Raspberry Pi 4: Chronicling the Desktop Experience – Emulate Home Computers – Week 15


ZEsarUX is an emulator for various Sinclair home computers that were extremely popular in the 1980s. The emulator also supports other home computers including the Amstrad CPC 464, CPC 4128, and really quirky machines like the Jupiter Ace.

According to the developer, a Raspberry Pi 2 is recommended as a minimum. Given that the RPI4 has far more grunt than the Pi 2, everything should be plain sailing.


The first hurdle to cross is that ZEsarUX is not present in the Raspbian repositories. Fortunately, the developer of ZEsarUX provides a RPI4 binary for version 8.0 but not his later two beta releases. As I want to test the latest version, I compiled the source code for myself. It’s really easy. Here’s the steps I took. I already had SDL installed. If it’s not present on your system, install it with the command

sudo apt-get install libsdl1.2-dev
$ git clone
$ cd zesarux/src
$ export CFLAGS=-O2
$ export LDFLAGS=-O2
$ ./configure –enable-raspberry
$ make clean
$ make -j4

You might be curious about compiling software on the RPI4. I’ve therefore produced a short screencast showing the steps above.

The first line clones the project’s software repository. Change into the source code directory, issue three configuration commands, and then compile the software with the make command. You’ll notice the make command is appended with the -j4 flag. That tells the compiler to use RPI4’s multiple cores. If you compile the source code without the flag, the compile time takes 149 seconds. This reduces to 59 seconds with the -j4 flag.

[The make clean command isn’t necessary if you’ve not compiled the program previously.]

The software can be started with the command:

$ ./zesarux

I had problems running the emulator with ALSA, with strange audio pops when running the software. Problems disappeared after installing PulseAudio, but that’s not a great solution as PulseAudio doesn’t run very well on the RPI4. I’ll investigate the ALSA issues further, but if you’re had the same issues and solved them, do drop a comment below.

Here’s the emulator running the popular Fairlight game.

RPI4 - ZEsaurUX - Fairlight

The ZX Spectrum had very modest hardware specification compared to many other home computers. It’s therefore not surprising that the RPI4 has no issues with emulating the ZX Spectrum’s collection of software.

There’s tons of games and other software that’s available in the public domain. World of Spectrum offers a huge archive of ZX Spectrum games, educational software, utilities, and demos. There’s a wealth of classic games to play. Relive your misspent youth, or revel in the nostalgia that made home computers great.

Next page: Page 4 – Hatari

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction
Page 2 – FS-UAE
Page 3 – ZEsarUX
Page 4 – Hatari
Page 5 – Survey of Home Emulators on the RPI4

Read all my blog posts about the RPI4.

Raspberry Pi 4 Blog
Week 36Manage your personal collections on the RPI4
Week 35Survey of terminal emulators
Week 34Search the desktop with the latest version of Recoll
Week 33Personal Information Managers on the RPI4
Week 32Keep a diary with the RPI4
Week 31Process complex mathematical functions, plot 2D and 3D graphs with calculators
Week 30Internet radio on this tiny computer. A detailed survey of open source software
Week 29Professionally manage your photo collection with digiKam
Week 28Typeset beautifully with LyX
Week 27Software that teaches young people how to learn basic computing skills and beyond
Week 26Firefox revisited - Raspbian now offers a real alternative to Chromium
Week 25Turn the Raspberry Pi 4 into a low power writing machine
Week 24Keep the kids learning and having fun
Week 23Lots of choices to view images
Week 22Listening to podcasts on the RPI4
Week 21File management on the RPI4
Week 20Open Broadcaster Software (OBS Studio) on the RPI4
Week 19Keep up-to-date with these news aggregators
Week 18Web Browsers Again: Firefox
Week 17Retro gaming on the RPI4
Week 16Screen capturing with the RPI4
Week 15Emulate the Amiga, ZX Spectrum, and the Atari ST on the RPI4
Week 14Choose the right model of the RPI4 for your desktop needs
Week 13Using the RPI4 as a screencaster
Week 12Have fun reading comics on the RPI4 with YACReader, MComix, and more
Week 11Turn the RPI4 into a complete home theater
Week 10Watching locally stored video with VLC, OMXPlayer, and others
Week 9PDF viewing on the RPI4
Week 8Access the RPI4 remotely running GUI apps
Week 7e-book tools are put under the microscope
Week 6The office suite is the archetypal business software. LibreOffice is tested
Week 5Managing your email box with the RPI4
Week 4Web surfing on the RPI4 looking at Chromium, Vivaldi, Firefox, and Midori
Week 3Video streaming with Chromium & omxplayerGUI as well as streamlink
Week 2A survey of open source music players on the RPI4 including Tauon Music Box
Week 1An introduction to the world of the RPI4 looking at musikcube and PiPackages

This blog is written on the RPI4.

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  1. Thank you for a great series of posts and a good trinity of emulators! I own a RPi 3 but it’s not beefy enough for FS-UAE. This sounds interesting because it’s my Amiga emulator of choice when WinUAE is not an option, simply due to how mature it is and how well it emulates.

    1. I’m really glad you’re enjoying my weekly series about the RPI4. I can only hope people find it as useful as I love writing the blog.

      I’m currently up to Week 31, and there’s still tons of programs I want to try on the tiny machine.

  2. Not a single mention of Retroarch? I know that RetroPie is massive, but not everyone wants multiple distros. I run RetroArch (installed similarly to Kodi infact) and on top emulation station, which performs admirably. FS-UAE runs nicely to.

    1. The series is my personal blog chronicling *my* experiences of using the RPI4 as a desktop machine. I write one article a week for free. The series is not designed to be comprehensive in any sense.

      If you want to write an article about application X or Y on the Raspberry Pi4, send it to LinuxLinks.

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