Intel Quartus Prime

From ArchWiki

From the Intel Quartus Prime overview:

The revolutionary Intel® Quartus® Prime Design Software includes everything you need to design for Intel® FPGAs, SoCs, and complex programmable logic device (CPLD) from design entry and synthesis to optimization, verification, and simulation.

This article focuses on the following Intel FPGA software components:

  • Quartus Prime Lite
    • Intel FPGA Download Cable (II)
  • Questa-Intel FPGA Edition — included with Quartus Prime Lite Edition


Quartus Prime Lite and Questa can be installed with the quartus-freeAUR meta-package. This meta-package will also install device support for every supported device family. To save on disk space once the package is built, you can install only the necessary components. For example:

quartus-free-quartus requires quartus-free-devinfo, which is provided by any one of the packages with a quartus-free-devinfo- prefix. For example, install the quartus-free-devinfo-cyclonevAUR dependency if you have a Cyclone V FPGA.

Quartus II 13.0 Web Edition is "the last version to support Cyclone II and earlier FPGAs", so install quartus-free-130AUR[broken link: package not found] instead of quartus-free if support for such devices is needed. See also quartus-130AUR for the SP1 Subscription Edition.

Unlike ModelSim, Questa requires a valid license file even for the free version. Those who do not wish to provide one can install the last version of ModelSim (modelsim-intel-starterAUR) instead.

quartus-free-quartus uses files in /etc/profile.d/ to extend the PATH environment variable, so log into a new session to make commands like quartus_sh available.

Being in the plugdev group to program an FPGA (via the USB-Blaster) is optional; logged in users are always allowed access.


Run Quartus Prime Lite by running quartus or selecting its desktop entry. Use the quartus_sh utility to run Quartus Prime Shell. See quartus_sh --help for more information.

Run ModelSim by running vsim or selecting its desktop entry. See vsim -help for more information.

Standard Edition license validation

Configuring the path to your Quartus Prime Standard Edition license file from the Quartus Prime settings interface is not enough for successful license validation. The license validation routine looks for your MAC address on interface eth0, the traditional name for your Ethernet controller. However, network interfaces use predictable names by default—these can vary from machine to machine. Thus, the expected eth0 name must be retained by following Network configuration#Revert to traditional interface names.

Alternatively, a dummy eth0 network interface can be dynamically created by systemd-networkd at boot. This may be desirable for systems without a wired Ethernet adapter. Create the following file (where hostname is your machine's hostname):



Ensure systemd-networkd.service is started/enabled afterwards.

See also related articles on the Intel Knowledge Base:

Education license

Generating license

You can get the licenses you need from: You first need to register to get access. Use Student as Profession. When you have access, sign in and select “Sign up for Evaluation of Free Licenses" You need to generate two license files.

Choosing right license

Select “Questa*-Intel® FPGA Starter Edition SW-QUESTA". Edit “# of Sets" to 1 and click “Get license". Select +New Computer (if this is your first time here) and fill in the following using a computer name of your choice and yourself as Primary Admin.

Select Computer Type -> NIC ID

Computer ID -> your MAC address

You find your computer’s NIC ID (Physical address without ‘:‘) using the “Terminal" and typing ip link. This number should then replace 123456789ABC in Computer ID fields. Then click on “Generate License".

You will now receive an email with two license file. You might want to put them in the Quartus program directory, e.g., under “licenses".

Setting up environment variable


For MGLM_LICENSE_FILE and LS_LICENSE_FILE, you need to bind them to the file with the larger content. For LM_LICENSE_FILE, you need to bind this to the smaller file.

you can bind these in a lot of different ways. But one way to do this is add the following to the /etc/environment :

cat /etc/environment
export MGLM_LICENSE_FILE=Path to the larger license
export LS_LICENSE_FILE=Path to the larger license
export LM_LICENSE_FILE=Path to the smaller license

Enabling Eclipse and NIOS IDE

Follow this guide from intel. And disregard step "6)" Where it mentions and .exe file


Empty greyish windows (XMonad)

Some of the built-in editors in Quartus Prime such as IP editors and Tools > Platform Designer (aka Qsys) only show a blank window with Xmonad. A workaround is to change the window manager's name. See also XMonad.Hooks.SetWMName documentation and Xmonad#Problems with Java applications.

USB-Blaster not working

Run jtagconfig and depending on the output:

No JTAG hardware available

If the device is listed by lsusb, restart jtagd as root [1]:

# killall -9 jtagd
# jtagd

JTAG chain broken

1) USB-Blaster [3-2]
  Unable to read device chain - JTAG chain broken

Perform the steps under the "Linux" section in[dead link 2023-04-23 ⓘ]. Note that the Arch Linux path to quartus/bin in step 3 should be as follows:


Steps 3 and 5 should also be performed with root privileges.

Another possible cause may be a missing 32-bit version of [2]. lib32-systemd provides this shared object, so make sure it is installed. (This should already be the case since it is a transitive dependency of quartus-free-quartusAUR.)

If the error still persists, try installing lib32-libudev0-shim.

Error when scanning hardware - Server error

Connecting to server(s) [........          ]
Error when scanning hardware - Server error

A workaround is to edit /etc/jtagd.conf or ~/.jtagd.conf (depending on whether you want to run jtagd as root or as an unprivileged user) to include the following line:

Password = "changeme";

Add the server afterwards:

$ jtagconfig --addserver changeme

If problems still persist, try restarting jtagd:

# killall -9 jtagd
$ jtagd


Failure to access library 'work'

The following error may be encountered when running a simulation in a new directory:

Error: (vcom-19) Failed to access library 'work' at "work". 

This can be resolved by creating the work directory from the ModelSim console [3]:

ModelSim> vlib work

Unreachable host

ModelSim may crash with the following error when trying to start a simulation:

Error: couldn't open socket: host is unreachable
Trouble making server.

This can be resolved by adding hosts(5) entries for localhost as specified in Network configuration#Local network hostname resolution.

See also