Asahi Linux
AsahiLinux logo svg.svg
Arch Linux ARM of Asahi Linux with KDE Plasma 5 screenshot.png
Screenshot of Arch Linux ARM of Asahi Linux with KDE Plasma 5
Developer
OS familyLinux (Unix-like)
Working stateAlpha
Repositoryhttps://github.com/AsahiLinux
PlatformsApple silicon (AArch64)
Official websitehttps://asahilinux.org/

Asahi Linux is a project that aims to port Linux to Apple silicon-powered Macs, allowing them to run a different operating system than macOS. The project was started and is led by Hector Martin. Work began in early 2021, a few months after Apple formally announced the transition to Apple silicon, with an initial alpha release following in 2022. The project has been made challenging by the lack of documentation of Apple's proprietary firmware.[2][3]

History

There has been interest in getting Linux to run on Apple silicon since the transition was announced by Apple in late 2020. Shortly after this, Linux creator Linus Torvalds expressed interest in using an Apple M1 Mac if it ran Linux, but thought the work to make this happen was too much effort to bother with.[4]

Martin announced the project in December 2020, and formally started it a month later after securing funding of around $4,000 per month. Alyssa Rosenzweig, who developed the open source graphics driver stack Panfrost, joined the project to help support the Apple silicon graphics processing unit (GPU).[5]

The developers quickly realised that just attempting to boot the Linux kernel compiled for Apple silicon's processor architecture (AArch64) would be challenging, as it involved working out the functionality of proprietary Apple code used in the boot process. The work was time consuming and took most of the year, including submitting pull requests to the main Linux kernel developers to keep development in sync and avoid regressions. However, it subsequently led to a thorough and comprehensive explanation of the previously undocumented boot process, which Martin and others published on GitHub.[2][6]

The project released an experimental alpha version of the Asahi Linux installer on March 18, 2022. The installer offers the choice of an Arch Linux ARM-based desktop or minimal environment, or a basic UEFI environment for installing OpenBSD or alternate Linux distributions with support for Apple silicon via a bootable USB drive.[3] Despite being able to launch a UEFI shell, booting Microsoft Windows is not supported, and there are no plans to do so as it would involve modifying the proprietary Windows kernel.[7]

Full support for all Apple silicon-supported Macs is not expected for another year or two following the first alpha release.[8] In July of 2022, the Asahi Linux team released an update with support for the M1 Ultra, Mac Studio, and early initial support for the M2 MacBook Pro.[9]

Support

Asahi Linux is currently considered alpha software. Although it can display a graphical user interface, it does not currently support any graphics acceleration, as this involves creating device drivers for Apple silicon's proprietary GPU from scratch.[10] However, the performance of Apple silicon is sufficient to run a basic XOrg desktop at an acceptable speed.[10][11] HDMI video output is only supported on the Apple silicon Mac mini, and there is no support for Thunderbolt video output on Apple silicon MacBooks.[10]

The Asahi Linux kernel has been compiled with support for 16K pages. This means some existing releases of popular software, such as the web browser Chromium and the Rust compiler did not work.[10]

Reception

The project has been well received. A review in The Register said that it ran surprisingly well for a software still in alpha.[11] Similarly, a review in Ars Technica was impressed by the amount of hardware that was already supported early in the project lifecycle.[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ "About Asahi Linux". Archived from the original on April 17, 2022. Retrieved April 22, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Sharma, Mayank (March 15, 2021). "Porting Linux to Apple M1 Macs is proving trickier than previously imagined". TechRadar. Archived from the original on March 21, 2022. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Martin, Hector. "The first Asahi Linux Alpha Release is here! – Asahi Linux". asahilinux.org. Archived from the original on March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  4. ^ "Linus Torvalds would like to use an M1 Mac for Linux, but…". ZDNet. November 24, 2020. Archived from the original on April 1, 2022. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  5. ^ Tung, Liam (January 8, 2021). "Linux on Apple's Arm silicon Macs? This crowdfunded project wants to give it a try". ZDnet. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved May 31, 2021.
  6. ^ Calligeros, James. "Apple Silicon Subsystems - Platform Initialisation and Boot". GitHub. Archived from the original on June 9, 2022. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  7. ^ "Windows support?". Asahi Linux GitHub. May 21, 2021. Archived from the original on April 5, 2022. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  8. ^ a b "Asahi Linux is reverse-engineering support for Apple Silicon, including M1 Ultra". Ars Technica. March 25, 2022. Archived from the original on April 5, 2022. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  9. ^ Cunningham, Andrew (July 18, 2022). "Linux distro for Apple silicon Macs is already up and running on the brand-new M2". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on July 19, 2022. Retrieved July 20, 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d Crume, Jacob (March 21, 2022). "Asahi Linux Distro Improves Apple M1 Support With First Alpha Release". It's FOSS. Archived from the original on March 21, 2022. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  11. ^ a b "We take Asahi Linux alpha for a spin on an M1 Mac Mini". The Register. March 22, 2022. Archived from the original on April 5, 2022. Retrieved April 5, 2022.