Emulation on Linux - Gaming like in the old times

Emulation on Linux - Gaming like in the old times

Today we’ll talk about game emulation on Linux. As you probably already know emulation is about emulating some environment in which some software is executed. In these terms, emulating games is emulating hardware of some specific console or computer (with graphics chip, sound chip, input devices, etc.) on which games were played in the past.

I’ve been into emulators on Linux for quite a while now. In particular, I’ve used emulators of old consoles and computers (for example Raspberry Pi. My personal favorite is the Super Nintendo Entertainment System emulators).

What consoles you can emulate on Linux these days?

It is possible to emulate PlayStation 3 on Linux using the RPCS3 emulator, and the Xbox 360 through the Xenia emulator. The PlayStation 4 can also be emulated, but the development of the Spine PS4 emulator is still in the very early stages. So we have to wait and see what developers bring us with the new version.

Best emulators for Linux

Let’s take a look at some emulators you can use on the Linux operating system. In our list, you’ll find the best emulators for Linux in various categories, from retro gaming consoles to modern gaming consoles and handheld devices.


NES (Nintendo Entertainment System)

NES - Nintendo Entertainment System
NES – Nintendo Entertainment System

There are a lot of them and they’re all good quality but still, here is your list:

My favorite is Nestopia. It has great compatibility, a clean and user-friendly interface, and a variety of features that make it a great option for NES emulation.

SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System)

SNES - emualtion is peace of cake, even on portable devices
SNES – emulation is peace of case, even on portable devices

There are many SNES emulators available for Linux, but the best one is probably ZSNES. It has great compatibility with a large number of games and is easy to use. However, if ZSNEN doesn’t fit your needs, you can just try another one:

  • Snes9x
  • Higan

GBA (Game Boy Advance)

Emulation of GBA is possible since 1990's, so it can be emulated even on older devices.
Game Boy Advance SP

There are a few different Game Boy Advance emulators available for Linux, but the two most popular ones are VisualBoyAdvance and mGBA. VisualBoyAdvance is the older of the two, but it’s still widely used and has a loyal following. mGBA is newer, but it’s quickly gaining popularity due to its great features and ease of use. Do you have different tastes? Maybe you want to try another GBA emulator:

  • BatGBA
  • No$GBA
  • VBA-M

Gamecube and Wii

Nintendo GameCube emulation is almost perfect
Nintendo GameCube – Dolphin is a great solution for emulation

Emulation of GameCube and Wii on Linux is a great way to enjoy your favorite games on a different platform. There are a few different ways to go about this, but the most popular is probably Dolphin. Dolphin is an emulator that allows you to play GameCube and Wii games on your computer. It’s a great way to experience your favorite games in a new way, and it’s also a great way to play games that you might not be able to play otherwise.

There is no Nintendo64 category because we have written a whole article about N64 emulators for Linux.

Sony and emulation on Linux

Since the early days of console gaming, Sony has been one of the leading manufacturers of gaming hardware. From the original PlayStation to the PlayStation 4, Sony has consistently released high-quality consoles that have been extremely popular with gamers. Fortunately for us, there are several emulators available on Linux you can use to play your favorite Sony console games.

Playstation One

Emulation Playstation One was the first I've tryied.
Playstation One – one of the greatest consoles of all time!

Playstation One emulation on Linux has come a long way in recent years. There are now a number of options available for those wanting to play their favorite Playstation One games on Linux.

  • ePSXe

ePSXe is a Playstation One emulator that is available for a number of platforms, including Linux. ePSXe has great compatibility with a wide range of PlayStation One games and offers a number of features, such as support for PlayStation game controllers, and the ability to save and load games.

  • PCSX

PCSX is an open-source PlayStation One emulator that is also available for a number of platforms, including Linux. PCSX offers good compatibility with a wide range of PlayStation One games and also offers a number of features, such as the ability to save and load games.

So, as you can see, if you want to play your favorite Playstation One games on Linux, there are a number of options available to you.

Playstation 2 emulation

Playstation 2
Playstation 2 – emulation is really great on Linux

It’s been almost two decades since the PlayStation 2 was released, but it’s still a popular console. Thanks to emulation, Linux users can enjoy PlayStation 2 games on their computers.

There are a few different ways to emulate Playstation 2 games on Linux. The most popular method is using the PCSX2 emulator. This emulator is available for free and is relatively easy to set up.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed PCSX2, you’ll need to obtain a Playstation 2 BIOS. This can be tricky, as Sony does not legally allow the distribution of the BIOS. However, there are a few ways to obtain it, which we won’t go into here.

After setting up the BIOS, you can start playing your favorite Playstation 2 games on Linux! And compatibility is really, really good.

PlayStation 3

Playstation 3 emulation is getting better in last years
The first version of Playstation 3 – also called “PS3 FAT”

These days there is only one emulator for the Playstation 3, and that is RPCS3. It has been in development since 2011 and is still in its very early stages, with only a handful of games playable (but the number is growing fast!). That said, it is still the only way to play Playstation 3 games on Linux, so if you’re desperate to play some of your favorite PS3 games on your Linux machine, you’ll have to give RPCS3 a try.

Emulation of consoles made by Microsoft

Xbox One S - it's not possible to emulate it yet
Xbox One S with special Minecraft edition of gamepad

Microsoft’s consoles have always been popular among gamers, but did you know that you can now play Microsoft console games on Linux? That’s right, with the help of emulation, you can enjoy your favorite Microsoft console games on your Linux computer.

There are a few things you’ll need in order to get started. First, you’ll need to download an emulator. There are many different emulators available, but we recommend using the Xenia emulator. Once you’ve downloaded the emulator, you’ll also need to download the game files for the Microsoft console you want to play (we don’t provide the links, sorry).

Once you have everything downloaded and set up, you’ll be able to start playing your favorite Microsoft console games on Linux.

Sega and others…

Emulaion of Sega GameGear is relatively easy
Sega GameGear – emulation of this device is really easy

I think it’s more than enough content for today’s article. So you’ll take the time to process all provided pieces of information and we’ll have time to prepare Part II of the emulation series. We love gaming consoles and it would be a shame if we just finish it here, right? So, get prepared for continuation in the meantime, you can check our other articles :).