1.1. Setting up your On-Premises Machine

This tutorial is setting up a single node cluster (i.e. running FPGA bitstream builds and simulations on a single machine) for FireSim use. This single machine will serve as the “Manager Machine” that acts as a “head” node that all work will be completed on. sudo access is not needed for the machine being setup except for when the U250 FPGA and corresponding software is installed.

1.1.1. Xilinx Alveo FPGA Software Installation and Validation

On-Premises FPGA support currently only supports Xilinx Alveo U250 FPGAs (further referred to as a U250 FPGA). Requirements

We require a base machine that is able to support the U250 FPGA and running Xilinx Vivado/Vitis. Please refer to the minimum system requirements given in the following link: https://docs.xilinx.com/r/en-US/ug1301-getting-started-guide-alveo-accelerator-cards/Minimum-System-Requirements. Next, install the U250 FPGA as indicated: https://docs.xilinx.com/r/en-US/ug1301-getting-started-guide-alveo-accelerator-cards/Card-Installation-Procedures

We require the following programs/packages installed from the Xilinx website in addition to a physical U250 installation: Setup Validation

After installing the U250 FPGA using the Xilinx instructions and installing the specific versions of Vitis/XRT, let’s verify that the U250 FPGA can be used for emulations. Ensure that you can run the following XRT commands without errors:

xbutil examine # obtain the BDF associated with your installed U250 FPGA
xbutil validate --device <CARD_BDF_INSTALLED> --verbose

The xbutil validate command runs simple tests to ensure that the FPGA can be properly flashed with a bitstream by using XRT.


Anytime the host computer is rebooted you may need to re-run parts of the setup process (i.e. re-flash the shell). Before continuing to FireSim simulations after a host computer reboot, ensure that the previously mentioned xbutil command is successful.

Finally, ensure that the XRT/Vitis tools are sourced in your shell setup (i.e. .bashrc and or .bash_profile) so that any shell can use the corresponding programs. The environment variables should be visible to any non-interactive shells that are spawned. You can check this by ensuring that the output of the following command shows that the XRT/Vitis tools are present in the environment variables (i.e. XILINX_XRT):

ssh localhost printenv

1.1.2. Other Miscellaneous Setup

Additionally, you should be able to run ssh localhost without needing a password. The FireSim manager program runs all commands by ssh-ing into a BuildFarm/RunFarm machine given an IP address then running the command. To do so non-interactively, it needs passwordless access to the machines (in our case, localhost) to build/run on.

Finally, if you are running this tutorial without sudo access you should also install the guestmount program and ensure it runs properly. This is needed by a variety of FireSim steps that mount disk images in order to copy in/out results of simulations out of the images. Most likely you will need to follow the instructions here to ensure guestmount doesn’t error.


If using guestmount, verify that the command is able to work properly. Due to prior issues with guestmount internally, ensure that your FireSim repository (and all temporary directories) does not reside on an NFS mount.

1.1.3. Setting up the FireSim Repo

We’re finally ready to fetch FireSim’s sources. Run:

git clone https://github.com/firesim/firesim
cd firesim
# checkout latest official firesim release
# note: this may not be the latest release if the documentation version != "stable"
git checkout 1.16.0

Next, we will bootstrap the machine by installing Miniforge Conda, our software package manager, and set up a default software environment using Conda. First run the following to see the options to the bootstrap script:

./scripts/machine-launch-script.sh --help

Make sure you understand the options and appropriately run the command. For example, if you already installed Conda you can use the --prefix flag to point to an existing installation. You can also use that same flag to setup Conda in a non-sudo required location. Next run the machine-launch-script.sh, with the options your setup requires. Below we will give a few examples on how to run the command (choose the command or modify it accordingly):


We recommend you re-install Conda in favor of Miniforge Conda (a minimal installation of Conda).

sudo ./scripts/machine-launch-script.sh

If the option is selected, the script will install Miniforge Conda (https://github.com/conda-forge/miniforge) and create a default environment called firesim that is used. Ensure that you log out of the machine / exit out of the terminal after this step so that .bashrc modifications can apply.

After re-logging back into the machine, you should be in the firesim Conda environment (or whatever you decided to name the environment in the machine-launch-script.sh). Verify this by running:

conda env list

If you are not in the firesim environment and the environment exists, you can run the following to “activate” or enter the environment:

conda activate firesim # or whatever the environment is called

Next run:


The build-setup.sh script will validate that you are on a tagged branch, otherwise it will prompt for confirmation. This will have initialized submodules and installed the RISC-V tools and other dependencies.

Next, run:

source sourceme-f1-manager.sh --skip-ssh-setup

This will perform various environment setup steps, such as adding the RISC-V tools to your path. Sourcing this the first time will take some time – however each time after that should be instantaneous.

Every time you want to use FireSim, you should cd into your FireSim directory and source this file again with the argument given.

1.1.4. Final Environment Check

Finally, lets verify that the environment variables are correctly setup for the tutorial. Run:

echo $PATH

You should see that both the Xilinx Vitis and XRT tools are located in the PATH are are after the conda environment path. Next run:


You should see that the XRT tools are located on your LD_LIBRARY_PATH and that there is no trailing : (otherwise compilation will error later).

Finally verify that Xilinx Vitis and XRT tools are found when running locally through ssh. Run:

ssh localhost printenv

Inspect that both the PATH and LD_LIBRARY_PATH are setup similarly to running locally (without ssh localhost).

1.1.5. Completing Setup Using the Manager

The FireSim manager contains a command that will finish the rest of the FireSim setup process. To run it, do the following:

firesim managerinit --platform vitis

It will create initial configuration files, which we will edit in later sections.

Now you’re ready to launch FireSim simulations! Hit Next to learn how to run single-node simulations.