An Arch Linux derived distro designed for Apple Silicon

The alpha release of Asahi Linux appeared at the end of March, since that time work has continued to move this distro along towards its goal of becoming a production ready system.

First Steps

A week ago I attempted to install Asahi Linux on an already populated MacOS M1 Mini, the error message was a bit cryptic and indicated a conflict with some setup in the APFS filesystem. Last night I attempted the install again. The steps I took were to first return the Mac Mini M1 to a “factory” state, which can be done by:

  1. Select System Preferences from the Apple Menu, then Selecting the System Preferences Drop Down Menu to locate Erase All Content and Settings. Performing this action and following the screen prompts will roll your machine back to a factory state in about 4-5 minutes
  2. Once you have gone through the setup items for MacOS, you can open a terminal window and enter the Asahi linux command found on the Asahi Blog to begin the installation
  3. The first question is how much space do you want to allocate for each OS (Asahi and MacOS), I choose 50/50 (which evenly divides the space between the two operating systems
  4. The last step is the most important which is to register this OS so the M1 will allow the system to boot
  5. Finally Asahi will launch, you will see a grub menu, and then a login for KDE plasma.
  6. The last and final step is Asahi Linux will open a Calamares installer so you can finish setting up the system with your keyboard, language, timezone and default admin account

That’s it, you can now dual boot between Asahi Linux and Mac OS.

Next Steps

After installing the OS, I performed an update using pacman -Syu, and I was surprised to see how many packages were being updated, My guess from the list is that a new build of Asahi has not been created since the initial March 2022 alpha release. I hope this is corrected soon, having that many packages (over 800 at the time I did this install. I would have thought the install would either be like a net install where you install the latest packages or the Asahi team would periodically create a new iso file for installation.

A minor complaint

Installing the rest of the system, checking the level of hardening and benchmarking the system with phoronix-test-suite filled the reminder of my time.

I have posted the results of the benchmark on OpenbenchMarking

Final thoughts

The instructions during the install of Asahi Linux were clear and concise, and allowed me to quickly get to a running system. The work this team has done to reserve engineer what the boot sequence that everyone a year ago was saying was impossible is amazing. The initial support of hardware while incomplete at present provides enough functionality to give the system a good test, and in my opinion is worth a look