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!

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-emulators-full

Installing on Windows

Students running Windows are encouraged to either install Linux on their local machine or use WSL 2 (Windows Subsystem for Linux 2).

We also encourage students to install the Windows Terminal tool in lieu of using Powershell/Command Prompt.

To use WSL 2, 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.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that you are running version 2 of WSL. WSL 1 is implemented with a different architecture than WSL 2, which may cause future problems with the 6.1810 labs. To sanity check, run wsl -l -v in a Windows terminal to confirm that WSL 2 and the correct Ubuntu version are installed.

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>\".

Running a Linux VM

If you're running an operating system on which it's not convenient to install the RISC-V tools, you may find it useful to run a Linux virtual machine (VM) and install the tools in the VM. 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.

Installing on macOS

First, install developer tools:

$ xcode-select --install

Next, install Homebrew, a package manager for macOS:

$ /bin/bash -c "$(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


We strongly discourage the use of Athena since there have been many problems with running the labs on Athena in the past.

If you must use Athena, it is possible to work on the labs using the MIT Athena machines running Linux via All of the tools necessary for the labs 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. You can try this by following the instructions in the first lab.

You can also double check your installation is correct by running the following:

$ 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 Thursday, 14-Sep-2023 13:43:44 EDT