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Getting Started

For Windows users, and some Linux users, getting started with RetroFE is as simple as following these steps:

  1. Download RetroFE from
  2. Edit the global settings.conf file.
  3. Edit the controls.conf file.
  4. Run RetroFE to verify if the front-end loads (and exits) correctly.
  5. Edit/add/delete collections.
  6. Re-run RetroFE

RetroFE Root Directory Structure

File / Folder Description
controls.confController configuration (up, down, select, back, etc)
log.txtLog output
meta.dbGame (information database year, manufacturer, genre, #players, etc)
RetroFE.lnkWindows link to core / retrofe.exe
settings.confGlobal frontend settings (display options, layout to use, base paths, etc)
/collections/Game lists, menus, artwork and ROMs
/core/Windows specific libraries needed for retrofe to run (also includes retrofe.exe)
/launchers/Configuration files for launchers (emulators)
/layouts/Layouts / themes to use or display for the frontend
/meta/Files to import into meta.db (for scraping)

Detailed Setup Guide


(Note for linux users: Since Linux comes in many shapes and sizes, RetroFE users need to compile and install their own RetroFE setup using bitbucket. The instructions for this can be found here.)

After copying the RetroFE system to the directory of your choice, you're set to give your installation a first test by running the retrofe executable in that directory. RetroFE comes with a pre-installed Sega Genesis system with one game so you can check if the installation went according to plan.


The first configuration step is editing the RetroFE system configuration file RetroFE/settings.conf. In here you configure the screen settings, global theme, base paths, etc.

The second configuration step is editing the RetroFE controls file RetroFE/controls.conf. In here you configure the keys used to control the RetroFE front-end. Note that the default select key is space, and not enter as some people expected.

Adding Collections

RetroFE starts with two (almost empty) collections, but more can be added easily. As an example, let's set up the Nintendo Entertainment System collection. First, enter the RetroFE/collections directory, and create an empty collection using the following command: ../retrofe -createcollection “Nintendo Entertainment System”

Next we add the roms and artwork:

Download a NES romset from your favourite source, and place the roms in the RetroFE/collections/Nintendo Entertainment System/roms directory. Download a device image, logo, and video for the system, and place the device.png, logo.png, and video.mp4 files in the RetroFE/collections/Nintendo Entertainment System/system_artwork directory. Download games artwork (artwork_front, logo's, screenshots, titleshots, videos, etc.) from your favourite art source, and place them in the RetroFE/collections/Nintendo Entertainment System/medium_artwork directory.

Now we configure the new system by editing RetroFE/collections/Nintendo Entertainment System/settings.conf. If you stick to the default directory structure, this file can be extremely simple:

list.extensions = nes
launcher = NES

The first line defines the ROM file extention as .nes; this should match the file extentions in your RetroFE/collections/Nintendo Entertainment System/roms directory. The second line defines the name of the launcher used for this collection. Before the collection can be used, this launcher needs to be configured:

Edit the RetroFE/launchers/NES.conf (matching the launcher name defined in the settings.conf) file. I'm currently using MAME 0.162 for this purpose, so the launcher can be simple:

executable = mame
arguments = nes -cart "%ITEM_FILEPATH%"

As an example: if RetroFE starts the game Willow (USA).nes, this launcher will execute the command:

mame nes -cart "collections/Nintendo Entertainment System/roms/Willow (USA).nes".

The last step is to add the newly created collection to the main menu by editing RetroFE/collections/Main/menu.txt, and add the following line:

Nintendo Entertainment System

When this is done, your newly added collection is ready for testing by running the retrofe executable RetroFE/retrofe.

getting_started.txt · Last modified: 2017/05/25 02:04 by phulshof