How to Install Gaming Emulators in Linux

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Well I’m new here. So you’ll have to be gentle with me. Although I have been writing for quite some time, I have had some time off recently and only just got back into it. So by all means, read my  rwork, judge my work and please let me know your thoughts. And I hope you enjoy my first article for Unixmen.com.


For my first article, I’m going to show you how to install some gaming emulators on your Linux operating system. Emulators are something that you’re either familiar with or you’re not. Most people I’ve met in the Linux Community circle are the latter.

If you’re in your late twenties or early to mid-thirties, then you’ll remember the good old days of computing and gaming when we were youngsters. I remember wasting away hours and whole weekends sitting in front of CRT displays, playing Test Drive, Street Rod and Outrun on the Commodore 64, Lemmings on the Amiga and everyone’s favorite, Super Mario Bros on the Super Nintendo.

You may not realize it, but all these old gaming systems, consoles and hardware may have been thrown into landfill many years ago, unless you’re an avid collector of such systems. But the legend of this golden gaming era lives on today – in the form of emulators. And yes, you can still play all these old favorite games on your Linux system, right now.

For my quick guide today we’re going to be using Ubuntu as a base install. And also using aptitude from the command line for package installation. Many Ubuntu users stick to apt-get for their command line APT management, personally I prefer aptitude and find it far better and more intelligent when problems do arise. But for todays quick guide, if all goes as planned and you follow my instructions carefully, you shouldn’t run into any issues. And for the more tricky emulators to install, I’ll also get you to install gdebi and Wine.

First, before we proceed to installing the first of our emulators, we need to be sure you have aptitude running on your own system. So assuming you’re running Ubuntu, open up your terminal of choice and type the following:

sudo apt-get install gdebi aptitude wine

This will install the two most important packages for this guide, if they are not part of your system already.

And before we start, I might also mention that if you want a better gaming experience, purchase yourself a USB game controller. Most of them work flawlessly with emulators and Linux out-of-the-box. Just make sure your purchase is Linux compatible model before making your purchase. Even a quick Google search works wonders!

The first (and one of my favorites) emulator we are going to install is the Super Nintendo emulator. It is called ZSNES. I started with this one because it’s one of the easiest to install and run. And the best thing of all, it’s already in the Ubuntu repositories.

To install ZSNES, in your terminal, type:

sudo aptitude install zsnes

ZSNES will now be installed. And you should now have an entry in your application menu for ZSNES.

Launch ZSNES from your application menu and you’ll be presented with the main ZSNES screen where you can now load your favorite ROMS and also configure either your controller key configuration or keyboard map setup, depending one which you are using.

If the Super Nintendo was not your thing, perhaps you were a SEGA child? Anyone remember the Nintendo versus SEGA days? Mario versus Sonic? Those were great days. If Sonic was your choice, then the next emulator might take an interest for you.

The Sega Genesis was a great console with a great games line up. The Sega Genesis emulator is Gens/GS. Gens/GS is also in the Ubuntu repositories and can also be installed easily in a terminal.

To install Gens/GS, in your terminal, type:

sudo aptitude install gens

Gens/GS will now be installed. And you should now have an entry in your application menu for Gens/GS.

Launch Gens/GS from your application menu and you’ll be presented with the main Gens/GS screen where you can now load your favorite ROMS and also change all the usual settings, much the same as the ZSNES emulator above.

The next emulator I want to show you how to install is a little more different from the first two. Different, in a sense that it is actually an application developed for Microsoft Windows. But hey, that doesn’t matter at all. We can easily install it in Linux by using Wine, which should have been installed on your system at the beginning of this guide.

This emulator is called Project64. And it is the emulator for the Nintendo 64 console. Now before you go any further, you’ll need to download the Project64 MS Windows installer file. This can be downloaded from the following URL:

http://www.pj64-emu.com/downloads/project64/binaries/

Once you’ve downloaded the installer file for Project64, launch your favorite graphical file manager and navigate to the source directory of where your downloaded files reside. Most likely /home/foobar/ or /home/foobar/Downloads/ where as foobar is your username.

When you locate your downloaded file, right-click on the file and you should get an option in your context menu to launch the installer via Wine Windows Program Loader.

Proceed with the installation of Project64 via the prompts. Following the default prompts should be fine to get Project64 installed and running just fine. Once the installation has completed, you should then be able to launch Project64 from you application menu, much the same as any other native Linux application.

Note: If for some reason you can not see Project64 in your application menu, then logout of your desktop environment and then login again. Sometimes Wine can be stubborn with menu entries and will not add it to the menu until the user logs in again. But this can vary on different systems.

The rest is much the same for the first two emulators, all your ROM load options are there and your configuration options ready to be tweaked to your liking. But if you’re a little unsure of what all those options are, just leave them as default and everything should run just fine.

The next emulator (and another one of my favorites) is the Sony Playstation emulator, called PCSX-Reloaded. PCSX has a long history, too big to go in to in this article. But for this guide, we’ll be installing and using PCSX-Reloaded.

The Ubuntu repositories do not include the most recent version of PCSX-Reloaded, so I highly recommend you download the deb package from the following URL:

http://pcsxr.codeplex.com/releases/view/50048

On the download page, you’ll find different package files available. Grab either the i386 deb package if you’re using 32bit architecture or the AMD64 deb package if you’re using 64bit architecture.

