Tools Used in 6.1810

For this class you'll need the RISC-V versions of a couple different tools: QEMU 5.1+, GDB 8.3+, GCC, and Binutils.

If you are having trouble getting things set up, please come by to office hours or post on Piazza. We're happy to help!

Installing on Windows

We strongly discourage students from using WSL for 6.1810 because it slows down the tests a lot, leading to unexpected timeouts on some labs. Students running Windows are encouraged to either install Linux on their local machine or do the labs on Athena.

First make sure you have the Windows Subsystem for Linux installed. Then add Ubuntu 20.04 from the Microsoft Store. Afterwards you should be able to launch Ubuntu and interact with the machine. To install all the software you need for this class, run:

$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
$ sudo apt-get install git build-essential gdb-multiarch qemu-system-misc gcc-riscv64-linux-gnu binutils-riscv64-linux-gnu

From Windows, you can access all of your WSL files under the "\\wsl$\" directory. For instance, the home directory for an Ubuntu 20.04 installation should be at "\\wsl$\Ubuntu-20.04\home\<username>\".

Installing on macOS

First, install developer tools:

$ xcode-select --install

Next, install Homebrew, a package manager for macOS:

$ /usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Next, install the RISC-V compiler toolchain:

$ brew tap riscv/riscv
$ brew install riscv-tools

The brew formula may not link into /usr/local. You will need to update your shell's rc file (e.g. ~/.bashrc) to add the appropriate directory to $PATH.


Finally, install QEMU:

brew install qemu

Debian or Ubuntu

sudo apt-get install git build-essential gdb-multiarch qemu-system-misc gcc-riscv64-linux-gnu binutils-riscv64-linux-gnu 

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S riscv64-linux-gnu-binutils riscv64-linux-gnu-gcc riscv64-linux-gnu-gdb qemu-arch-extra

Running a Linux VM

If the other options listed don't work, you can also try running a virtual machine with one of the other operating systems listed above. With platform virtualization, Linux can run alongside your normal computing environment. Installing a Linux virtual machine is a two step process. First, you download the virtualization platform.

VirtualBox is a little slower and less flexible, but free!

Once the virtualization platform is installed, download a boot disk image for the Linux distribution of your choice.

This will download a file named something like ubuntu-20.04.3-desktop-amd64.iso. Start up your virtualization platform and create a new (64-bit) virtual machine. Use the downloaded Ubuntu image as a boot disk; the procedure differs among VMs but shouldn't be too difficult.


We don't recommend it since it can be somewhat inconvenient, but you can use to work on the labs. If you use the MIT Athena machines that run Linux, then all of these tools are located in the 6.828 locker.

ssh into one of the Athena dialup machines and add the tools:

$ ssh {your kerberos}
$ add -f 6.828

Testing your Installation

To test your installation, you should be able to compile and run xv6 (to quit qemu type Ctrl-a x):

# in the xv6 directory
$ make qemu
# ... lots of output ...
init: starting sh

If that doesn't work, you can double check individual components. Which include QEMU:

$ qemu-system-riscv64 --version
QEMU emulator version 5.1.0

And at least one RISC-V version of GCC:

$ riscv64-linux-gnu-gcc --version
riscv64-linux-gnu-gcc (Debian 10.3.0-8) 10.3.0
$ riscv64-unknown-elf-gcc --version
riscv64-unknown-elf-gcc (GCC) 10.1.0
$ riscv64-unknown-linux-gnu-gcc --version
riscv64-unknown-linux-gnu-gcc (GCC) 10.1.0

Questions or comments regarding 6.1810? Send e-mail to the course staff at

Creative Commons License Top // 6.1810 home // Last updated Monday, 28-Nov-2022 21:43:58 EST