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Aha! This Project is Working to Bring Linux to Apple’s ARM-based M1 MacBooks

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A community project that aims to port Linux to Apple Silicon Macs, starting with the 2020 M1 Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.
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Alyssa Rosenzweig's post

  • Alyssa Rosenzweig: Dissecting the Apple M1 GPU, part I

    Apple’s latest line of Macs includes their in-house “M1” system-on-chip, featuring a custom GPU. This poses a problem for those of us in the Asahi Linux project who wish to run Linux on our devices, as this custom Apple GPU has neither public documentation nor open source drivers. Some speculate it might descend from PowerVR GPUs, as used in older iPhones, while others believe the GPU to be completely custom. But rumours and speculations are no fun when we can peek under the hood ourselves!

    A few weeks ago, I purchased a Mac Mini with an M1 GPU as a development target to study the instruction set and command stream, to understand the GPU’s architecture at a level not previously publicly understood, and ultimately to accelerate the development of a Mesa driver for the hardware. Today I’ve reached my first milestone: I now understand enough of the instruction set to disassemble simple shaders with a free and open-source tool chain, released on GitHub here.

Outsourcing to Microsoft/Proprietary (GitHub)

  • Early Work Is Underway On Reverse-Engineering The Apple M1 GPU - Phoronix

    Alyssa Rosenzweig who is known for her work on reverse-engineering Arm GPUs and in particular the multi-year effort so far working on the Panfrost open-source driver stack has taken up an interest in Apple's M1 graphics processor.

    Over the past few weeks Alyssa began exploring the M1 GPU with a new Apple Mac Mini. The ultimate goal she hopes is to create a Mesa driver for the M1 GPU, which will be critical if the Linux efforts to get the new SoC/devices working outside of macOS are to succeed... Without a fully-working GPU, Linux on the Apple M1 devices won't do much good for desktop/mobile use-cases.

Getting Linux running properly on Apple M1 Silicon

  • Getting Linux running properly on Apple M1 Silicon has begun with Asahi Linux

    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.

Linux on Apple's Arm silicon Macs?

  • Linux on Apple's Arm silicon Macs? This crowdfunded project wants to give it a try

    A crowdfunded project has launched that aims to to port Linux to Apple's new Arm-based silicon Macs.

    Hector Martin, a Tokyo-based IT security consultant by day and hacker by night, has kicked off what he is calling the Asahi Linux project.

  • Crowdfunded Asahi project aims for 'polished' Linux experience on Apple Silicon

    Martin said that "Apple allows booting unsigned/custom kernels on Apple Silicon Macs without a jailbreak," which he takes as evidence that "Apple does not intend to lock down what OS you can use."

    Apple does control the boot process and firmware on its Secure Enclave Processor, but, according to Martin, this is no more restrictive than modern PCs.

    "In fact, mainstream x86 platforms are arguably more intrusive, as the proprietary UEFI firmware is allowed to steal the main CPU from the OS at any time via SMM interrupts, which is not the case on Apple Silicon Macs," he said.

    Linus Torvalds said last year that he would welcome Linux on Apple Silicon. "I'd absolutely love to have one, if it just ran Linux... I've been waiting for an ARM laptop that can run Linux for a long time. The new Air would be almost perfect, except for the OS. And I don't have the time to tinker with it, or the inclination to fight companies that don't want to help."

    Whether or not it is via this project, the ability to run Linux on Apple Silicon is significant for software freedom. Apple Silicon is a hardware breakthrough, outperforming x86 PCs, but Apple is making MacOS in some respects more like iOS, encouraging users to install software from a store gated by Apple.

Could this ambitious project see Linux on Apple M1 Macs?

  • Could this ambitious project see Linux on Apple M1 Macs?

    Experienced Linux porter Hector Martin has kicked off work on bringing Linux to the new Apple M1 Macs. His endeavor is named Asahi after the Japanese name for the McIntosh apple.

    Martin has been porting Linux to other devices for a long time, and is popular for getting the open source kernel to work on the PS4 with full OpenGL/Vulkan graphics support along with the ability to run Steam.

    With Asahi, Martin will first target the M1 Mac Mini, but assures that “all Apple M1 macs are in scope, as well as future generations as development time permits.”

What must be done to bring Linux to the Apple M1 chips

  • What must be done to bring Linux to the Apple M1 chips

    Everyone loves Apple's new M1 chip Macs. Even Linux's creator Linus Torvalds has said "I'd absolutely love to have one if it just ran Linux." And, recently, Hector Martin, a Tokyo-based IT security consultant and hacker, is leading the crowd-funded Asahi Linux project to bring the Arch Linux distro to Apple's ARM-based M1 architecture. But, in an e-mail interview, Greg Kroah-Hartman (gregkh), the Linux kernel maintainer for the stable branch and leader of the Linux Driver Project, said Asahi's programmers will face "lots of work in figuring out the hardware connected to the CPU (i.e.driver stuff)."

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