Things can move fast in the IT world, and Linux on Apple silicon has gone from "ooh look, text on a screen" to something considerably more usable in a matter of days.
We first noted progress on efforts to get Linux on Apple's M1 chippery earlier this week and, after an emission aimed at the courageous, Arm device virtualization specialist Corellium has rapidly followed things up with the "Groovy Gorilla" release of Ubuntu up and running on a M1 Mac.
Linux is now completely usable on the Mac mini M1. Booting from USB a full Ubuntu desktop (rpi). Network works via a USB c dongle. Update includes support for USB, I2C, DART. We will push changes to our GitHub and a tutorial later today. Thanks to the @CorelliumHQ team ❤️🙏 pic.twitter.com/uBDbDmvJUG— Chris Wade (@cmwdotme) January 20, 2021
Corellium CTO Chris Wade described the release as "completely usable" although portions of Apple's new hardware remain unavailable to the operating system for the time being. Want networking? You'll need to attach a dongle to a USB-C port. Support for hardware acceleration? Not yet.
And so on. It does, after all, remain very early days.
Those with pockets deep enough to spring for Apple's latest and greatest and a desire to avoid macOS can follow a relatively straightforward guide from Corellium on getting the Raspberry Pi image of Ubuntu 20.10 up and running. "We used a Raspberry Pi image because it was a live USB boot image, so we only had to make minor modifications to boot it," the team explained.
Corellium also paid tribute to the team behind PongoOS – a pre-boot execution environment for Apple boards – "for contributing their expertise and collaboration".
An RFC has been submitted to upstream with a view to review and potentially include the changes for a minimal Linux on Apple Silicon boot. The latest patches were pushed to the GitHub repo late yesterday.
There are alternatives in the works too. The Asahi Linux project notwithstanding, virtualization is also an option.