As far as I can tell (and if I’m wrong, please correct me and tell me why), Asahi is only possible because Apple chooses to allow operating systems other than MacOS on their hardware. (e.g. Asahi is not available on M1 iPads because Apple does not have this feature on those devices) This is a feature and not a bug, but it is a feature they could at any time just remove. They have a potential incentive to do this. Proprietary operating systems have planned obsolescence to encourage people to upgrade their hardware more often than they would otherwise need to by just stopping support for them. Being able to boot Linux allows people to bypass planned obsolescence and continue to get updates.
Why would Apple continue to support a feature that potentially hurts their bottom line (albeit likely a tiny amount) and that costs resources to maintain? Sure, you could argue that it also helps them because it leads people who would otherwise not buy a Mac to buy one, but it’s not a guarantee that Apple will see it this way. They have always had this “my way or the highway” mentality even when it arguably hurts their sales. They could also just choose to stop supporting it for reasons that have nothing to do with Linux. Maybe they decide it’s not worth the resources to maintain. They are not known for keeping features around that only a small minority of users take advantage of.
What happens to Asahi in the event that Apple chooses to do this? Are there legal workarounds? Does development just get slowly phased out over time?
Asahi project team members will have a better viewpoint on this, but it’s my understanding that the likelihood Apple would prevent third-party OSes from running on their hardware (either via technical or license means) is close to zero.
And for things that are incredibly unlikely, experience has shown me that it’s not worth my time worrying about it
I don’t think your assessment of the situation is correct. It’s far too simplistic.
Apple makes a great deal of money selling hardware. In fact, Apple has made a bit of a mistake marketing its Apple silicon by limiting its hardware market whereby it is not fully leveraging its investment. In other words, Apple wants to sell more Apple Silicon Macs.
Right now I can buy a Minisforum with an AMD 7940 CPU (8/16) with a mirror SSD (say 2 x 1TB) 64gb ram on board 2.5gb ethernet, 2 x USB 4, several USB 3.2.2 ports for $1000 more or less. This will cost $3000 to get a comparable Mac Studio with an M2 Max. Both CPUs have comparable performance.
Asahi Linux offers several opportunities for Apple.
It raises resale prices
It provides an optimised base for VMs and containers
It generates an opportunity to sell more high end Macs for specialised use cases
Comparable only if you don’t include cooling requirements and power consumption in your “performance” metrics. Large enterprises do have people counting power usage and cooling requirements of their cubicle farms.
I don’t think I necessarily agree with this assessment. I don’t pretend to know the likelihood of Apple removing this particular feature, however if they did it would not be out of character for them at all. Historically, Apple has demonstrated a willingness to deprecate/not support features that are only used by a niche user base. See for example:
2019 Mac Pro could be configured up to 1.5TB memory. 2023 Apple Silicon Mac Pro only goes up to 192GB.
Removal of non-USB-C ports from MacBook Pros. (They did bring these back, showing that it was a mistake.)
Deprecation of OpenGL support.
Lack of support for translating AVX instructions through Rosetta 2. Some programs/applications will just never run on Apple Silicon if they require these instructions.
There are probably many more examples, but this is just what I can think of off the top of my head. There would have to be a very strong financial reason why they would never remove third-part OS booting and I don’t think Linux rises to that level. Is the number of people who would not buy Macs if they could not dual boot Windows really that high? (I’m not entirely sure if you can boot Windows from an Apple silicon Mac, though.)
I’m curious what this reason is. I don’t particularly trust Apple to not deprecate features if their perception (either correctly or incorrectly) is that doing so would not hurt their bottom line. But if there’s a strong financial reason for them to not do so, then that would be reassuring.
I think this is a fair concern to have given that there will be people whose decision to buy MacBooks is motivated by the ability to boot Linux.
I don’t understand what these points have to do with anything.
If you don’t like the hardware don’t buy the machine. As a long time Mac user looking at Fedora as a server, I didn’t. I can see there is no value in buying a Mac these days for use as a server. I don’t need a zillion GPU cores for a CLI. I’m using a broken 2018 MBP as a test server.
As far as the operating system goes, if you use Asahi, that’s not an issue.
For personal use none of this matters. I can see your points for a big installation, but why would someone buy hundreds/thousands of Macs to use Linux?
The machines built from the AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS are probably not destined for server farms and neither are any Macs currently on offer. But these Mac mini replacementmachines are low-powered and run pretty cool.
This topic has been beaten to death in various venues and there is no satisfactory answer for everyone. We have reason to believe Apple will never drop this on current hardware (for legal among other reasons) and have no interest in dropping this for future hardware. Third party OS support for Macs is, at this time, strict internal corporate policy at Apple. They have spent millions on staffing to make this possible by developing the entire Boot Policy subsystem, which does not exist on iOS.
If you have concerns nonetheless, then it’s your choice not to purchase this hardware and not to use Asahi.
In the hypothetical and, as far as I’m concerned, extremely unlikely event they phase out third party OS support for newer Macs at some point, then we just stop new SoC development and concentrate on the existing machines.
If they try to remove support for existing machines forcefully (e.g. by removing it in a macOS update and ceasing to sign older updates and blocking them out of Reduced Security mode too - which is a completely ridiculous sequence of events and walks back on the entire design of Boot Policy) then they will get sued for it, just like Sony did (and lost).
Any computer manufacturer is (from a technical point of view) free to remove third party OS support at any time. All those UEFI x86 machines that ship with the Microsoft signing keys could, at any time, ship a firmware update (delivered via Windows Update) to lock the machine into Secure Boot and only the first party Microsoft keys. Apple is no different here. So if you are worried about this potential situation, you’ll have to limit yourself to open-firmware machines, of which there are very few; neither Apple nor the vast majority of the x86 ecosystem are free from this hypothetical doomsday scenario.
Thank you, I find this to be a satisfactory answer. My concern mainly stems from the fact that Apple has a reputation for aggressively depreciating features which they perceive to be niche. Dual booting Linux on a Mac could certainly qualify as niche from Apple’s perspective. However, if there is a legal barrier for removing this particular feature, then that is a different situation entirely and puts my mind more at ease.
FWIW Boot Camp is a Universal App and is actually present on Apple Silicon Macs in the just released Sonoma (press Command-Shift to show hidden files). So right now it doesn’t do much – actually nothing at all – but who knows what the future will bring. Maybe instead of confirming Joel’s fears of eliminating features, Apple might add one back LOL!
Boot Camp Assistant was always there, and hidden like that. At least on 13.5 it’s no different. I think that article is just misleading and makes it sound like a change in Sonoma, when it isn’t. They have it on both architectures because that way they can share the exact same root filesystem.