Linux has no games. That’s an Internet adage that you’ve heard more times than you care to think about, especially as a Linux user. Thankfully, it’s wrong, really wrong. There are plenty of great games for Linux and loads more if you count the ones emulators make available. The open source Dolphin emulator brings a huge chunk of the Wii ecosystem to Linux, and that includes plenty of Gamecube titles, too.
Dolphin isn’t some shady freeware piece of junk that’s going to run like garbage and mess up your computer to boot. It’s a proven open-source project that’s been in active development since 2003. The Dolphin developers take their project seriously and are constantly making technical improvements to expand its library and improve performance.
Add the Repository and Install
Dolphin is available for a wide range of platforms. On Ubuntu, it’s packaged and ready to install from a PPA repository maintained by the Dolphin development team.
Open up a terminal and add the PPA to your Ubuntu install and update your package lists.
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:dolphin-emu/ppa sudo apt update
After the update finishes, you’re ready to install Dolphin. Again, you can use
Apt to install your new Wii emulator like any other Ubuntu package.
sudo apt install dolphin-emu
After the install, Dolphin will be available from Unity’s search feature. Type in “dolphin,” and you’ll see the emulator’s icon.
Click to open the Dolphin Emulator. The screen that greets you is very plain. When you get some games added to your library and your controllers and settings are configured, it will be much more active.
Connect a Wiimote
Dolphin doesn’t require a Wiimote or any other gaming controller. There is a virtual controller that comes with the emulator. However, you can choose to connect one or more Wiimotes to your Ubuntu PC.
The Wii remotes rely on Bluetooth, so before you can use them you need to have a Bluetooth receiver configured on your computer.
Install the packages that you need for the remote to work well with Linux from Ubuntu’s repositories. Yes, they are actually in the default ones.
sudo apt install libcwiid1 lswm wmgui wminput
There is also a Linux kernel module that you need to get the most out of your remote. Add
uinput to “/etc/modules.” This will tell Ubuntu to load the module each time it boots up.
sudo echo "uinput" >> /etc/modules
You can either restart your computer or run
sudo modprobe uinput to load that module that you need.
The program that you will be using to connect your Wii remotes is wmgui. It provides a basic graphical interface for managing remotes as well as the Wii nunchuck and classic controllers.
Press “Connect” in the top menu of wmgui. It will then prompt you to hold the 1 and 2 buttons on the remote itself. The process is similar to pairing it with a Wii.
Dolphin has a number of different options for configuring your ideal emulation setup. There are options beyond what you’d traditionally find on the console, including graphical enhancements to take advantage of the additional power available to PC owners.
The graphics menu features tweaks and improvements to adapt Dolphin to your machine’s graphics capabilities. It allows you to switch graphics APIs, increase resolution, tweak rendering features like anti-aliasing, and a lot more.
Dolphin allows you to manage multiple Wiimotes and Gamecube controllers. It even has an option for adding a Wii balance board. Using Dolphin’s built-in controls, you can configure each individual controller to your preferences.
A Note On Games
You can get games a couple of different ways. Some of them are legally gray, and others are downright illegal. The best way to get your games is to create backups of the games that you already own.
Traditional ripping software isn’t going to work for Wii games. The simplest way to handle creating backups is to install
homebrew on a Wii console and use the software available through that to create your backups. Then you can transfer them to your Ubuntu PC and run them with your newly-configured Dolphin emulator.