Linux on M1 Macs could become a reality thanks to this project

Linux on M1 Macs could become a reality thanks to a new project by developer Hector Martin. This is the same developer that has previously ported Linux to PlayStation 4, so if anyone can make it happens, it’s him.

Linux on M1 Macs could happen soon

Hector Martin announced the project on Twitter through a poll, and although most people voted no, or just wanted to see results, his Patreon shows 708 backers who are contributing towards the project. Martin has set up the Patreon account to help fund the project and has clarified that he will not bill folks until he hits $4,000/month commitment which should make the project viable for him to proceed.

Help make Linux on Apple Silicon Macs a reality!

Patreon is up: https://patreon.com/marcan

I’m pausing billing until I get $4k/mo of commitment, so you won’t be charged until there is enough momentum to make the project viable.

Martin explained that he will begin work in January, and order an M1 Mac mini for development and testing. Patreon members will be charged on 1st January after the goal of $4,000/month is met. In another tweet, Martin confirmed that the goal has been met and he will being work on time.

The project will require a huge amount of work for one person, and involve reverse engineering and writing Linux drivers for Apple Silicon M1 Macs. This means that users will be able to replace macOS with Linux, including the complete boot environment. The biggest challenge would be GPU support as Apple has a custom proprietary GPU in the M1 chip. Martin also noted that he trusts Apple’s engineers more than AMD or Nvidia’s engineers, to not screw over open-source GPU driver projects.

Even though the M1 chip has a similar architecture to iPhone and iPad’s A-series processors, Apple has provided some documentation for custom boot which means that Martin does not have to find exploits to boot Linux.

Hector Martin also believes that Apple will not go after anyone who works on a custom Linux on M1 port because it requires reverse engineering drivers.

Martin has previously ported Linux to an ISP router, PlayStation 4, and more. His ports do not just involve running the operating system, they have been polished enough, along with all working hardware and drivers, that users would want to use them on these devices.

The project is going to start in less than a month, and hopefully, within the next year, we will have the first alternative operating system working on Apple Silicon M1 Macs, which might convince Linus Torvalds to also buy a Mac. Just in time for the M1X Macs that are expected to launch in 2021.

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