Apple makes it famously difficult to run anything other than iOS on iPhones and iPads. But from time to time hackers have found ways to install different operating systems.

The latest example? Now you can boot Linux on iPhones, iPads, and other devices released from 2013 through 2017 thanks to a new project from Kondrad Dybcio and Markuss Broks.

@konradybcio

Dybcio explains that after spending a few years trying on and off to find a way to boot Linux on an old iPhone 5S, inspired by the work of the folks behind projects like Project Sandcastle (Android or Linux for the iPhone 7 series), and Asahi Linux (Linux for Macs with Apple Silicon), he and Broks recently made a breakthrough that allowed Linux to boot on devices with Apple A7 through Apple A11 processors.

In case it wasn’t obvious, the process of booting Linux on an iOS device involves jailbreaking your device and wiping any data that’s currently on it. And it looks like things are still in the early stages – I’ve seen multiple images on Twitter of Linux booting on various iOS devices in recent days, but they’re all showing a command line interface rather than a graphical user interface. And many hardware features aren’t yet fully functional when running Linux on these Apple devices.

But if you’d like to try your hand, you can find open source tools and instructions near the end of Dybcio’s Linux on Apple Silicon writeup. Note that when the article was first published, only Apple devices with A7 through A8X series processors were supported. But a few days later Dybcio announced that devices with up to an Apple A11 processor can now boot Linux using this method.

And in case you’re wondering which Apple devices shipped with the processors covered by this hack, here’s a list:

Apple devices with:
Apple A7Apple A8Apple A8XApple A9Apple A9XApple A10Apple A10XApple A11
  • iPhone 5S
  • iPad Air (1st-gen)
  • iPad mini (2nd-gen)
  • iPad mini (3rd-gen)
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPod touch (6th-gen)
  • iPad mini (4th-gen)
  • Apple TV (4th-gen)
  • Apple HomePod
iPad Air (2nd-gen)
  • iPhone 6S
  • iPhone 6S Plus
  • iPad (5th-gen)
  • iPad Pro (12.9 inch, 2015)
  • iPad Pro (9.7 inch, 2016)
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPad (6th-gen)
  • iPad (7th-gen)
  • iPod touch (7th-gen)
  • iPad Pro (10.5 inch, 2017)
  • iPad Pro (12.9 inch, 2017)
  • Apple TV 4K (2017)
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X

This article was first published June 9, 2022 and most recently updated June 13, 2022. 

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  1. Although this is not as usable, I hope they boot any Android version on these bad boys and if we’re lucky even Windows ARM!