Notable Developer Starts Patreon to Fund Apple Silicon Linux Port

Developer Hector Martin, who describes himself as someone who "likes putting Linux on things," has launched a plan to create a Linux port for Apple Silicon Macs.

mac mini macbook pro macbook air m1
Martin, also known as "Marcan," has created a Patreon with the goal of earning enough funding to be able to take on the complexities of bringing Linux to Macs equipped with an M1 chip. Creating a Linux port is no easy task, and Linux creator Linus Torvalds has even said that he doesn't think it's a possibility.

Martin has experience getting Linux running on unusual platforms and has been able to create a Linux port for the PlayStation 4 but he acknowledges that an ‌Apple Silicon‌ Linux port is a much more serious undertaking. Creating a Linux port for Apple's Macs is a full time job, and Martin says that it's not viable without financial support. He's started a Patreon that's asking for $4,000 per month with $3, $6, and $12 pledge tiers. He's 88 percent of the way funded and doesn't plan to start the project unless he gets the full amount.


According to Martin, he's qualified to take on the project because of his experience working on Linux ports for other devices like the PlayStation 4. From the FAQ on his website:

I've been reverse engineering devices for over half of my life, since the early 2000s. I've worked to build unofficial open software support for platforms such as the Nintendo Wii (where I am one of the largest contributors to hardware documentation, open libraries, "jailbreaking" software (The Homebrew Channel), recovery tools (BootMii), etc), the Sony PS3 (where I wrote AsbestOS and a Linux patchset to enable Linux to work on the PS3 Slim as well as up-to-date PS3 units after the original Linux support was removed), the PS4 (which I ported Linux to, to the point of being able to run Steam games with full OpenGL/Vulkan graphics support), and other smaller platforms.

I always strive to write clean and robust code that is safe, puts the user first, and is upstreamable. I support open hardware and software development. I've gone through the Linux kernel patch process multiple times and I know what it takes to get stuff upstreamed.

Martin says that he wants to create a Linux port for ‌Apple Silicon‌ Macs that people "actually want to use" with all basic hardware working, decent power management, and more. The "big time sink" will be GPU support, which is necessary to make the port happen. Martin was able to get the PS4 version up and running because it's using a GPU that's only slightly customized, but ‌Apple Silicon‌ will be more difficult. There's proof of concept, though, in Nouveau, a GPU driver project for NVIDIA cards.


The project is not sanctioned by Apple, but so long as Martin does not use code from macOS to build Linux support, he says it is legal for him to distribute to users. Apple also allows for the booting of custom kernels on ‌Apple Silicon‌, which paves the way for Linux support, but Martin will need to reverse engineer Apple drivers.

Linus Torvalds earlier this month said that he'd love an ‌M1‌ Mac if it ran Linux, but that he doesn't feel it's possible without Apple's cooperation. "The main problem with the ‌M1‌ for me is the GPU and other devices around it, because that's likely what would hold me off using it because it wouldn't have any Linux support unless Apple opens up," said Torvalds. He went on to say that he thinks it "seems unlikely" Apple would open up its chipsets, but "you can always hope."

If the project is funded, and it's looking like it will be, Martin plans to develop in the open with regular pushes to GitHub, and he will accept help from anyone who wants to contribute.

Top Rated Comments

mathpunk Avatar
7 weeks ago


Of course the irony is that Macs ARE running Linux, just a heavily customized version.

No they aren't. macOS is derived from NextStep, which is a Mach kernel of BSD, which predates Linux by decades.
Score: 72 Votes (Like | Disagree)
grjj Avatar
7 weeks ago


Of course the irony is that Macs ARE running Linux, just a heavily customized version.

Not in any way shape or form is macOS based on Linux and I wish this idea would die.

macOS is based on Darwin ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_%28operating_system%29'), which is in turn based on the Mach ('https://developer.apple.com/library/archive/documentation/Darwin/Conceptual/KernelProgramming/Mach/Mach.html') micro kernel. None of that has anything to do with Linux or Linus Torvalds.

Both run utilities and codebases written by GNU ('http://www.gnu.org').

All of these are attempts to build a "better" version of UNIX.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
icanhazapple Avatar
7 weeks ago


Waste of time. Apple will more than likely lock down the ability to boot from other operating systems.

You can run unsigned code on an M1 - if Apple backtracked from this, there would be a HUGE uproar from the Developer Community. Apple does listen to Developers if they go too far on something.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chabig Avatar
7 weeks ago


Of course the irony is that Macs ARE running Linux, just a heavily customized version.

macOS is a cousin of Linux, not a descendant.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wowfunhappy Avatar
7 weeks ago


Without proper documentation, it's very-likely NOT possible !

