Linux is finally running on an Apple M1-powered Mac

Because Apple’s system-on-chips (SoCs) use a lot of proprietary technologies and methods, and Apple hasn’t been very cooperative, bringing Apple M1 support to Linux has been a long road. Developers have, however, managed to run Linux on an Apple M1-based system, and the machine can now be used for basic tasks.

According to the progress report, Asahi Linux, a project and community working to port Linux to Apple Silicon Macs, can be used as a basic Linux desktop on an Apple M1-powered PC, but without GPU acceleration.

Asahi Linux developers have merged various drivers (PCIe, USB-C PD, etc.) and bindings (PCIe) for Linux 5.16 so far. They were also able to get the pinctrl (Apple GPIO pin control), I2C, device power management, NVMe + SART, and DCP (display control) drivers to work.

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“With these drivers, M1 Macs can be used as desktop Linux machines,” said project leader Hector Martin. “While there is no GPU acceleration yet, the M1’s CPUs are so powerful that a software-rendered desktop runs faster than, say, Rockchip ARM64 machines with hardware acceleration.”

Because Apple’s M1 SoC uses a proprietary (allegedly PowerVR-based) GPU, getting acceleration to work properly will be difficult, as it will necessitate independent developers creating a driver similar to Apple’s. Meanwhile, programs that use Apple’s proprietary hardware units in the M1 SoC (GPU, video acceleration, etc.) will be unable to take advantage of Apple’s processor under Linux without proper drivers.

Unfortunately, the current Asahi Linux project still lacks a proper installer, so users outside of the community are unable to run native Linux on an Apple Silicon-based system.

In an interview with The Register, Martin said, “Once we have a stable kernel foundation, we will start publishing an ‘official’ installer that we expect will see more widespread use among the adventurous.”

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Via: tomshardware

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