Installing QNX

This guide gives step by step instructions on how to install QNX from CD-ROM to its own partition. If there are other partitions on the hard disk, the steps related to partitions may vary slightly, but the differences shouldn't cause too much difficulty.

The QNX installation from CD is very quick and easy. There are few requests for decisions, and hardware devices are detected automatically (and accurately in my experience). Most of the screen prompts have been simplified here, but it will be obvious what is referred to. Note that it is not possible to go back a step during the installation, but if a mistake is made, press F12 to abort and reboot to start again.

Using Windows along with QNX does give some flexibility for beginners from a Microsoft background. In this case, it is sensible to use a partition editor (such as fdisk or Partition Magic) to create three partitions on the hard disk: one for Windows, which should be created and installed first, another for QNX, and a third for sharing data files between both operating systems. This third, data, partition can be formatted as plain FAT to allow the greatest compatibility.

A partition size of 2GB seems to be ample for a typical installation of QNX. Caution: Partition Magic cannot change the size of a QNX partition without harming the filesystem - the partition would have to be deleted, and resized, and then QNX reinstalled.

If Photon is to be used, at least 64MB will be needed since my QNX Photon systems runs low on memory on a 32MB system with only Photon Application Builder (PhAB), Help, and Voyager running, which is not an unusual selection of apps to be running simultaneously.

  1. Ensure that the CDROM comes before the hard disk in the boot sequence in the CMOS settings.
  2. Power up the computer and insert the QNX CDROM before the computer reaches the boot phase.
  3. As QNX loads, you'll see three messages that can be ignored. These are "Press ESC for .altboot" followed by "Press the spacebar to input boot options", and finally "Scan for devices SCSI/EIDE"
  4. The first prompt for user input is "Please select a boot option". Press Function key 3 for "F3 - Install to a new partition".
  5. Some information is displayed about creating a partition.
  6. Select a verbose level of messages for the installation by pressing F2. The message "Verbose set" will be displayed.
  7. A prompt "Choice?" is displayed. This is a bit confusing since it seems like it is a repeat of the verbose option prompt. However, it is just a prompt to continue, so press F1.
  8. Press F1 if you accept the licence.
  9. Chose the disk to install to by pressing the associated function key. These are listed as block-special device files. There should be at least "F1 - hd0 EIDE", which is the first hard disk. If there is another disk, this will be listed as "F2 - hd1 EIDE". For a single disk system, the only option is F1. Note: I have a 100MB zip disk installed on my system, and this shows up here as /fs/hd1, with a size of 0, but with 64 heads, 32 sectors, and 0 cylinders.
  10. If the disk is larger than 8.4GB, a message is displayed warning that some older computers do not support such disks.
  11. Indicate that QNX can be installed anywhere on the hard disk by pressing F1. Computers with a BIOS built prior to 1998 probably don't support hard disks larger than 8.4GB (in this case, pressing F2 would tell QNX to install below the 8.4GB boundary of the disk). However, QNX can be placed anywhere on the disk of computers with a more recent BIOS. QNX can even boot from a partition that starts after the traditionally problematic 1024th cylinder.
  12. Install QNX from CD by pressing F1 (the only available option!).
  13. The table listing information about each partition on the disk will be displayed.
  14. Note that the installation program prevents the installation of more than one QNX partition. If the partitions have been allocated (say using Partition Magic), QNX will complain that there is not enough room for a QNX partition. This is a bit misleading, since it implies that QNX can't be installed at all. What this message means is that an existing partition will have to be used by QNX, which will destroy any data (files) in that partition. At this point, there are three options. F1 to list the partitions allowing one to be selected for deletion, F2 to repartition the drive for QNX (which actually aborts the installation), and F3 to install QNX as a component of an existing operating system. Again, the option to delete partitions can be confusing - it effectively means chose a partition into which to install QNX. Press F1 to view the partition table.
  15. The partition table lists available partitions. Note that even a FAT32 (e.g. Windows98) partition will be shown as being type "dos"). Press the function key associated with the partition into which QNX is to be installed. Note that this will destroy any data in this partition (hence the installation program refers to this as "deleting" the partition - a message to make people think more carefully! Note: On my system, I install QNX with a single partition that takes up the entire hard disk. However, in QNX's install program, the partition table (if I reinstall) shows that there are two partitions; the second partition has a type of zero, ends at the same head, sector and cylinder, but begins at a much higher cylinder (and offset), and is therefore much smaller (and apparently overlapping). I suspect this may be the swap file.
  16. A message will be displayed saying that the disk has room for a QNX partition, and will display the size of that partition. At this point, select how much of the partition's unallocated space to use for QNX. Press F1 to use the whole partition. Using only a fraction of the partition's unused space would leave room for other partitions to be created later.
  17. A message will be displayed stating that there is more than one partition on the hard disk, and that a boot loader is needed to select which partition to boot into. Press F1 to use the QNX loader for modern computers, or F2 for older computers. If another boot loader (e.g. Lilo, BootMagic) is being used, press F3.
  18. The installation will display a few messages about restarting drivers and mounting filesystems, then executing partition handling programs. It then proceeds to copy files from the CD to the hard disk. Once this is complete a message is displayed to indicate the fact, and to remind you to login as root when QNX is first used. The computer will automatically reboot after a short delay.
  19. The QNX boot loader will display a series of numbers, one for each partition (whether or not that partition contains an operating system). The default option is the partition that QNX was installed to, and this will automatically be selected after a time delay.
  20. Once rebooted, QNX displays a video settings dialog box. This dialog box is pretty self-explanatory. Select the correct driver (if the auto-detection has got it wrong), then adjust the resolution and refresh settings to make the most of the available hardware. Be careful not to over-rate the refresh rate as this can damage some monitors. Be sure to click Change mode after you've made your adjustments otherwise they'll be ignored, and trying to complete the installation in the old VGA mode is not easy. You should see a dialog box that times-out that allows you to confirm that the your graphics settings are correct. Click Continue if you're satisfied with them. Click Done when you're happy with the changes, and you're ready to login to QNX.
  21. It may be a good idea to deselect the option for always booting into Photon graphical mode after you've completed the installation (don't do it yet, since it's rather handy to be in graphics mode since you'll need to run the GUI-based installer when you first login. Booting into text mode gives one a robust starting point, in case the graphics mode ever becomes faulty. It is easy to start Photon from text mode, just type ph.
  22. Once the driver has been selected, QNX goes to the login stage. Login as root, and enter a suitable password; the root password is empty to begin with, and the password you enter will be used as the password for future logins as root.
  23. Reinsert the installation CD since more software has to be installed.
  24. Select both the QNX Installer, and QNX Updater, then click Install. This will replace the old version of QNX Installer with a newer version.
  25. Once that's complete, you now need to select the main software package, called Momentics (there are various editions of Momentics, such as NC, SE, and PE, which have different commercial licenses). Select the package for your platform, and click Install. Once the installation is complete, you'll need to reboot.
  26. You may find the mouse very unresponsive, and/or unpredictable. If this is the case, turn off Mouse Wheel support in the mouse configuration utility on the Shelf.

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Content last updated: 2004-05-17