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How to play PlayStation 2 games on Linux

Many people love the PS2 but it’s an old console, so unless you still have one lying around, you won’t be able to enjoy its excellent library of games without running an emulator. Luckily, the PS2 is one of the most emulated consoles, so it’s quite easy to play your favorite classic PlayStation 2 games on Linux as well as on most other operating systems.

In this guide, we’ll show you can emulate the PlayStation 2 on Linux with PCSX2. We’ll also cover how to set up a USB controller, and even how to set up the console’s BIOS!

Note: Addictivetips in no way encourages or condones the illegal downloading or distribution of ROM files for PCSX2. If you want to play Sony PlayStation 2 games with PCSX2, please use your own ROM files you’ve backed up to your PC, legally.

Install PCSX2

PSCX2 as an emulator is very popular in the Linux community. It’s popularity isn’t a surprise, given the fact that it’s currently the only way to play PlayStation 2 games on Linux based operating systems reliably. In this section of the tutorial, we are going to go over how to install the PCSX2 PS2 emulator on all of the mainstream Linux distributions.

Ubuntu

Are you using Ubuntu and need to get your hands on the PCSX2 emulator? If so, open up a terminal window and enter the Apt command below!

sudo apt install pcsx2

Debian

Like most emulators, PCSX2 is available to install on Debian Linux (via the primary repo). To get the program running, open up a terminal and enter the following Apt-get command into it.

sudo apt-get install pcsx2

Alternatively, if you want a newer version of the app, skip the command above, follow our guide on how to install new software on Debian (via backports). Then, install the latest version of PCSX2 available with:

sudo apt-get -t stretch-backports install pcsx2

Arch Linux

To get the PCSX2 emulator on Arch Linux, you’ll need to have the “multilib” software repository enabled. To set up multilib, follow the instructions below.

Step 1: Open up /etc/pacman.conf in Nano with the sudo command.

sudo nano /etc/pacman.conf

Step 2: Scroll down the pacman.conf file and locate “multilib.” Remove all instances of #. Then, press Ctrl + O to save the edits.

Step 3: Exit the editor with Ctrl + X, then re-sync and set up the “multilib” repo with Pacman.

sudo pacman -Syy

Step 4: Install the PCSX2 emulator on Arch.

sudo pacman -S pcsx2

Fedora

To get access to the PCSX2 emulator on Fedora Linux, you’ll need to enable the RPM Fusion Non-free repository. To enable it, open up a terminal and run the following command.

Note: change the X in the URL below to reflect the version of Fedora Linux you are using.

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

With RPM Fusion Non-free up and running, install the PCSX2 emulator on Fedora with DNF.

sudo dnf install  pcsx2 -y

OpenSUSE

There’s no official PCSX2 package for OpenSUSE. If you’re looking to emulate PlayStation 2 games on the OS, you’ll need to get the app from a 3rd-party software source.

To install PCS2 on OpenSUSE, visit this page. Then, scroll down, find your version of SUSE and click the “1-click Install” button to set it up.

Set up PCSX2

After PCSX2 is finished installing, open it up. As it opens, you’ll see a pop-up. This pop-up window lets you choose your language. Use the selector and set it. Then, click the “next” button to move on to the next page of the startup wizard.

On the second page, you’ll see a list of plugins for the PS2 emulation system. Leave them at their defaults, and click the “Next” button at the bottom to continue.

Past the PCSX2 plugin page, you’ll see information letting you know that you need to add the PlayStation 2 BIOS files to the emulator before playing any games. Obtain your BIOS files for the PS2 legally (by dumping them to your Linux PC). Then, click “browse” and add the BIOS files to the emulator.

With the BIOS loaded, click the “Finish” button to end the PCSX2 setup process.

Playing PlayStation 2 games on Linux

PCSX2 can run games in multiple ways, but the most reliable way is by loading up an ISO, as it runs more consistently, and gives users the best framerates. To play a game, select the “CDVD” tab, highlight “ISO selector” and click browse. Then, use the browser window to load up your PS2 ISO file.

When the ISO file is loaded into the ISO selector, you’ll be able to start up and play the game by clicking “Reboot CDVD (full)” in the “Config” menu. Keep in mind that when loading a PS2 game, there may be FPS drops, especially if your graphics card isn’t very modern.

Want to exit the emulation? At any time, it is possible to stop the emulation by pressing ESC.

Configure graphics

The PCSX2  default settings on Linux are set up to run games correctly. You shouldn’t change any of the settings unless you know what you’re doing. To access graphical settings, click “Config,” then “Video (GS).”

Set up a controller

Need to set up a controller for PCSX2? Plug in a USB gamepad to your PC (Xbox ones work best on Linux,) click “Config” in the PCSX2 app window, hover over “Controllers,” and click the “Plugin Settings” option.

In the controller plugin settings window, your USB gamepad should be automatically detected. From there, go through the controller settings and map the buttons to your preferred layout.

Saving and loading

PCSX2 has a hotkey system which makes it super easy to save and load your PS2 games at any time. If you want to save the state of a running PS2 game, press the F1 key. To load, press F3. It is also possible to save/load a game by opening up the “Config” menu.

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