How To Install NES Games In Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal


From the awesome things you could be doing right now file

Integrating the classics

So gang, what’s cooler that being able to play your classic NES roms in Linux rather than on your dusty old NES Control Deck?  Installing them alongside your other apps, that’s what.  And that’s just what we set out to do!  Sure, it’s not the best way to manage your collection of a million ROM images, but for those of us who are a little more practical and interested in playing only a handful of classics, this is the coolest possible way to do it.

First thing’s first; these games aren’t going to play themselves!  Let’s hit up the archives and grab a capable, command-line driven emulator for NES games.  You’ll hear me mention Mednafen from time to time on The Powerbase, and for good reason; it’s my favorite emulator of all time.  Once you’ve run through the guide, you should have the tools to pull this off with whichever emulator you like best.  Now, let’s install it.

sudo apt-get install mednafen
Icon for the original Legend of Zelda

Now here is the tricky part.  You’ll need an icon to launch your game.  You don’t have to have one, but if you don’t what will be the point?  If you are actively playing a classic game like The Legend of Zelda, you might wish to put it in the Unity launcher for one click access.  That won’t work very well with out an icon.  I whipped up this one on the right with the Gimp for The Legend of Zelda.

Now that you’ve got the icon, let’s make a special directory for it.

sudo mkdir /usr/share/icons/nes/

Assuming that this icon is in your downloads folder, do the following;

sudo cp ~/Downloads/zeldaubuntu.png /usr/share/icons/nes/

Last step

Now, all we’ve left to do is to make a desktop entry for this.  Create this file with something like nano, like this;

sudo nano /usr/share/applications/thelegendofzelda.desktop

Then, put the following goodies inside.
[Desktop Entry]
Name=The Legend Of Zelda
Comment=The classic NES hit, now for Ubuntu!
Exec=mednafen '/home/dean/Games/Nintendo/NES/Legend of Zelda,'

“Name” is how the applications will appear in the Gnome menu, or Unity Dash.  “Comment” is not necessary.  “Exec” is the actual command that makes this all happen.  Substitute the path to your own ROM file for this to function.  “Icon” is simply the path to the icon used for this game.

Save the file and your “installed” game should be available in the Dash immediately.  Want quickly access?  Just drag it over to your Unity Launcher and enjoy!


About Dean Howell

Aside from being a huge Sega fan, Dean is an LPIC certified Linux professional with over a decade experience. In addition to spending his free time burning through the classics from Sega and evangelizing open source, he's also the editor-in-cheif of The Powerbase.
  • Miquel Mayol i Tur

    I think perhaps it work with other emulators.

    Making a GUI that makes a debian menu branch for this kind of games would be easy to do as if it where a USC, but for emulated rom games.

  • Dilmer Dagwood

    Can you make this a 256×256 icon? Can you make icons for more games?

    • Dean Howell

      Sure! What game should I do first?

      • srkelley

        Well he hasn’t responded yet so I guess I’ll come forward and ask for Gunstar Heroes please!

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  • Rafael Wingnux

    There’s a really good mednafen front end here:

  • Dominic Jordan Hasford

    How do you save the document? I can’t figure it out for the life of me. Where is the save button in the terminal?

    • srkelley

      You would ctrl + o (that notation shows as ^O) or F3 to save your file.

  • Dominic Jordan Hasford

    There is a slight mistake in the article. After playing around with this a bit, I figured out that you put the wrong path to the icon. You wrote:
    “Icon=/usr/share/icons/zeldaubuntu.png ” when it should be “Icon=/usr/share/icons/nes/zeldaubuntu.png”. Because we moved the icon there using “sudo cp ~/Downloads/zeldaubuntu.png /usr/share/icons/nes/”.

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