For the first time, Apple Silicon Mac users using Apple’s M1 chip – such as the 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac mini and MacBook Air – can now boot up and run Linux.
The vintage that is played here is Ubuntu, and the port was developed by Corellium, which otherwise virtualizes iOS and other ARM-based operating systems to enable easier security testing. It is also worth noting that Apple has previously sued the company over the aforementioned iOS security testing tool. The lawsuit did not go Apple’s path.
Corellium Chief Technology Office Chris Wade announced the culmination of the team’s work on Twitter yesterday. And in a blog post on Corellium’s website, the team behind the harbor writes that it was developed in parallel with the group’s efforts to “create a model of [M1] for our security research part. ”
The blog post has many additional details about the obstacles Corellium had to overcome, including dealing with how Apple’s SoC brings up more CPU cores, handles Apple’s proprietary interrupt controls and much more. Corellium added, among other things, “a preloader that acts as a wrapper for Linux and provides a trampoline to boot processor cores.”
This post contains a guide for installing Ubuntu on M1 Macs, and there is a Github repo (corellium / linux-m1) from which you can download the kernel. When you follow the steps, start boot directly from USB. However, we are far from Boot Camp-style dual booting multiple operating systems here. Even after the work of the Corellium team, the steps required are more complex and technical than most users will want to mess with, and it is definitely not recommended to do this as your daily driver.
Still, enthusiasts or those who want to get in front of the basket, now have an option, so if it’s your jam, go to town. Wade calls the port “fully usable”, and you get the fully functional Ubuntu desktop if you go through this process.
There are other efforts to bring Linux to M1 Macs out there, and further improvements of each are sure to come, so it’s still early days. And before you ask: doing this with Windows still looks pretty hazy. You need to use the ARM version of Windows, and it is not an option for most people at this time.
When we interviewed Apple’s marketing SVP Craig Federighi and asked about running Windows naturally on Apple Silicon Macs, he said: “It’s really up to Microsoft … we have the core technologies for them to do it, to run their ARM version of Windows, which of course supports x86 user mode applications, but it’s a decision Microsoft has to make, in order to license that technology for users to run on these Macs. But the Macs are certainly very capable of that. “
Listing image by Samuel Axon