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Linux on iPad (ipadlinux.org)
469 points by homarp on Nov 21, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 281 comments

I think this is an important reminder about what an extraordinary accident PCs were in their standardization and openness.

It’s possible we took that for granted and assumed that openness was a given in personal computing.

The reality is that most devices, from cars to refrigerators, to video games, to cameras, etc are closed and proprietary ecosystems. PCs, due to a few happy accidents, were one of the rare things that enabled a vibrant, free from restriction, 3rd party ecosystem in both hardware and software.

Apple may be inadvertently teaching us all a lesson about not taking the things we currently enjoy for granted as they are often not guarantees in the future

I used to hate microsoft for locking us into shitty software for decades.

But looking back I see that they gave us all an enormous windfall in the form of comoditized hardware with decades of hardware growth. (hardware is the complement of OS software, so drive hardware costs down and OS sales go up)

You would think Apple as a hardware company would open up software to increase hardware sales, but instead it seems to try to control everything so it is fighting a battle on multiple fronts.

> You would think Apple as a hardware company would open up software to increase hardware sales, but instead it seems to try to control everything so it is fighting a battle on multiple fronts.

Purely on the business perspective, Apple has seen tremendous benefit with their locked ecosystem and vertical integration. Bringing that strategy to the PC market was bound to happen and it's likely going to work extraordinarily well for their share holders if performance/productivity benefits (from Apple Silicon) at low-mid end forces traditional PC consumers to Mac.

On the consumer perspective, Would we accept a $1000 PC couple of years back with no means to install other Operating System (Officially), Only 3-5 years of updates(if lucky), Use only manufacturer approved apps, Repair only at their approved centres?

Then why did we accept it to be a norm for >$1000 smartphones?

We made them smell money with our consumer decisions to trade 'freedom in computation' in smartphones and it's now coming to haunt us with personal computers. The line between Smartphones and PCs have been blurred with Apple Silicon, Google will do it with their Chromebooks(which was already happening even without their custom silicon [Update cycle, Locked boot-loaders etc.]) and Microsoft with their Surface line up.

There’s never been more diverse software, more readily and easily available, than there is today (mainly due to the web and app stores). Software has never been easier to write, to distribute, or to monetize.

Users don’t care about if the platform is “open” or if they can install Linux. In fact, in many cases, the things are a massive source of pain to end users that want devices that just work, which the iPhone and iPad largely do.

It’s also, by the way, never been easier to build your own hardware from ready-made components and platforms.

I don’t know why we should lament users choosing devices that are easy, fun and reliable to use, and that provide them with single tap access to massive software libraries and entice them to pay for that software. Seems like an absolute win to me.

>I don’t know why we should lament users choosing devices that are easy, fun and reliable to use, and that provide them with single tap access to massive software libraries and entice them to pay for that software. Seems like an absolute win to me.

I'm finding it difficult to see this as an absolute win given that Apple's absolute control over these devices facilitates human rights abuses and a general trend towards censorship and authoritarianism all over the world.

As a developer I don't see it as an absolute win if my distribution channels are dominated by an oligopoly of two all powerful gatekeepers. But I completely understand that consumers don't care about that or even like it.

I also understand that consumers don't care much about Apple's cultural anti-porn bias. It's all on the web anyway.

But what about human and civil rights? Can we really celebrate something as an absolute win if it hands absolute control over our access to encryption to anyone who happens to control Apple?

> But what about human and civil rights? Can we really celebrate something as an absolute win if it hands absolute control over our access to encryption to anyone who happens to control Apple?

How exactly is Apple going to ban encryption? Isn't HTTPS outside of Apple's control?

And how would Apple manage to "ban encryption" on Windows, Linux, or Android devices?

Obviously not https, but if end-to-end encryption or some consumer VPNs are banned then people whose only personal computing device is a locked down Apple device will instantly lose access.

It‘s not going to be up to individual users to decide wether or not to use it anyway and perhaps fight for their constitutional rights in the courts.

