Fedora Asahi Remix 39 - Bringing the Best of Linux Privacy to Apple Silicon Macs

· 4 min read

The release of Fedora Asahi Remix 39 marks a major milestone in bringing a fully-featured and polished Linux experience to Apple's M-series chips. Developed through close collaboration between the Fedora and Asahi Linux projects, Fedora Asahi Remix provides an integrated Linux distribution tailored for Apple Silicon that delivers on privacy, customizability and graphics support.

With its focus on user freedom, security and transparency, Fedora has long been regarded as one of the most privacy-oriented Linux distributions. However, until now Apple Silicon Mac owners have lacked an official distribution that takes full advantage of the speed and efficiency of M1/M2 chips while upholding Fedora's privacy-first values. Fedora Asahi Remix changes that, providing a viable open source alternative to macOS that respects user privacy out of the box.

A Collaborative Effort Between Asahi Linux and Fedora

The Fedora Asahi Remix is the product of a multi-year effort between the volunteer-led Asahi Linux project and Fedora, one of the largest and most widely used open source operating systems. According to the Asahi Linux website, this close collaboration was crucial in bringing "a fully integrated distro, cooperating closely to get improvements and bug fixes to users as quickly as possible."

All Asahi-specific packages and improvements are integrated directly into upstream Fedora to ensure long-term support and maintenance and users can expect a stable and high-quality experience without surprises. Fedora Asahi Remix is based directly on the latest Fedora Linux stable release, version 39, incorporating all of its software updates and enhancements.

This partnership approach contrasts with other Linux distributions that maintain Apple Silicon ports separately from their main releases and so the Remix receives ongoing support and refinement with each new Fedora release.

Broad Hardware Support and A Focus on Graphics and Media Performance

Where Remix truly breaks new ground is its advanced OpenGL and media capabilities tailored for Apple Silicon. Fedora Asahi provides what is claimed to be the world's only fully conformant OpenGL ES 3.1 implementation through Apple's open source Mesa 3D driver "LIMA".

This level of 3D graphics support unlocks the potential of the powerful Apple GPUs for demanding workloads. Remix users get hardware-accelerated gaming, CAD/3D modeling and other creative applications rivaling macOS performance with open standards.

Audio quality gets a similar boost through custom integrated digital signal processing (DSP). By offloading taxing audio manipulation from the CPU, Remix achieves the best Linux laptop soundbar none with full dynamic range no matter the volume. Its automatic routing and calibration even optimizes power usage.

Additionally, Remix ships OpenGL 3.3 with geometry shaders, transform feedback and GPU compute shaders. This enables features not found in the proprietary MoltenVK used to run Metal code on Linux. Current and next-gen technologies like Vulkan are also in active development.

By focusing on open graphics standards compliance, Remix is paving the way for mainstream GPU and multimedia software support on Apple hardware down the line. Its technical enablement work directly benefits the broader GNU/Linux ecosystem and illustrates what's possible beyond macOS restrictions. End users win with high performance and choice of applications from Day 1.

Choice of Desktop Environments

With refined defaults and leveraging latest desktop technologies, Fedora Asahi Remix focuses on delivering a polished desktop paradigm well-suited for Apple's hardware. Out of the box, users are presented with either the KDE Plasma or GNOME desktop environments matching their Fedora Linux counterparts, but also featuring Asahi-specific customizations.

KDE Plasma serves as the project's flagship desktop, taking advantage of its reputation for tighter hardware integration compared to alternatives. From touchpad gestures like three-finger swipes to keyboard backlight controls, Plasma "just works" on Macs without additional configuration. It also integrates Apple-specific conveniences like Night Color for comfortable nighttime viewing without disrupting sleep cycles. Behind the scenes, Plasma is configured to take full advantage of features unique to Apple silicon like advanced graphics capabilities and audio DSP hardware.

Visually, Plasma maintains HiDPI support allowing interface elements to remain legible on Retina displays without appearing overly large or small, adjustable via a 5% incremental scale. The desktop experience feels natively consistent with macOS and allows intuitive navigating Apple's touchsurfaces. For multi-monitor setups, Plasma seamlessly adapts interface elements across screens of different resolutions and scales.

For a more minimal desktop, GNOME 45 is also available with a similar level of polish. Followers of GNOME's no-nonsense paradigm will feel at home with its grid of customizable workspace panels and application overview. Like Plasma, GNOME takes advantage of Wayland to render interface elements smoothly at Apples' high resolutions. System tools like Night Light and display calibration are similarly integrated.

Underneath both desktops, the Asahi project has worked hard optimizing the graphics stack and windowing system for Mac hardware. Using Wayland by default unlocks native features like HiDPI display support and smooth rendering without tearing or lag, rivaling macOS visual quality. With XWayland available, legacy X11 programs can still run, but future desktops will push 100% Wayland compatibility as the standard. Hardware video acceleration is also fully functional across both desktop environments.

Installation and Setup

Installation of Fedora Asahi Remix directly from macOS is simple and minimally invasive:

  1. Back up data and ensure macOS is up to date
  2. Open the Terminal app
  3. Run the install script: curl https://fedora-asahi-remix.org/install | sh
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts to resize partitions and install Linux
  5. Reboot to begin using Fedora Asahi Remix!

The install process runs entirely from within macOS and does not require an external boot device. It repartitions a portion of the built-in drive to make room for Linux while keeping the existing macOS system fully intact. Switching between operating systems at startup is handled seamlessly within macOS itself.

For more customization options or beta/nightly builds, an alternative install script is also available. Comprehensive installation documentation covers common questions and scenarios.

Application Support and Roadmap

While Linux on ARM is still evolving, Fedora Asahi Remix offers access to thousands of packages from the Fedora repositories. Common desktop applications like the Firefox web browser are fully supported. However, some additional work remains to be done for certain proprietary applications still relying on x86/macOS APIs.

Notably, video acceleration is limited to OpenGL until Vulkan and Metal interfaces are ported. Certain multimedia codecs also require further optimization. Gaming support remains very limited due to a lack of dedicated ARM ports for most titles on Linux.

Looking ahead, continued cross-platform improvements will help close these gaps over time. Asahi developers focus on enabling features like Thunderbolt/USB-C display connectivity, improved graphics driver functionality, and expanding hardware compatibility to other Mac models.

With dedicated volunteers contributing code and debugged Asahi is poised deliver an even more seamless Linux experience on Apple's innovative ARM-powered computers.

Contributing and Getting Involved

The Asahi Linux project aims to deliver ongoing improvements and expand hardware support in future Fedora Asahi Remix releases. Developers can contribute code changes through the project's GitHub repository.