Linux kernel will soon feature native Apple M1 support

Get a free Techzine subscription!

Developers of the Asahi Linux project have added support for the Apple M1 processor to the Linux kernel. The support should be available from version 5.13 of Linux.

This is still a basic version of the support, but it is an important first step in making Linux run smoothly on Apple M1 computers. Lead developer Hector Martin says on Twitter that this is probably the most challenging step in the process, at least until they finish work on the GPU. The only thing that can stop the merge of the code into the Linux kernel now is a veto from Linus Torvalds himself, jokes Martin.

Linux op Apple Silicon

Asahi Linux is a project that aims to make Linux usable on computers running on Apple Silicon processors. The developers ultimately want to get it working so well that Linux can be used as a daily operating system on the new Apple computers. The project’s website states that porting Linux to Apple’s processors requires a tremendous amount of work, as there is no documentation available. Especially reverse-engineering the GPU architecture and building an open-source driver for it is a big job. The Linux kernel has had general Arm support for many years.

Installation is no simple task

The developers also ran into problems making the bootloader, writes The Register. The developers had to work with the unique USB commands that Apple uses. “Currently, the easiest way to get a serial console on these machines is to use a second M1 box and a simple USB C cable,” writes Martin. Alternatively, a user can DIY their own interface using an Arduino, a FUSB302 chip or board and a 1.2V UART-TTL adapter. Detailed instructions can be found in the Quick Start Guide.

Availability

Version 5.12-rc6 of the Linux kernel was released this week. In the announcement, Torvalds says that the stable version of Linux 5.12 will be released within the next two weeks. Given the update cadence of roughly one new Linux version every two months, it is likely that version 5.13 will be available around June.

Tip: Homebrew Mac tool gets Apple Silicon and M1 support