Big developments in Asahi Linux land as the project issues its first conformant OpenGL ES 3.1 driver for Macs powered by Apple silicon.
This driver drop is a major step forward for gaming on Linux on Macs1 equipped with Apple’s M-series SoCs, as well as for all other apps and workloads leveraging the standards-based OpenGL API.
“Conformant” drivers meet industry standards, and have been tested to handle a wide variety of applications and games. Khronos, the organization that oversees OpenGL standards, has certified this driver too — a bona-fide seal of approval.
“Achieving conformance is a win for our community, for open source, and for open graphics,” writes developer Alyssa Rosenzweig in a (thorough and recommended reading) blog post.
Incidentally, Apple’s own GPU drivers aren’t conformant for any standards-based graphics API, including OpenGL ES — making Asahi’s achievement all the more remarkable.
Early-birds testing Asahi Linux on Apple silicon can look forward to all-round improvement in performance when using graphics-intensive apps and playing games.
And the best bit: there’s no waiting!
Asahi Linux users can upgrade their system to automatically pull-in these spiffy new drivers and start using them.
But now I need to interrupt this good news to get something off my chest…
Whenever I cover Asahi Linux here (and on omgubuntu) some commenters will — well meaning, no doubt — question “why” the effort exists.
To them, reverse-engineering and retro-fitting Linux onto (expensive if best-in-class) hardware that doesn’t natively support it (or make it easy to support it) seems…
But honestly: the history of Linux is rooted in getting it to run on things it doesn’t already run on. So making Linux support swanky Apple hardware is every-bit as “worthy” an endeavour as efforts to support MIPS, SPARC, RISC-V and others.
So to those aggrieved that this effort exists: don’t be — the more things Linux runs on, the more choice we collectively have in our computing experiences.
1 I had to re-read that line a few times myself!