I started my first foray into raspberrypi this past week. I have a few goals. The mail goal is to install Node.js and homebridge so I can automate a bunch of RF outlets and turn things on/off using Siri.

But I would also like to play retropie games...

UPDATE: Ugh, well this is frustrating. All my comments on the answer submitted are gone because the answer was deleted... It was helping me figure things out... So I'm going to try to remember the content of the comments so I can refine my question. Here's what I recall from those comments:

Someone in another question (that was linked in those comments and is now gone) about creating an emulationstation desktop shortcut, claimed to be able to run emulationstation from a terminal on the raspbian desktop. I'd run across that thread before and I wasn't entirely confident that the OP actually launched emulationstation from within the desktop. Even if they did, they didn't say how they did it, so it doesn't really solve my problem. Regardless, the OP of that thread believed that the Raspbian desktop had to be killed in order to launch emulationstation, which belies his claim to have launched it from a terminal window inside the desktop and so now I have 2 ways to go, based on the answers to these questions:

  1. Would killing the Raspbian desktop kill a running Node.js server?
  2. How can emulationstation be run from a terminal window in the raspbian desktop (without error)? (or - does anyone have any proof that this can even work?)
  3. Whether I boot into emulationstation or raspbian desktop, would a Node.js server still start in either case?
  • 1
    yes, raspberry pi can multitask Feb 14, 2019 at 0:40
  • Ok, well, I was confused by the fact that I can’t run emulationstation from a terminal launched from the raspberry pi desktop. I thought there was a totally different environment when running emulationstation from the system prompt. So if I set up a Node.js server, and I boot up into either retropie or raspbian, the server daemon launches in both cases?
    – hepcat72
    Feb 14, 2019 at 0:53
  • 1
    I'm not sure of your specific use case, clearly to run program A and program B, both have to be installed Feb 14, 2019 at 1:04
  • i just googled emulationstation .... it appears to be only a graphical front end for any emulators that are installed on the RPi ...... that means that it should run from Raspbian desktop ...... of course, the emulator that gets called when you select a game may be a different story
    – jsotola
    Feb 17, 2019 at 3:13
  • Ok. So it may be possible to resolve the errors that happen when I try to launch it from a terminal inside raspbian desktop. It’s not too big a deal it sounds though to exit the desktop to launch it - because I’m starting to understand that doing so shouldn’t kill a Node.js server. Cool
    – hepcat72
    Feb 17, 2019 at 4:30

1 Answer 1


You could run node.js, homebridge and Retropie on the same Pi. Retropie can be manually installed on top of Raspbian Stretch. I believe there are problems with this due to Retropie not running with the Desktop, each time you wanted to use Retropie you would have to quit the Desktop which may stop node.js or homebridge.

However I would recommend using 2 Pi’s. Retropie can push the Pi quite hard when playing N64 or PS1 games so the emulator or the home automation may lag.

Use 1 Pi for the home automation and 1 Pi for Retropie.

  • What’s Rasbian Stretch? And for that matter, how do I determine which flavor of Raspbian I have (e.g. Jessie)? uname doesn’t appear to say which distro is installed.
    – hepcat72
    Feb 14, 2019 at 15:36
  • Raspbian Stretch is the latest version of Raspbian. raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian Raspbian Jessie was the previous version.
    – CoderMike
    Feb 14, 2019 at 18:18
  • You know, we only plan on playing some NES games - and even then, rarely - say, one day a month. It’s fine if it’s slow for a bit. (We have one of those pre-loaded Mini NES’s, but the quality is really poor.) So, I’m curious. If these things can be installed together, is it possible to start emulationstation from a terminal launched from raspbian desktop? That’s the main reason I asked the above question. I had the impression from googling that it wasn’t possible, which made me wonder what’s going on at a system level when I boot into one or the other and what all is running concurrently?
    – hepcat72
    Feb 14, 2019 at 18:42
  • Whenever I try to start emulationstation from a terminal window inside the raspbian desktop, I get a 4 or 5 line error message.
    – hepcat72
    Feb 15, 2019 at 13:21
  • Try booting to command line, then run EmulationStation.
    – CoderMike
    Feb 15, 2019 at 13:46

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