Linux distros that turn your PC into a retro gaming console

steam bridge making the news for all the right reasons. It’s fantastic technology, powered by a variant of Arch Linux (SteamOS 3.0) developed by Valve.

Although you can install any other operating system on it, it is best to have it as is for convenience.

Unfortunately Steam Deck or something similar is not available everywhere. So what if you could convert your system into a retro gaming console on Linux using a distro?

Turn your PC into a retro gaming console with these Linux distros

Of course, with a retro game console, you can’t expect to play the latest and greatest, but if you’re looking for something interesting, this should make you forget about the Steam Deck. Or, maybe if you already have a modern gaming console/system, you can play some retro games for a change.

Some distros also support Raspberry Pi. So this can be one of your Raspberry Pi project ideas if you want to put it to good use.

1. Batocera.linux

A perfect open-source retro-gaming distro that can run via USB drive or SD card. This allows you to convert any type of computer into your personal retro gaming machine in no time.

In fact, it is also one of the best Linux distros for gaming.

In other words, it’s a plug-and-play distro that lets you play any of the retro games you own. It has a powerful emulator to help you run supported games along with plenty of features to customize shaders, themes, etc.

You can check his official compatibility list for supported emulated games. You should find plenty of supported games to start with.

Note that it doesn’t include any games, you’ll need to make sure you own/have the game files you want to run. For more information, you can explore its GitHub page.

2. Lakka

Lakka is a lightweight Linux distro that can turn your computer/Raspberry Pi into a retro gaming console.

Note that this is the official Linux distribution of RetroArch and libretro ecosystem. Both handsets give you a usable retro gaming experience.

It offers a nice and minimal user interface to let anyone use the distro comfortably. Like the previous option, you can install it on your USB drive or SD card. The project says it’s under development, but it’s a popular option for playing retro games.



One of the easy projects to put your Raspberry Pi to good use.

RetroPie is a Linux distribution designed for Raspberry Pi but also supports ODroid and PCs to help convert it into a retro gaming machine.

It is based on Raspbian, EmulationsStations and uses projects like RetroArch to give you the experience of a home console with minimal configuration.

If you like to customize your setup, it also allows for a variety of configuration tools for advanced users.

For example, you also use Kodi from it by installing it from the menu. Of course, you might want to check out some media server tools if you want them specifically for entertainment and movies.

You can grab the RestroPie image to boot on your system or install it on Raspbian, whichever you prefer.

4. Retro house (alpha builds)

retro house

An unofficial Ubuntu-based Linux distribution for Raspberry Pi from the creator of Ubuntu MATE. It now supports Raspberry Pi 2, 3, 4 and 400. You can also boot from USB.

He uses Ludo to present a minimal interface for working with emulators.

You can find the images in its GitHub releases section. Additionally, a script is available to create Retro Home images. If you are curious to try it, you can check out its GitHub page find out more.

5. Bone Chimera

steam library chimera

For a change, if you want to play modern games with retro console support from a single platform, ChimeraOS can help.

Although it starts with a Steam picture mode to give you convenience, you can also play games using GOG, Epic Games Store, and Flathub.

This should be a worthwhile option to try if you haven’t already. Head to his GitHyoub-page find out more.


You can still use game emulation programs or play games directly using Steam, Lutris or more (refer to our gaming guide if you’re new to gaming on Linux).

However, the experience is still different when you convert your entire system to a console-like experience using some of these Linux distros. And what could be more exciting than a Linux-powered retro game console?

Have you tried any of the mentioned options? Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments.

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Steven L. Nielsen