Developers get Asahi Linux ‘usable’ on M1 Mac without GPU acceleration

The developers of Asahi Linux call the software “usable” for basic use on a Mac system with M1-soc, even though GPU acceleration doesn’t work yet. The developers prepared the necessary drivers in September, among other things.

The developers who have focused on getting Linux working on Mac computers with the M1 soc report that their implementation still has some rough edges and many missing drivers, but Asahi Linux is workable as a basic desktop system. According to the team’s Hector Martin ‘marcan’, the software rendering of the desktop environment on an M1 is smoother even without GPU acceleration, thanks to the computing power of that soc than on an ARM64 soc from Rockchip with hardware acceleration.

The project to get Linux working on the M1 started in March. Thanks to the closed nature of Apple’s soc, the port is not easy. In the September progress update, the developers report that the PCIe bindings, PCIe driver, and USB-C Power Delivery driver have been merged for Linux 5.16. They are hopeful that the drivers will also work with future Apple socs, as the company would keep the hardware interfaces compatible.

There is no official installer yet. The team only wants to release it when the kernel is more stable. Until then, there is an alpha installer that interested developers can try out as an OS partition upon request. The developers want to quickly focus on the GPU kernel interface. It is unknown how long that work will take. Ultimately, Martin hopes his project will create an Asahi Linux distro with Arch Linux ARM installation package for end users.