The new Apple devices based on the arm64 architecture with M1 and M2 chips are excellent but limited to the well-known macOS. However, what if you want to run Linux on them?
Asahi is a Linux distribution on a mission to make this a reality. It is a project and community dedicated to bringing Linux to Apple Silicon Macs.
Furthermore, the distribution’s popularity skyrocketed after Linus Torvalds stated in late July that he was announcing the Linux kernel 5.19 from the M2 MacBook Air running the Asahi Linux kernel. Is it possible for a Linux distribution to hope for better advertising than this?
Over the last two years, the Asahi team has worked tirelessly to adapt Linux to Apple’s M1 and M2 devices. Predictably, the most challenging part of it is the hardware drivers, as Apple offers virtually no documentation for this, so all comes down to endless hours of reverse engineering.
But today came the big news: the Asahi Linux team officially announced the first public version of its Apple Silicon GPU driver.
We’ve been working hard over the past two years to bring this new driver to everyone, and we’re really proud to finally be here. This is still an alpha driver, but it’s already good enough to run a smooth desktop experience and some games.
The Asahi GPU driver includes OpenGL 2.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0 support for all Apple M1 and M2-based systems. If you’re unfamiliar with OpenGL, it is a cross-platform, cross-language API that gives users various functions for rendering 2D and 3D vector graphics.
Thanks to the new driver, Asahi Linux users can now benefit from hardware acceleration, which provides a smooth user experience in desktop environments such as GNOME and KDE. Furthermore, even playing several older 3D games, for example, Quake3, is possible.
The next step is to add support for Vulkan, a new-generation graphics and compute API for high-efficiency, cross-platform access to GPUs. According to Asahi developers, work on this has already begun, and they will reuse much of the work currently being done for the OpenGL driver in providing Vulkan support.
For more details on the first public release of Apple’s Silicon GPU Asahi Linux driver, visit the official announcement.
To try the driver, you need to run the
linux-asahi-edge kernel and install the
mesa-asahi-edge Mesa package. Remember that Pacman will prompt you to replace
mesa with the
mesa-asahi-edge package because you can install only one Mesa version at a time.
sudo pacman -Syu
sudo pacman -S linux-asahi-edge mesa-asahi-edge
Finally, the Asahi Linux developers recommend that the new driver be used with Wayland instead of Xorg.