Since you can already run Linux on ARM, it was only a matter of time before someone found a way to get the open source operating system working on the new Arm-based M1 Macs.
Using the open source QEMU emulator and virtualizer, developers have now managed to run Linux and Windows.
It is reported that the process is not just a proof-of-concept and all basic functionality, including virtualized audio and network interfaces, work as they would on a native installation.
Near native performance
Alexander Graf, a software engineer at Amazon, was the first to adapt QEMU and achieve near-native performance running a Windows 10 Insider Preview for ARM on Apple Silicon.
Graf’s patches have now been used by Linux kernel developer Jon Masters to run Fedora 33 on a M1 MacBook Air.
We’ve already reported that Parallels is working on a new version of Parallels Desktop for Mac especially for the M1 Macs, which should further ease the process. Of course Parallels Desktop for Mac will be a paid proprietary virtualizer as opposed to the free and open source QEMU.
Linus Torvalds, the principal developer of Linux, has expressed interest in using the new MacBooks. Of course he wants the laptops to run Linux, which he perceives as a problem given Apple’s reluctance to share details about the hardware in its machines.
While Linux in a virtualized environment might not pass muster with Torvalds, he just might be in for a pleasant surprise.
A crowdfunding campaign to port Linux to the M1 Macs is well on its way to achieving its target, having already completed one of its two crowdfunding goals. Setup by the developer who ported Linux to the PlayStation 4, Hector Martin, the campaign is for raising funds to allow Martin to work on the porting process full-time.