Apple M1 Macs can now run Ubuntu Linux thanks to Corellium

JC Torres - Jan 20, 2021, 8:32pm CST
Apple M1 Macs can now run Ubuntu Linux thanks to Corellium

The sheer impressive power of the Apple Silicon M1 processor has made developers, hackers, and tinkerers daydream about possible use cases beyond what Apple intended or would even allow. Some have already gotten Windows to run on it, in a virtualized environment fashion, of course. Now a few security researchers have also figured out how to run Linux directly on the hardware, albeit with a few catches that could still make it not that useful for a daily driver for Linux users.

It’s not that surprising that there would be computer and tech enthusiasts that are interested in making the powerful M1 Silicon do anything and everything. The new CPU is also a big source of interest for Linux developers and users that have been used to seeing the open source operating system installed in all kinds of computers, especially those where macOS would never be able to run on. Given its very closed ecosystem, it also presented a challenge to get Linux even booting up on the M1 Macs that hackers and security researchers just can’t deny.

That’s where Corellium comes in, popular and unpopular for their iPhone security and hacking tools. The team has been working on getting Linux to run on M1 Macs since the start of the year and they may have finally reached a milestone. They were able to boot a modified Ubuntu Linux for a Raspberry Pi on a USB stick and was advertised to be fully usable but with a few important catches.

For one, networking happens via a USB-C dongle and not directly through Wi-Fi. More importantly, however, it is only able to utilize the CPU of the Apple Silicon M1 and not its GPU, a limitation that has significant performance consequences, especially when rendering graphics. In other words, it’s still not able to fully utilize the power that the Apple M1 has become famous for.

The process for getting Linux to boot and run on M1 Macs might not exactly be for the faint of heart either as it most likely requires fiddling with the Mac and potentially jailbreaking it. That said, Corellium has pretty much made a name for itself in that area and promises to release instructions soon.


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