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Gaming on the Pi - Building a RetroPi

posted Dec 7, 2014, 1:45 PM by Joshua ‎(Admin)‎   [ updated Dec 7, 2014, 7:21 PM ]
This post demonstrates how to build a RetroPi from scratch.  The good people over at RetroPi built an amazing use case of the RaspberryPi that lets us play all of our favorite old video games (roms not included) from our RaspberryPi!  Unfortunately, at this point, their downloadable image only works on the Model B, not the Model B+.  We're going to follow their "recipe", but build this on our template which was built for the Model B+.  In the end, this will be an amazing gaming machine!

This is the sixth project in the series and assumes the elements performed in several earlier ones are in place and integrated into the template (see the template projects) in order to work.

Most of these projects can be performed in any order, but if you follow the order outlined here it will all definitely work.  I've found a number of guides to help me, but many have partial documentation, skip key steps, etc.  The goal is to build out a guide with everything you need to complete each step, but let me know if I miss something or it isn't clear.

For each template and initial setup, I used an 8GB memory card.  With the B+, the image you back up will be the full size of the card whether you expand the file system or not.  For the actual projects, I use a mix of card sizes -- generally 32GB, but I like my templates and initial setup configs to be 8GB to reduce the storage size of my backups.

Supply List:
  • MicroSD Card  A digital memory card, initially designed for media (think a camera) but which will serve as the hard drive for the RaspberryPi.  All tutorials will focus on the 8GB size, but you can easily use this process for a larger format also.  This should be pre-loaded with the template image created in the previous project (template step 01).
  • PuTTY  A free SSH client which is excellent for working at the command line.  I know, I know, no one loves the Command Line any more, but the more you use the RaspberryPi the more you will quickly learn that CommandLine > GUI.
  • RaspberryPi B+  The actual RaspberryPi hardware this will all be built around.
  • ROMs   IANAL (I am not a lawyer), but my understanding is that ROMs are legal digital copies of video games which you already own.  I assume there are about 12,000 layers of legal complexity here which are far outside the scope of this Dabble.  You will need these files to use the RetroPi Dabble.  Rumor has it, you may be able to find these files online for free, but again, IANAL, and can't speak to the legal implications of downloading them.
  • Win32 Disk Imager  A Free Open Source Software (FOSS) utility to write of image (.IMG) files to various flash card media (SD, MicroSD, etc.).  Download the software from the website.

Project:
  • Write the image you plan to enhance to the SD Card and load it into the RaspberryPi.  In this example, we'll use the template file, created in a previous tutorial.  
  • Using PuTTY (or whatever SSH client you prefer) connect to the IP address of the RaspberryPi.  You should know this from the previous step (192.168.84.158 in this example), but if you do not, follow the steps at the beginning of the first lesson which show how to use AngryIP scanner to locate the IP address.
  • Once connected, log onto the Pi using:
    • UserID:  pi 
    • Password:  raspberry


  • Raspbian uses Advanced Package Tool (APT) to manage and install software.  First, we need to update the tool using:
    • sudo apt-get -y update
  • Now let's update the software currently loaded.  There are several ways to do this, but if we issue the dist-upgrade command it will intelligently add software, update packages, and remove unneeded packages.
    • sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade
  • Finally, let's upgrade the Pi Kernel:
    • sudo rpi-update
  • Let's reboot now that the upgrades are complete:
    • sudo reboot


  • OK, good!  Now that everything is updated, let's install GIT functionality.  Use the following commands:
    • sudo apt-get -y install git dialog
      • git  Fast, scalable, distributed revision control system.
      • dialog  Displays user-friendly dialog boxes from shell scripts.

  • Now we'll use git to download the latest version of the RetroPi startup script using the following commands:
    • git clone git://github.com/petrockblog/RetroPie-Setup
  • Run the RetroPi setup script using the below command and follow the presented prompts as noted in the following screens:
    • cd RetroPie-Setup
    • sudo ./retropie_setup.sh













  • Power off the RaspberryPi and pull out the MicroSD card.  Insert it into your computer's card reader and run Win32 Disk Imager.  Create a new image file you name as your backup for the game server image and select the "Read" button.  
  • Congratulations!  Your VPN is now ready to go!  
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