How To Emulate Rare and Retro Platforms on the Raspberry Pi

It’s quite likely that most Raspberry Pis in the wild are running Raspbian, the stock operating system that’s based on the Debian distribution of Linux. And if you’ve gone through the Raspberry Pi NOOBs installation process, you’ll know that there are a few other choices for operating systems such as Arch, Pidora, and RISC OS. But your options for operating systems and emulators don’t end there. As a matter of fact, Raspberry Pi has become a popular hardware platform for running vintage or specialty platforms. Below you’ll find Make:‘s roundup of some of the unique systems that you can run on the Pi.

Classic Macintosh with Mini vMac

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We first spotted John Badger from RetroMacCast using Mini vMac on Raspberry Pi to emulate Macintosh System 7 for his based 1/3rd scale Classic Mac replica. If you have a Raspberry Pi, Mini vMac and the required ROM Image File (which they can’t legally distribute), you can relive the good ol’ days of Macintosh.

PC XT with 8086tiny


Since the PC XT-compatible emulator 8086tiny is written in C, it can be compiled fairly easily on the Raspberry Pi. The open source distribution includes FreeDOS and the classic game Alley Cat. The emulator is powerful enough to run Windows 3.0 (as pictured above) and even AutoCAD! (Also be sure to check out FastDosBox, which is optimized for DOS gaming on Raspberry Pi.)

Classic Gaming Consoles with PiPlay

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No emulator list would be complete without a mention of MAME, the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. PiPlay (formerly PiMAME), a pre-built Raspberry Pi operating system made for gaming and emulation. It can emulate many retro consoles including Playstation, Genesis SNES, NES, Gameboy, Atari 2600. PiPlay has a built in FTP server and web-based uploader utility that makes adding game ROMs easy.

Commodore 64 with Commodore Pi

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Although the last update to the project was about 10 months ago, Commodore Pi is a native Commodore 64 emulator for Raspberry Pi. It boots nearly instantly, can access the full RAM of the Pi and takes advantage of the GPIO, Ethernet, and USB ports. Scott Hutter, the project’s creator, is looking for help with the project if you’d like to see it move forward. Otherwise, you can take it for a test spin with a downloadable SD card image.

0 thoughts on “How To Emulate Rare and Retro Platforms on the Raspberry Pi

  1. WasabiSauce says:

    I find right now that RetroPie works so much better than PiPlay for retro game emulation. Find it here:

    It’s well enough documented and the forums are active. Joystick support seems better. Easy to reconfigure or change emulators. Way better interface that requires no keyboard. Also has a guest samba share setup so you can just navigate right to it and drop your own roms on there without ssh or ftp access, though it sports that too.

  2. Russell Davis says:

    A slighty overclocked raspberry pi can be used with many many emulators at near real speed and often well above it. My favourites that I still use on occasion for “real” work are VirtualT, TRS-80 model 10X emulator, CP/M using yaze, z80pack, Amstrad PCWs using Joyce & Anne and 128k Camputer Lynx using PALE

  3. Isaac Díaz Fernández says:

    Many thx, this help me in the near future. :D

  4. Guest says:

    Siteniz güzel olmuş.Başarılarınızın devamını dilerim.

    Muhasebe Programı

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Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

View more articles by Matt Richardson


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