot identify the screen resolution. Whatever you do you end in a textual shell. Solution: You need to install the virtualbox guest additions.

From the textual shell login to the system and run the following

sudo apt-get install dkms

Virtually insert the VirtualBox Guest additions CD by selecting Devices→Install Guest Additions in Virtualbox application. That will virtually insert a CDROM in the drive. Now you need to mount the cdrom in ubuntu, change to the cdrom directory and run the installation script.

sudo mount /dev/cdrom /media
cd /media
sudo ./ 

Now you can reboot and the graphical user interface should start.

sudo shutdown -r now

After reboot open a shell (terminal) and update the ubuntu system

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Install Altera Quartus and Modelsim

Description for 64Bit Linux installation is here Quartus_on_64bit_linux

Go to the tmp directory and download und untar the installation package. Then start the setup

cd /tmp
mkdir quartus
cd quartus
tar -xvf Quartus-web-

Modelsim does not display the fonts very nicely. To have better fonts do

sudo apt-get install xfonts-75dpi

In order to be able to start the binaries from the commandline, the path for the binaries has to be in the PATH environment variable. For that you have to modify the .profile file in your home directory. Append the following snippet to the .profile file:

# Include the ALTERA fpga software
# Include the ALTERA Modelsim VHDL simulator

To make the new fonts active and to see the changes in the PATH variable, you have to logout and login again. After that you can already start modelsim and quartus (see below). To check the setting of the PATH variable do:

fritz@fritz-VirtualBox:~$ echo $PATH

You can see that the altera directories are now part of the PATH variable.

The following steps are required to actually program the devices. If you do not need or want to do that, you can continues with starting modelsim and quartus.

USB Settings

For the USB programming via the USB Blaster™, the port permissions have to be set correctly. For that you have to add the file “51-usbblaster.rules” to the directory ”/etc/udev/rules.d” and reboot. See also but notice that the rules shown at Altera are different and do not work with ubuntu.

# Altera USB-Blaster for Quartus FPGA Software
SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="09fb", ATTR{idProduct}=="6001", MODE="0666"
SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="09fb", ATTR{idProduct}=="6002", MODE="0666"
SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="09fb", ATTR{idProduct}=="6003", MODE="0666"
# USB-Blaster II
SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="09fb", ATTR{idProduct}=="6010", MODE="0666"
SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="09fb", ATTR{idProduct}=="6810", MODE="0666"

For the following test you need to attach the Altera Board to your computer. Notice that you have to attach the usb device to the virtual machine with Devices→USB Devices→Altera USB-Blaster. Then you should be able to see the device in the usb device list with lsusb.

fritz@fritz-VirtualBox:/etc/udev/rules.d$ lsusb
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 80ee:0021 VirtualBox USB Tablet
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 09fb:6001 Altera Blaster
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub

You can see the permissions for the devices with ls. See the rw rights for “others” for the device 003 which is the usb blaster. That is a result of the rules file.

fritz@fritz-VirtualBox:/etc/udev/rules.d$ ls -l /dev/bus/usb/001/
insgesamt 0
crw-rw-r-- 1 root root 189, 0 Mai  7 16:35 001
crw-rw-r-- 1 root root 189, 1 Mai  7 16:35 002
crw-rw-rw- 1 root root 189, 2 Mai  7 16:38 003

If your permissions for the usb port are correct, then you should be able to scan the jtag chain with jtagconfig.

fritz@fritz-VirtualBox:/etc/udev/rules.d$ jtagconfig --enum
1) USB-Blaster [1-2]                          
  020B30DD   EP2C(15|20)


Start Modelsim


Start Quartus


Install qfsm

QFSM ist the state chart editor used in the lab. First you need to install some required packages.

sudo apt-get install cmake qt4-dev-tools libgraphviz-dev

Then you can build and install qfsm.

mkdir qfsm
cd qfsm
wget -O qfsm.tar.bz2
bunzip2 qfsm.tar.bz2
tar -xvf qfsm.tar
mkdir build
cd build
cmake ../qfsm-0.52.0-Source
sudo make install

Installing on Ubuntu 14.04

  • Ubuntu 14.04 LTS 64 Bit
  • Altera Quartus II Web Edition Version 13.0sp1 (13.0.1 build 232)
  • Modelsim Altera Starter Edition Version 10.1d (included in 13.0sp1)

The ISO Image for the Ubuntu 14.04 is here:

I installed on VMWare on my Macbook running OSX 10.9.3 with VMWare 6.03. I did not install any VMWare add ons.

