"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Installing RetroPie (on the Raspberry Pi B+)

Just after I installed the Raspberry Pi 3 as home server I promised myself I would have destined the old board to more “experimental” experiences. As soon as I got some fee time I so decided to explore Raspberry gaming capabilities. I'm far from being a gamer today but I spent some time playing computer games when I was younger, during the “Commodore Amiga age”.


RetroPie is a Raspberry Pi distribution, based on Raspbian, specialised on making the Raspberry a full featured gaming machine. RetroPie image is provided with a great variety of emulation software, a graphics user interface, gaming control support and a configuration program to setup most of its options without the need of keyboard and mouse. Among its features RetroPie allows to download and install optional modules supporting things like media server software and open source games.

Parts list

Before starting to install I collected the required hardware: The Raspberry Pi, of course, a 8GB USB disk I had available, a wireless USB adapter I already used with the Raspberry and a cheap wireless keyboard I bought during a surplus fair. Last but not least by bedroom TV was going to be used as monitor. The wireless keyboard has been the only thing I bought with this project in mind.

Installing RetroPie

Installing RetroPie is not different from installing Raspbian, I downloaded the disk image from RetroPie download page, then I copied the disk image on Raspberry micro-SD disk using “dd” command
sudo dd bs=4M if=retropie-4.2-rpi1_zero.img of=/dev/sdd

Then I mounted the newly created disk and added an empty “ssh” file in order to enable SSH server.
touch /media/maxx/boot/ssh

Eventually I inserted the micro-SD card in the Raspberry plugged it to the network and powered it. After a quick network scan I’ve Ben able to connect to the newly installed RetroPie machine.

RetroPie configuration

The first step in configuring RetroPie Has been, of course, configuring Raspbian. I started the configuration program
sudo raspi-config

And, as I already did before, I expanded the memory card file system and changed “pi” user default password.
Then I started the RetroPie configuration script
sudo RetroPie-Setup/retropie_setup.sh

From here I’ve been able to configure wireless network connection

And to enable the USB ROM Transfer Service.

At last I connected the 8GB USB disk, formatted with a FAT file-system, where I had previously created a “retropie-mount” folder.
mkdir /media/usb0/retropie-mount

RetroPie automatically recognized the USB disk as the one where ROM files must be stored and provided to create the required directory structure inside of “retropie-mount” folder.

First run

I connected the Raspberry to my TV HDMI port and powered all on, the wireless keyboard has been recognised at once without the need of any configuration. I only had to map keys to my preferences. I’ve been positively impressed from Raspberry’s graphics capabilities, I own it since some years but I always used it in headless mode. Of course the Raspberry Pi 3 would behave much batter as game machine but I prefer keep it on it's sever work. In the near future I’m planning to explore the available optional modules, called “ports”, especially the Kodi media server one.

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