Gaming Linux

6 Tips to Get Your Game Controllers Working on Linux

Moe Long 07-06-2017

Despite the dominance of Windows, Linux is an excellent gaming platform. Developers are increasingly offering native Linux support. Major titles 9 Windows and Console Games Now Available on Linux "The Year of the Linux Desktop" yet to arrive, but until it does, you can play these popular PC and console games natively on your Linux OS -- no emulation or virtualization required! Read More including Alien: Isolation are cross-platform compatible. Valve further promoted Linux gaming with its Linux-based SteamOS Gaming on Linux is Here: Install SteamOS Beta Today If you've become interested in gaming on Linux, using SteamOS as your Linux distribution of choice is a good idea. This guide covers every step and possible question you may have during installation. Read More . Plus, the likes of The Linux Gamer on YouTube prove that gaming on Linux is far from an oxymoron.


On the contrary, Linux boasts support for 16-bit and 32-bit games, which remain difficult (if not impossible) to run on 64-bit Windows operating systems. This widespread compatibility is bolstered with gaming using Wine How to Run Windows Apps & Games with Linux Wine Is there any way to get Windows software working on Linux? One answer is to use Wine, but while it can be very useful, it probably should only be your last resort. Here's why. Read More as well as the Wine front-end PlayOnLinux PlayOnLinux Brings Windows Games & Programs To Linux Read More . Along with the rise of Linux gaming, there’s a proliferation of gamepad support in games.

Linux boasts several means to play old DOS and Windows games 7 Ways to Play Old Windows & DOS Games on Linux Gaming on Linux is on the rise, but if you don't want to turn your PC into a game server then the answer is with old games, retro classics from the Windows platform. Read More . This either comes via native support or from key mappers. But occasionally issues pop up. Game controllers not working on Linux? Try these tips.

When Your Game Controllers Don’t Work on Linux

xbox playstation game controllers

It’s pretty simple to get your gamepads running in Linux How to Get Game Controllers Running on Linux Want to start gaming on Linux? Here's a how-to guide on getting your favorite game controllers working. Read More . You may even use WiiCan to transform your WiiMote into a Linux game controller WiiCan Turns Your WiiMote Into a Linux Gamepad, Mouse and More Read More . But most Linux users know that hardware occasionally fails to function.

When making the foray into Linux gaming, here’s a bit of what you can and cannot expect PC Gaming on Linux: 7 Common Questions and Concerns Answered What was true 10 years ago no longer holds: Linux has become a viable gaming platform. Here's everything you need to know about gaming on Linux. Read More . Although I do own a Windows 10 PC which I game on, I really enjoy the Linux gaming experience. Unlike Windows, Ubuntu and Wine plus the PlayOnLinux frontend How to Play Retro Windows Games on Linux There's something so satisfying about revisiting a retro PC game, like catching up with an old friend after many years apart. But how can you play classic Windows games on Linux? Read More allowed me to play that $0.25 copy of the 1997 Westworld Blade Runner PC game I found at a yard sale.


1. Troubleshooting 101

Image Credit: annca via Pixabay

If your game controllers are not working in Linux, it’s often a driver issue. But before opening up the terminal, try a few basic troubleshooting steps. By basic troubleshooting, I mean let’s go through the gamepad equivalent of “unplug your router and plug it back in.” Using a wireless gamepad? Check that your controller or battery is charged. Also, ensure that your game controller is connected.

If it’s a Bluetooth gamepad, confirm that Bluetooth is enabled, and your pad is synced. Or if you’re using a Bluetooth dongle, ensure that it’s plugged in. For wired gamepads, make sure the USB cable is securely plugged in. Provided all is in order with these basic first checks, proceed to the more complex troubleshooting. Using the Debian-based RetroPie, my wireless Xbox 360 controller kept flashing. I tried driver fixes and toiled for about 30 minutes before realizing it was simply dying batteries. Learn from my mistakes and try a few simple fixes first.

2. Check for Bluetooth

bluetooth service fail


Troubleshooting 101 calls for checking the easy fixes first. If you’re using a Bluetooth gamepad, check whether Bluetooth is installed. Because most desktops and laptops include Bluetooth built-in, you should simply ensure it’s enabled. But you can check if Bluetooth installed.

If you’re using a USB Bluetooth radio, open a terminal and run:


Then to install Bluetooth, enter the following in a command line:

sudo apt-get install Bluetooth

Once installation is complete, check if Bluetooth is running:

/etc/init.d/bluetooth status

If it’s not running, open a terminal and enter:

/etc/init.d/bluetooth start

Sorting Bluetooth issues can be time consuming. If you’re planning a big gaming session, perhaps with friends, make sure you’ve got Bluetooth running before they arrive!

