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How to play Nintendo Entertainment System games on Linux

The Nintendo Entertainment System is one of Nintendo’s most famous game consoles. When it came out in the mid-1980s, it saved a dying console gaming industry and revitalized video games for everyone.

As the NES is one of the most popular video game consoles of all time, there’s still plenty of consoles that can be bought and played to this day. However, these consoles are very low resolution and lack support for modern displays. So, if you’d like to enjoy all the best games from this historic console right at home on your Linux PC, emulation is the best option.

Note: Addictivetips in no way encourages or condones the illegal downloading or distribution of ROM files for the NES. If you choose to install Nestopia, please use your game ROMs you’ve backed up to your PC, legally.

Install Nestopia on Linux

Before we go over how to set up Nestopia to emulate NES games on the Linux platform, the program needs to be installed. There are quite a few ways to install the Nestopia NES emulator on Linux. As of right now, the app has official support for Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and the universal Flatpak packaging format.

To get the app set up on your Linux PC, open up a terminal window by pressing the Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, follow the command-line instructions that correspond with the Linux distribution you currently use.


The Nestopia emulation app is available to all Ubuntu Linux users via the “Ubuntu Universe” software repository. However, on some Ubuntu installs, the “Universe repo is disabled by default. So, it must be enabled before installing the app.

To enable the “Universe” software repository on Ubuntu, enter apt command below.

sudo add-apt-repository universe

With the repo set up, run the update command to refresh Ubuntu’s software sources.

sudo apt update

Finally, install the Nestopia application to Ubuntu with the Apt package manager.

sudo apt install nestopia -y


On Debian Linux, Nestopia is set up on “Debian Main” software repository. So, getting Nestopia on Debian requires no extra work. Just open up a terminal window and use the Apt-get command below.

sudo apt-get install nestopia

Arch Linux

The official Nestopia NES emulator is not available to Arch Linux users via the Arch software repositories. Instead, those looking to get the app working will need to interact with the AUR.

To start the installation, open up a terminal window and install the Git and Base-devel packages. These software packages are required, as working with the AUR isn’t possible without them.

sudo pacman -S git base-devel

With Git and Base-devel set up correctly, download the latest AUR release of Nestopia with git and set it up on the system using makepkg.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/nestopia.git
makepkg -sri


The official Fedora software repositories do not carry Nestopia. However, the RPM Fusion software repositories do, so installation isn’t that difficult. To start, follow our guide to learn how to enable RPM Fusion. Then, once enabled, install the app with the DNF command below.

sudo dnf install nestopia -y


Nestopia is readily available to OpenSUSE users in the “Oss all” software repository. To install it on your system, use the Zypper command below.

sudo zypper install nestopia


Nestopia is available to install via Flatpak. To get it going, enable the Flatpak runtime on your system. Once the Flatpak runtime is set up, enter the commands below to install Nestopia on your Linux PC.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

sudo flatpak install flathub ca._0ldsk00l.Nestopia

Play NES games with Nestopia

To play an NES video game on Nestopia, launch the emulator on the Linux desktop. When the application is open, find the “File” button, and click it to open up the menu. Then, in the menu, select the “Open” button to bring up the file-browser dialog.

In the file browser dialog, locate the ROM file for the game you’d like to play and select it. Nestopia should instantly run the game.

To close a ROM in progress, locate “File,” select it, then choose the “Quit” option to end emulation.

Configure a controller

Want to set up your favorite gaming controller on Nestopia? Here’s how to do it. First, find the “Emulator” button in the app and select it to reveal the menu. Then, in the menu, click the “Configuration” option.

Inside “Configuration,” look for the “Input” setting and select it to be taken to the controller configuration area for Nestopia. From there, use it to configure your favorite gaming controller.


Need to save a game in progress? Click the “File” button in Nestopia. Find “Quick Save” and select it to save your game instantly.


To load a game in Nestopia, ensure your ROM is open in the emulator. Then, click “File” to reveal the “File” menu. From there, find “Quick Load” to instantly load your saved game.

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