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Retro game console from Raspberry Pi or laptop from the nearest dump

Another article of the cycle 10 reasons to immediately switch to Linux for free without SMS and registration generated another dispute on the applicability of desktop Linux and Linux in general. And today I, as an ordinary user of various OS Linux families with a decade of experience, want to tell you about the only Linux distribution that really gets accustomed to you at home or away, will work on any hardware that you dig at the nearest Xiaomi store and delight guests and friends . Go!

When the trees were big …

… and ordinary user did not even plan to be born, in 1983, Nintendo released the legendary NES prefix , better known in Russia for the brand of resellers from the company Steepler “Dandy.” This prefix was popularly loved (including in Russia – where no one knew what NES / Famicom was, but everyone played Tanchiki with pleasure ), and even after 30 years of playing it, they are nostalgically loved by the older generation. Later there were other no less iconic consoles – Sega Megadrive, Super Nintendo Enternainment System, Sony PlayStation One, portable Nintendo GameBoy Advance.

And the feeling of nostalgia was so great that Nintendo, who lost the console war between Sony and Microsoft, reanimated its best consoles in the form of NES Classic Mini and SNES Classic Mini – mini-computers with an emulator of those consoles on board.

Super Nintendo Mini

Both consoles snapped up at incredible speed, promptly requested and received the perfect retro-game systems at home. But what if you do not want to buy an emulator of old prefixes for 4990 rubles, but you want to collect it yourself? That is why we are here with you.

crazy hands

Most likely, you have already read articles on Habr or watched videos on YouTube, where the Raspberry Pi microcomputer is turned into a retro geek wunderwall. However, most of these articles lack a bit of detail – what and where to put. So I armed myself with an old laptop (later you will understand why) and personally tried all the specialized OS for assembling retro game systems.

There are as many as four, plus there is always the option to collect everything with your hands. All such OSes are based on OpenSource projects like LibRETRO and RetroArch – the first is the emulators of various old prefixes, packed into single containers, the second one is a single interface for managing these very emulators. On the basis of these projects, there were collected such operating systems as:

  • Lakka is the official assembly from the authors LibRETRO and RetroArch. In addition to the officiality, there is nothing good in it: in fact, the OS is a constructor for fans of digging configs with their hands. After the first reboot, it did not start a second time;
  • RetroPie – initially the assembly of RetroArch + EmulationStation under Raspberry Pi, later adapted to other operating systems. Absolutely nightmarish setting windows return us in 1993. I did not get to pick up the gamepad after an hour of wandering through these windows;
  • Batocera Linux – the initial assembly of RetroArch + EmulationStation for PC. Here you can not configure anything at all, only through the config. Gamepad also did not catch up;
  • RetroArch + Ubuntu / Debian – let’s leave it to the Linux people as a sex training

And finally, the leader of this rating.


Recalbox is another assembly of a ready-made OS for retro-gaming based on RetroArch + EmulationStation (a beautiful frontend). At first glance, it is no different from the above, but the devil is in the details:

  • The OS works with a USB flash drive. Installation is not required (and it is impossible). It is enough to record the OS on any SD-card or USB flash drive that you have at home;
  • Everything is picked up from the box. Sound, monitors, gamepads, multiplayer, any ROMs and BIOS for supported consoles. And there are more than 30 of them, from Spectrum to PSP and Sega Dreamcast.
  • The gamepad is not only picked up by default, but is also configured. You can completely control the OS from the gamepad, the keyboard is not required. Various models are supported, from Chinese Defender to XBox One and PS4 (Bluetooth adapters and adapters are required, are purchased separately)
  • To configure and download there is not only a GUI on the console, but also a web interface.
  • Built-in media player Kodi with support for movies, music, YouTube.

Interested? Then we go to set.

How to install?

It’s very simple: you need to download the Recalbox image from the site and the Etcher program . Then open the program Etcher. The interface of the program is so simple that for its illustration there will be enough GIFs right from the official site.

Yes, everything is so simple

After flashing your SD-card or USB flash drive, boot from it. After a minute tupnyak you will see a colorful interface.

It is very easy to manage it. The Start button will bring up the menu.
In the entire article, screenshots are taken from the Internet. Its doing was a break, besides the laptop was needed for other purposes

Here you can start the Kodi media center, set the language in System Settings. But first of all you will need Network Settings – here you can set the settings of your Wi-Fi network.

Then you can go to your web browser to the IP address of your console (displayed immediately in the IP ADDRESS field). This is necessary in order to get into the web interface of the console.

Here you can go to the ROMs section and finally load your favorite Chip and Dale into the console 🙂 However, remember: piracy is bad. Old ROMs for 8- and 16-bit prefixes you can take on Emu-Land , games published on CD, DVD and generally voluminous – on Rutracker .

After downloading the ROMs do not forget to click the “Restart EmulationStation” button, so that the games appear in the list of available ones.

Her, fight.

Small bonus

If you suddenly can not live sharply without a console – it is available here. According to SSH. Login root , password recalboxroot . You will not find the usual package manager, but if you download executable files, they will be launched.

Instead of concluding

Why did I decide to write this guide? Because recalboxOS for me has become an example of a Linux-based operating system that just works. The developers did everything so that you could turn on the console and play games – and in my opinion, developers of desktop Linux distributions should take an example from them.

Do not pretend to complete the coverage of the issue, ask the advice you are interested in in the comments. And I went to the Final Fantasy VI to play.

And one more bonus.

Instead of PS

If you want to emulate the PlayStation One, Sega Dreamcast or PSP – forget all about Raspberry Pi. It does not draw such emulators. That’s why I was building my retro console on a laptop.

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