It seemed only yesterday that a small group of developers began work on porting Linux to the new Apple M1 chipset. The journey was a struggle from day one, given how much proprietary hardware Apple uses. But the work has paid off and Asahi Linux, a community-based project centered around porting a distribution to the Apple M1 chipset, has finally succeeded in getting a usable Linux desktop on the hardware.
The engineers have merged various drivers and bindings for the 5.16 Linux kernel and even managed to work out the pinctrl driver, I2C driver, device power management, NVMe+SART, and DCP. Thanks to those new drivers, M1 Macs are now a viable option for the Linux operating system.
Before you jump on this, understand it’s not perfect. Apple uses a proprietary PowerVR-based GPU, so the Linux desktop will come without GPU acceleration. It’s also important to know that a proper installer has yet to materialize. That means users outside of the Asahi project are still not able to experience the Linux desktop on the M1 hardware. To that, Hector Martin, the head of the project, says, “Once we have a stable kernel foundation, we will start publishing an ‘official’ installer that we expect will see more wide usage among the adventurous.”
Developers interested in trying out Asahi Linux on M1 hardware can head over to the project’s IRC channel (#asahi-dev) to get help getting started.