- By Jeff Field -
Many of the Linux users I know, myself included, are fans of classic gaming such as Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and classic arcade games. For the console fans among us, there are a
plethora of emulators out there, for every system imaginable, including Snes9x and RockNES. The chief complaint seems to be
that, even though the games themselves may function perfectly, it just doesn't feel right to use a keyboard, or even a
gamepad designed for a PC. Now, there appears to be a solution to this input problem, and it even works on Linux!
Console input devices have followed a steady evolution, with the most popular systems playing off a similar theme. The SNES controller was an NES controller with four additional buttons. The original
Playstation controller was just an SNES controller with grips and a better feel about it, and the newest PlayStation 2
controller is the same thing with a small joystick (or "analog stick"). The PlayStation
controller has everything you need -- enough buttons, a comfortable size, a familiar design, and ready availability (and cheaply, if
you find a used one somewhere, such as a local Funcoland). The only
problem is, how to hook it up to a PC?
Confronted with this problem, I went on a search. I knew someone must be marketing the converter necessary to
use the PlayStation controller on a PC. I found just such aPSX->USB converter at
Easybuy2000.com, a vendor I had not heard of. But for $12.50, I figured I'd take a chance, and see what
A few days later, the unit arrived, with a plain
(unlabeled) floppy disk loaded with Windows drivers. The unit itself is simply a tiny box
with circuitry to talk to USB, a PlayStation connector on one end, and a USB connector on the
other. Physical installation is as simple as plugging the device in, and plugging the controller into it. It accepts all
PlayStation-compatible controllers from the original gamepad to the latest PlayStation 2 Dual Analog Shock 2
Once I had it installed, it was a matter of getting the proper drivers -- in this case, I had to get joystick/USB input
installed and working. I compiled the input and joydev modules under input core support, and made sure USB human interface devices were supported. I compiled the modules (make modules; make modules_install) and then loaded them with insmod.
Once you do this, your joysticks are assigned names like /dev/input/js0 through js31. The easiest way to tell if everything
is working at this point is to type cat /dev/input/js0, then press buttons on the controller. This should cause all
sorts of text to scroll down the screen. If you get results from this, the converter is set up, and you need only set up whatever game
you want to use with the device to see it at /dev/input/js0.
I have never been satisfied with the design of gaming controllers for the PC -- they never seemed to fit quite right,
and their directional pads never worked right. The Legend of Zelda is tough to play when Link wants to go up and to the
left instead of just up.
The PlayStation controller is the best controller you can get -- Sony has put a lot of time into
making them, as did Nintendo in the designs that inspired Sony. With the analog controls for things like flight
simulators or other flying games, and a D-pad for those old, but great, NES and SNES games, this is the ideal choice for gamers
today. At only $12.50, it is a steal, especially when you can get a used PlayStation controller for as low as $5. I recommend getting the newer analog models, which are still cheaper than some higher-end PC controllers that might not function as well. If you are in the market for a controller to use with emulators, or
any game for that matter, check out the PSX adapter, available at EasyBuy2000.com.