RetroPie: Setup on x86 with Linux Ubuntu or Mint

RetroPie Setup Ubuntu or MintSetting up RetroPie on an Ubuntu based Linux system (such as Mint or Xubuntu) is a great way to use a higher horsepower PC to play retro games. While the Raspberry Pi is a great device for a lot of retro systems, this RetroPie: Setup on x86 article will show you how to setup RetroPie on a more beefy x86 machine which will allow you to emulate some more modern systems. I have used an older, cheaply found PC to be able to play PS2, PS3, Xbox, Wii and Windows games and it makes for a great all in one media center and gaming rig. You can get Core 2 Duo systems or older i3 ,i5 and i7 machines for relatively cheap and get way more bang for your buck than you get over a Raspberry Pi.

This RetroPie: Setup on x86 post will point you to some links to help you get a Ubuntu based Linux system installed and then will walk you through some of necessary components and some customization including installing networking, creating separate menus, and changing MegaDrive to Genesis.

This is part of my series of articles on Retro Gaming.

Install Operating System and RetroPie

First, you need to get Ubuntu or Mint installed on your system. There are plenty of instructions and tutorials to help you through that process. You can follow the instructions directly from the RetroPie page. It’s pretty straight forward, just follow the commands as listed. To get to a command line to input these commands run terminal (you can use the “ctrl-alt-t” shortcut).

For the more visually inclined, this video shows you how to install RetroPie on Ubuntu:

When I was installing Ubuntu, I kept getting a message something like ” errno 5 input/output error” with Linux Mint. I solved the problem after MUCH frustration by installing from a different USB stick.

[READ MORE ON DIGIMOOT: RetroPie DosBox Setup Guide]

Install RetroPie / EmulationStation

Once you have Ubuntu or Mint installed, you will need to get RetroPie installed. There are a series of commands listed on the RetroPie site that you can simply copy and paste into your command prompt.

Launch EmulationStation on Boot

This video shows you how to make EmulationStation start automatically on boot.

In order to have it boot automatically in Mint, you can try the method above however I found that for some reason it would launch the terminal window fullscreen and place it in front of the EmulationStation window. EmulationStation would also lose focus. I fixed this by searching “startup applications” in the Mint start menu. Run Startup Application, select add at the bottom of the window, select choose application, select ‘rpie’ from the list. Once this application has been added, select it and click edit at the bottom of the screen. Under the Command entry box go and delete the “–full-screen” from the command. Click save. Reboot and it should start up automatically.

Create a Separate Menu for Kodi

Kodi is one of the main things I use and I like to be able to launch it quickly – so I like to have a separate emulationstation menu for Kodi. The instruction on the RetroPie Wiki page will walk you through setting up a separate menu for Kodi.

If you run into the same problem I had with Kodi not being fullscreen, try hitting “\”. That should fix you right up! 🙂

[READ MORE ON DIGIMOOT: Diablo for Linux through Devilution]

Create Network Shares

Install Samba:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install samba

Set Samba Password:

sudo smbpasswd -a [username]

Backup Samba Config:

sudo cp /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/smb.bak

Edit Samba Config:

sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf

Add the following to the end of the smb.conf file:

comment = roms
path = “/home/user/RetroPie/roms”
writeable = yes
create mask = 0644
directory mask = 0755
force user = user

comment = bios
path = “/home/user/RetroPie/BIOS”
writeable = yes
create mask = 0644
directory mask = 0775
force user = user

Restart Samba Service:

sudo service smbd restart

Now that your network shares are up and running you can easily transfer games to the machine over the network. If you’re looking to setup and play old DOS games by following my RetroPie DosBox Setup Guide. If you’re a fan of Diablo you can setup Diablo for Linux through Devilution.

Switch Sega MegaDrive to Genesis

For those of us that grew up in North America you probably remember Sega Genesis and not MegaDrive. The default retropie/emulationstation menu is MegaDrive, so we’ll have to switch that. The instruction on the RetroPie page I’ve found are not quite complete.

First you need to edit or create a console config file by using the following command:

sudo nano /opt/retropie/configs/all/platforms.cfg

and you will need to insert the followings lines:


You will also need to edit the es_systems.cfg in the followings locations:


You will need to modify the theme and platform lines from “megadrive” to “genesis”. It will look like this:


After this you will need to reinstall all the existing genesis/mega drive emulators. These will likely include “lr-genesis-plus-gx” and “lr-picodrive”, but may also include “DGen”. Restart Emulationstation and you should see Genesis show up.

[READ MORE ON DIGIMOOT: RetroPie: Mass Renaming of ROMs and Media Files, Generate a gamelist.xml and Modify it to Include Snaps, Boxart and Wheels]


That’s it! You’re all setup with RetroPie / EmulationStation on your PC. With a more high powered PC you will be able to can enjoy more systems using your PC than you would with a Raspberry Pi.

Happy Retro Gaming!


[Updated July 21, 2019]

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