back to article 'Not great, but usable': GNOME desktop boots on Asahi Linux for Apple M1

A member of the Asahi Linux team has shown the GNOME desktop running on the Apple M1 chip, reporting that it is "not great, but usable." Alyssa Rosenweig, who has been working on reverse engineering the Apple M1 GPU since January, has now posted a screenshot of "GNOME Shell on the Apple M1, bare metal." A terminal in the shot …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    Great work so far

    Alyssa and the rest of the Ashai team deserve a crate of beers for this. And a further case for sticking it to Apple!

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Great work so far

      Not sure if 'sticking it to Apple' is correct. You still pay Apple for everything, just choose not to use the OS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great work so far

        You get to use the current best ARM hardware, while not being restricted to Apple's software walled garden, or having to put up with any AI scanning your data, which is more than worthy of the "sticking it" comment.

        1. Slipoch

          Re: Great work so far

          Dunno if it is the best arm hardware given that the fastest supercomputer out there is using completely different arm processors. Also in indie benchmarks for video processing using non-accelerated video it was far slower, same with unaccelerated computations (some like compilation have specific acceleration)

          Also it will be interesting to see if the linux guys can use the accelerator chips in the M1 for video decoding/encoding etc.

          Another possible issue is that there have internal debates at Apple on locking out alternative os's from the m1 and restricting the boot to stop them.

          1. Waseem Alkurdi

            Re: Great work so far

            OP obviously meant "the best ARM processor available for personal computing"

            About locking out OSes: that would void their earlier promise at the announcement to keep the bootloader unlocked and not lock out other OSes.

            1. Ian 55

              Re: Great work so far

              And Apple have never ever broken a promise...

    2. devin3782

      Re: Great work so far

      Jokes on you here I think, you buy their kit they win. I stick it to Apple by buying from someone else, Apple only understands the contents of their customers wallets.

      I guess I can see this is useful when Apple stops supporting the M1 it might prevent a handful going into landfill, I suspect they'll burn out in a timely fashion (soon after the new model is available)

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Great work so far

      I'll bet Apple doesn't mind this at all. They probably just believe the additional Mac sales would be so small that it isn't worth their trouble to actually support the porting effort themselves.

      1. hammarbtyp

        Re: Great work so far

        "I'll bet Apple doesn't mind this at all."

        Hmm, the company that is famous for putting up a walled gardens, is not too worried about someone hacking their system???

        Apple has always tried to control everything. They pretend its for customer benefit, but it also allows them to drive huge profits from software and services.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Great work so far

          "Hacking their system" to run Linux doesn't affect their walled garden.

          They could easily prevent jailbreaking, for example, by making the OS detect and it throw up an error message telling them they need to reinstall their phone or something. Instead all they do is fix the security holes that are used for the jailbreak, without stopping people from running jailbroken phones - because those people still bought an iPhone even if they choose to live outside the walled garden. Apple may make less money from those customers since they aren't buying apps etc., but they still make a good chunk from selling the hardware and something is better than nothing.

  2. jake Silver badge

    'Not great, but usable'

    So better than Gnome everywhere else, then?

    "will run like a dream on these machines."

    If it's anything like the Gnome I've seen, it'll be a dream alright. A bad dream.

  3. Robert2coffee

    Kudos. These are challenging days for linux on M1

  4. karlkarl Silver badge

    Gnome is just about the worst desktop environment to use on an early platform with no accelerated GPU support.

    It requires acceleration so is using LLVMpipe to provide OpenGL via the CPU. This is very wasteful.

    Just about any other proper window manager would yield superior (and very usable) results.

    This jump to GPU reliance (and admittedly Wayland) has been unfortunate during the era of different technologies popping up (i.e WSL, RPi and M1). We would have seen much better results with the traditional display server approach.

    But I suppose that is progress. Fix, break, fix, break, fix. Chuck excrement at a wall and see what sticks.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      The problem is that Apple does not provide any documentation. Otherwise these kind of tricks wouldn't be necessary.

  5. rcxb1

    Time for an ARM standard architecture

    What ARM desperately needs is a standard. Today it's like the old minicomputer days where each system that came along was different and you had to manually update programs with all new memory locations and methods for accessing accessories.

    ARM needs an IBM PC moment... Where everybody comes together on a single popular architecture and standardizes on it, saying they're going to make all their stuff compatible with that, and any upgrades will also retain compatibility. When that happens, then you'll be able to buy generic ARM powered computers off the shelf that will allow you to drop in generic peripheral cards, and run whatever software you want, the way you can with PCs.

    Despite the hype, Apple's M1 really doesn't seem like the modern day IBM PC, unfortunately. They won't be licensing their OS to OEMs to load on 3rd party hardware, and they don't maintain compatibility even with their own products for very long.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time for an ARM standard architecture

      Agreed but unfortunately we seem to be getting further away from the IBM/PC "open boot" kind of environment each day.

      Not only with things like the BIOS being replaced with a much easier to lock down EFI, UEFI but also secureboot with crooked back alley deals with hardware vendors to keep it locked.

      Then you have thousands of ARM devices who haven't been able to get their sh*t together for a consistent boot system even close to the ancient BIOS design so that is *still* a mess (and you need bespoke iso images to boot on each device. Bloody crap!).

      Just stockpile as many decent older machines as you can and just let the entire industry rot whilst we watch. Bunch of clowns quite frankly.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi

        Re: Time for an ARM standard architecture

        There is an infosec angle to locking things down though, namely Measured/Trusted Boot or whatever. Basically it's to make sure that every component of the software stack (and sometimes, hardware) hasn't been tampered with.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So.... working better than Open Source NVidia

    I think Torvalds said it...

  7. nick47


    What can you do on Linux that you can't already do in a terminal on Mac OS?

    1. Waseem Alkurdi

      Re: Why?

      Building Android, off the top of my head.

      It's not "what you could do" though, the problem is having the option to run what you want on the computer that you paid $1000+ for.

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