Folks have been finding ways to run Linux on Macs with Apple M1 processors for about as long as there have been Macs with Apple Silicon by using virtual machines or other methods.

But soon you may not have to resort to workarounds – an upcoming Linux Kernel will add initial support for running natively on the Apple system-on-a-chip used for the latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Mini computers.

Asahi Linux

The folks at the Asahi Linux project have been working to port Linux to run on Apple Silicon, and the team has announced that initial support for the Apple M1 processor has been merged with the upcoming Linux Kernel version 5.13.

Just keep in mind that initial support means initial support – there’s “support for a serial console and framebuffer at this point and no other drivers.”

That means you may be able to boot into a command line environment and start poking around, but it’ll probably be a while before you have the ability to natively run a Linux distribution with a graphical user interface capable of leveraging all of the features of Apple’s new processors.

As the Asahi Linux project points out, “Apple Silicon is an entirely undocumented platform,” so a fair amount of reverse engineering will be required to add support for the GPU and other technologies that make Apple’s chips so fast.

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  1. An M1 Macbook would be more appealing to me if it could do virtualization. No problem running a Linux virtual client on an Intel Macbook using Virtualbox. I’m not sure if that’s even possible with a the new M1 Macs.

    1. You can do that already with newest Parallels and VMWare afaik. You can’t emulate x86 stuff natively though. Need to run those through Rosetta which means it’s not gonna be any fast.