Once you’ve finished downloading the correct deb package, you’ll need to navigate to it via your terminal using the cd command. Once you know where your downloaded files are located, you’ll need to perform the following command to install the deb package so that you can run PCSX-Reloaded:

sudo gdebi ~/full_package_name_goes_here.deb

Or if your files are saved to /home/foobar/Downloads/, you’ll need this:

sudo gdebi ~/Downloads/full_package_name_goes_here.deb

Don’t be intimidated by the command line. It always looks more confusing that what it actually is. Especially to new users or users unfamiliar with the command line and terminal functions. Take your time and correct the command with with right information relevant to your system. And follow my instructions carefully and it should all work out just fine.

We’re almost done and we’re past half way! If you’ve got this far and you’re still going, you’ve done well.

So the next emulator we’re going to install is a tricky little beast called E-UAE. It’s an emulator for the Commodore Amiga. One of the computers that was very popular when I was a young geek and still finding my way with computers and gaming.

The first part of this emulator installation is very easy, as the E-UAE package is in the Ubuntu repositories. So the first thing we need to do is install it via your terminal:

sudo aptitude install e-uae

Easy right. That part is, yes. But now we have to get the E-UAE package running with our Amiga ROMS. For legal reasons on Amiga’s behalf, you must obtain the Kickstart ROM to correctly run the E-UAE Amiga emulator. All information for this can be viewed and obtained by the popular Amiga Forever website. You can view Amiga Forever at the following URL or performing a quick Google search on the topic also brings up lots of useful information:

http://www.amigaforever.com/

Ok, before we get ahead of ourselves and go on with the rest of the guide for the E-UAE emulator installation, I need to explain something.

E-UAE was originally coded to only run with OSS for sound output on Linux systems. And there is currently no easy way to change this. So we need to work some Linux magic to get sound output working with E-UAE. Most modern Linux distributions either use Pulseaudio or ALSA by default. What we do need to do is install a little package called alsa-oss. This is in the Ubuntu repositories. And it allows us to run an application that is developed to use OSS for sound output. And it works by means of tunneling the sound output through ALSA instead. That sounds complicated, I know. But it’s not. And it works perfectly for E-UAE.

Install alsa-oss in your terminal with following command:

sudo aptitiude install alsa-oss

This will install the package that gives us sound output with the E-UAE emulator.

Now, back to the Kickstart ROM. Once you’ve acquired a correct Kickstart ROM, we need to launch the application via terminal with the following command:

aoss e-uae

The reason we’re launching this application via terminal is because we are forcing the sound output to tunnel through the also-oss package. Hence the aoss in the command in front of the e-uae command.

Note: If you know how, you can actually create a Menu entry to launch E-UAE with the aoss addition. But this varies depending on the desktop environment you are using. Therefore, I have chose to not include that part in guide. But if you know how to do that, I highly recommend you do it as it makes the launching of this application much easier for future use.

Just two more emulators left and we’re all done.

The next one I want to show you how to install is the Commodore 64 emulator, CCS64. And what better way to accompany that Commodore Amiga emulator than to install it side-by-side with it’s closest technical cousin – The much famed Commodore 64.

This process is much the same as the guide for installing the Project64 emulator. CCS64 is also a Microsoft Windows application, but also runs just perfect through Wine.

So again, the first thing to do is go and download that MS Windows installer file. And the easiest place for that would be at the following URL:

http://www.emulator-zone.com/doc.php/computer/ccs64.html

Once you’ve downloaded the installer file for CCS64, launch your favorite graphical file manager and navigate to the source directory of where your downloaded files reside. As before, it is probably one of two directories. /home/foobar/ or /home/foobar/Downloads/

When you locate your downloaded file, right-click on the file and you should get an option in your context menu to launch the installer via Wine Windows Program Loader, click it.

Proceed with the installation of CCS64 via the prompts. As before, following the default prompts should be fine to get CCS64 installed and running. Once the installation has completed, you should then be able to launch CCS64 from you application menu.

And remember, because it is running through Wine, if for some reason you can not see CCS64 in your application menu, then logout of your desktop environment and then login again. The CCS64 menu entry should now appear.

You should now be able to run the CCS64 emulator and load up the Commodore 64 ROMS.

And for the final emulator installation, we return to the very origins of modern console gaming, the Atari. And for Atari emulation, we’ll be using Stella. Unfortunately, Stella is not in the Ubuntu Repositories and requires a deb package download.

http://stella.sourceforge.net/downloads.php

As with previous instructions, make sure you get the correct package for your architecture of choice. It’ll be either the i386 deb package or AMD64 deb package.

Once you’ve finished downloading the correct deb package, you’ll need to navigate to it via your terminal. Once you know where your downloaded files are located, you’ll need to perform the same command as earlier to install the deb package so that you can run Stella.

sudo gdebi ~/full_package_name_goes_here.deb

Or if your files are saved to /home/foobar/Downloads/, you’ll need this:

sudo gdebi ~/Downloads/full_package_name_goes_here.deb

Assuming the installation went as planned, you should now be able to run the Stella Atari emulator from the application menu.

By this stage, you should be an expert in emulators. You’ll also find that most of the GUI’s are much the same as are the configuration options between all the emulators. In most of the them using the default options is just fine. The only changes I ever make are screen resolution changes to match my personal preference and map to the keys to my USB controller. Play around, try new things and enjoy that retro gaming of an awesome era of gaming!

For questions please refer to our Q/A forum at : http://ask.unixmen.com/

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