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Add a note at the top of the issue template asking users to test the
nightly or master before reporting an issue.

Add a note to the top of the as well.

Signed-off-by: Rafael Kitover <>

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Oct 19, 2020

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Visual Boy Advance - M

Game Boy and Game Boy Advance Emulator

The forums are here.

Windows and Mac builds are in the releases tab.

Nightly builds are here.


Your distribution may have packages available as well, search for visualboyadvance-m or vbam.

It is also generally very easy to build from source, see below.

If you are using the windows binary release and you need localization, unzip the to the same directory as the executable.

If you are having issues, try resetting the config file first, go to Help -> Factory Reset.


The basic formula to build vba-m is:

cd ~ && mkdir src && cd src
git clone
cd visualboyadvance-m

# ./installdeps will give you build instructions, which will be similar to:

mkdir build && cd build
cmake .. -G Ninja

./installdeps is supported on MSys2, Linux (Debian/Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch, Solus, OpenSUSE, Gentoo and RHEL/CentOS) and Mac OS X (homebrew, macports or fink.)

Building a Libretro core

Clone this repo and then,

cd src/libretro
make -j`nproc`

Copy to your RetroArch cores directory.

Visual Studio Support

For visual studio, dependency management is handled automatically with vcpkg, From the Visual Studio GUI, just clone the repository with git and build with the cmake configurations provided.

If the GUI does not detect cmake, go to File -> Open -> CMake and open the CMakeLists.txt.

If you are using 2017, make sure you have all the latest updates, some issues with cmake projects in the GUI have been fixed.

You can also build from the developer command prompt or powershell with the environment loaded.

Using your own user-wide installation of vcpkg is supported, just make sure the environment variable VCPKG_ROOT is set.

To build in the visual studio command prompt, use something like this:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake .. -DVCPKG_TARGET_TRIPLET=x64-windows-static -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug -G Ninja


If your OS is not supported, you will need the following:

And the following development libraries:

  • zlib (required)
  • mesa (if using X11 or any OpenGL otherwise)
  • ffmpeg (optional, at least version 4.0.4, for game recording)
  • gettext and gettext-tools (optional, with ENABLE_NLS)
  • SDL2 (required)
  • SFML (optional, for link)
  • OpenAL or openal-soft (optional, a sound interface)
  • wxWidgets (required for GUI, 2.8 and non-stl builds are no longer supported)

On Linux and similar, you also need the version of GTK your wxWidgets is linked to (usually 2 or 3) and the xorg development libraries.

Support for more OSes/distributions for ./installdeps is planned.

Cross compiling for 32 bit on a 64 bit host

./installdeps m32 will set things up to build a 32 bit binary.

This is supported on Fedora, Arch, Solus and MSYS2.

Cross Compiling for Win32

./installdeps takes one optional parameter for cross-compiling target, which may be win32 which is an alias for mingw-w64-i686 to target 32 bit Windows, or mingw-gw64-x86_64 for 64 bit Windows targets.

The target is implicit on MSys2 depending on which MINGW shell you started (the value of $MSYSTEM.)

On Debian/Ubuntu this uses the MXE apt repository and works quite well.

On Fedora it can build using the Fedora MinGW packages, albeit with wx 2.8, no OpenGL support, and no Link support for lack of SFML.

On Arch it currently doesn't work at all because the AUR stuff is completely broken, I will at some point redo the arch stuff to use MXE as well.

CMake Options

The CMake code tries to guess reasonable defaults for options, but you can override them, for example:

cmake .. -DENABLE_LINK=NO -G Ninja

Of particular interest is making Release or Debug builds, the default mode is Release, to make a Debug build use something like:

cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug -G Ninja

Here is the complete list:

CMake Option What it Does Defaults
ENABLE_SDL Build the SDL port OFF
ENABLE_WX Build the wxWidgets port ON
ENABLE_DEBUGGER Enable the debugger ON
ENABLE_NLS Enable translations ON
ENABLE_ASM Enable the following two ASM options ON for 32 bit builds
ENABLE_ASM_SCALERS Enable x86 ASM graphic filters ON for 32 bit builds
ENABLE_MMX Enable MMX ON for 32 bit builds
ENABLE_LINK Enable GBA linking functionality (requires SFML) AUTO
ENABLE_FFMPEG Enable ffmpeg A/V recording AUTO
ENABLE_ONLINEUPDATES Enable online update checks ON
ENABLE_LTO Compile with Link Time Optimization (gcc and clang only) ON for release build
ENABLE_GBA_LOGGING Enable extended GBA logging ON
ENABLE_DIRECT3D Direct3D rendering for wxWidgets (Windows, NOT IMPLEMENTED!!!) ON
ENABLE_XAUDIO2 Enable xaudio2 sound output for wxWidgets (Windows only) ON
ENABLE_OPENAL Enable OpenAL for the wxWidgets port AUTO
ENABLE_SSP Enable gcc stack protector support (gcc only) OFF
ENABLE_ASAN Enable libasan sanitizers (by default address, only in debug mode) OFF
UPSTREAM_RELEASE Do some release tasks, like codesigning, making zip and gpg sigs. OFF
BUILD_TESTING Build the tests and enable ctest support. ON
VBAM_STATIC Try link all libs statically (the following are set to ON if ON) OFF
SDL2_STATIC Try to link static SDL2 libraries OFF
SFML_STATIC_LIBRARIES Try to link static SFML libraries OFF
FFMPEG_STATIC Try to link static ffmpeg libraries OFF
SSP_STATIC Try to link static gcc stack protector library (gcc only) OFF except Win32
OPENAL_STATIC Try to link static OpenAL libraries OFF
SSP_STATIC Link gcc stack protecter libssp statically (gcc, with ENABLE_SSP) OFF

Note for distro packagers, we use the CMake module GNUInstallDirs to configure installation directories.

On Unix to use a different version of wxWidgets, set wxWidgets_CONFIG_EXECUTABLE to the path to the wx-config script you want to use.

MSys2 Notes

To run the resulting binary, you can simply type:


in the shell where you built it.

If you built with -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug, you will get a console app and will see debug messages, even in mintty.

If you want to start the binary from e.g. a shortcut or Explorer, you will need to put c:\msys64\mingw32\bin for 32 bit builds and c:\msys64\mingw64\bin for 64 bit builds in your PATH (to edit system PATH, go to Control Panel -> System -> Advanced system settings -> Environment Variables.)

If you want to package the binary, you will need to include the MinGW DLLs it depends on, they can install to the same directory as the binary.

Our own builds are static.

Debug Messages

We have an override for wxLogDebug() to make it work even in non-debug builds of wx and on windows, even in mintty.

It works like printf(), e.g.:

int foo = 42;
wxLogDebug(wxT("the value of foo = %d"), foo);

From the core etc. the usual:

fprintf(stderr, "...", ...);

will work fine.

You need a debug build for this to work or to even have a console on Windows. Pass -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug to cmake.

Reporting Crash Bugs

If the emulator crashes and you wish to report the bug, a backtrace made with debug symbols would be immensely helpful.

To generate one (on Linux and MSYS2) first build in debug mode by invoking cmake as:

cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug

After you've reproduced the crash, you need the core dump file, you may need to do something such as:

ulimit -c unlimited

in your shell to enable coredump files.

This post explains how to retrieve core dump on Fedora Linux (and possibly other distributions.)

Once you have the core dump file, open it with gdb, for example:

gdb -c core ./visualboyadvance-m

In the gdb shell, to print the backtrace, type:


This may be a bit of a hassle, but it helps us out immensely.


See the Developer Manual.

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