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Last week, reports surfaced that the recently issued Linux 6.2 kernel had made Linux “ready to run” on Apple’s M-series hardware. The news excited many in the tech world, including Linux founder Linus Torvalds, who issued a kernel from an M2 MacBook Air in August 2022. However, the Asahi Linux team, which has been leading the effort to get Linux running on Apple silicon, is asking everyone to hold off on their celebrations.
In a tweet on Sunday, the team warned that “you will not be able to run Ubuntu nor any other standard distro with 6.2 on any M1 Mac. Please don’t get your hopes up“. The team pointed out that while support for Apple’s M1 chips is present in the 6.2 kernel, there is still a long road ahead before upstream kernels are usable on laptops, and there is no trackpad/keyboard support upstream yet.
Asahi’s own feature support document highlights the long list of things still in progress or yet to be announced, including USB 2/3 function, video decoding, and various CPU states. On specific Apple devices, items like microphones, webcams, speakers, HDMI out, and other necessities are hit or miss.
The main roadblock to getting other distributions up and running on M-series Apple devices is the 16kB page size that must be built into a kernel for it to run. “No generic ARM64 distro ships 16K kernels today, to our knowledge“, the Asahi team tweeted. Distributions would need to repackage Asahi’s userspace tooling and either offer 16K-page-size kernels or wait until more standard 4K-size kernel builds are “somewhat usable”.
While the Asahi team has made impressive progress in reverse-engineering Apple’s new system-on-a-chip and legacy ARM components, they caution that their work is not yet ready for every M-series Apple device or standard distributions. They note that they are “already working with some” distributions and expect to announce Asahi-based support “for a mainstream distro in the near future“.
For those seeking a USB-stick-and-go “Just Works” distribution, Asahi Linux is not yet “done” and may take another year or two. Despite the recent progress, the Asahi team is urging patience and cautioning against getting too excited about Linux running on Apple silicon just yet.