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
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
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
- Ensure that the CDROM comes before the hard disk in the boot
sequence in the CMOS settings.
- Power up the computer and insert the QNX CDROM before the
computer reaches the boot phase.
- 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
- The first prompt for user input is "Please select a boot
option". Press Function key 3 for "F3 - Install to a new
- Some information is displayed about creating a
- Select a verbose level of messages for the installation by
pressing F2. The message "Verbose set" will be displayed.
- 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.
- Press F1 if you accept the licence.
- 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.
- If the disk is larger than 8.4GB, a message is displayed
warning that some older computers do not support such disks.
- 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
- Install QNX from CD by pressing F1 (the only available
- The table listing information about each partition on the
disk will be displayed.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Reinsert the installation CD since more software has to be
- Select both the QNX Installer, and QNX Updater, then click
Install. This will replace the old version of QNX Installer with
a newer version.
- 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
- 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.
Content last updated: 2004-05-17