Exactly. This is why I'm wary of all these arguments for opening up the iPhone. There is large value (in the form of security and minimum quality bar in app review) in the closed ecosystem.

If you don't like it, it's never been easier to build a replacement, or install a dev certificate on your iPhone and load whatever you want.

Build a replacement…what? iPhone? Exploit for letting you have private entitlements?

Take why Android phone that allows rooting and install your own stuff.

When software has political agenda, stop it is a harm to free speech. Not stopping it will be a threat to business (said to china). Hence all customers not care. Try to deal with the post china world.

If the early pioneers of Computers & Internet thought the same way we wouldn't be even having this conversation. I think they made conscious decisions to keep computing out of total control by capitalism.

Unfortunately we've failed them & ourself with our consumer decisions.

Uh, not really. Usually quite the opposite actually. For instance, Linux, the modern land of free/open computing, comes to us from Unix... which was made by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson, two early pioneers of OSs... who worked for Bell Labs, owned by AT&T (and maybe shared with Western Electric? I forget).

Computers back then were far too expensive for them to be anything but reliant on capitalism. It was only with the commoditization of hardware that free and open computing really even became an option.

True, but Bell labs is hardly an example of normal capitalism. As I understand it, AT&T during the Bell labs era was more like the East India Company, or a PRC-style state-controlled corporation, or Pacific Gas and Electric.

(I find that this is an under-explored option in discussions of socialism-vs-anarchism-vs-capitalism these days. State-controlled corporations seems to have a very good track record. But I haven't seriously studied this.)

I believe they were actually prohibited from entering the computer market.

I disagree. The landscape has changed significantly since the 80s. A locked down platform makes a lot more business sense now than it did back then (unfortunately). Its not like computing company pioneers were so ideological that they turned down $$$$ for freedom. Nor is it like there weren't more closed platforms back then, the closed off platforms just got outcompeted.

> with our consumer decisions to trade 'freedom in computation' in smartphones

TBF, the first few iPhone releases were arguably better and more open than anything before them. Apple refused to bow to carriers and provided a standard development platform for the first time. Then the Appstore, again bypassing carriers, increased developer access to mobile platforms by 1000x or more.

Sadly, both consumers and developers then failed to push for even more open alternatives, to the point where Apple and Google managed to entrench themselves too deeply to address this problem through simple market mechanisms. It's time for authorities to step in, hopefully we're seeing that (slowly) happening.

I don’t think Android was well understood by the Linux and Open Source community in it’s first three years. A lot of people happy that it was consumer Linux and hacking away on root kits, bootloaders, and alternative marketplaces. We didn’t realize Google would have an effective monopoly on software distribution inside of the Android ecosystem (at least in western markets).

What? There are other software stores available for android? and even apks for the adventurous

I recall first iphone couldn't even run apps at all. It had "web apps".

yeah but they refused to integrate with carrier crapware or otherwise customize it in any way to suit the carrier. iOS was iOS and that was it. This seems trivial now, but at the time it was new - most phones would be sold with carrier-tailored operating system and apps, which made it difficult to build anything on multiple devices.

It was quite easy, just like with iOS, you just had to pick one platform (Windows CE, Symbian, BREW, J2ME,...) and target those devices.

Did you actually do it...? J2ME was a nightmare of incompatibilities. You could basically use it only for games, because you took control of the whole shebang. The slightest attempt at integration with platform services or native widgets brought utter pain across devices.

Symbian also changed drastically from featurephone to featurephone. WinCE was a bit more consistent but nobody used it on actual phones, it was largely a PDA os and PDAs were a very small market.

Yes, J2ME targeting Nokia and Sony-Ericson devices, Symbian on Nokia devices, and I used to travel occasionally to Espoo.

You must have few hairs left then :) I worked a bit on j2me on Nokia and ran away very quickly. Cross-device testing was a massive (and expensive) issue. Definitely it was not comparable with the ease enjoyed on iOS today, where there are very few devices and the emulator is enough most of the time.

The only hair I lost on those days were caused by Symbian C++ and the multiple reboots on the development environment, from Metrowerks all the way into the burning platforms memo.

