Frets on Fire: Play the guitar with your keyboard, Rock ‘em!

July 1st, 2007 edited by ana

Article submitted by Miriam Ruiz. We are running out of articles ! Please help DPOTD and submit good articles about software you like !

Did you ever wanted to emulate your favorite guitar idol? With Frets on Fire you can try it from your very own keyboard. All you have to do is to pick it up as if it was a guitar, with one hand pressing the fret buttons (F1 to F5) and another pressing the pick button (Enter). Frets on Fire, or FoF for short, a clone of the Guitar Hero video games. As joysticks are also supported, you can even use the Guitar Hero controller with a PS2/USB adapter instead of the keyboard to increase the feeling of being a rock star. Frets on Fire was the winner of the Assembly demo party 2006 game development competition.

The keys keep appearing in the screen as the song is being played. All you have to do is to press in the correct keys (frets), and then mark them with Enter (pick button) in the very exact moment. It seems easy, doesn’t it? If you keep plucking the notes properly the coefficient by which your points are multiplied keeps increasing (x2, x3, even x4), but just a single note badly played and it will fall back to x1 again. Since version 1.2.438, the game features “hammer-on and pull-off” (commonly abbreviated to “HOPO”) notes. A HOPO note allows you to only press its fret button to play it if the previous note was played correctly. There purpose of the game is just to play the virtual guitar the best you can, and to obtain the highest score you’re up to. It’s even possible to compare your results with other players on the official web page of the game. There are 4 levels of difficulty in the game: Supaeasy, Easy, Medium, and Amazing. Suit yourself.

Written in Python, and released under the GNU General Public License, the game also includes a tutorial and a built-in song editor. The game has become quite popular in the last year, and songs can be found just everywhere in the Internet, with many devoted fan web pages all around.

The original tarball of the game included some non-DFSG-free song files and some internal fonts which needed to be replaced in order for the game to enter Debian repositories, but a new pack of new songs made by Carlos Viola Iborra, and released under a free license, has been added to the repositories (Thanks, Carlos! ). The original songs that came along with the game, which were made Tommi Inkilä, will probably be included in the non-free repositories soon, too.

Screenshots and Video

Screenshots of the main menu and a game: (click to enlarge)

There is a video in YouTube with a player playing the famous “Smoke On The Water” of Deep Purple.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu |

8 Responses

  1. Trochee Says:

    This program is great! I am already hooked, once I got the graphics drivers working at full speed on my Ubuntu system.

    Yet frets on fire doesn’t seem to be a Debian package! Has anyone released it as a .deb with proper dependencies?

  2. ana Says:

    fretsonfire package is in both debian and ubuntu:

  3. Mathias Kjærsgaard Says:

    Thank you for bringing a DPOTD article about a package that is not a command line utility for doing something only developers and hardware nix geeks would be interested in doing.

    Rock on with articles that really has a big Ubuntu user audience :)

  4. Ingo Wagener Says:

    programmes like this deserve greater publicity and you provided it - well done!

  5. Agge Says:


  6. S~E GIRAL Says:

    This is better than Guitar Hero but uh…..I like REAL guitar better….

  7. anonymus Says:

    hey when i start it up where the letters would be it would be these big cream colored blocks any help or advice

  8. Justin Says:

    I downloaded this, but it doesnt work full speed….why? It just freezes up, and i miss like, 5 notes, its anoying and the game looks so fun, how do i fix this?