Installing Quartus

Add the following to your .profile in your home directory. You need to logout and login to make the changes active.

# Include the ALTERA fpga software
# Include the ALTERA Modelsim VHDL simulator

Follow the instructions to modify the USB Settings.

Enable multiple architectures (32 Bit / 64 Bit)

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
sudo apt-get update

Install the 32Bit libraries

sudo apt-get install libc6:i386 libpng12-0:i386 libfreetype6:i386 libsm6:i386 libxrender1:i386 libfontconfig1:i386 libxext6:i386 libxft2:i386 libncurses5:i386

Modelsim does not display the fonts very nicely. To have better fonts do

sudo apt-get install xfonts-75dpi

Get and install the Quartus/Modelsim package:

cd /tmp
mkdir quartus
cd quartus
tar -xvf Quartus-web-

During the setup you can deselect all device specific packages (Arria…) except CycloneII.

Quartus should now run.

Modelsim incompatible libfreetype

If you start vsim after the installation it will crash with a segmentation fault. The reason is that modelsim is not compatible with a newer version of libfreetype. I followed the instructions here The following should work for the ubuntu install.

Compile a new libfreetype

cd /tmp
sudo apt-get install libc6-dev-i386
sudo apt-get build-dep -a i386 libfreetype6
tar -xjvf freetype-2.4.12.tar.bz2
cd freetype-2.4.12
./configure --build=i686-pc-linux-gnu "CFLAGS=-m32" "CXXFLAGS=-m32" "LDFLAGS=-m32"
make -j8

Modify the modelsim Installation

cd ~/altera/13.0sp1/modelsim_ase/
mkdir lib32
cp /tmp/freetype-2.4.12/objs/.libs/* ./lib32
chmod u+w vco

Now edit the file ”~/altera/13.0sp1/modelsim_ase/vco”.

gedit ~/altera/13.0sp1/modelsim_ase/vco

Find the line

dir=`dirname $arg0`

and add

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/home/fritz/altera/13.0sp1/modelsim_ase/lib32

just below that line. You need to adapt the path to the name of your installation.



should work.

Download and build the mips toolchain

The MIPS Cross Compiler is only needed for the patterson project.

Follow the instructions in MIPS Cross Compiler build

Test the installation

Install git

sudo apt-get install git

Download the “Digitaltechnikpraktikum” from the git server:

mkdir projects
cd projects
git clone

Now start a Modelsim simulation

cd digitaltechnikpraktikum
cd sim
cd ledcomb
make sim

To run a synthesis

cd digitaltechnikpraktikum
cd pnr
cd ledcomb
make compile
make quartus

If you have a FPGA Board, you can download and test the design.

make prog


MIPS® and MIPS I™ are trademarks of MIPS Technologies Inc.. See Mips Trademark usage

Altera®, Quartus®, Nios®, Cyclone®, USB-Blaster™, SignalTap™ are trademarks of Altera Corporation. See Altera Trademark Usage Guidelines

VMWare® is a trademark of VMWare Inc.

Apple®, Mac OS®, MacBook® and Mac® are trademarks of Apple Inc.

Windows® is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

VirtualBox® is a trademark of Oracle Corporation.

ModelSim® is a trademark of Mentor Graphices Corporation

Linux® is a trademark of Linus Torvald

Ubuntu® is a trademark of Canonical Ltd.

This is an independent publication and is not affiliated with, nor has it been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by any of these companies.

ubuntu_virtual_cae_system.txt · Last modified: 2015/03/26 15:48 by beckmanf