I have an 8 year old MacBook Air. Still getting updates, still working perfectly well. Best 1000$ ever spent on a PC. Zero seconds invested in configuring or setting up anything.

At the end of the day, buying a Computer is a tradeoff. A lot of people would very happily tradeoff freedom for other values if the value proposition is good.

I purchased a MBA 4 years ago (i5/8GB/256GB) and it is by far the best investment in technology I have made. Ultra reliable, amazing battery life, light weight and nice to type on. At home it's plugged into a monitor/kb/mouse like a desktop. I like the tight software and hardware integration, which extends to an iPhone and iPad.

You win some you lose some. My 2018 MBA had to go back and ended up being returned permanently. I’m considering risking it again on an M1 MBA though.

I have a 2013 13” MBP that I have not being nice to (to put it mildly). It’s working great.

I have a 2013 15” MBP that I babied and kept in immaculate condition. It also worked great until some RAM failed a couple of weeks ago. It’s a brick now

If Apple were to release low level documentation and source code for hardware it considers obsolete to help developers support it, it would not effect their business other than getting a lot of goodwill.

it may not affect them at a pennies-in-billions level, but those pennies are owned by a few patent holders whose heirs will profit many times over in the foreseeable future

why? I doubt those obsolete chipsets will be used by anyone else, or anyone will be particularly motivated to shell out a lot of money for access to schematics.

they are assets in the big machine, being sold or open sourced would reduce them and their associated incomes to nothing

What patents do you have in mind? If things are patented anyway, it wouldn't hurt to document them.

Apple started out open. The Apple II has 7 extension slots and loads of peripherals available. It was also user serviceable. This is what Steve Wozniak wanted, and it worked, it was a smashing success. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, had another vision for the company, where Apple would control the user experience. The Macintosh Plus had just two extension slots, and users couldn't open the case, you needed a special extra long screwdriver.

Exactly; Steve Jobs envisioned a closed architecture for the Mac. Thankfully for Mac users who wanted a more open experience, Apple released the Macintosh II in 1987, which was styled similarly to PCs and had six NuBus expansion slots. From then until the release of the cylindrical Mac Pro in 2013, Apple always had Macs with expansion slots in its lineup. From 2013 to 2019 Apple didn’t sell Macs with internal expansion slots, but Apple resumed selling internally expandable Macs once the current “cheese grater” Mac Pro was released, albeit at a significantly higher price point compared to the 2006-12 cheese grater Mac Pro.

On the contrary.

There was nothing open about NuBus, Quicktime, QuickDraw, QuickDraw 3D,....

Apple's platforms like every other 16 bit computer, with exception of IBM PC clones, was always its own eco-system.

Another way to look at it:

Microsoft forced PC buyers to use their software by making deals with OEMs to preinstall it on every PC, hiding the cost of the software from the consumer. Most consumers did not purchase a PC with no software installed, and then purchase a license to Windows separately; the software and license came with the computer.

There are probably more similarities between Apple and Microsoft than there are differences, however tempting it may be to focus on the differences.

People love to criticise the RPi. It has its flaws and shortcomings. Nevertheless, it is a rare example of a computer that does not come with an "OS" preinstalled. Buyers can choose from a variety of OS and make their own bootable SD cards.

The raspberry pi does have an OS preinstalled that users cant remove, which is why its so hard to get full support for the basic linux stack on there. The GPU has a proprietary low level OS/firmware blob that handles basic system functions and loading linux and starting the CPU once all that is done and is required for the board to start. This is a big part of why Armbian/Ubuntu dont have full support yet for example. Its not impossible but its weird and complex for OS developers and one of the strengths of the alternative boards, which can generally boot and run a full linux stack with hardware support for everything on the board.

> This is a big part of why Armbian/Ubuntu dont have full support yet for example.

Care to outline what you mean by that? Ubuntu has official support for most of the newest RPi models[1].

In fact, I’m running Ubuntu 20.04 on my RPi 3B+ right now.

