ELEC 402

Tutorial 0 - QFlow Installation on Ubuntu

Updated 2020-09-14

This document walks through the procedure required to setup Qflow — An end-to-end digital synthesis flow for ASIC designs.


Qflow is a flow consists of a suite of programs. All these programs need to be installed individually and manually for the overall Qflow to work. These are:

While simplfied steps to install these tools are located on their perspective website, I personally found a lot of other dependencies that are required but not listed. So the purpose of this tutorial is to also cover those. The intended audience is anyone (such as students) who wants to install these tools on their own computer.


Installing Tools Necessary to Install the Rest

I Used the Stones to  Destroy the Stones, Know Your Meme

Before we dive into installing the actual programs used in Qflow, we must install a few things that we need to download, configure, and build the programs.

Note: Please go through the following subsections in sequence.

Update Ubuntu Package Manager

sudo apt update


Parts of Qflow software runs scripts that use csh and tcsh — these don’t come with Ubuntu by default so we need to install them:

sudo apt install csh tcsh -y

Download Tools

Make sure your system has either wget or curl. If not, install using package manager:

sudo apt install wget -y
sudo apt install curl -y

Archive Tool

Make sure your system has tar archive tool, we need this to extract files we download.

Software Build Tools & Git

sudo apt install build-essential git -v

Misc. Libraries and Tools

sudo apt install checkinstall zlib1g-dev libssl-dev -y
sudo apt install libgsl-dev -y
sudo apt install libx11-dev -y


For CMake we need to download the tarball (like zip files except .tar) from CMake website here: https://cmake.org/download/.

We can use wget for example to download the tarball to your local directory:

# starting from your home directory (~)

wget https://github.com/Kitware/CMake/releases/download/v3.18.2/cmake-3.18.2.tar.gz

Then extract the tarball. Once the extraction is done, you may delete the compressed tarball:

tar -xvf cmake-3.18.2.tar.gz
rm cmake-3.18.2.tar.gz

Descend into the cmake-3.18.2/ director, and follow the build and installation instructions in the README.rst file. It tells you to:

sudo make install

This will take a while. Go an get a cup of coffe or snacks ☕️.


Make sure you have Python 3.6+ installed (not Python 2) — this is required as the GUI for the software is written in Python.

By default, Ubuntu 18.04 comes with Python 3.6.9 and it can be launched using the command python3 (whereas normal python command will invoke Python 2).

If you do not have Python 3.6+ installed for some reason, you can follow the steps below to Install newest version of Python 3:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:deadsnakes/ppa

# Press [Enter]

sudo apt install python3.8

GUI Libraries

The Qflow software uses some GUI libraries that we need to install so we can run the programs properly:

sudo apt install tcl-dev tk-dev -y

Also install Python GUI library:

sudo apt install python3-tk -y

Installing yosys

As of Ubuntu LTS 15.04. yosys is now a standard package in respository in Ubuntu. Simply run the following:

sudo apt install yosys -y

Check that yosys is installed by invoking it via the following command. It should say the version installed.

yosys -V

Installing Graywolf

Graywolf is hosted on GitHub, so go ahead and clone the git repository to your local drive and then checkout the latest release version (0.1.6):

# starting from your home directory (~)

git clone https://github.com/rubund/graywolf.git

cd graywolf
git checkout 0.1.6

Follow the instructions outlined in README.md to build and install Graywolf:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
sudo make install

Installing Qrouter

Qrouter is also hosted on GitHub, so we can clone the git repository and checkout the stable release version:

# starting from your home directory (~)

git clone https://github.com/RTimothyEdwards/qrouter.git

cd qrouter
git checkout qrouter-1.4

Build and install:

sudo make install

Installing Magic

Same procedures as previous section — very straightfoward (the website for Magic is here, the GitHub link is here.):

# starting from your home directory (~)

git clone https://github.com/RTimothyEdwards/magic.git

cd magic
git checkout magic-8.3
sudo make install

Here, the output logs are saved to make.log and install.log for the commands make and make install respectively, make sure to glance over the logs to ensure no errors occured:

cat make.log
cat install.log

Installing netgen

Again, same procedure. Website link for netgen is here, GitHub link is here.

# starting from your home directory (~)

git clone https://github.com/RTimothyEdwards/netgen.git

cd netgen
git checkout netgen-1.5
sudo make install

Installing Qflow

Finally, once all of the depenencies mentioned above are installed, we can install Qflow. Again, it is also hosted on GitHub here and the procedure is very similar.

# starting from your home directory (~)

git clone https://github.com/RTimothyEdwards/qflow.git

cd qflow
git checkout qflow-1.4
sudo make install

(Extra) Installing iVerilog

Note: This part is optional. If you want to use ModelSim, you can skip this section

The official Qflow tutorial uses Icarius Verilog (iVerilog) to simulate synthesized and layout Verilog. This section goes over how to install this.

First go and clone the iVerilog repository:

# starting from your home directory (~)

git clone https://github.com/steveicarus/iverilog.git

cd iverilog

Checkout the latest stable version:

git checkout v10_3

Install required libraries in Linux system (you may skip this step, or you may need to install more things — see what error messages comes up and follow it).

sudo apt install autoconf gperf -y
sudo apt install flex -y
sudo apt install bison -y

Configure, build, and install on your Linux machine:

sh autoconf.sh
sudo make install

Also note that I personally don’t have any experience using iVerilog, so use at your own discretion.

(Extra) Installing Dinotrace

Dinotrace is a program used to view waveforms from simulations (such as iVerilog).

To install, follow the README.md from their GitHub page:

# starting from your home directory (~)

# Install prerequisits
sudo apt install perl

# Clone git repo
git clone https://github.com/veripool/dinotrace.git
cd dinotrace

# Checkout stable version
git checkout stable
git pull

# Configure and build

# Test
./dinotrace traces/ascii.tra

# Install
sudo make install

(Extra) Installing IRSIM

While ModelSim and iVerilog simulator can be used to simulate the RTL functionalities of a design, the IRSIM “switch-level” simulator can simulate a bit more realistic than the ideal.

Installation is very similar to that of magic.

# starting from your home directory (~)

# Clone git repo
git clone https://github.com/RTimothyEdwards/irsim.git
cd irsim

# Checkout stable version
git checkout irsim-9.7

# Configure, build, and install
sudo make install


👏 All done! Hopefully at this point all installing were successful, and you may move on to running a tutorial workflow. Take a look at both the following tutorials: