Steam Deck Playstation

Linux has sort of scared me. Sure, I come from a pre-desktop generation, typing things like C:\>D\lester\games\nevadasmith.exe on a black screen to launch a program. But Apple and Windows soon spoiled me with desktops and mice, with clickable icons and framed program screens with mouseover menus. I didn’t want to return to command line boxes if I could at all avoid it, and for Linux I feared it inevitable.

Then my Barcelonan buddy Abe bought a Steam Deck and brought it to Gary Con as his “laptop.” Packed it with a slim Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Airport Security rules didn’t even make him turn on a handheld gaming device.

As a bonus, SteamOS runs atop a Debian-based Linux desktop. A less-than-scary desktop to get my feet wet. Now toss in a couple of out-of-date Chromebooks that I can afford to experiment on, and after some research, installs, and uninstalls, I settled on the super lightweight Bodhi Linux for the older one, and eventually on OpenSUSE for the newer one. Mainly both were choices for space, but user-friendly installation played a big part. (Arch was daunting to this relative newbie.)

Chromebooks aren’t actually designed for anything but ChromeOS, so there’s a little bit of under-the-hood work to replace their BIOS with something new. It’s not uncommon to have to troubleshoot audio; and some of the upper row of Chromebook keys (volume, brightness, refresh, etc.) don’t generally work immediately post-install. But there are so many friendly YouTube videos and message boards to walk you through, and communities devoted to different Linux devs and forks. It didn’t take much searching to find a script to remap the keyboard, nor to fix the sound on the newer machine (the old one had no sound problem at all).

That’s what I love most about open-source and community built stuff. And it’s what brings me to this particular post.

You already know that, using community info, I installed Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines with the incredible, fan-made, Wargames app on my Steam Deck. Supposedly couldn’t be done; I’m here to say it plays wonderfully.

And then I came across EmuDeck, a program for running PS2 games and a couple-three dozen other systems on a variety of desktop OSs (even Windows, if you must). But EmuDeck has an especially super strong Steam Deck community!

The video in this post is my Steam Deck running PS2 Primal, one of my favorite games of all time.

Setup is pretty easy. But prepping a game’s ROM is time-consuming—like, hours per game to create an ISO from the game disk, and then compress it to something smaller, like CHD format. Then comes the painfully slow transfer of files that size from the PC where you prepped them to the Steam Deck itself. But while they’re building, play Primal or some other favored PS2 game. And while they’re transferring, get some sleep.

All of the above gives me the added pleasure of moving steadily farther from the Windows and Apple corrals, where office suites and graphic programs grow increasingly intrusive and require upgrading hardware, dumping perfectly good old machines.

Now it’s time to learn the process for porting PS3 games to Steam Deck. That’s another example of the couple-three dozen EmuDeck can handle.

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