Linux running on Apple Silicon

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Hats off to the people making it work, first and foremost; but I’m also pleased to see that Apple hasn’t tivoized the possibility out of existence.


Apple is in the business of selling electronics hardware (mostly lifestyle gadgets but also some computers). Any software they provide has the singular purpose of making Apple hardware more interesting to people. So frankly, as long as people buy Apple boxes, why would Apple worry what operating system they’re running? They should help make sure that Linux is a great experience on Apple Silicon and that would make the platform even more interesting, and help shift still more hardware. It would even be fairly cheap because all they’d have to do is send a few sample computers and documentation to a strategic bunch of people who will be more than pleased to do the actual work for free.

One potential objection to Linux-on-Apple from Apple’s perspective could be Linux’s excellent track record for keeping older hardware usable for years (or decades, even) longer than “mainstream” OSs like Windows. If, as you indicate, Apple’s priority is selling hardware then it is contrary to their interests for users running Linux to squeeze a few more years out of a computer than they might with the stock OS.

Is this an accurate assesment? Maybe not. But interrupting the planned-obsolecence cycle could be a problem for Apple even though Apple machines do tend to be relatively long-lived already.


can’t control our user experience if we’re not running their software, which could undermine their brand

also they can’t force us to buy more hardware by ending software support for the old stuff


Exactly this. Apple is not a hardware company. They are a user experience company. There is zero value to them in helping you support running Linux. Their entire business strategy is complete vertical integration of the hardware and software stack to deliver a smoother experience than any other company can.

Apple is not Dell, nor are they Microsoft or Google. They are more like…1960s era IBM, but for homes instead of businesses.


And yet, this development happened because Apple just added custom kernel support to the latest Big Sur beta.


I don’t know what the exact answer to that question is; but every iOS device ever made suggests that Apple does worry; and does care.

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I agree but it does seem farfetched that there are enough folks using Linux on Mac to impact strategy at Apple. It’s a super niche use-case, no?

It’s fairly safe to say that 99 out of 100 people will get an Apple Silicon-based Mac because they want the user experience provided by Apple (plus the coolness factor of walking around with a new-model Mac) and won’t ever dream of changing anything drastic about the machine. The other person will be a nerd who’s buying the Mac for the nifty hardware, doesn’t mind jumping through flaming hoops to put Linux on the thing in the first place, and subsequently won’t complain to Apple if the Linux user experience sucks a little. They won’t even pester Apple support with questions because they can’t get printer X or app Y to work. The alternative for them is buying an Intel-style PC and putting Linux on that, and for sure that doesn’t do Apple any good whatsoever.

So, Apple has nothing to lose on that front. But if Apple plans to sell millions of these machines, 1% of millions are still a whole bunch of boxes, and therefore $$$.

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