Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Dogfooding Linux 5.19 on Apple Silicon

Linus Torvalds (via Hacker News):

On a personal note, the most interesting part here is that I did the release (and am writing this) on an arm64 laptop. It’s something I’ve been waiting for for a loong time, and it’s finally reality, thanks to the Asahi team. We’ve had arm64 hardware around running Linux for a long time, but none of it has really been usable as a development platform until now.

It’s the third time I’m using Apple hardware for Linux development - I did it many years ago for powerpc development on a ppc970 machine. And then a decade+ ago when the Macbook Air was the only real thin-and-lite around. And now as an arm64 platform.

Not that I’ve used it for any real work, I literally have only been doing test builds and boots and now the actual release tagging. But I’m trying to make sure that the next time I travel, I can travel with this as a laptop and finally dogfooding the arm64 side too.

Andrew Cunningham:

In November 2020, Torvalds wrote that the then-new M1 version of the Air “would be almost perfect” as an Arm Linux laptop but said, “I don’t have the time to tinker with it, or the inclination to fight companies that don’t want to help.”

At a certain level, this news is just mildly interesting trivia—it doesn’t matter to most Linux users what computer Torvalds is currently using, and Asahi Linux is still in a rough, early state where lots of things are half-functional or non-functional. But as Asahi contributor Hector Martin notes, having “real people… using Linux on a real, modern ARM64 platform” with a modern version of the Arm instruction set and a “near-upstream kernel” has knock-on effects that benefit the rest of the ecosystem.


Update (2022-08-04): Hector Martin:

I have heard from several Apple employees that:

  1. The boot method we use is for 3rd-party OSes, and Apple only use it to test that it works, because
  2. It is policy that it works.

Apple didn’t “leave the door open” for 3rd party OSes. Apple explicitly engineered 3rd party OS support in, and it is a hard policy requirement that it continue to work.

They aren’t going to help us port anything but they absolutely will not shut Asahi down either.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

Old Unix Geek

It'll be interesting to see whether linux is faster. I got an 8Gb M1 Macbook pro from work, and I'm not particularly impressed. It seems to stall from time to time, with the kernel task taking 2-3 CPUs. I'm guessing memory pressure, and a laggard VM subsystem.

Linus confirmed his model to me: MacBook Air with M2 chip, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD, “Space Gray”.

This makes me so happy.

@OUG: My Mac Mini M1 16 GB RAM is now basically abandoned as a desktop because my 10-core Intel iMac still provides a better overall experience with 128 GB RAM and I already have a 2018 Mac Mini for a server that runs macOS. But the 2012 Mac Mini that now runs Linux could surely use a replacement, and I'm quite sure that when this Linux support is dusted off it will be the M1 Mini running a pure textmode environment for server software that performs splendidly; it's basically already there now for that purpose, it's just not "upstream" enough.

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