How is it not fully supported? What am I missing?

[1] https://ubuntu.com/download/raspberry-pi

A bunch of hardware acceleration (primarily involving the GPU because of the weird it-runs-its-own-mini-OS situation) are either not currently implemented or can only be used via a rather hacky kludge. Once the GPU boots and passes off execution to the Arm cpu that works mostly as intended, but talking to the GPU again and getting it to do heavy lifting is still a work in progress.

What's the best RPi alternative in your opinion?

I drool over the Odroid N2+, but mostly I just use a Raspberry Pi. 32 bit Raspbian is fine for me and most of it works fine (although the fake kernel mode switching video driver is less then ideal) and i don't really care to lose the huge community for when I need to figure out an issue. Makes figuring out problems a google search solution and not a debug probe solution.

I think steps are being made to open up the architecture.

Documentation of a lot of it has been published, but only a partial drivers have been developed by the community.

for example, I think mesa has some opengl hardware acceleration and I know kodi does hardware video decoding. I also believe there's some work on u-boot.

It was not Microsoft, it was IBM that “gave us” commoditized hardware.

It was MS who forced it big; they wanted standardisation on both professional and 'home computers'; IBM PC (clones) and MSX[0] respectively, both running MS software. MSX failed, but the idea was the same; a hardware standard everyone would adhere to and MS would have the software for. MS was a huge factor in making that happen; no-one knows what would've happened if they would not have done that.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSX

I don’t think Microsoft had anything to do with the PC hardware becoming open. IBM chose commodity hardware. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Personal_Computer#History:

“The idea of acquiring Atari was considered, but rejected in favor of a proposal by Lowe that by forming an independent internal working group and abandoning all traditional IBM methods, a design could be delivered within a year, and a prototype within 30 days. The prototype worked poorly, but was presented with a detailed business plan which proposed that the new computer have an open architecture, use non-proprietary components and software, and be sold through retail stores, all contrary to IBM practice”

That was before even the choice for a CPU was made (makes me wonder how prototypical that prototype was), so I don’t see how Microsoft would have been involved at the time.

When IBM lost control of the PC market when Compaq and other clones started coming out and their proprietary PS/2 PCs were rejected by the market, the power to define what a PC was fell into the hands of Microsoft, who still holds it today through their Windows hardware certification program. It is Microsoft who is keeping PC hardware open, albeit probably more because of fear of more anti-trust scrutiny than any altruistic motives.

Reality was more that MS /benefited/ from the IBM-PC clone market rather than MS /caused/ the IBM-PC clone market.

IBM gets some credit, for making the IBM-PC with commodity components, which set the stage. But it was the clone makers (with Compaq being first, but certainly not last) that ultimately caused the standardization around the IBM-PC style systems. And the clone makers were driven by the fact that, at the time, the market (esp. businesses supplying their users) wanted to be compatible with the IBM-PC, while saving costs over buying an actual IBM-PC from IBM. MS benefited from the explosion in sales of IBM-PC clones by being the OS provider for the IBM-PC, so as a clone maker, to be fully compatible, you also needed MS's OS on your clone.

The standardization process occurred some years later once the market had clearly moved towards the IBM-PC architecture. And MS likely had some hand in guiding that process, given their monopoly at that time in the OS that every clone maker wanted to use. But by the time MS was powerful enough to begin any guiding (or "forcing") the market itself had already "standardized" because of the huge sales potential of being "IBM compatible".

I agree that IBM gave us the PC with the BIOS listing and open hardware specifications.

(and they tried to close the barn door with the ps/2, microchannel and os/2 but failed pretty miserably)

Meanwhile Microsoft with its non-exclusive software agreement courted hardware vendors and made MS-DOS and soon windows work with a multitude of hardware products. It fostered hardware competition and drove down the price.

No, IBM would have gladly prevented, they even tried to fix Compaq's success by releasing the PS/2 with MCA architecture, they just failed to turn the market around.

Apple's marketing approach is primarily to view hardware and software as inseparable parts of the same product. Their main differentiator in the market is their ability to control the end-user experience to a greater degree than their competitors.

