Welcome to the GroovyArcade (further referred as GA) documentation. This wiki is in constant motion, feel free to contribute or request changes via Issues, on the left pane.
What is GroovyArcade? Short version
GroovyArcade is an Operating System based on Arch Linux aiming the best possible GroovyMAME experience on CRT monitors (arcade monitors, TVs, etc ...).
GroovyMAME (aka GM) is a fork of MAME that can run games pixel perfect, at the original speed ad refresh rate.
a liveCD (that canbe burnt on a USB key) to test without installing
a (almost) automatic screen detection and setup
a frontend (Attract Mode) to select the game you want to play
easy access to configuration files and data dirs
GA is very user friendly, and doesn't require any IT/Linux knowledge to install. Just look at the screens, answer when you're prompted. It only takes a few minutes to have a working installation of GA.
What is GroovyArcade? Long version
History says that it was the OS dedicated to GroovyMAME, but successive developers had less and less time to maintain it. That was time for a fork, and make it more collaborative!
Why Arch Linux?
I can't say but Arch Linux has many great advantages:
an easy packaging system (compared to Ubuntu/Debian or Fedora)
rolling releases (Arch Linux constantly updates the packages so that it never stays behind), which means GA is not a LTS OS.
a minimalistic yet a powerful OS
it's easy to self host a packages repository
Afterall, that was a good choice. And GA is trying to respect that rolling release philosophy.
As of now, GA is built on 3 main pillars + GA magic:
a 15kHz capable Linux kernel
GroovyMAME + switchres
an installer that can do most basic configuration
Once this trio is sturdy stable, other emulators may join the party.
Basic hardware requirements
GA is designed for a very close genuine MAME experience on a CRT monitor. You need:
a PC with a 64bits CPU (forget 32bits, we're on 21st century, remember?)
A graphic card that is supported with analogue output (VGA, DVI-I). GA can proudly say that the 3 main GFX cards manufacturers are supported:
ATI/AMD (preferred GFX card)
Intel (with some flaws for now, sadly)
a 15kHz monitor at best, but GA also supports 25kHz, 31kHz CRTs as well as LCD panels
a keyboard, because MAME was thought for keyboards at first, as well as the wonderful JPAC.
Advanced users questions
Some, if not most of you reading the wiki may already have experience with Windows+CRT Emudriver in a cab and have quite some questions ...
Does it only work with ATI/AMD cards?
No! As stated before, it works with ATI/AMD but also Nvidia and Intel GPUs. ATI/AMD are the best for 2 reasons:
some cards can be flashed with ATOM-15
ATI/AMD cards can output video signals with pretty low pixel clocks (i.e. the nmber of pixels the GFX card generates per second), whereas Nvidia and Intel can't go that low, but there is a trick to circumvent that, see the super resolutions part a bit lower.
Nevertheless, Nvidia and Intel support is at a very early stage, and this can already be told:
tearing can occur
GM may not be able to sync with your monitor refresh rate, so games run at 300%. No fix yet.
Do I need to flash my ATI with ATOM-15?
No, you don't. At least, it's not mandatory, but it's a nice bonus. ATOM-15 just provide 15kHz boot from BIOS which can be useful to protect your monitor against out of range video signals at boot. Once the kernel is loaded, 15kHz is here for good.
Which super resolutions should I setup?
If you're here, you've decided to take the red pill and face the truth... The super resolution concept doesn't exist here. Linux is not Windows, and Linux can add resolutions on the fly, meeting the specs of your monitor and respect it's lifetime!
In fact, the answer depends on your hardware:
ATI/AMD cards play the exact original screen resolution and refresh rate (if they are compatible with your monitor). That's the magic of GroovyMAME and it's powerful switchres module
Nvidia and Intel cards do use super resolutions as they impose an minimum pixel clock of 25MHz. But once again, GM does a wonderful job and this is transparent.
All in all, when GA starts the screen detection, it will automatically configure the OS and GM to your hardware. Once GA is installed, your configuration should be fixed. Don't swap hardware, don't swap video connectors! Don't!