Linux is now ‘usable’ on Apple’s M1 Macs

“The ground had been shifting until now, but we’re seeing drivers settle down. Let’s take a look at what’s been going on.”

What you need to know

  • Asahi Linux is a project to bring a polished Linux experience to the M1 Mac lineup.
  • The project is now reportedly usable as a basic desktop without GPU acceleration.

The team behind the Asahi Linux project says the software is now “usable as a basic Linux desktop” without GPU acceleration on devices like Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 and MacBook Air with M1.

In a recent progress update this week the team stated:

It’s been a busy month! We’ve had a lot of movement in kernel land, as well as some tooling improvements and reverse engineering sessions. At this point, Asahi Linux is usable as a basic Linux desktop (without GPU acceleration)! The ground had been shifting until now, but we’re seeing drivers settle down. Let’s take a look at what’s been going on.

The report documents the progress of Linux drivers and the challenges of Apple’s unique Apple silicon hardware, but overall, there’s good news:

With these drivers, M1 Macs are actually 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.

The team now says an official installer is on the way, but that this won’t be a polished experience for some time. Next, Asahi Linux plans to tackle the GPU to bring support for this too but doesn’t offer a timeframe.

Developer Hector Martin (Marcan) started the project last year, looking to crowdfund Linux support for Apple silicon. The goal of Asahi Linux is to port Linux to Apple’s Apple silicon Macs, polished to the point it can be used as a daily OS.

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