Altera Design Software

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This tutorial shows how to get, install and configure the following softwares from Altera:

  • Quartus II Web Edition v13.0
    • USB-Blaster Download Cable Driver
  • ModelSim - Altera Starter Edition

Quartus II Web Edition v13.0

The following procedure shows how to get, install and configure Altera Quartus II Web Edition v13.0 for Arch Linux. Quartus II is Altera's big software collection to design and interact with about all their FPGAs/CPLDs/etc. products.

The procedure focuses on Arch Linux 64-bit systems, although 32-bit installations should work fine too.

Quartus II Web Edition v13.0 is officially supported for RHEL 5 and RHEL 6, but since it's one of those huge collections of proprietary software that doesn't interact so much with the distribution, it's fairly easy to install on Arch Linux.

Get Quartus II

In Altera's Downloads section, select Linux as the operating system and get the Combined Files tar archive (something like Quartus-web-

Install dependencies

Although the main Quartus II software is 64-bit, lots of Altera tools shipped with Quartus II are still 32-bit softwares. Those include the Nios II EDS and Qsys, for example. This is why we need to install lots of lib32- libraries and other programs from the Arch Linux Multilib repo. Obviously, if you have a 32-bit Arch Linux system, you don't need the Multilib versions.

In order to install Multilib packages using Pacman, you need to enable the Multilib repository (if not already done). Open /etc/pacman.conf and uncomment the following lines:

Include = /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist

Then, synchronize the repository.

# pacman -Sy

You should see multilib being updated.

All the packages required below are taken from Altera Software Installation and Licensing (sect. 1-4).

Let's first install the native versions of the required packages:

# sudo pacman -S expat fontconfig freetype2 glibc gtk2 libcanberra libpng \
  libpng12 libice libsm util-linux ncurses tcl tcllib zlib libx11 libxau \
  libxdmcp libxext libxft libxrender libxt libxtst

And the Multilib versions:

# sudo pacman -S lib32-expat lib32-fontconfig lib32-freetype2 lib32-glibc lib32-gtk2 lib32-libcanberra lib32-libpng \
  lib32-libpng12 lib32-libice lib32-libsm lib32-util-linux lib32-ncurses lib32-zlib lib32-libx11 lib32-libxau \
  lib32-libxdmcp lib32-libxext lib32-libxft lib32-libxrender lib32-libxt lib32-libxtst  

You are now ready to install and launch Quartus II.


To install, first extract the downloaded tar archive:

$ tar -xvf Quartus-web-

and launch If you're going to install Quartus II anywhere outside your home directory, run it as root:

# ./

You will probably get a GUI install wizard if you installed all the aforementioned packages. You might also get a command-line interactive install wizard, which will do the same.

The default install path is ~/altera/13.0, but some prefer /opt/altera/13.0, which we assume for the rest of this document.

Make sure to include the 64-bit option of Quartus II when installing.

Launching Quartus II

Assuming you installed Quartus II in /opt/altera/13.0, Quartus II binaries are located into /opt/altera/13.0/quartus/bin. Run Quartus II (64-bit version):

$ /opt/altera/13.0/quartus/bin/quartus --64bit

or the 32-bit version:

$ /opt/altera/13.0/quartus/bin/quartus

All other Altera tools, like Qsys, the Nios II EDS, Chip Planner and SignalTap II may be launched without any problem from the Tools menu of Quartus II.

Integrating Quartus II with the system

Quartus II can be integrated with the system in several ways, but those are optional.

PATH variable

Let's now add the Quartus bin folder to the PATH variable so it can be executed without specifying its absolute path. Create a file in the /etc/profile.d directory

export PATH=$PATH:/opt/altera/13.0/quartus/bin

Also, make sure it can be executed:

# chmod +x /etc/profile.d/

Please note that those profile.d files are loaded at each login. In the mean time, simply source that file in Bash:

$ source /etc/profile.d/

Other environment variables related to Quartus can be found in the official installation manual.

Even if quartus is now a command known by Bash, you still need to add the --64bit argument in order to launch the 64-bit version. A shell alias, like quartus64, is a great solution to avoid typing it each time.

Application menu entry

A application menu entry (which a lot of desktop environments and window managers follow) can be added to the system by creating a quartus.desktop file in your ~/.local/share/applications directory:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Quartus II Web Edition v13.0
Comment=Quartus II design software for Altera FPGA's
Exec=/opt/altera/13.0/quartus/bin/quartus --64bit

USB-Blaster Download Cable Driver

The USB-Blaster Download Cable is a cable that allows you to download configuration data from your computer to your FPGA, CPLD or EEPROM configuration device. However, Altera only provides official support for RHEL, SUSE Entreprise and CentOS, so we are required to do a little bit of work to make it work with Arch Linux. If you want some more detail about this cable, please refer to the USB-Blaster Download Cable User Guide.

Create a new udev rule:

SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="09fb", ATTR{idProduct}=="6001", MODE="0666"

Then, reload that file using udevadm:

# udevadm control --reload-rules

To check that everything is working, plug your FPGA or CPLD board using your USB-Blaster Download Cable and run:

# /opt/altera/13.0/quartus/bin/jtagconfig

You should have an output similar to this one

1) USB-Blaster [USB 1-1.1]
  020B30DD   EP2C15/20

If there seems to be an error message about "linux64" and you didn't install the 64-bit version of Quartus II, create a symlink from linux to linux64 in /opt/altera/13.0/quartus:

# ln -s /opt/altera/13.0/quartus/linux /opt/altera/13.0/quartus/linux64


Tango-view-refresh-red.pngThis article or section is out of date.Tango-view-refresh-red.png

Reason: This section is intended for Quartus II v12.0 and should be updated for Quartus II v13.0 (Discuss in Talk:Altera Design Software#)
Note: The ModelSim version installed with Quartus II Web Edition v13.0 works without any modification when launched from Quartus II's Tool menu.


ModelSim is downloadable at:

You need to download these 3 files :

  • Modelsim v10.0d for Quartus II v12.0 (12.0_modelsim_ase_linux.tar.gz)
  • Service Pack 2 for Modelsim v10.0d (12.0sp2_modelsim_ase_linux.tar.gz)
  • Service Pack 1 for Modelsim v10.0d (12.0sp1_modelsim_ase_linux.tar.gz)

Unzip 12.0_modelsim_ase_linux.tar.gz

$ cd <Download-folder>
$ sudo ./setup

Executing this script should open a setup GUI. Just follow the instructions. For the purpose of this tutorial, I assume that you are installing Quartus II in the /opt/altera folder. Don't forget to select the file for the source of install if you don't want to download again quartus.

Repeat this procedure for the sp1 file then the sp2.

Compatibility with Archlinux

With the kernel 3.x

Modelsim has a problem with the version 3 of linux kernel. You need to edit the file to make it compatible :


/opt/altera/modelsim_ase/bin/vsim line 204
 *)                vco="linux_rh60" ;;


/opt/altera/modelsim_ase/bin/vsim line 204
 *)                vco="linux" ;;

Install libraries

Install library libxft and ncurses.

$ sudo pacman -S libxft ncurses libxext

For 64 bit edition, install these library from multilib repository

$ sudo pacman -S lib32-libxft lib32-ncurses lib32-libxext (from multilib repo)

Add icon to the system

You can add Modelsim to your system application menu by creating a modelsim.desktop file in your ~/.local/share/applications directory

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=ModelSim simulation software for Altera FPGA's