Linux On The Apple M1 Can Now Boot To The GNOME Desktop But Lacking Acceleration

Written by Michael Larabel in Apple on 23 August 2021 at 01:00 AM EDT. 34 Comments
Running Linux on the Apple M1 with various out-of-tree patches is now capable of booting to a GNOME desktop albeit lacking any OpenGL/graphics acceleration.

Alyssa Rosenzweig as one of the prominent Asahi Linux developers working to port Linux to the Apple M1 announced the milestone this evening. She was able to get Debian booted on the Apple M1 to reaching the GNOME Shell desktop environment.

The important caveat though is that currently that desktop experience is relying just on LLVMpipe for OpenGL acceleration as needed by the GNOME desktop. LLVMpipe is the Mesa Gallium3D software implementation for accelerating OpenGL on the CPU. Getting the Apple M1 graphics working on Linux is still a significant work item both on the Linux kernel Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) side as well as in bringing up the Mesa support for OpenGL acceleration and eventually Vulkan is obviously important too for modern computing needs.

Besides the current GNOME on Apple M1 experience being powered off CPU-based OpenGL, there are various yet-to-be-merged kernel patches also needed. The pending Apple M1 PCIe Linux driver was needed along with pin controller patches and the work-in-progress display driver code Alyssa has been focusing on.

More details on the current state around GNOME Shell on the Apple M1 can be found via Alyssa's Twitter thread.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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