How to Get More Out of Your Xbox 360 Controller on Ubuntu

How to Get More Out of Your Xbox 360 Controller on Ubuntu

When you buy a game on Steam for Linux, chances are your Xbox 360 controller will work with it out of the box. This is possible thanks to the hard work from people who submit drivers to the Linux kernel. Everything is right there and ready to go.

The fact that controllers “just work” is pretty great. In fact, 9 times out of 10, you’ll never have to fiddle with your Xbox 360 gamepad on your Ubuntu Linux box. There are outliers though. Not every game you’ll play will support the controller.

Installing AntiMicro

Some game developers don’t want to spend time making controllers work with their games. Maybe it’s because you’re playing the Linux version, or maybe they just don’t have the resources or the time. This is where the program AntiMicro comes in.

It allows you to assign buttons (and mouse actions) to a gaming device. This can be handy if you love to play video games on Linux but aren’t a huge fan of the keyboard and mouse way of doing things.

You can install it by entering the commands below:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ryochan7/antimicro
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install antimicro


Once you’ve installed it, open it up. You’ll be brought through a startup wizard. Just click through and follow the instructions and soon you’ll be able to use it.

Configuring Antimicro


When the program opens, it’ll automatically assign a layout to your Xbox 360 gamepad. This is because of the xpad driver that lives with the Linux kernel. To bind specific buttons, just go through the menu, and click on what you want to assign to where.


For example: you can assign the vertical mouse function to the left joystick by clicking on the Axis 1 button, then assigning Mouse (vertical) to it. You can go through this entire list and apply a specific keyboard or mouse function to each individual button on your controller.

Recalibrate Xbox 360’s joysticks

Assigning buttons is a cool thing, but have you ever wanted to re-calibrate your Xbox 360’s joysticks? Maybe they feel off and you want to figure out what’s happening. The program Jstest allows you to do this.


Before your 360 controller can be messed with,¬†you’ll need to install it to your system. This can be done by simply entering a command into a terminal window:

sudo apt-get install jstest-gtk


Calibrate your controller with Jstest


To calibrate your controller, just click on the Calibration button inside Jstest. This will bring up a window with a whole lot of numbers. Don’t worry about the numbers. You won’t be entering anything; it’s just a readout.


Click the Start Calibration button. When you do this, Jstest will run you through a wizard that helps calibrate your controller. When Jstest stops asking questions, your controller will be fully calibrated and ready to go!


Linux has come a long way when it comes to video games. For the longest time nobody was able to play any sort of game of any kind, and now it’s incredibly easy and anyone can get going with their favorite title.

Video game peripherals follow a similar path. It used to be that you had to go through many, many different tricks to get an Xbox 360 controller to even be recognized on your Ubuntu install, let alone usable in games. Now it has a driver and a myriad of configuration tools and is used by many people every single day. It’s awesome.

Do you use an Xbox 360 controller when you play games on Linux? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section below!

Derrik Diener
Derrik Diener

Derrik Diener is a freelance technology blogger.

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