How to install and use sdlmame on Linux (debian/ubuntu)

Xmame” is first emulator coming to mind when we talk on a MAME on Linux systems, however it’s not been developed for some time. “Sdlmame” is recommended in Xmame websites and forums.

sudo aptitude install sdlmame

This command installs sdlmame from repositories. 1

You would probably not need a frontend…

There are frontends for sdlmame such as loemu, a very simple one but very slow for building game lists, Qmc2, relatively difficult to compile and very confusing to use and Wahcade, worst alternative in my humble opinion. However, I think you probably would not need a frontend for sdlmame, as it is quite simple to use this emulator by terminal commands & by using its own user interface.

By default, your rom files should be in “$HOME/.mame/roms” or “/usr/local/share/games/sdlmame/roms” or “roms” subfolder under the directory where you compiled from source code. Just put your rom files in there before running the emulator.

To start your game:

sdlmame gamename

To start the sdlmame user interface:

sdlmame -v


In case you need, you can edit sdlmame configuration file with this command:

sudo gedit /etc/sdlmame/mame.ini

For parameters and more information:

man sdlmame

For roms you can check out these websites:

Slow performance or crackling sound?

Try to run sdlmame with this option:

-video opengl

Performance and graphic quality increases dramatically. Do not forget to enable graphic card drivers supporting opengl first.

You get missing ROM or CHD images errors with your romsets?

With new MAME emulator releases your romsets may need to be updated. A ROM manager like ClrMame can be helpful, although it’s not very easy to use. Check out this page for other suggestions.

  1. It is possible to download latest version from sdlmame website but I personally didn’t find it necessary. which is recommended. I hadn’t been able to utilize my Logitech Rumblepad 2 until I compiled sdlmame version 0.128u2 which adds support for Ubuntu 8.10.

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