How to Play Old Computer Games in Linux

Whether you are a hardcore gamer or not, haven’t you had the urge to play one of the older games once in a while ? There is no comparison between modern games and the old ones in terms of the graphics, the sounds, the intelligence … the complete game-play experience. But nonetheless, the older games had a certain charm that has still not lost.

For all the old-time   gamers out there, you can now play these games on your Linux or Mac machines using a Game Emulators.

DOSBox is one such MS-DOS Game Emulator, ported on a lot of OSes including FreeBSD , MAC OS X and sundry Linux distributions. It also comes with a variety of front-ends and language support. Most importantly, it is a completely open source game emulator.

On an Ubuntu box, installing dosbox is as simple as :

$ sudo apt-get install dosbox

Once installed, it can be invoked via the Menu by clicking on   : Applications -> Games -> DOSBox Emulator , or by directly calling dosbox from the command-line.

The screenshot above shows a dosbox console.

In order to play your favourite games, you must first download the appropriate executable file. BestOldGames is a site with a huge collection of games which readily work with DOSBox. However, a simple google search should yield ample resources.

Now, once the required game is downloaded, it should be “mounted” on the dosbox as follows :

Assume that the game “Prince of Persia” has been downloaded and extracted in your home directory “PoP”.

Mount the game as a “C:” drive and excute the game as follows :

Z:\> mount c /home/<username>/PoP

Now change to the C drive

Z:\> C:

Go into the Game’s directory

C:\> cd PRINCE

And invoke the Game’s executable


A quick heads-up while using dosbox is the Controls. For most games,   the Laptop’s “Fn” keys had to be utilized as a Keypad rather than the usual Arrow keys.

Apart from the MS-DOS Game Emulator, another emulator is as popular is the Super Nintendo (SNES) Game Emulator, called ZSNES. zsnes   is a SNES game emulator engine for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and Dos. It is also a completely open source game emulator.

As earlier, installing zsnes on a Ubuntu machine is as simple as   :

$ sudo apt-get install zsnes

It will be installed under Applications -> Games -> ZSNES Emulator . Alternatively it can be invoked from the command shell by called zsnes .

Zsnes installed

In order to play the SNES games, you need to download the appropriate ROM file. DopeROMs is one of the better resources out there, but there are also others like RomNation.

Mortal Kombat

Just search for your favorite game,   download and copy the zipped ROM files in your favorite location and “Load” it from zsnes .

I personally feel that the gaming experience on ZSNES was better than DOSBox. For example, try playing Mortal Kombat on both the Emulators and see the difference. This may be attributed to the fact that ZSNES is more actively developed than DOSBox.

Apart from these two popular Game Emulator engines there are also a LOT of others out there which will work on a variety of platforms including BSDs and MACs . This link lists out the staggering number of them out there.

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