Lakka is quite simply an Arcade Operating System (unix based) you dont need to be a full-on ‘nix-nerd’ to get this working, all you need is a bit of patience to achieve what can only be described as one of the best uses for your old PC.
Lakka is a lightweight Linux-based operating system derived from OpenELEC(a version of the Kodi home theater software) that combines the best retro game emulators out there into one, ready-to-install system. Once you’ve got it all set up, you’ll have an all-in-one game console for emulating everything from Atari games to Playstation games.
In the above video, YouTuber, Danny C shows us an old Dell Dimension 4600C Pentium 4 x86 PC running the operating system, quite well in all fairness!
If you’re looking for a fun way to use an old PC, Lakka can turn it into an amazing retro gaming machine, its worth noting that Lakka is also developed for:-
- A PC (remember, it’s its own operating system, so you can’t run Windows at the same time)
- A Raspberry Pi A+ / B+ (B+ preferred)
- Banana Pi
- Cubieboard 2
But in this article we will be looking at PC Only installation, so drag out that old box and lets get cracking!
When it comes to system settings, Lakka makes it a little easier to adjust things on the fly. You have a settings menu on the far left filled with options that all can be easily accessed without a keyboard. You can plug in a controller with a home button—PS3/PS4 or Xbox 360/Xbox One—and the controller will be recognised and ready to be used instantly. Then, you can start playing a game, go back to the system’s main menu via the home button (your game state is frozen), change some settings with just your controller, and then hop back into your frozen game state like it never happened.
What You Need
To install Lakka on a PC, you’ll need a few things:
- An old PC (or other device listed above) that you don’t mind dedicating as your Lakka console. Installing Lakka means installing it as the OS for the system. Do not install it on a machine you need for other things
- An empty flash drive at least 512MB in size (at least 2 GB is probably best). You will not be able to use this thumb drive for anything else during this process, so back up everything you have on it before you wipe it.
- A USB keyboard for setup and some advanced options and settings on your Lakka console.
- A router (to transfer your ROMs via your home network).
- At least one ethernet cable OR Wi-fi (cable preferred)
- A monitor or TV (if you’re not installing Lakka on a laptop).
- A copy of the free 7-Zip software (if you’re a Windows user without an alternative for unzipping files).
- A copy of the free software Win32DiskImager (if you’re a Windows user).
- A PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, or other controller that can connect via USB.
1.1: Prepare Your Dedicated Lakka Machine
It’s worth repeating that installing Lakka on a PC means wiping whatever is currently on the hard drive. Be sure to back up any data you need before you dive in. If you’re going to throw in a different hard drive for this setup, though, you’re all set.
- Windows XP / 7 / Vista / 8: Open the Start Menu > right-click computer > select Properties. You should see 32-bit or 64-bit next to System Type.
With these two things taken care of, you’re ready to get Lakka installed.
2.1: Download and “Burn” Lakka to a USB Drive
Hop on your normal computer (the one you aren’t installing Lakka on). Downloading and installing Lakka is pretty simple:
- Download either the 32-bit Lakka package or the 64-bit Lakka package from the Lakka web site.
- Unzip the package to get the Lakka image. On Windows, you can use a program like 7-Zip.
- If you’re on Windows, insert your flash drive, open Win32DiskImager, and set the Lakka .img as your Image File. Then select your flash drive as the Device and select Write.
- Eject and remove the flash drive.
Now the Lakka installer is ready.
3.1: Boot from Your USB Drive and Run the Installer
When you’re ready, go ahead and plug the USB drive, a keyboard, and a monitor into the PC you want to use for Lakka. Then, get ready to boot your Lakka PC to from your USB drive in the system’s BIOS:
- A menu should then appear with a list of things you can boot from. Highlight your USB drive and press Enter.
- If you don’t see your USB drive as an option, select the option for “BIOS Settings” or “BIOS Setup” (you may need to restart and hit a different key at boot to find this menu). Go to “Boot Devices,” or something similar, and make sure booting from USB drives is enabled.
Once you’re able to boot from the USB drive, follow these steps to install Lakka as the PC’s new OS:
- Boot from the USB drive and you should see the Lakka Boot Menu.
- Select Run Installer, select OK, and then select (1) Quick Install OpenELEC.tv (don’t worry about any of the other options).
- Now select the drive to install it on (you probably only have one option) > select OK > you should see Lakka start to install.
When it’s finished, you’ll be asked to reboot. Select reboot and remove the USB drive before it boots up again. It will quickly reboot again on its own, but after that you should see the clean, red screen of the Lakka main menu.
4.1: Add ROMs to Lakka from Your Primary Computer
Assuming you already have some ROMs (or game files) of your own, you’ll need to transfer them from your primary computer to your new Lakka console. To do this, make sure your primary computer is connected to your home network either via Wi-Fi or direct connection to your router and follow these steps:
- Make sure your Lakka machine is powered on and connected to your router via direct ethernet connectionor if you have advanced network skills you can try via wi-fi (difficult)
- Find your ROMs on your primary computer and copy them. More info on ROMs over at the LAKKA WEBSITE ROMS FAQ
- If your primary computer uses Windows, select Start, then Computer, find Network in the list on the left-hand side, and select LAKKA. Then open the ROMs folder and paste your ROMs. Be sure to let the transfer finish. Windows had a hard time finding Lakka over the network a few times for me, but I was able to get around this by typing “//lakka” into Windows Explorer and pressing Enter.
- On your Lakka console, head to the settings menu furthest to the left and scroll all the way down to Quit RetroArch and select it.
Lakka should reboot and when it comes back up, you’ll see all of your ROMs ready to go. Just head to a game you want play, hit B or O (circle) on your gamepad to select it, and hit B or O again to run it.
THATS IT – GAME ON!
Lakka is designed to automatically recognise almost any USB controller you plug in. Any PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, or Xbox One controller is guaranteed to work out of the box, you can also use some wireless controllers – best thing is head over to the dedicated INPUT FAQ for LAKKA
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