They are probably of the opinion that opening up software would decrease their target customer satisfaction and subsequently decrease sales.

> Apple as a hardware company

Apple is now (primarily) a software-service company, and from that point of view, a locked-up platform makes a lot of business sense (unfortunately). Selling hardware is only the first step in locking customers into their service-ecosystem. In this new Apple world, app-developers are essentially Uber/Lyft-style gig-workers, not independent businesses.

> Apple is now (primarily) a software-service company

They like to tell everyone that, but it's still very much a lie. More than 50% of their revenues come straight from iPhone hardware sales. Services are barely under 18%, and that includes absolutely everything they can throw in there (icloud, appstore, etc). Everything else is hardware.

Apple is a hardware company that is desperately trying to ensure their future when, inevitably, they'll get a few iPhones wrong and consumers will move on. It's a bit like Persian Gulf countries investing in airlines and anything else to ensure they'll have a future when oil runs out.

Apple has made many hardware mistakes and will continue to do so. All their software is designed to sell hardware; they rarely support non-Apple hardware.

IBM did that by licensing the PC "clone" design, not Microsoft. Microsoft added the lockdown layer on top.

They did not license anything, Compaq stole it from them.

Business is conservative. If it stops making bucketloads of money with the current formula then they will change. Otherwise expect the same for as long as it works for them.

Nobody who actually understands Apple's business and how it works "would think" this.

Ok, but instead of putting down someone who knows less, please share some of what you know so the rest of us can learn something.


(a recent longer explanation of this principle, for anyone who cares, is https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25130956)

You're right. Again.

Yeah, maybe. They are driving the price of software to zero which helps ios and macos device sales. But I think if they work hard to close things they might end up with a bigger part of a smaller pie. I don't know, maybe they don't need help from people on the outside and can do it all themselves.

Apple is in the business of selling systems that work to end users. Unfortunately, the only way that they can provide that assurance is total control over both the hardware and the software. In fact I suspect that within ten or so years, Apple will eliminate the final dependency -- on NVIDIA -- and migrate the Mac (and everything else) to a custom ISA.

I don't think apple depends on very many companies at all anymore. Not intel, nvidia (or arm), or amd.

I would say they have transitioned to depend more on folks like samsung and tsmc.

I don’t think you’ve been paying attention.

Apple just released their first laptops with custom silicon cpu/gpu, declaring their independence from Intel.

They dropped Nvidia ten years ago.

What dependency on Nvidia do Apple have?

From memory, Apple haven't used Nvidia in any of their products in years due to bad Nvidia behaviour ages ago.

They are an ARM licensee. ARM was acquired by NVIDIA. If there's bad blood between NVIDIA and Apple, all the more reason for Apple to drop ARM and go with a custom, Apple-designed ISA.

Apple has a lifetime license for ARM. There is nothing Nvidia can do to Apple on this front or any other.

But more than that, Nvidia needs Apple. Apple selling ARM macs to developers means that all developer tool chains are being updated to support ARM. This is vital to Nvidia’s plans of ARM server chips. It would never have been a reality without the M1 or something like it.

ARM is a joint-venture between Apple and Acorn, each had 43% of the capital back in 1996. Apple has a lifetime architecture license, they couldn't care less about who own ARM...

Not sure Apple would ever go completely custom, their MO when they need a component is to try to find something existing first (webkit, llvm) and adapt it. If there was bad blood they’d sooner adopt RISCV.

I really think the reality is more boring than openness vs closed-ness as kinds of existential threats to each other.

Given large enough and open enough markets, there’s niches for multiple approaches, whether that was the DOS/Windows approach of proprietary software and commoditized hardware, the Apple approach of proprietary hardware and software that uses open standards (which was also more or less the Unix workstation approach), the Amazon approach of commoditized compute and storage, or the FOSS approach of commoditized software on commoditized hardware which has further subdivisions that gave rise to Linux, GNU/Linux and multiple BSDs. Even MINIX and L4 have niches that they can and do fill, and isn’t QNX used in a bunch of cars?