Marcan knows what he's doing, he ported Linux to the Wii, PS3, and PS4 (and many other devices besides). The version of Linux for the PS4 can run games from Steam.

He's made it clear that the Apple Silicon port will be much harder due to all the custom components, particularly the GPU. But, that's why he set up a Patreon!

I do wonder whether Apple might actually provide some minimal amount of assistance (namely documentation, and possibly making an engineer available to answer occasional questions). It's not necessary, but it would help a lot, and why not help developers who are working to make your hardware more capable?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MacUser2525 Avatar
7 weeks ago


Again... no part of anything Linux was EVER in ANY part of macOS.

KHTML and CUPS off the top of my head are clear examples of apple using Open Source code in their macOS operating system. Safari would never have gotten off the ground without the KDE projects code to render web pages.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iP12 charge airpods feature 2

Hidden iPhone 12 Hardware Feature Could Still be Unlocked

Thursday January 14, 2021 2:51 am PST by
All iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models purportedly have a hidden reverse wireless charging feature, according to an FCC filing. The feature has not yet been activated, but could yet be unlocked for an upcoming Apple accessory. The FCC filing suggests that iPhone 12 models contain the hardware for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to accessories: In addition to being able to be charged by a...
Top Stories 43 Feature

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and iPhone Rumors, Best of CES 2021

Saturday January 16, 2021 6:00 am PST by
This week was sure a busy one in the Apple world, with a flurry of announcements out of CES early in the week followed by a rash of Mac- and iPhone-related rumors later in the week. The new rumors this week included details on updated MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro models, as well as a few other tidbits, so make sure to read on below to get caught up! Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to...
foldable iPhone concept feature

Apple Testing In-Display Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 13, Foldable iPhone Also in the Works

Friday January 15, 2021 1:46 pm PST by
Apple has started "early work" on an iPhone that has a foldable display, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Though testing of a foldable iPhone has begun, Apple has not committed to releasing a device that has a foldable display. Development has not yet expanded beyond a display and Apple does not have full foldable iPhone prototypes in its labs. Like foldable...
16inchmacbookpromain

Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to Feature Flat-Edged Design, MagSafe, No Touch Bar and More Ports

Thursday January 14, 2021 9:32 pm PST by
Apple is working on two new MacBook Pro models that will feature significant design changes, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was obtained by MacRumors. According to Kuo, Apple is developing two models in 14 and 16-inch size options. The new MacBook Pro machines will feature a flat-edged design, which Kuo describes as "similar to the iPhone 12" ...
macbook pro flexgate

Apple Extends 13-Inch MacBook Pro Backlight Repair Program

Sunday January 17, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Apple this week extended its worldwide 13-inch MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program, authorizing coverage for eligible notebooks for up to five years after the original purchase date or up to three years after the start date of the program, whichever is longer. The previous cutoff was four years after the original purchase date. Apple launched the program on May 21, 2019 after...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
Apple TV Ray Light 2 Triad

Apple Extends Free Apple TV+ Trials Until July

Friday January 15, 2021 10:50 am PST by
Apple is once again planning to extend its free Apple TV+ trial subscriptions, this time until July. When Apple TV+ launched in November 2019, Apple offered free Apple TV+ subscriptions to those who purchased a new Apple device in or after September 2019. Those free subscriptions were set to expire in November 2020, but in October 2020, Apple announced that it was extending free trials...
mac pro mini feature

Apple Working on Two New Mac Pro Desktops, One of Which Will Be Reminiscent of Power Mac G4 Cube

Friday January 15, 2021 10:23 am PST by
Apple is developing two versions of the Mac Pro to succeed the Mac Pro that was first released in December 2019, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The first updated Mac Pro is a direct successor to the current Mac Pro and it will use the same design. It may also be equipped with Intel processors rather than Apple silicon chips, and it could be one of the sole machines in the Mac...
macbook pro magsafe

MagSafe is Coming Back to the Mac: A Look Back at Apple's Original Magnetic Charging Technology

Friday January 15, 2021 12:16 pm PST by
Surprise late night rumors last night provided us with our first in-depth look at what we can expect from the new MacBook Pro models that are coming in 2021, and there are some significant changes in the works. Along with additional ports, a new flat-edged design, and the removal of the Touch Bar, Apple's updated MacBook Pro machines will readopt MagSafe. MagSafe in the 2021 MacBook Pro...