There´s nothing like a new Linux as a distraction and Asahi Linux´s Fedora Remix said ‘Get this on an M1’. So, here I am running on Asahi… Let me tell you more.
Asahi Linux has been cooking for a while, getting Linux running on Apple´s M series of Laptops and Desktops and doing all the work to work out how to get Linux and the entire booting infrastructure working. Now, I’ll admit, I’ve watched the project from high up in the stands, dipping in to the news as they nailed down each one of the elements, from booting to the GPU.
It’s been an amazing amount of work and to the credit of the project, they point out where Apple may have done their own thing, but its their own thing not a deliberate road block. On a device like a laptop, Apple know they could lock it drum tight, but they appear to have made provision for other OS’s running on the M series boxes. They were building on Arch and thats a distro which I steer away from too. So anyway, up until now, I haven’t touched Asahi….
A Trigger for Distraction
And then on the Asahi blog - Our new flagship distro: Fedora Asahi Remix - the announcement that they were switching to pushing a flagship release (their intent overall is to upstream all the work so any distro can benefit) which would be a Fedora Remix, with the help of the Fedora project. It’s not ready yet and the plan is to ship it at the end of August.
No, of course I wasn’t going to wait. I dived over to the “please only the brave should risk this installer” instructions and broke out a “spare” laptop…. a beefy M1 Max - don’t ask why it’s spare (after this it may stop being spare)…
The installer kicks off under macOS and it feels like an installer written by people who have spent so long messing with macOS. Well guided through the intricacies of the process and after I’d cleared out the old Time Machine Snapshot images on my drive, it resized the macOS partition, created all the specialised boot partitions needs and loaded up the new disk partitions with a selected OS. I went for KDE for a change.
On rebooting there’s a little dance to get MacOS code to bless the new install and tweak the security settings so things can go forward without bumping into the legitimate lockdowns Apple have and everyone else is steadily getting. And then we were booting. And, how boringly predicatable it was. The only surprise for me was seeing KDE after a long time… looking just like I remember it looking. After a brief scoot about, I thought I’d have a go at breaking things.
Testing and Trashing
Back out to MacOS and installing a developer beta of Sonoma for starters. If there were nasty dependencies hidden in the installation, this would shake it out. Nothing shook out. MacOS updated, and I could still happily drop back to Fedora with KDE. Still not loving the KDE though…
Next test, after failing to soft switch GNOME on the system was doing a reinstall. On this the Asahi installer isn’t there yet. You need to clear out the current installed partitions. I made the mistake of waking up Disk Utility on macOS which as the Partitioning cheatsheet says you should not use. I followed the instructions there to manually delete the volumes and containers that held the Fedora KDE install. I ended up learning a lot more about how macOS slices up drives now and its kinda cool but is a Kansas away from the old PC “4 partitions and some oddness”. Recommended read anyway.
The actual install was painless again and by the end I was sitting in familiar Gnomic surroundings and ready to get on with some work.
Running like a Charm
Go, Git, 1Password (there’s a Linux ARM tar available and I love its SSH key management), VS Code and Hugo all together, I got down to writing this. Everything is very smooth and slick so far, though I haven’t gone pushing the graphics. There’s some bits of hardware yet to to be supported but really the only thing I’m missing right now is TouchID. The box seems pretty stable and well, I’m confident enought to bew writing a researching this article on it.
So, will this wean me off macOS? No, not yet, may be not ever, but it will be what is going to happen to any future retired hardware here. It’s a big Hiya to Asahi from me.