Linux isn’t exactly “ready to run” on Apple silicon, but give it time

raising / Everything the four-person team at Asahi Linux has done to make Linux work on Apple’s M-series chips is amazing, but “ready to run” is a stretch.

Apple/Asahi Linux

It’s a strange thing to see the leaders of an impressive open source project asking the press and their followers to please calm down and stop celebrating their achievements.

But that’s the situation the Asahi Linux team found itself in after several reports last week that the recently released Linux 6.2 kernel made Linux “ready to run” on Apple’s M-series hardware. It is true that upstream support for Apple’s M1 chips is in 6.2 and that the 6.2 kernel is gradually making its way to many popular distributions, including Ubuntu and Fedora. Work on Apple’s integrated GPU by the four-person Asahi core team has gone a long way. And the founder Linus Torvalds himself is especially eager to see Linux running on his favorite portable hardware, going so far as to issue a kernel in August 2022 from an M2 MacBook Air.

But the builders of a Linux system that runs perfectly on Apple silicon are asking everyone to please just give it a second.

“You cannot run Ubuntu or any other standard distro with 6.2 on any M1 Mac. Please do not wait,” the Asahi Linux team tweeted on Sunday morning. In a reply thread, they added, “We continue to upstream kernel features, and 6.2 significantly adds device trunks and basic boot support for M1 Pro/Max/Ultra devices. machine. However, there is a long way to go before upstream kernels are available on laptops. There is no trackpad/keyboard support upstream yet.”

That is far from the only issue. Asahi Linux’s own feature support document details a long list of things that work with its own Asahi release and upstream Linux in general. Throughout the Apple silicon, USB 2/3 functions, a video decoder, and different CPU states are a work in progress, available for content level testing, or to be announced. In certain Apple devices, things like microphones, webcams, speakers, HDMI out, and other essentials are hit or miss.

Asahi’s docs show a wide range of impressive achievements, given how the team basically reverse-engineered everything from either Apple’s new system-on-a-chip or the legacy ARM components. And yet, as the Asahi team points out, it is not yet ready for every M-series device of Apple, or standard distributions.

The main obstacle with other distributions that allows newer Mac owners to be very disappointed with how their systems run is the 16kB page size that must be built. in a kernel to make it run. “There is no generic ARM64 distro that ships with 16K kernels right now, to our knowledge,” the Asahi team Tweet. Distributions should repackage Asahi’s userspace utility, the team suggested, and either offer 16K-page size kernels or wait until the more standard 4K-size which kernel build is “quite handy.”

Asahi said it is “already working on some” distributions and expects to announce Asahi-based support “for a mainstream distro in the near future.” Back in March 2022, when Asahi was ready for installation but still new, the team noted that for those looking for a USB-stick-and-go “Just Works” distribution (insert the knowing chuckle about Linux here), Asahi Linux won’t be “‘done’ for a year, maybe two.” Nearly a year from that point, it felt like two.

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