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How To Play Nintendo DS Games On Linux With DesmuME

Back in its prime, the Nintendo DS was one of the most successful hand-held consoles of all time. Unfortunately, that time has passed, and Nintendo doesn’t sell the console in stores anymore. That’s why in this article, we’ll go over how anyone can play Nintendo DS games right on the Linux platform with DesmuME. We’ll go over everything from how to install the software, how to load DS games up, as well as saving/loading, graphics tweaks, and even recording gameplay!

SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down and watch the video tutorial at the end of this article.

Note: Addictivetips in no way encourages or condones the illegal downloading or distribution of ROM files for DesmuME. If you want to play Nintendo DS games with DesmuME, please use your own game ROM files you’ve backed up to your PC, legally.

If you’re interested in playing other platform games, you can find an emulator that lets you play Sony PSP gamesAtari gamesNintendo Wii and GameCube gamesNintendo 64 gamesSega games, or Playstation games.

Install DesmuME


sudo apt install desmume


sudo apt-get install desmume

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S desmume


Installing the DesmuME emulator on Fedora isn’t as easy as other distributions. To install it, you’ll need to enable a third-party software repository. Use the DNF tool to enable this software repo. Be sure to change X to match the release number of your version of Fedora!

sudo dnf install https://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-X.noarch.rpm -y

With RPM Fusion on Fedora, you’ll be able to install DesmuME with the DNF package tool.

sudo dnf install desmume -y


DesmuME is freely available right in the OpenSUSE Build Service. To get it, follow this link and look for your release of OpenSUSE. Click the “1-click install” button to get the program.

Note: you may need to click “Show experimental packages” or “show community packages” before finding the install button.

Other Linuxes

The DesmuME emulator is open source, and the code is available for building. If your Linux distribution doesn’t have a natively built package, this is the best way to go. To get the source code, go to the official website. Be sure also to read all of the instructions they give in the “readme” file.

Using DesmuME

To play a game with DesmuME, open it and click “file.” In the file menu, you’ll need to select the “open” option. Clicking “open” brings up a file browsing menu. Use this menu to browse for the Nintendo DS ROM files on your PC.

Opening a ROM should instantly start the emulation playback. If you’d like to stop the playback, go back to the main DesmuME UI and click the pause button. To completely close the playback of the ROM, click the button to the right of the pause button. Clicking this button will close the emulator. Alternatively, click “file” then “quit” to exit.


Saving games in the DesmuME DS emulator works by making use of “save states.” This feature allows the user to instantly save or load at any time, even if the ROM doesn’t want you to.

To create a new save state in the emulator for any ROM click “file.” In the file menu, look for “Save state to” and hover over it. Hovering over this menu will reveal many different save state locations. Select a state to save. Repeat this process each time you’d like to overwrite the save.

Keep in mind that the DesmuME emulator lets Linux users save multiple times. To do various save states, just select a different save slot each time you create a new state.


Loading works the same way as saving. To load a game, click “file”, and select “load state from.” Use the UI to find the state your game is saved to, and load it. Repeat this process each time you need to load a save state.

Graphics Settings

There isn’t a dedicated graphical settings window for the DesmuME emulator. Instead, users looking to modify things like resolution, and will need to select the “view’ menu. In this area, options like “video filter”, “LCD layout”, and “resolution” are configurable. For other graphical options, click the “config” menu. In config, users can change the framerate of ROM playback, etc.

Configure Controller

To set up a controller with DesmuME, first, plug in a compatible joystick controller and then select “Config” in the menu.  In the “Config” menu, look for “Edit Joystick Controls” and select it. Go through the list of controls and click on each of them to start the mapping process.

Note: to re-bind controls to the controller, go through and re-select each of the controls. Each time a control button is clicked DesmuME will ask the user to re-assign the control.

Record Gameplay

The DesmuME emulator has the ability to record Nintendo DS gameplay. To record, open up a ROM and start the emulation. From there, click “file” and select “record movie to”. Clicking the record button opens up a file browser. Use this browser to tell the emulator where it should save the gameplay you record. When you’ve finished recording, click “file” then “stop movie”.

Note: DesmuME records in the DSM format.

Along with recording, DesmuME has the ability to play-back recorded movies as well. To play a DSM recording, click “file”, then select “play movie from” to start the playback.

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