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Retro Gaming Weekend Project

Retro gaming is fun, and really popular on small devices like Raspberry Pi. While RetroPie may have been designed for Raspberry Pi, why not give it a try on your laptop or desktop and use all of its built-in power? It has a great UI, lots of documentation, and once it’s running it feels the most like a console. Plus, your knowledge can extend to running it on a Raspberry Pi for future weekend project fun!

RetroPie is a collection of open source software for emulating retro games. It includes RetroPie itself (which helps install and manage the rest of the software), EmulationStation (the UI for browsing and launching games), RetroArch (the actual emulation management), and several actual emulators. All of this is wrapped up into one easy-to-install package. For simplicity, we’ll refer to the whole collection as RetroPie, but be sure to check out the individual projects if you want to learn more!


  • Retro Controller
  • Linux Computer

Check out for great retro controller options that are actively supported by Linux. You can also use your keyboard if you don’t want to purchase a controller.

Install RetroPie

Install on Pop!_OS, Ubuntu, or another Debian-based Linux distribution: or follow the instructions below. Total time for install is only 15 minutes.

  1. Update and upgrade the existing APT packages:

  2. Install the needed packages for the RetroPie setup script:

  3. Download the latest RetroPie setup script:

  4. Enter the folder with the setup script:

  5. The script is executed with:

  6. The screen should look like/similar this at this point:

    Installation screen

Downloading ROMs

Once the install is complete, you’ll want to get some ROMs! We suggest searching for openly sourced homebrewed ROMs. You can start your search You can google ‘Open Source’ or ‘Open License’ game ROMs to find these games!

Be sure to save your ROMs into their respective folder in the “RetroPie” folder in your user’s Home folder. For example: ~/RetroPie/roms/nes

Pay attention to the file extension of your downloads! Some emulators use .zip while some use a custom file extension like .nes or .rom. If it’s a zip and doesn’t work as-is, check inside the zip to see if there’s a single file that needs to be extracted.

Configure the Controller

If you don’t already own a controller you can use your keyboard for gameplay. If you are in the market for a controller, we’ve found that the best controllers are generic USB ones, or PlayStation controllers connected via USB work well.

Before you begin game play make sure your controller is already plugged in via USB or connected via Bluetooth. We’ve used the instructions via.

When you first boot your system for gameplay you will be prompted to configure your controller:

Controller configuration screen 1

Hold down any button on your controller or keyboard to begin configuring your controller.

Controller configuration screen 2

Follow the prompts to configure each button that is associated with gameplay. If you run out of buttons, on your controller or keyboard, hold down any button to skip each unused button. For the Hotkey, we recommend using your controller’s “Select” button. When you get to OK press the button you have configured as "A".

Controller configuration screen 3

Helpful Hints for Gameplay

  • The buttons to press in the UI will generally be listed along the bottom of the screen. Broadly speaking, A is confirm, B is back, Start is the menu.
  • Press the Hotkey (we recommended setting it as Select) and Start buttons simultaneously to quit any game.
  • Press F4 on your keyboard to quit the RetroPie entirely, or hit Start and navigate the menu to “Quit EmulationStation”.


Download and Screenshots -

Controllers -