Formatting a SD Card For Steam Deck

MicroSD Card

It appears that there is a prevalent issue with the Steam Deck corrupting SD cards that can leave them in a unrecoverable condition, this seems to occur mainly on a second formatting rather than the first, so far we’ve not heard anything from Valve about this, but I suspect it’s more likely to be down to the hardware interface rather than a software bug.

Fortunately until we know more you can format your SD card outside of the Deck easily, to do this you will need a Linux live system, assuming you’re not already using Linux, Ubuntu is a good simple choice for this.

Once you have the system running you need to insert your SD card, to identify which device it is use the following command in the terminal:

sudo lsblk

This will show a list of connected storage devices, you can identify the SD card by the size and normally it will be last in the list, in my case /dev/sdg, partitions if there are any will show as /dev/sdg1, /dev/sdg2 and so on.

Once you are sure you have identified the SD card correctly, run the following two commands:

sudo parted --script <device> mklabel gpt mkpart primary 0% 100%
sudo mkfs.ext4 -m 0 -O casefold -F <partition>

The first command creates a new blank GPT partition table, and then a new partition using all the space on the device, <device> should be replaces with your device path, I.E /dev/sdg.

The second command formats the new partition as an EXT4 file system which is what the Deck recommends, <partition> should be replaced with the first partition on your SD card, I.E /dev/sdg1

You can now remove it a insert it into your Steam Deck.

Hot Swapping

Even though Valve have said you can hot-swap SD cards I don’t recommend it, there is no protection against write corruption so you should only remove it when there is no activity or better unmount it in Dolphin first.

Should you get it to the point where you have problems, run sudo e2fsck -pf <partition> to repair it.

Installing Emulators on Steam Deck

The Steam Deck is a great device for playing emulated games on, there are a number of options for settings up emulators but I find the easiest to use is EmuDeck.

Installing EmuDeck

Once you’ve download EmuDeck click on the ‘EmuDeck.desktop’ file and it should ask you if you want to open or execute, if it does not right click on it and select Properties > Permissions and check ‘Is executable’ and press OK.

Once run Konsole will appear and begin installing, it will ask you if you want to install in easy or expert mode, I suggest choosing easy, it will then ask you if you want to install your game roms on internal storage or a SD card, I recommend the latter if you have a SD card.

It will then ask if you want to open the ROM manager, a shortcut will be placed on your desktop as well.

To add games go to /home/deck/Emulation/roms/ or for SD card /run/media/mmcblk0p1/Emulation/roms/, there is a directory for each system, place your ROMs in each one.

Once you are done run the ROM manager, open the preview tab and click ‘Generate app list’, wait until it’s finished then if you’re happy click ‘Save app list’, if you return to Steam game mode you should find your ROMs in the non-steam list ready to play.

If it has incorrectly detected a game wrong you may need to rename the ROM and repeat the process, this should not cause any problems with the game itself.

MS-DOS Games

The ROM manager doesn’t work for MS-DOS games, to deal with these run EmulationStation, shown as Emu Deck in non-steam games, if you placed your games under dos they should already be detected.

Keyboard Shortcuts

The shortcuts depend upon what emulator is being used, for a full list look here.

Lutris

While technically not an emulator sometimes you will want to play Windows games outside of Steam, adding a non-steam game doesn’t always work, to do this the easiest tool to use is Lutris which can also install games for you.

Lutris beta flatpak is now available, to install it do the following in konsole.

flatpak update --appstream
flatpak install --user flathub-beta net.lutris.Lutris//beta

flatpak install --user flathub org.gnome.Platform.Compat.i386 org.freedesktop.Platform.GL32.default org.freedesktop.Platform.GL.default

You can then run Lutris from the KDE Games menu, or add it to Steam, you will need to add a runner first to Lutris, do this in Preferences > Runners > Wine, at this time I’m using lutris-fshack-7.2, once a runner is installed to manually add a game click the add button at the top left, select ‘Add locally installed game’, enter a name and select the Wine runner, under game options set the executable and Wine prefix to a empty directory, the prefix is where the game configuration and virtual filesystem is stored.

You can now right click a game and select ‘Create steam shortcut’ to add it to Steam, all being well it should just work, however this is not always the case, you may need to use Winetricks to install additional components, the Wine Application Database is a good place to start.

Common Problems

Some of the most common problems are:

Game not detectedMost ROMS cannot be placed in sub-directories.
Wrong game detectedRename ROM or directory.
Choppy performance / audioSet the FPS limit to 60.
No game audio (MS-DOS)Run the game installer and set the audio to soundblaster
Game runs too fast / slow (MS-DOS)Press CTRL+F11 / CTRL+F12 to adjust speed.
Yuzu keys not loadingTry place in /home/deck/.var/app/org.yuzu_emu.yuzu/data/yuzu/keys/