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Linux is now 'usable' on Apple's M1 Macs

Macbook Air M1
Macbook Air M1 (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Asahi Linux is a project to bring a polished Linux experience to the M1 Mac lineup.
  • The project is now reportedly usable as a basic desktop without GPU acceleration.

The team behind the Asahi Linux project says the software is now "usable as a basic Linux desktop" without GPU acceleration on devices like Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 and MacBook Air with M1.

In a recent progress update this week the team stated:

It's been a busy month! We've had a lot of movement in kernel land, as well as some tooling improvements and reverse engineering sessions. At this point, Asahi Linux is usable as a basic Linux desktop (without GPU acceleration)! The ground had been shifting until now, but we're seeing drivers settle down. Let's take a look at what's been going on.

The report documents the progress of Linux drivers and the challenges of Apple's unique Apple silicon hardware, but overall, there's good news:

With these drivers, M1 Macs are actually usable as desktop Linux machines! While there is no GPU acceleration yet, the M1's CPUs are so powerful that a software-rendered desktop is actually faster on them than on e.g. Rockchip ARM64 machines with hardware acceleration.

The team now says an official installer is on the way, but that this won't be a polished experience for some time. Next, Asahi Linux plans to tackle the GPU to bring support for this too but doesn't offer a timeframe.

Developer Hector Martin (Marcan) started the project last year, looking to crowdfund Linux support for Apple silicon. The goal of Asahi Linux is to port Linux to Apple's Apple silicon Macs, polished to the point it can be used as a daily OS.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.