3. Use the Xbox 360 Driver

xbox 360 game controller

Although many gamepads are available, the Xbox 360 controller is among the most popular. It’s compatible with both PC and Xbox 360 consoles. Additionally, you can use your Xbox 360 controller Connect Your Xbox 360 Controller To Your Linux Gaming Rig Linux gaming rigs? Yup, they’re happening. With Valve’s Steam on Linux and a forthcoming Valve Steambox using Steam to run Linux games, the future is looking up for gaming on Linux. You can even install... Read More with Raspberry Pi devices running RetroPie or RecalBox Install RecalBox on Your Raspberry Pi for Retro Gaming With Style We'll show you how to set up RecalBox on a Raspberry Pi 3 and why you should bother, even if you already have a RetroPie setup. Read More .


To use an Xbox 360 controller on Linux, you should install the xboxdrv package. You can accomplish this with the following command:

sudo apt-get install xboxdrv

Initially using the my Xbox 360 wireless controller using RecalBox, a Debian-based Linux operating system for retro gaming. Enabling xboxdrv fixed the problem.

4. Use Ubuntu xboxdrv

The xboxdrv package which functions with an array of gamepads. However, if you experience problems, you can also try the ubuntu-xboxdrv package. Reportedly, this is fairly bug-free. Installation is pretty simple. But you’ll first need to add the proper repository:

sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:rael-gc/ubuntu-xboxdrv

Once you’ve accomplished that, run an update and install the ubuntu-xboxdrv driver:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-xboxdrv

This should ensure your Xbox 360 controller runs on Linux.

5. Sixaxis Bluetooth Drivers for PS3 Gamepad Support

playstation 3 game controller

Whereas the Xbox 360 wireless controller comes with its own USB hub, the PlayStation 3 controller does not. But since PS3 gamepads sport Bluetooth connectivity, you can still use these for Linux gaming. However, you’ll need to add its drivers.

First, add the proper repositories:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:falk-t-j/qtsixa

Next, perform an update and grab the Sixaxis package:

sudoapt-get update

sudo apt-get install qtsixa

Once installed, your PS3 controller should work. Take the time to open the utility and configure your controller for enhanced results.

6. Use Xpad

Some users report better compatibility with the Xpad Linux kernel driver. Not to be confused with the text editor, xPad. This driver functions with Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One controllers. On certain forums, community members cite Xpad as less buggy than the original xboxdrv. Additionally, it’s more versatile. For instance, Xpad includes an option to recognize the triggers as buttons on the Debian-based RetroPie retro gaming 7 Fantastic RetroPie Game Stations You Can Build This Weekend Retro gaming is soaring in popularity. These 7 awesome RetroPie game stations can all be built in a weekend with hard work and a Raspberry Pi. Read More Linux operating system.

To install the Xpad Linux kernel driver, open a terminal and run:

sudo git clone /usr/src/xpad-0.4

sudo dkms install -m xpad -v 0.4

If you need to update Xpad, simply enter the following into your command line:

cd /usr/src/xpad-0.4

sudo git fetch

sudo git checkout origin/master

sudo dkms remove -m xpad -v 0.4 --all

sudo dkms install -m xpad -v 0.4

If you’ve had trouble so far, or want a bit more from your game controller, try Xpad.

Get a Grip!

Usually, when your gamepads fail to work in Linux it’s a driver issue. It may be a simple fix such as charging your batteries, making sure your dongle is connected, or Bluetooth is enabled. Or you may require a driver installation. If one driver isn’t working, you may have better luck with another driver. Looking for another neat Linux gaming project? Try building a game server on Linux Everything You Need to Build a Game Server on Linux Building a DIY Linux game server for Steam games, Minecraft, etc? Here's how to build a game server with Ubuntu Linux. Read More or try video game live streaming on Linux Getting Started With Video Game Live Streaming on Linux Video game live streaming rose to prominence with the popularity of platforms like Twitch, but how can you stream your game play from a Linux computer? Read More . You can even transform a Raspberry Pi running a Linux operating system into a DIY Steam box for gamestreaming How to Stream Steam Games to Raspberry Pi Without Moonlight Want to stream games across your network from your PC to a TV? Here's how to set up a Raspberry Pi running Steam Link. Read More .

Luckily, most gamepads work on Linux out of the box. I use my Xbox 360 wireless controller with Linux on my Ubuntu 16.04 machine for gaming in Steam and playing titles from GOG. From the onset, I never even had to install drivers. I’ve also had great success using my wireless Xbox 360 gamepad with RetroPie and Recalbox. The latter, however, did require a driver tweak purely to alleviate an annoying flashing Xbox center button issue.

What troubleshooting steps do you suggest to get gamepads working in Linux?

Related topics: Game Controller, Linux.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Martin
    May 20, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    Instructions for PS3 don't work. I get the message "Unable to locate package qtsixa"