Emulation refers to the duplication of functions of one system using a different system. Specifically, an emulator is software specifically written to emulate aspects of the original console or computer, primarily the CPU, I/O and memory system.
This article focuses on software which emulates home computers, a class of personal computer which reached the market in the late 1970s, and became immensely popular in the following decade, selling many millions of units. Leading home computer companies included Commodore, Sinclair, Atari, Apple, Acorn, Tandy Radio Shack, and Amstrad.
Many of the earlier machines (in particular the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64) often ended up being very game oriented. However, the later home computers had more sophisticated hardware which widened their use in other areas. For example, the Atari ST was used professionally in music studios, in desktop publishing, and had a wide selection of office software available. However to many users it was still regarded as a games machine.
To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 21 high quality Linux home computer emulators. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to have some fun and reminisce about their misspent youth.
Here’s our rating for each of the emulators.
Now, let’s explore the 21 emulators at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, providing a screenshot of the software in action, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.
|Home Computer Emulators|
|FS-UAE||Emulates Amiga A500, A500+, A600, A1200, A1000, A3000 and A4000|
|ZEsarUX||ZX machines including all the Sinclair computers, and more|
|Hatari||Atari ST and STE emulator|
|Clock Signal||Emulates a good range of home computers|
|VICE||Emulates the Commodore 64, C128, VIC-20, Plus/4, and all the PET models|
|Fuse||Free Unix Spectrum Emulator: Accurate 16K, 48K, 128K, +2, +2A and +3|
|openMSX||MSX home computer system|
|MAME||Besides video arcade game systems, there's emulation for home computers|
|Caprice32||Emulates the Amstrad CPC 8 bit home computer range|
|Z64K||Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Commodore 128, and VIC 20 emulator|
|Atari800||Atari 800, 800XL, 130XE and 5200 emulator with extensions|
|B-em||Emulator for various models of BBC Microcomputer|
|XRoar||Dragon 32, Dragon 64, Tano Dragon, Tandy CoCo 1/2|
|Atari++Emulator||Atari 400, 800, 400XL, 800XL and 130XE, and Atari 5200 console|
|ARAnyM||Atari Running on Any Machine|
|BeebEm||Acorn BBC Micro and Master 128 emulator|
|xapple2||Fully-functional 100% Apple ][ emulator for X|
|plus4emu||Commodore 264 family of computers (C16, C116, and Plus/4)|
|ArcEm||Acorn A400 hardware emulator|
|FBZX||ZX Spectrum emulator, using the FrameBuffer|
|SimCoupe||Emulates the SAM Coupé|
All of the software has source code available and are open source with the exception of Z64K. BeebEm has a restrictive license.
Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk. There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.