How To Play Sega Games On Linux Using Gens [Guide]

The Sega Genesis is old, but a beloved console with many great games. Unfortunately, unless you’ve got a nice CRT TV, you probably won’t be able to enjoy the classics anytime soon. Luckily, thanks to emulation technology, it is now easier than ever to play Sega games on normal laptops and desktops.

When it comes to emulating the Sega Genesis, the Gens emulation tool is the best. It supports multiple graphics options, localization settings, and even options that allow the user to improve the graphics of games. Here’s how to install it.

Note: Addictivetips in no way encourages or condones the illegal downloading or distribution of ROM files for Gens. If you want to play Sega Genesis games with Gens, please use your own game ROM files you’ve backed up to your PC, legally.

Gens can play Sega Genesis, Sega CD, and 32X.


The Gens emulator isn’t part of the Ubuntu software repositories, and Canonical doesn’t support it officially. That said, it is still possible to install and use the emulation tool. To get it, first head over to, and grab the latest Deb package. Then, open up a terminal window, and use the CD command to go into ~/Downloads

cd ~/Downloads

Install Gens using the dpkg tool:

sudo dpkg -i gens_*.deb

If the package errors out, or the terminal states that there are some issues installing the software, this is most likely a result of unmet dependencies. This issue can easily be fixed. To do it, simply run apt install -f.

sudo apt install -f


There currently isn’t an officially supported package for the Gens emulator distributed on Debian. With that in mind, Ubuntu and Debian are very similar. Users can try following the instructions for Ubuntu above, to try and install the software. Alternatively, if this method doesn’t work, it may be a good idea to just follow the instructions to build it from source, and etc.

Arch Linux

sudo pacman -S gens


Fedora users can use the Gens emulator, once the RPM Fusion non-free software repository is active and working on their PC. To get it, first install the RPM Fusion package.

sudo dnf install -y

Then, use the DNF package tool to install the Gens emulator to Fedora.

sudo dnf install gens


Grab the Gens Sega Genesis emulator for Open SUSE from the Open SUSE software page. To install, look for your version of SUSE on the page, and click the install button.

Other Linuxes

Gens is one of the only Sega emulators available on the Linux platform. Unfortunately, the software hasn’t been picked up by a lot of major distributions. As a result, it may be necessary to compile and build the tool from source. Grab the latest version of the code from here.

Configuring Gens

Gens is one of the few video game console emulators that do not require a separate BIOS file to run. Instead, all the user needs to do is load up a digital backup of their favorite game to a Linux PC, click the “File” button in the menu, then select the “Open ROM” option. From here, browse for the game in the file browser, and select it. Once selected, the game will load up instantly.

At any time the user can exit the game currently running by using the Ctrl + C button combination.

Configuring Graphics

The default settings for the Gens emulator work for the most part. That said, due to how Linux works, there may be some graphical glitches. To get the best out of the graphics settings in Gens, find “Graphic” in the main menu at the top and select it. Opening this menu allows users to enable things like “Vsync”, “stretch”, the resolution of OpenGL, and even pixel density.

Go to the “Graphic” menu, and customize the settings. Due to the nature of how different each computer (and graphics card) can be, there is no right answer to solve any graphical glitches that may appear. For best results, experiment, and find out what settings work the best for you.

Note: checking the box next to Vsync usually fixes most tearing issues.

Saving And Loading

Saving and loading games via the Gens emulator is very easy and possible without opening any menus. To quickly save a ROM, press Shift + F5 on the keyboard. Want to load a game from a save state? If so, press Shift + F8. Additionally, the Gens emulator can do quick saving and loading. To quick load a save, press F8. Quick saving is accomplished with F5.

Configuring The Controller

To set up a gamepad with Gens, go to the top menu bar, and select “Option”. Under this menu, find “Joypads” and click on it. Plug in the gamepad(s) you’d like to use, and then inside the menu, click on the “Re-define keys” button next to the player you’d like to set up a controller for.

One by one, the emulator will ask that the user press buttons on the controller to define keys. When done, click “OK”.

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