As it turned out, install emulators on the newly released portable console Steam Deck from valve easier than ever, even if you don’t know anything about linux.
Holding down the power button on the Steam Deck brings up a small menu with the “Switch to Desktop” option. It leaves behind the interface Steam OS and takes you to a classic desktop running on top of Arch Linux. This desktop comes with an app store pre-installed just like macOS and Windows (except everything is free here). It is called Discover and conveniently pinned to the taskbar.
All emulators are there, they can be installed with one click:
- Dolphin for GameCube/Wii
- DuckStation for PlayStation 1
- PCSX2, for PlayStation 2
- PPSSPP, for PlayStation Portable
- Yuzu for Nintendo Switch
- bsnes for Super Nintendo
Several other emulators are also available on Discover, including mGBA for Game Boy Advance And Citra for 3ds. Best of all, these aren’t just one-time executables you install – when new emulator builds are released, you can also update them with a single click.
Once you’ve installed your chosen emulators, you can launch the Steam desktop version and use the Games > Add non-Steam game to my library menu to add each emulator to Steam to access it from the SteamOS interface.
That’s pretty much all you need to do on your desktop. The last step is to copy all the games, BIOS files, saves on the memory card, etc. that you want to use on the Steam Deck. You can then reboot your system and return to SteamOS.