How to Install VBA-M to Play GBA/GBC Games in Ubuntu

Last updated: January 17, 2024 — Leave a comment

Got GameBoy, GameBoy Advance, or GameBoy Color ROMs? It’s easy to play them in your Linux PC through VBA-M emulator.

There are quite a few game emulators for Linux. You can use PPSSPP to run PSP games, and RetroArch for multiple consoles support. For Nintendo Game Boy and Game Boy Advance, VBA-M is a good choice.

VBA-M, stands for VisualBoyAdvance-M, is the continued development of the now inactive VisualBoy Advance project, with many improvements from various forks.

It’s a free open-source emulator app that included in system repositories for many Linux, including Fedora, Arch, Manjaro, and so forth.

Install VBA-M in Ubuntu

VBA-M is available to install in Ubuntu through either Snap or Flatpak package.

Option 1: Snap package

For all current Ubuntu releases, including Ubuntu 22.04, Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu 23.04/23.10, and next Ubuntu 24.04. Either open Ubuntu Software or App Center, then search & install ‘visualboyadvance-m’.

Option 2: Flatpak package

Linux Mint 21 users can easily install the emulator as Flatpak from Software Manager.

While Ubuntu users can install the package by running 2 commands below one by one:

  • First, press Ctrl+Alt+T on keyboard to open terminal. When terminal opens, run command to enable Flatpak support:
    sudo apt install flatpak

  • Then, install VBA-M as flatpak package via command:
    flatpak install

After installing the emulator, search for and launch it from start menu or Gnome overview depends on your desktop environment (Log out and back in if app icon not visible).

Set up VBA-M for gaming

When it opens, simply go to menu “Options -> Input -> Configure” to configure your Joypad or keyboard keys.

In the pop-up dialog, click focus any input field, then either press a key on keyboard or move joystick to add. Or, use backspace to delete last added, clear to delete all the keys for corresponding input.

Now, you can use menu “File -> Open” to load your ROMs. Then, go menu “Options -> Video” to either toggle full-screen mode, or scale the game window.

And, you can press Ctrl+G to switch between pixel filters for better gaming experience.

Uninstall VBA-M

Depends on how you installed the emulator, do either method below to remove it:

  • For snap package, remove it either from Ubuntu Software (App Center) or by running command in terminal:
    snap remove visualboyadvance-m
  • For the Flatpak package, simply open terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and run command:
    flatpak uninstall com.vba_m.visualboyadvance-m

    Also, run flatpak uninstall --unused to remove useless runtime libraries that can free up some disk space.

That’s all. Enjoy!


I'm a freelance blogger who started using Ubuntu in 2007 and wishes to share my experiences and some useful tips with Ubuntu beginners and lovers. Please comment to let me know if the tutorial is outdated! And, notify me if you find any typo/grammar/language mistakes. English is not my native language. Contact me via [email protected] Buy me a coffee:

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