The economy, American, Global, European, wherever you want to draw your lines, supports all of these approaches simultaneously because they all have benefits and drawbacks. Not the most exciting statement to make, so as an idea I feel like it just gets overlooked. People will use what they will wherever it makes sense and others will look at them funny and wish they did something different.

Still, it’s something to behold that the same decade that saw Apple make more money while locking down and shedding supplier relationships and most of the open standards they used to support also saw Raspberry Pis, Android replace at least three major mobile OSs, the web become more closed off (compared to the prior decades), RISC-V, Microsoft buying GitHub, and Raptor Computing Systems selling open POWER9 workstations. I don’t pay them much mind but I hear System 76 is doing well for itself selling good Linux PCs.

I wouldn’t worry about computers becoming more locked down. Even second and third rate machines in their class are pretty good these days.

It's interesting to think that if Apple had won the PC wars how closed everything would be.

It's actually /why/ they never had a chance of winning.

Apple opened up to third party licensees for some time. It only hurt the their profitability while gaining Mac OS very little market share.

Apple "lost" the PC war because they were trying to sell slow computers for more money than the fastest available PCs. People bitch about the Apple tax now, but the premium for modern Macs is nowhere near as bad as it used to be. (And from the early signs, bang for the buck the M1 Macs are ahead of the PC industry)

This is spot on - pre-G3 & G4 PowerPC macs (think 601, 603/e, 604/e/v), were dogshit-slow and ran a legitimately inferior OS and 68k macs were possibly worse. I do admire how experimental Apple was with their hardware back in those days, though: built in TV tuners, NUBUS, audio interfaces, not to mention the very progressive laptop designs (Duo, 2400c) and Newton!

Part of me really misses how fun an inventive hardware was between the 90s and mid-2000s. Things feel very stale these days and maybe M1 is the push that this industry needs to get innovating on new platforms again?

edit: if Dell or Lenovo would do an ARM variant of the XPS13 or X1C that was capable of running Linux, I'd buy the hell out of it.

Well they are winning with iPhones aren’t they?

It's a question of what winning means I think. In terms of profits, they might be winning. If it's market share though, they are not winning, and that means there is still an opening for open standards.

If it was your company, would you rather have 99% market share and 1% of profits, or 1% market share and 99% of profits?

99% of profits, obviously, but you've forgotten what thread we're in. This is a thread about Linux and software freedom. For that, market share is way more important than profit share.

If I was making 99% of the profit off of 1% the market, I’d be terrified someone could just undercut me and take either my 1% or a big portion of the remaining market, that I’m trying to also get.

Owning the profit is great, but owning the market means longevity.

Are they? Last time I've heard Android still runs in the vast majority of phones, worldwide.

Apple is winning in terms of making virtually all the profit available to those selling phones, and Android's market share advantage is not nearly as big as you think, at least not in areas where people have a lot of disposable income, like in the US, where it's basically 50/50 between Android and iOS.

Why is that the more important metric given the subject?

It's not. Google had android users using Google Software, and seeing Google Ads. Having more users on android gives you more value when it comes to data collection and selling things to people.

But aren't apple customers some of the best targets for ads because of their higher spending power?

It's an important metric because it makes post writers favorite company win.

Worldwide stats are a lot less important than addressable market stats.

Nope. Android has more market share despite apple having the head start.

It's somehow easier to be a follower here, Apple set the trends for years, Android only had to replicate and sell cheaper.

I don't think apple is looking to beat android in marketshare, but instead in profits. They are mostly not interested in selling cheaper commodities, and instead work hard for premium differentiation (and maximal value capture of the whole ecosystem around premium smartphones with services and peripherals).

Besides, if they did win smartphone marketshare too hard, they risk regulation on the amount of control they enjoy of their platforms, which might harm their profits.

As alluded to elsewhere, Google doesn’t care about Android being profitable. They only care that it is widely used so they can continue to deliver ads and harvest data.

