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How to play Sinclair ZX Spectrum games on Linux

The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit computer released in the UK by Sinclair Research. It sold 5 million units and was in production from 1982 to 1992. The Spectrum was very similar to the Commodore 64 and was used for both video games and personal computing. In this guide, we’ll show you how to play ZX Spectrum games on Linux.

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

Install the Fuse ZX Spectrum emulator

Before we go over how to play ZX Spectrum games on Linux, we need to get the Fuse emulator working. Thankfully, the Fuse ZX Spectrum emulator supports all Linux operating systems, including Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux, Fedora, and OpenSUSE. It also supports many different OSes, thanks to Flatpak.

To start the installation of the Fuse emulator, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, follow the command-line installation instructions below that match the OS you use.

Ubuntu

On Ubuntu, the Fuse emulator is available in the Universe software repository. To install it, use the Apt command.

sudo apt install fuse-emulator-common

Debian

Debian Linux users can get Fuse on the “Main” software repository. Use the Apt-get command to get it working.

sudo apt-get install fuse-emulator-common

Arch Linux

Fuse emulator is in the AUR. To install it, do the following.

sudo pacman -S git base-devel
git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/trizen.git
cd trizen
makepkg -sri
trizen -S fuse-emulator

Fedora

Fedora 29, 30, and 31 have the Fuse emulator available for installation. To install it, use the Dnf command below.

sudo dnf install fuse-emulator

OpenSUSE

On OpenSUSE, install Fuse with the zypper command.

sudo zypper install fuse

Flatpak

Flatpak is the easiest way to set up the Fuse emulator on Linux, as it works on every single distribution out there. To get it working, start by enabling the Flatpak runtime on your Linux PC. Then, use the commands below to get the emulator working.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
flatpak install flathub net.sf.fuse_emulator

Playing games on the Spectrum

To play a video game on the ZX Spectrum, start by launching the Fuse emulator. To do this, launch the app menu on the Linux desktop, find the “Games” section, and click on “Fuse.” Or, search for it in the search box in your Desktop Environment.

Once the Fuse emulator is open and ready to use, find the “File” button, and click on it to open up the “File” menu. Inside this menu, locate the “Open” button, and click on it to gain access to the open-file dialog box.

Browse the open-file dialog for your ZX Spectrum game ROM. This ROM file should be a “TZX” file. The emulator will not handle files in any other format, and could potentially crash if you try to use a different/incompatible file type.

Select the “Open” button in the open-file dialog box once you’ve found your TZX ROM file. It should then instantly load the game into the Fuse emulator, and you’ll be ready to enjoy your favorite ZX Spectrum games.

Saving/Loading

Even though the Spectrum is an ancient computer system, you can still save games. Unfortunately, the game files themselves do not have built-in saving features. Instead, you must make use of the Fuse saving system.

To save a ZX ROM that is in progress, do the following. First, find the “File” button and click it with the mouse to reveal the file menu. Then, look through the “Save Snapshot” option and click on it with the mouse.

By selecting the “Save Snapshot” option, a dialog box will open. Use this dialog box to name your save snapshot. Then, click the “Save” button, and your game will save to a file.

Loading

Need to load your saved ZX Spectrum snapshot? Do the following. First, load up the game ROM the way you’d typically do when starting up a game to play. After the game ROM is loaded, find the snapshot file with the Linux file manager. Then, once you’ve found the snapshot in your file manager, double-click on it with the mouse. It should instantly load up the save exactly where you left off.

Please note that sometimes when loading a snapshot into Fuse, you may see a ROM error. This error doesn’t have to do with the game you’re playing. It’s an error with Spectrum. Feel free to ignore it.

Configure controller

The Fuse emulator has controller support if you prefer to play Spectrum games with a controller. To set up a controller, do the following.

Step 1: Plug your controller into the USB port.

Step 2: Select “Options,” followed by “Joystick” to access the joystick options in Fuse.

Once inside of the Joystick options area, use the UI to configure your controller for the Fuse emulator.

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