Developers get Asahi Linux running on an Apple M1-powered Mac

Asahi Linux is created to bring Linux to Apple silicon-powered M1 machines.

Reading through their September progress report, they’ve made great progress bringing a native Linux desktop on an Apple M1 Mac. 

The M1 is Apple’s custom Arm-based SoC which started showing on Macs in 2020 after ditching Intel’s x86 silicon chip. The M1 is the most powerful chip Apple’s ever made, so it’s not hard to imagine why developers are interested in porting Linux over to it and running things like Proton, which would turn the Mac into a killer gaming PC.

The developers of Asahi Linux are doing a feat that’s more impressive than you might imagine, because Apple uses a bunch of proprietary tech that doesn’t play nice if you’re running operating systems other than it’s native MacOS.

This massive feat was achieved by having a bunch of drivers merged for Linux 5.16, which includes drivers for the PCIe, USB-C PD, ASC mailbox, etc.

 

“With these drivers, M1 Macs are usable as desktop Linux machines! While there is no GPU acceleration yet, the M1’s CPUs are so powerful that a software-rendered desktop is actually faster on them than on e.g., Rockchip ARM64 machines with hardware acceleration.” wrote Hector “marcan” Martin, who’s leading the development of Ashai Linux.”With these drivers, M1 Macs are usable as desktop Linux machines! While there is no GPU acceleration yet, the M1’s CPUs are so powerful that a software-rendered desktop is actually faster on them than on e.g., Rockchip ARM64 machines with hardware acceleration.” said Hector “marcan” Martin, lead developer of Asahi Linux.

Now that Linux is working in what the deem a “good state”, expect an official installer if you’re brave enough to try it out your own Apple M1 Macs at home.

“Remember, there are still many missing bits (USB3, TB, camera, GPU, audio, etc.) as well as patchsets a bit too problematic to bundle as-is at this time (WiFi, which needs significant rewrites), so don’t expect this to be anywhere near the polished experience that is the goal of our project. That said, we hope this will allow those willing to be on the absolute bleeding edge to get a taste for what running Linux on these machines is like—and, for some, this might be enough for production usage.”

 You can keep updated on the team’s progress here, along with the GitHub page of all the tools and docs involved in the project.   

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