Play Arcade Games Under Linux

Play classic arcade games on your favorite open source OS.

Home gaming consoles might be fine for some people, but if you are reading this hack, you are probably one of those old-school arcade wizards that we used to congregate around in smoky pizza joints, hoping for the honor of holding your tokens, as you obliterated the previous high scores on Spy Hunter or Dig-Dug or Sinistar (or maybe you’re one of the congregants, hoping to improve your skills so you can finally take on that wizard). You might even be the sort who dreams of filling your den with original arcade cabinets, bringing up your children in the Way of Pac-Man.

This hack is for you. I show you how to emulate a startling variety of arcade hardware on the Linux/Unix platform. In the Unix world, there are two ports of MAME, the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, worth worrying about: AdvanceMAME (, a Linux port of MAME; and Xmame (, an X11 port of MAME.


I start with Xmame, which is a port of the MAME program to Unix. It can use native X11R6, SVGAlib, ggi, XF86-DGA, OpenGL, or SDL display drivers. The fact that Xmame supports pretty much every combination of libraries, hardware, and ROMs out there is a definite win for the serious emulation fan on the Unix platform. To build and install Xmame, follow the instructions for your Linux distribution or flavor of Unix.

Gentoo Linux.

To install Xmame under Gentoo Linux:

  1. Become root.

  2. emerge xmame ...

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