DeSmuME Manual for the Linux GTK+ port

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Quick Getting Started Guide

Due to the numerous different distributions and hardware platforms Linux runs on, desmume for Linux is only offered in source code form. This means you have to rely on packages available from your distribution or build it yourself. If you do not know how to do this, please refer to Installing DeSmuME from source on Linux.

Once you have desmume installed, you will have 3 different Linux ports to choose from: gtk+, glade, and a command line port. This manual is about the GTK+ port. You can start it by typing 'desmume' on the command line.

When you start the emulator for the first time, you probably just want to play a certain game. You can do this by going to 'File' in the menu, and selecting 'Open'. This will open up a file chooser, within which you can browse to the rom (nds file) that you wish to play. Once the game has finished loading (and this should only take a few seconds at most), you need to start the game. You can do so by choosing 'Emulation|Run' from the menu, or by clicking on the 'Run' button.

Command Line Options

This port of desume has several command line options, which will be listed here :


Loads savegame from slot NUM


Enables using OpenGL for screen rendering


Use software colour conversion during OpenGL screen rendering. May produce better or worse frame rates depending on hardware.


Select available 3d emulation: 0 = 3d disabled 1 = internal desmume software rasterizer (default) 2 = osmesa or gtkglext opengl (if available, depending on compilation options, see desmume --help)


Disables the sound emulation


Disables the 60 fps limiter


Enable the ARM9 GDB stub on the given port


Enable the ARM7 GDB stub on the given port


Enable disk image GBAMP compact flash emulation

-h, --help

Show summary of options.

-v, --version

Show version of program.

Menu Layout

The rest of this manual will be spend on explaining all the other options in the menu.

File Menu

File | Open

This option lets you browse to and selct a rom file to open in the emulator.

File | Save state

Imagine you have gotten to a certian point in a game, and you need to do something else. The emulator let's you save the current state of the game, so that you can continue the game later at precisely the same point somewhere in the future.

Please note that the use of SAVESTATES is discouraged, as these are likely to break between emulator versions. Instead use SAVE FILES. These are likely to survive between emulator versions. This means that you will have to use save points within the game. SAVE FILES are stored in .sav files.

File | Load state

Once you have saved a game's position, or 'state', you can load it again with this option.

File | Take a screenshot

This option lets you take a quick screenshot of the current display in the emulator windows. The image is in PNG format and is saved in current directory. Hotkey is Ctrl+S.

File | Quit

Selecting this option terminates the emulator.

Emulation Menu

Emulation | Run

After you have opened a rom file, you need to start (run) it. This menu option does that. Alternatively, you can press the 'Run' button.

Emulation | Pause

Choosing this option causes the emulation to 'freeze', or pause.

Emulation | Reset

Selecting this option resets the rom file you opened, and makes it start at the very beginning just as if you just opened and ran the rom.

Emulation | Enable Audio

This option lets you choose, by placing a checkmark, if you want to hear audio or not.

Emulation | Frameskip

This option lets you select how many frames should not be displayed, in order to gain speed improvements. If you have speed problems, you could decide to skip (not display) one or more frames in order to improve the speed.

Emulation | Layers

This option lets you view the Layers one by one.

Config Menu

Config | Saves

This option lets you specify the save type of a particular game. The default is 'autodetect'. However, this is not fail-safe in all cases, so you might need to manually select one of the other savetypes.

Config | Edit Controls

This option lets you configure keyboard keys.

Here are the default key mappings (they may be subject to change):

 Up arrow             - Up
 Left arrow           - Left
 Down arrow           - Down
 Right arrow          - Right
 x                    - A button
 z                    - B button
 s                    - X button
 a                    - Y button
 q                    - Left Trigger
 w                    - Right Trigger
 Enter                - Start button
 Right Shift          - Select button
 Backspace            - Lid fold/unfold
 n                    - Frame advance
 Space                - Pause/Unpause 
 p                    - Load current state
 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0  - Select current state
 F1-F10               - Load relevant state
 Shift+F1-F10         - Save relevant state

Tools Menu

Tools | IO Regs view

This option lets you view some of the the ARM7 and ARM9 I/O registers.

Help Menu

Help | About

This option displays the version you are using.

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