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Reason: Poor structure and out of date. (Discuss in Talk:RetroArch#)

RetroArch is a modular, command-line driven, multi-system emulator that is designed to be fast, lightweight, and portable. It has features few other emulators frontends have, such as real-time rewinding and game-aware shading based on the libretro API.


Install retroarch-gitAUR from the AUR.

A GTK+/Qt frontend, retroarch-phoenix-gitAUR, is also available.


RetroArch employs the use of separate emulator cores (or emulator implementations) available from both the AUR and the libretro github.

Each package from the AUR will install an emulator core to /usr/lib/libretro/[system].so, thus to use retroarch with your preferred system simply launch it with the -L parameter. E.g.

retroarch -L /usr/lib/libretro/ ~/path/to/game
Tip: It is possible to run directly from .zip files using the retroarch-zip shell wrapper, however, keep in mind that this is not supported within the implementation.

This emulation core can also be defined in the retroarch.cfg, thus obviating the need to specify it on the command line.

libretro_path = "/usr/lib/libretro/"

There are currently several emulation cores available including snes9x, bsnes, visual boy advance and final burn alpha. See this AUR search for more.


RetroArch provides a skeleton configuration file located at /etc/retroarch.cfg and is very well commented.

It is capable of supporting split configuration files using the #include "foo.cfg" directive within the main retroarch.cfg file. Alternatively, extra configuration files can be appended on the command line which override the default settings in retroarch.cfg. This can be achieved by using --appendconfig /path/to/config and is beneficial if different keybinds, video configurations or audio settings are required for the various implementations.

Tip: retroarch is capable of loading bsnes xml filters [1] and cg shaders [2]. They can be defined in retroarch.cfg as video_bsnes_shader and video_cg_shader respectively.
Note: retroarch-gitAUR requires nvidia-cg-toolkit in order to use the cg shaders.
Warning: When using the alsa driver make sure audio_out_rate is equal to your system's default output rate. This is usually 48000.


No keyboard/mouse input

If you are having no keyboard input in an X-less environment, this is due to the fact that the /dev/input nodes are root-only. You can set up a udev rule which makes these accessible to non-root. To /etc/udev/rules.d/99-evdev.rules, add

KERNEL=="event*", NAME="input/%k", MODE="666"

Then reload the udev rules with:

sudo udevadm control --reload-rules

Until next reboot (or replugging devices), you can force permissions with sudo chmod 666 /dev/input/event*.

Video Problems

If your video driver has very bad performance, it is possible to run it on a thread to avoid almost all video driver overhead. Set video_threaded = true in ~/.config/retroarch/retroarch.cfg

Butter smooth VSync behavior in this case is impossible however, and latency might increase slighly. Use only if you cannot obtain full speed or if changing video resolution/refresh rate settings seem to not work.