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How to Play PS2 Games on Ubuntu Using PCSX2

Run your favorite PS2 game titles on a Ubuntu machine!

Even though it is a 20-year-old console, the Sony PlayStation 2 remains the best-selling video game console of all time. Although its successor, the PlayStation 3 was released in 2006, production of PlayStation 2 continued till 2013; a whopping 13 years. With a state of the art audio and video support, a large number of game titles being developed for the console, memory card support, availability of a number of accessories, the console remains rightfully popular to this day.

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This wide popularity of PS2 led to many developers around the world to create emulators to run PS2 games on Windows, Linux or Mac OS computers. One such popular emulator is PCSX2. PCSX2 supports a large number of PS2 games and is available for all three aforementioned platforms. It is not only able to bring the PS2 experience on the computer, but it also improves the gameplay with options such as custom screen resolution and anti-aliasing. PCSX2 is extensible, i.e., developers can develop plugins for different hardware, for example, sound cards, gamepads, graphic cards, etc., although standard plugins are built-in with the emulator.

In this article, we will see how to get a PS2 game running on a Ubuntu machine using PCSX2.

Installing PCSX2

First of all, PCSX2 only support machines with 32-bit architecture. For Ubuntu version >= 12.04, there is a way to install such packages on a 64-bit machine. But for Ubuntu < 12.04, there is no way to run PCSX2 on a 64-bit machine.

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To enable x86 (32 bit) support on your Ubuntu (>=12.04) package manager, run:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386

For Ubuntu versions grater than 16.04, we need to add the PCSX2 custom repository (PPA) in order to install it using apt package manager. To add it, run:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gregory-hainaut/pcsx2.official.ppa sudo apt update

Once repositories are updated, you can run the following command to install it. For Ubuntu versions greater than or equal to 16.04, PCSX2 is already available in the official Ubuntu repository.

sudo apt install pcsx2

Note: If you are using Ubuntu version greater than 14.04, use apt-get instead of apt.

Get PS2 BIOS

A BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is a firmware used for various tasks during the booting process of a system, for example, hardware initialization. The PS2 BIOS is required by PCSX2 for emulation.

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One way to obtain the BIOS is from over the Internet. However, this way is illegal, and hence it is strongly recommended to not download PS2 BIOS from over the Internet.

The other way and the correct way to obtain the BIOS is to use a PS2 BIOS dumper. You need to run the BIOS dumper program on your PS2 console which extracts the BIOS files directly from the source. You can then get these files in a USB drive and copy them onto your Ubuntu machine. For downloading the BIOS dumper and instructions on how to use it on your PS2 console, check this link.

Get PS2 Game ISO

PCSX2 works primarily with ISO files. We need to generate an ISO file from your PS2 game disk.

Insert your PS2 disk in your Ubuntu machine’s CD/DVD drive.

We need a disc burning program to create an ISO out of the disc. One such popular program in Ubuntu is Brasero. To install Brasero, run:

sudo apt install brasero
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Note: If you are using Ubuntu version < 14.04, use apt-get instead of apt.

Run command brasero to open it from the command line.

Select the option Disc copy. Select your entered PS2 disc, and choose a file name for the ISO file to write to by clicking on Properties.

Next, press Create Image. This will now write the PS2 disc to an ISO file at the location specified in Properties.

Loading the BIOS and the Game

Start PCSX2 from the terminal by running the command PCSX2 (Note that the command is in all caps).

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Else, you can go to the Dash or Activities on the top left corner and search for PCSX2.

When starting for the first time, it asks to enter the First Time Configuration. Choose the language and press Next.

On the next screen, it asks you to verify the default plugins and drivers. You can let the default ones be right now and can change them later if required.

Next, we need to load the BIOS we dumped from our PS2 console. Uncheck Use default setting and choose the location where we saved our BIOS dump. The list of BIOS ROMs will now appear. Choose any ROM from the list and click Finish.

After this, it saves the configuration we entered and loads the emulator. The configuration can be changed at any time in the Config menu.

Controls

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If you want to see the controls mapped on keyboard keys, or if you want to change them, go to Config -> Controllers -> Plugin Settings.

Here you can configure which keyboard key corresponds to a particular Gamepad key.

Loading the Game

We created an ISO file from the PS2 game disk in a previous step. Go to System -> Boot ISO (full) and choose our ISO file to load the game.

It will emulate the console in a new window now.

It will ask for some configuration again, like default language, and time zone. After that, it asks from where to load the game; memory cards or disc. The emulator creates virtual memory cards corresponding to the PS2 memory cards. The disc is nothing but the emulated ISO file which we chose. Hence, choose Disc and continue to start the game.

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If loading using this approach gives an error to you, run System -> Boot ISO (fast) and choose the ISO file.

That’s it! The PS2 game is successfully loaded and running on your Ubuntu machine. PCSX2 supports over 2500 PS2 games currently. Check the full list of supported games to know your options.