Asahi Linux on an Apple M1 Mac mini is ‘unbelievably fast’

The first (alpha) release of Asahi Linux was released in March. Despite it being an alpha release, Jason Eckert immediately installed it, and he’s been using it as a developer workstation ever since. Eckert says he’s getting “real work done” and that Asahi Linux on an Apple M1 Mac mini is “unbelievably fast.”

The new Mac mini packs a staggering amount of performance into its ultracompact design.
Apple’s M1 Mac mini packs a staggering amount of performance into its ultracompact design.

Jason Eckert:

Asahi is the first Linux distribution that you can install natively on Apple M1-based (arm64) systems. It’s based on Arch Linux and is unbelievably fast. And while it’s missing a few features that will be added shortly (GPU acceleration, Bluetooth, sound), it’s otherwise very polished and 100% production-ready. Moreover, it runs my software much faster than macOS on the same hardware.

My hardware setup:

• Mac Mini M1 (16GB RAM, 500GB SSD)
• HDMI output to 34″ monitor
• Lenovo ThinkPad II keyboard (2.4GHz connection)
• Glorious PC wired USB gaming mouse
• Wired Ethernet (although Wi-Fi works perfectly in Asahi)

My software setup:

• Desktops: GNOME & i3 (I mainly use i3)
• Web browser: Firefox
• Code editor: vim plus the developer extras
• Development: Java, JavaScript, Python, PostgreSQL
• Versioning & devops: Git, Git Cola, Docker, K3s, Ansible
• Collaboration: MS Teams (via Firefox), GitHub, slack-term
• Other: Hugo, LibreOffice, Gimp, Inkscape, Bluefish, Remmina (corporate RDP)

Even with CPU-generated graphics (because GPU acceleration isn’t available yet), desktop environments and apps are lightning fast. I’ve never seen KDE, GNOME, LibreOffice, Gimp, Inkscape, and Firefox run so fast before. Even games (e.g. SuperTuxKart) run smoothly, as does high definition video using VLC…

CPU usage rarely rises above 30%, even with a dozen or more graphical apps open and many background services and containers running. With my workload, RAM usage varies between 1GB and 5GB in total, which is also much less than what I had with the same workload on macOS.

MacDailyNews Take: Read more, and see many screenshots, in Eckert’s full article here.

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