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Asahi Linux: The Individual User’s Stake in an Apple Silicon World

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GNU
Linux

Over the weekend, something really awesome happened. An official distro of Linux came to Apple Silicon. And honestly, it’s extremely impressive, a joy to use (even if there are a whole bunch of gaps in the production, a number of to-come features that will limit its usefulness for the time being), and … honestly, everything that MacOS is not. It’s inspiring, and reflects a culture in which people are willing to try new things, and in which they succeed at trying out those new things just because there was enough public support for it. It’s arguable that in a technology world full of exciting things, you don’t get much more exciting than Asahi Linux—all the more exciting when you consider that its install process is surprisingly painless. In honor of its release, today’s Tedium culls together some thoughts on Linux and ARM, two great things that taste great together (as long as the fragmentation is kept in check).

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Linux on the M1 Is Already Beating Apple at Its Own Game

You Can Now Install Linux On An M1 Mac

  • You Can Now Install Linux On An M1 Mac, But You Probably Shouldn't

    Mac computers come with macOS, of course, but Apple has made it possible in the past to install other operating systems, including Linux and even Windows. While the M1 processor brought changes that eliminated the easiest option, developers have been working on alternate solutions and a Linux installer is now available that works with Apple's latest Mac and MacBook computers. This is an early release and most users shouldn't bother, although it is still interesting to see how far it has come.

    In 2006, Apple introduced a surprising new feature for Mac computers. Known as Boot Camp, this utility has the ability to create a separate partition on the primary or external drive, formatted and ready to install Windows and other operating systems. Apple also included Windows drivers to interface with the Mac hardware. This ran at full speed on the Mac's Intel processor and behaved just like Windows would on a PC. The only drawback is that the user had to pick which OS to load at startup and it required a full reboot to switch. Modern computers are ready quickly, but it took several minutes to restart a Mac in 2006. With the new Apple Silicon Mac and MacBook computers, Boot Camp is no longer available.

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  • Asahi Linux Shows the M1's Greatest Limitation May Be macOS

    An alpha of Asahi Linux has been released for Apple’s M1, and the reviews are showing the potential it has, and the problems Apple has with macOS.

    The Asahi Linux Project has been working to port Linux to the M1 chip. Asahi is based off of the Arm version of Arch Linux. The team has been working without any assistance from Apple, adding to both the challenge and reward of releasing a working Alpha.

    Most impressive of all, however, is that Asahi is already proving to be much faster than macOS on the same hardware, in some cases as much as twice as fast, according to Lifewire.

  • Asahi Linux is reverse-engineering support for Apple Silicon, including M1 Ultra | Ars Technica

    Apple Silicon Macs have gotten mostly glowing reviews on Ars and elsewhere for their speed, power efficiency, and the technical achievement they represent—the chips are scaled-up phone processors that can perform as well or better than comparable Intel chips while using less power.

    But the move away from x86 hardware has also made the Mac a bit less useful for those who want to run multiple operating systems on their Macs. While you can run ARM versions of Linux and (with caveats and without official support) Windows within virtual machines on Apple Silicon Macs, running alternate operating systems directly on top of the hardware isn't something Apple supports. Apple doesn't distribute drivers for other operating systems, and moving away from x86 CPUs and widely supported Intel and AMD GPUs makes it harder for other developers to step in and provide those drivers.

  • Asahi Linux Is The First Linux Distro To Support Apple Silicon | Tom's Hardware

    Asahi Linux for Apple Silicon has launched for the public. It is the first Linux distribution to offer native support for Apple M1 chips. As this is an alpha release, please be aware of the likelihood of easy to stumble upon bugs and some significant missing features. However, this critical milestone now made, “things will move even more quickly going forward,” promises the Asahi Linux development team.

    Asahi isn’t just a beer. It is the Japanese word for ‘morning sun,’ so it is quite an apt name for a pioneering Linux distribution for M1-powered Apple Macs. “We’re really excited to finally take this step and start bringing Linux on Apple Silicon to everyone,” wrote the development team in a blog post. Importantly, installing Asahi Linux on your Mac doesn’t require a jailbroken device. In addition, it won’t affect the security level of your macOS install, so Mac features like FileVault, running iOS apps, and watching Netflix in 4K can continue.

  • Asahi is the first Linux distro to support Apple M1 processors | KitGuru

    The Apple M1 series of processors are still relatively new, limiting new Macs to Apple’s own operating system. That is starting to change this year, with Asahi revealing itself as the first Linux distro to work on M1-powered devices.

    Currently, Asahi Linux for M1 Macs is still in alpha, so the current version is aimed at developers and power users. With that in mind, there will likely be bugs present. Fortunately, installing Asahi will not affect the macOS data, so you can revert if you need to and you don’t need to jailbreak the Mac beforehand either.

By Thom Holwerda

  • The first Asahi Linux Alpha Release is here

    This is an absolutely stunning effort and achievement by the Asahi team, but as a mere user, this whole thing does not exactly instill me with the confidence needed to buy Apple hardware to run Linux on it. There’s no denying M1 hardware is amazing, but the idea of being entirely at the mercy of whatever Apple decides to do with the firmware and boot process seems like a terrible place to be in. That being said, few people will care about that possible issue, and for them, this is great news.

Slashdot

  • Asahi Linux Is Reverse-Engineering Support For Apple Silicon, Including M1 Ultra

    For months, a small group of volunteers has worked to get this Arch Linux-based distribution up and running on Apple Silicon Macs, adapting existing drivers and (in the case of the GPU) painstakingly writing their own. And that work is paying off -- last week, the team released its first alpha installer to the general public, and as of yesterday, the software supports the new M1 Ultra in the Mac Studio. In the current alpha, an impressive list of hardware already works, including Wi-Fi, USB 2.0 over the Thunderbolt ports (USB 3.0 only works on Macs with USB-A ports, but USB 3.0 over Thunderbolt is "coming soon"), and the built-in display. But there are still big features missing, including DisplayPort and Thunderbolt, the webcam, Bluetooth, sleep mode, and GPU acceleration. That said, regarding GPU acceleration, the developers say that the M1 is fast enough that a software-rendered Linux desktop feels faster on the M1 than a GPU-accelerated desktop feels on many other ARM chips.

Installing the Asahi Linux Alpha on my M1 Mac mini

  • Installing the Asahi Linux Alpha on my M1 Mac mini

    If you haven't heard of Asahi, it's a Linux distribution based on Arch Linux that aims to bring a polished Linux experience on Apple Silicon Macs (all the current M1 Macs, and any new Apple Silicon Macs that come in the future).

Linux running on M1 Ultra

  • Open saucers get Linux running on M1 Ultra

    Arch Linux seems to run on Apple Silicon Macs

    A small group of volunteers has worked to get Asahi Linux up and running on Apple Silicon Macs, by adapting existing drivers and (in the case of the GPU) painstakingly writing their own, and rescue the hardware from the Walled Garden.

    Last week, the team released its first alpha installer to the general public and the software supports the new M1 Ultra in the Mac Studio.

    In the current alpha most of the hardware works including Wi-Fi, USB 2.0 over the Thunderbolt ports (USB 3.0 only works on Macs with USB-A ports, but USB 3.0 over Thunderbolt is "coming soon"), and the built-in display.

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