Linux + emulators + roms = homebrew console
December 27, 2007 1:19 PM   Subscribe

How do I create a linux-based game station that's loaded with emulators and roms that I can hook up to my tv?

I basically want to create my own console that's packed with emulators and roms and has a cool interface which i can navigate using just a gamepad. Also, it would be cool if I could just press the power button and it loaded directly into the interface. Are there any linux distros made for this sort of thing? Any linux-gurus out there that can lead me in the right direction?
posted by deeman to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Google Knoppix Mame, which is a bootable Linux distro with all the emulators you need, ready to play.

There are no ROMs includes, of course, since that would be illegal. You'll have to supply them yourself. You can find some legal ROMs using your favorite Bittorrent client, though you'll have to be sure to avoid all the illegal ones that are out there.
posted by bondcliff at 1:27 PM on December 27, 2007

er, "There are no ROMs included..."
posted by bondcliff at 1:28 PM on December 27, 2007

I haven't used it myself, but you might look into running MythGame from the MythTV distro. It's designed to be controllable via a remote, so it wouldn't seem like a huge stretch to use a gamepad instead. Plus you could use it as a media player.
posted by whir at 1:28 PM on December 27, 2007

a modded xbox might be a good way to go; there are a tone of emulators.
posted by phil at 1:30 PM on December 27, 2007

The interface is the only part that I imagine would require serious set-up effort. "Shell replacement" is what you should be Googling.

"press the power button and . . ." means a start-up script, a script stored in /etc/init.d/ will run at start-up.

Also, I find FCEU and sGens to be the best emulators (IMHO). Also I've had great success with no-name game pads and Linux.
posted by oblio_one at 1:32 PM on December 27, 2007

(Also, you could probably do this in Windows if you wanted to. Just find a frontend for your emulators that can be controlled via gamepad, then change the Windows shell from explorer.exe to your frontend program. Then set Windows to logon automatically. It's basically the same steps, but if your Windows skills are a lot higher than your Linux ones, it might be easier.)
posted by box at 1:35 PM on December 27, 2007

I know, I know, I'm ignoring your criteria, but if you haven't seen a modded xbox running evolution x, you should really check it out.

I've done a few of them - i got the chip in the mail and it was in the xbox in under an hour.

It runs mame, nes, snes, genesis and other systems flawlessly, and all in a box that doesn't look out of place in the entertainment unit.
posted by davey_darling at 1:54 PM on December 27, 2007

2nding Modded XBox. Easiest and cheapest way to do it.
posted by mphuie at 2:09 PM on December 27, 2007

mod an xbox. Easiest, cheapest, already has a console style case + appropriate game interfaces.

You can get MAME/Genesis/NES emu collections that other folks have already put together, PLUS use the incredibly awesome XBMC.

It's not the geekiest solution possible -- meaning it's pretty danged easy to put together (except maybe finding the ROM sets, depending) -- but I do think it is one of the best.
posted by fishfucker at 3:26 PM on December 27, 2007

FWIW, the guys over at revision 3's systm had a pretty good 4 part series of videos showing how they built a MAME cabinet- mostly looking at the carpentry and electronics, rather than the software- but it might still be worth a quick view.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:46 PM on December 27, 2007

Yup, mod an xbox. For real. $50 and everything you'd ever want. email me if you need help or suggestions. The bonus is that you can use the xbox controllers---makes life a lot easier than banging on a keyboard.
posted by TomMelee at 7:23 PM on December 27, 2007

Nthing the mod the Xbox option. It's the easiest and most complete way to do it. And then you can buy an X-Arcade arcade stick for it for $140 or so.

However, I had a modded Xbox die on me, and while it was being replaced I got off my ass and got the MythGame portion of my MythTV box working, and I can say it does a fairly good job as well. But the Xbox overall is much better from an integration and ease of use standpoint.
posted by barc0001 at 1:54 AM on December 28, 2007

X-box, schmexbox. What it sounds like you are trying to do is build a MAME/Emulation cabinet, but without all the wood. So Google terms like "MAME Linux Cabinet Frontend." Here are some sites to check out.



posted by Otis at 8:27 AM on December 28, 2007

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