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In order to run MAME on Linux (or any other Unix) you need to install and configure a graphics driver. If you're reading this website from a linuxbox, then one's already installed, most likely X11R6, as most major distros install it by default along with a desktop environment, like GNOME or KDE. Because X11 is usually installed already, X based setups are typically very easy. An X setup, however, does come at a cost, including a very small performance penalty. SVGAlib and Linux's framebuffer driver are alternatives to X, and allow you to do pretty much anything you want.

Kernel framebuffer drivers are relatively new and are under current development. Support right now varies wildly from video card to video card and from kernel release to kernel release. The easiest way to see if your card is supported is to download AdvancedCD and test it. If it works, you're golden. If not, you may want to give SVGAlib a try. SVGAlib is an older, fairly stable driver set that works very well on older cards. If you can't get either a kernel fb to work, or SVGAlib to work, there's always X -- it's very stable and works on all Nvidia graphics cards and most cards made by Matrox and ATI.

If you want to run MAME on a kernel framebuffer driver, you have to recompile your kernel. Most Linux distros use the kernel's generic VESA framebuffer driver for console support. This driver is far to limited in scope to support MAME. If you want to run MAME using SVGAlib, you need to compile and install it. If you want to run MAME on X, then all you need to do is modify your configuration file to support low resolutions (assuming X is already installed, of course).

Some distros are a little more MAME friendly when it comes to SVGAlib and Linux framebuffer support. If you're new to Linux, I highly recommend Mandrake. It follows Linux standards fairly well and is easy to install and run. Slackware, Debian, LFS, and Gentoo are excellent alternatives to Mandrake and are very much worth the effort in my opinion. While these distros do require a bit more Linux knowledge to setup and run, they are very easy to customize.

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