Developer Hector Martin, also known in the Linux community as “Marcan” and who likes to define himself as “one who likes to put Linux on things,” has launched a Patreon that aims to raise enough funds to support Linux on Macs with Apple Silicon processors.
Back ago, Hector Martin made headlines in the technology press for having managed to bring Linux to the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo’s switch. But being able to create a Linux port is by no means an easy task. Also, the creator of the operating system of the penguin Linus Torvalds himself has declared that he does not think that it is possible to create a version of Linux that can operate on Apple Silicon Macs.
It is because Linux has been compatible with ARM architectures for a long time, it is certainly not compatible with many of the components included in the new Cupertino computers, so only at the driver level is the monumental challenge. And also, if someone wants to run Linux on their machines, they will have to do so at their own risk.
And now, one developer, Hector Martin, is willing to try his chances. He himself acknowledges that the undertaking of bringing Linux to M1-based Macs is something much more serious. Martin’s ambition is to create a Linux port for Apple Silicon that users can and actually want to use, therefore with all the hardware components working and adequate energy management.
Taking into account the ambitious nature of the task he faces, Martin has decided to dedicate his entire working day to the development of this portability, so to survive while he progresses in his endeavor, he has launched a crowdfunding campaign in Patreon.
According to Martin, the most time-consuming task will be to secure the GPU support needed to perform the port. While porting Linux to PS4, Martin was able to get it all working as the console uses a GPU based on AMD’s GCN architecture and is only slightly customized compared to the commercial versions of the Radeon HD 7000/8000 and R9 series cards. But as far as Apple Silicon is concerned, the task is more complicated.
This is clearly an unapproved and unsupported project by Apple. Since Martin does not use macOS code to create Linux support, there should be no legal issues for public distribution. On the other hand, Apple allows custom kernels to boot on “Apple Silicon”, which paves the way for Linux support, but Martin will have to reverse engineer the Apple drivers.
Recently, another developer managed to launch a virtualization instance for the Windows for ARM operating system on a Mac system equipped with the M1 chip.