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Asahi Linux is the name of a new project aiming to get Linux properly supported and working on Apple Silicon, the new ARM based chips designed by Apple like the Apple M1 found in their latest hardware.

This is being spearheaded by Hector Martin "marcan", who some will recognise due to their work involved in porting Linux to the Sony PlayStation 4. It's a crowdfunded effort, with Martin putting up a Patreon campaign which has now hit enough funding for the work to begin. Martin also has a GitHub Sponsor account, with plenty backing there too.

Their plan is to start with the 2020 M1 Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro and they don't want to just get Linux running on them as they want to get it polished to a point where it can be used as your main daily operating system. It's a lot of work though, as they explained "this requires a huge amount of work to be done, as Apple Silicon is a completely undocumented platform" and "we will be reverse engineering the Apple GPU architecture and developing an open source driver for it".

All their work will be up on GitHub.

You might not like Apple or macOS but there's no denying the hardware is nice. Even our own Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, said in 2020 "I'd absolutely love to have one, if it just ran Linux".

Martin is of course not the only one involved. Alyssa Rosenzweig, who works with Collabora on the Panfrost driver for ARM Mali GPUs, seems to also be involved. Rosenzweig wrote in a blog post about work towards an open source Mesa driver that's hit the first milestone of understanding enough of the instruction set "to disassemble simple shaders with a free and open-source tool chain" and this work lives on the Asahi Linux GitHub here.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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11 comments
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Bumadar 8 Jan
Great if they get it working but as apple is not intrested in this (although could be a good market for them, just bare hardware) this will always lag way behind because of the amount of work that reverse engenering takes, apple will be on the m3 by the time the m1 will be up and running 100% (cpu, gpu, network) with linux.

But lets hope i am wrong 😀
Spyker 8 Jan
Quoting: BumadarGreat if they get it working but as apple is not intrested in this (although could be a good market for them, just bare hardware) this will always lag way behind because of the amount of work that reverse engenering takes, apple will be on the m3 by the time the m1 will be up and running 100% (cpu, gpu, network) with linux.

But lets hope i am wrong 😀

It's always a good idea as it will provides a longer life to those products once Apple will leave them into the dust.
bubexel 8 Jan
Liam start a crowdfounding or something to get a VR set. I'm really interested to see some news and report about Linux VR. You will have my bucks.
Liam Dawe 8 Jan
Quoting: bubexelLiam start a crowdfounding or something to get a VR set. I'm really interested to see some news and report about Linux VR. You will have my bucks.
We already have one. Plenty of other ways to support us here. Setting up a dedicated one isn't really feasible for many reasons. Besides, wrong article I guess for this comment?


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 8 January 2021 at 2:38 pm UTC
We are a split Linux/MacOS household. I am 95% on Linux but other family members use Mac laptops quite a bit. I won't buy another Mac until I know that Linux will run on it when support for MacOS runs out.

I want to decide when to retire my hardware, not let Apple do it. Ironically, if Apple supported this project they would increase sales for their hardware.
kaiman 8 Jan
As fascinating as the hardware looks, I'm done with Apple. If I'd want to run Linux on ARM I'd probably just get a Raspberry PI. But for now I don't.

As for Apple, I've grudgingly opted for a MacBook Pro around 2013 (the 13" one, the last with a DVD drive), and at least that one could still be upgraded, so it now has twice the original RAM and an SSD. In theory it's still usable and might even run Big Sur, heaven forbid! But in practice it sees little use. My wife switched to an LG Gram, which is 14" but half the weight, and even has slots for a second SSD and more RAM. Given that Apple has removed the ability to upgrade or replace the hardware in any way, I simply won't buy any of their computers any more. And software wise, things went basically downhill after OSX 10.6.

So yeah, guess there's an argument for getting Linux to run, after all :-).
Quoting: kaimanI simply won't buy any of their computers any more. And software wise, things went basically downhill after OSX 10.6.

So yeah, guess there's an argument for getting Linux to run, after all :-).

Yeah I bailed after 10.8; and never looked back. Though the one thing that I sort of do miss from OS X is the ease with which you could make applications message one another, tap into each other's objects, etc. using AppleScript, or even Automator. I've been trying to learn some dbus messaging lately; and the lack of documentation — not to mention the half-assed way in which applications implement its resources (*if at all*) drive me crazy.

I wasn't aware that this new initiative was entirely a matter of reverse engineering, though. That's disheartening, to be honest.
drlamb 8 Jan
Quoting: kaimanIn theory it's still usable and might even run Big Sur, heaven forbid!

Yeah, I feel almost the exact same way. I love the way Apple's machines look and feel but that's as deep as my appreciation goes: Surface level. Every time I'm stuck with macOS I feel limited as if I'm being told how to use my machine (Windows is the same way for me).

I ended up with my girlfriend's old 2015 13" Macbook Pro Retina as she upgraded and I've struggled to use it once. For one thing, it's an Intel machine . Secondly, it's a mac. I'd install Linux on it in a heartbeat if she hadn't of set a firmware password (prevents booting external devices/entering recovery) that she's since forgotten. As I'm the original purchaser of the device I can have apple remove it but due to the state of the world it's not like I can just walk into an Apple store and have it done promptly. And so, it sits.



Your macbook pro is a 2012 as those were the last models made with DVD drives/upgradable parts. They were still sold through 2013 alongside the new "retina" class models. You can likely run big sur just fine on that machine (Linux even easier!) with a tool like https://github.com/barrykn/big-sur-micropatcher.


Last edited by drlamb on 8 January 2021 at 8:20 pm UTC
g000h 9 Jan
I find Apple is a very greed-oriented, anti-consumer company. All their products are designed to rip off their consumers, and entrap them inside an ecosystem where the consumer needs to keep paying more and more to prolong their admittance.

The sleekness of their products hides many flaws - Missing peripheral ports, non-upgradeable hardware, non-repairable hardware. Bad for the consumer and bad for the environment. Only good for the shareholder.
bubexel 9 Jan
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: bubexelLiam start a crowdfounding or something to get a VR set. I'm really interested to see some news and report about Linux VR. You will have my bucks.
We already have one. Plenty of other ways to support us here. Setting up a dedicated one isn't really feasible for many reasons. Besides, wrong article I guess for this comment?
I'm already supporting your patreon. But i will see what i can do about this VR set...


Last edited by bubexel on 9 January 2021 at 5:35 pm UTC
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