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How to play Commodore 64 games on Linux

Commodore 64 was one of the best-selling home computer systems of its time. Sadly, that time is long passed, and the machine isn’t in production anymore. The only way to enjoy it in modern times is with emulation.

On Linux, you can play Commodore 64 games through the Vice emulator. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to set up C64 emulation, how to save your game, configure joysticks, and more!

Note: Addictivetips in no way encourages or condones the illegal downloading or distribution of ROM files for the Commodore 64. If you choose to install Vice, please use your own game ROMs you’ve backed up to your PC, legally.

Install Vice emulator on Linux

The Vice emulator supports a wide variety of Linux operating systems through their software repositories. Specifically, the app supports Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora in their official software repositories. Additionally, the app is easily installable on all Linux distributions via Flatpak.

To install the Vice emulator on your Linux operating system of choice, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, follow the command-line instructions below that correspond with the Linux operating system you use.

Note: for best results with the Vice application, install the Flatpak version. It is much easier for beginners and requires no configuration to use.

Ubuntu

sudo apt install vice cd /tmp wget http://www.zimmers.net/anonftp/pub/cbm/crossplatform/emulators/VICE/vice-2.4.tar.gz
tar xvf vice-2.4.tar.gz
cd /tmp/vice-2.4/data/C64
cp chargen kernal basic /usr/lib/vice/C64/

Debian

You must enable the “Contrib” software repository in Debian Linux before attempting to install Vice. To enable “Contrib,”  open up your sources file in Nano.

sudo nano -w /etc/apt/sources.list

In the file, find “main” and put “contrib” right after it. It should look like the following screenshot.

After adding “contrib” to the sources file, save the edit in Nano by pressing Ctrl + O. Then, run the update command.

sudo apt update

Finally, install and configure Vice with the following commands.

sudo apt-get install vice cd /tmp
wget http://www.zimmers.net/anonftp/pub/cbm/crossplatform/emulators/VICE/vice-2.4.tar.gz
tar xvf vice-2.4.tar.gz
cd /tmp/vice-2.4/data/C64
cp chargen kernal basic /usr/lib/vice/C64/

Fedora

Installing Vice on Fedora Linux means enabling the RPM Fusion Nonfree software repository. To learn how to enable RPM Fusion on Fedora Linux, follow our guide here.

Once RPM Fusion is enabled on your Fedora Linux PC, the Vice emulator is easily installed with the following command.

sudo dnf install vice

OpenSUSE

As of right now, the Vice emulator does not have support for OpenSUSE Linux, and it doesn’t appear that this will change any time soon. Don’t worry! It is possible to enjoy this program on SUSE by following the Flatpak instructions!

Flatpak

The Vice emulator is on Flathub available for installation as a Flatpak. To install, ensure that you have the Flatpak runtime enabled on your Linux PC. When you do, use the following commands to install the program.

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

Using Vice

The Vice emulator, like all emulation apps on Linux, requires a ROM file to load software. To start up the C64 Vice emulator, press Alt + F2 on the keyboard to bring up your quick launch window. Then, write the command in the launch box to access the emulator.

x64

Alternatively, open up the Vice emulator in C64 mode by going to “Games” in your app menu, and searching for Commodore 64, or Vice (C64).

With the Vice emulator open and in C64 mode, download your favorite game ROM to your Linux PC and get it ready to go. Then, press Alt + A on the keyboard to launch the open-file dialog.

Browse for the C64 ROM file on your Linux PC, select it with the mouse in the UI, and click the “Autostart” button to load it up in the emulator as a program automatically. As soon as the ROM file loads, your software should be ready to use.

Saving/Loading games

Need to save your Commodore 64 game? Here’s how to do it. First, click on the “Snapshot” menu. Then, once in the menu, look for the “Quicksave Snapshot” button, and click it. Your game will save instantly.

To load a saved game, open up the “Snapshot” menu, and look for the “Quickload Snapshot” button. Select it with the mouse. As soon as “Quickload Snapshot” is selected with the mouse, your game save will load into the emulator.

Configure joystick/controller

Want to configure your controller to use the Joystick function on the Vice emulator? Click the “Settings” menu. Then, locate the “Settings” button and select it to open up the Vice emulator’s configuration area.

In Vice’s “Settings” area, find “Input Devices” and double-click it. Then, select “Joystick settings”.

Inside “Joystick Settings,” find “Joystick #1,” and set the dropdown to your game controller, keyboard, or USB joystick. Then, click on the “Userport Joystick #1” dropdown menu, and set it to “keyset A.”

After setting “Userport Joystick #1” to “keyset A,” locate the “Configure keyset A” button and click it with the mouse. From there, use the UI to configure the buttons on your joystick.

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