Test running native Linux on Apple M1 chip: Compile speed is 40% faster than macOS

The M1 Mac now runs native Linux without a hitch. The Asahi Linux project was designed for Apple's self-developed chips, and the Alpha version has been released. In the days when Macs used Intel CPUs, users had figured out ways to install Linux on Macs by partitioning the hard drive or using a virtual machine such as Parallels. But when it comes to Apple's self-developed M1 processor, everything has to start all over again. The goal of Asahi Linux is to allow Apple M1 series Mac users to truly embrace Linux.

So what kind of experience is it to install a native Linux system on an Apple computer? A YouTuber with 300,000+ followers tested it out on his M1 Mac.

After a series of evaluations, the little brother said: Really fragrant ! Running some programs on the exact same hardware, Linux turns out to be faster than macOS!

And Macs don't seem as close as iPhones and iPads. The evidence is that Apple officials will also actively fix bugs found on the Bootloader launcher for users. So how did the little brother get the M1 dual system?

Preparation before installation

Sharpening knives does not miss woodcutters. The blogger reminds us that friends who want to try Asahi Linux must first read the installation requirements clearly, and it is best to choose a computer without important files to operate. Asahi Linux's official website also gives detailed installation instructions:

Otherwise, if something goes wrong, your computer will most likely not startup.

Some people may think, is it not enough to install this operating system on a virtual machine such as Parallels Desktop? Asahi's official reply to this, Asahi Linux is tailor-made for Apple hardware, and Parallels Desktop virtual is a general-purpose ARM architecture, suitable for installing other Linux distributions.

It just so happened that my brother bought a new Mac Studio, and the old M1 Mac mini can be used for experiments~ In the end, he successfully installed Asahi Linux in one go without a hitch. After the system starts, you can see that Asahi Linux is using the KDE Plasma desktop environment.

Where is the Asahi Linux incense?

Video playback performance:- The blogger played a YouTube video in Asahi Linux on an M1 Mac mini without using the GPU accelerator. He was delighted to see full-screen HD video with zero frame drop, and the UI was always responsive, not as sluggish as many other ARM-based SBCs.

Bug fix speed: Next, the blogger used Iperf to test network performance and found a bug in Asahi Linux. Because Asahi set up the network adapter to use a single PCI Express lane, the ultra-fast 10 Gigabit network was limited to only 1.5 Gigabit. The little brother reported this vulnerability to Asahi's chat area. After a few minutes, the developer fixed the bug and said it would apply to all Asahi users.

There is no official serious attitude!

Reduce CPU load:- The blogger found that as long as the graphics performance monitor is turned on, the CPU load will increase by about 25%; but if the command line 'htop' given by Asahi Linux is executed, the CPU load will plummet to 1%.

Running speed:- The blogger tested different systems using the "recompile the Raspberry Pi Linux kernel" as a benchmark. It turns out that Linux on the M1 mini is 40% faster than macOS! This speed is comparable to running macOS on a Mac Studio with twice the performance cores.

In terms of price, the lowest price of the M1 Mac mini is $699, while a deluxe Arm development version such as the HoneyComb LX2 costs $750 for a single board. 

So, if you want an Arm computer that can run Linux, the M1 Mac mini itself is a good choice. Also, a friend of the blogger, Michael Larabel, used the Phoronix kit to test macOS and Asahi Linux on the M1 mini. For some benchmarks that measure computer performance, such as LevelDB, macOS performs better.
But in other areas, such as WebP image encoding, Asahi Linux has an edge.

It is worth noting that Asahi Linux is still in the testing stage, and time will tell what changes will be made to Asahi Linux VS macOS in the future.

What is the origin of Asahi Linux?

So how did Asahi Linux come about? In late 2020, Asahi Linux was crowdfunded by programmer Hector Martin. 

Hector Martin is a network security expert and a senior operating system porting expert. He has provided unofficial open-source support for porting Linux systems for various devices, including Nintendo Wii, Sony PS series game consoles, etc.

In January 2021, the crowdfunding of the Asahi Linux project was completed and officially launched; the beta version was launched in March this year. According to its official website, the name Asahi also has a certain origin: it means " Asahi " in Japanese, and it also represents the apple variety "Asahi", which is the Japanese name of the Macintosh apple, the source of the Mac system name.

Asahi Linux is developed by engineers in the open-source community and is free to use. The functions currently supported by Asahi Linux are as follows, including CPU frequency conversion, RTC, etc.

Of course, Asahi Linux, which is still in the development stage, still needs to be improved in many places, such as Bluetooth cannot be used, no GPU acceleration, etc. 

The development team hopes that in the future, Linux will not only run on the M1 series machines but also as an everyday operating system on various Mac machines. High hopes have not yet been officially released. Under the official account of Asahi Linux, netizens on the Internet sent their blessings one after another.

Great, we fruit machine users will also have an awesome dual system!

Some even, like the blogger above, can't wait to get started.

At present, many programmers and interested parties are involved in testing Linux testing and have made some practical suggestions. The wisdom of the crowd is limitless, and interested readers should try it out!

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