Asahi Linux, the project aiming to bring a fully functional Linux system to Apple computers running on that company’s own M-series chips, has announced that its new “flagship distro” is Fedora Asahi Remix.
As announced at Fedora’s Flock conference this week in Cork, Ireland, (and on Asahi Linux’s blog), the Fedora Asahi Remix should be officially released by the end of August 2023. You can try it out now, but you should “expect rough spots (or even complete breakage).”
The new distro will be “upstream-first,” sending as many of its bespoke M-series tools back to Fedora’s mainline offerings as possible. Hector Martin, writing on Asahi Linux’s blog, notes that the existing project based on Arch Linux was “fully downstream.” Asahi added its own package repository with scripts, forked kernel and Mesa packages, bootloader parts, and userspace support, but with “no significant involvement with upstream Arch Linux ARM or Arch Linux.” Neal Gompa from Fedora reached out to talk about integrating Asahi with Fedora after the project’s debut, and work began in late 2021. Now it’s ready to spread a bit further.
“Collaborating with distro integration experts and using distro infra(structure) like this frees us up to continue focusing on what we do best: reverse engineer hardware and develop bespoke drivers and software,” Martin writes. Integration with a well-established distribution also means that bugs in desktop ARM64 Linux, “a niche platform (until now!),” Martin writes, can be addressed more quickly.
As detailed in a talk at Flock, and in the slides from that talk, the Asahi Fedora distribution incorporates Asahi’s core work, including making various packages work with the ARM-based Mac’s somewhat unique 16K page sizes. But the upstream collaboration also allows for Asahi to offer both KDE and GNOME desktops, as well as server and minimal installs. Asahi Fedora Remix currently supports all M1 devices, the M2-based laptops, and has hardware-accelerated graphics support by default. Under development are speakers, cameras, and many video and bus features.
Along with the benefits to the developers, Mac owners curious enough to try out Linux on their system will likely experience a gentler learning curve using a Fedora-based distribution than Arch. Having jumped into Asahi every so often on an M2 MacBook Air, it’s usually not the hardware that’s an issue for me. It’s finding software packaged for not only ARM64, but ARM64 on Arch. Arch may (and should) continue to have an Asahi repository available, but I’ll be eager to give a slightly more familiar setup a glance soon enough.