Possibly yes, and Apple has historically never been into that. Macs were not the biggest share either.

PC clones only happened to the reverse engineering success from Compaq and IBM being unable to prevent it in court.

All other 16 bit platforms were just like the Macs back then.

Virtually every desktop computer today uses a bitmapped display and a pointing device... like the Macintosh.

Virtually every mobile device today uses a touch-sensitive display (and a Unix-derived OS)... like the iPhone.

Apple Inc. is the most valuable company in human history.

Tell me again how Apple lost the PC wars? ;-)

First capacitive touch screen phone was LG Prada [1]

There were many valuable companies in the past but they are not anymore. Apple must not push its customers limits too much or it may backfire.

[1] https://www.androidauthority.com/lg-prada-1080646/

This is one of the things that really, really make me mad internally. Phones are exactly like you describe locked down proprietary pieces of hardware. The computing world could be so much better if it everything was open.

I fear everyday that the arm "revolution" will make open computing a thing of the past. Look at the arm laptops that are released. Not a single one can run Linux.

The pine book pro runs linux. Also, the bootloader can be unlocked on the new mac arm laptops.

It isn't the locked bootloader that is the issue with porting Linux to new ARM Macs, it's that ARM SoCs require vendor support for Linux in varying degrees, and Apple has made it clear that they won't support other OSes on ARM Macs outside of virtualization.

> Apple has made it clear that they won't support other OSes on ARM Macs [...]

That’s not completely true. They seem to be open to Windows.

Craig Federighi has stated that Windows could run on M1 hardware, but Microsoft’s licensing doesn’t allow the ARM version to be installed in a non-exclusive manner.

Source: https://9to5mac.com/2020/11/20/windows-can-run-natively-m1-m...

Bootcamp required special Apple-written drivers for Windows to work on Mac hardware. Apple has said that they will not support other OSes on their hardware outside of virtualization, so no Bootcamp.

Did you look at the source that I linked? Craig Federighi is a pretty high-level Apple employee.

He seems to be saying that the lack of Bootcamp is because Microsoft is unwilling to allow it (rather than Apple).

But Linux can run on arm just fine? I used to run my website and a bunch of other stuff on an arm64 VPS.

It isn't that the CPU architecture that's the problem, because that's well supported, it's the rest of the hardware configuration that isn't standardized and is almost always unique between ARM SoCs.

ARM servers use UEFI, and have enumerable buses for hardware detection, while most ARM SoCs require a custom bootloader or a forked open source one, and can't enumerate over hardware, thus requiring something like the DeviceTree in Linux.

Here's an idea of what kind of work ARM SoCs need for Linux to run on them[1].

[1] https://elinux.org/images/a/ad/Arm-soc-checklist.pdf

Yes but the instruction set is only a tiny part of conpatibility. Intel and amd have generally standardized on ACPI for hardware discovery for example. But ARM has not. This means there is no Generic way to know what the capabilities of arm system are. That's Just one of the issues though.

Arm standardized on dtb’s. It’s a static file that describes all the information ACPI lets you probe dynamically at boot.

Edit: and also uboot, which bootstraps the kernel, and hands it a dtb.

That's the entire problem. A dtb file is unique for every different soc and that also means every single device requires a kernel update or a at the very least a patches kernel.

If it were only dtb's it would be an easy fix. Just have a database of dtb's on the boot medium that the kernel can look for. But often the mainline kernel simply lacks drivers for the hardware the arm vendors ship. Instead the arm vendors use a forked kernel that's way outdated by the time the device enters the market. In fact, as much as I love FLOSS, that's a negative consequence of FLOSS because had Linux been proprietary, they would have had to work with the entity that develops Linux instead of just forking it.

If manufacturers would just make good datasheets available for their devices like they used to it wouldn't matter.

> Not a single one can run Linux.

My ARM Chromebook which boots into Linux would beg to differ.

Then stuff has changed recently. The last time I looked this up it was custom stuff and I couldn't just download Ubuntu or some other distro and press install.

Can you put stock Debian on it as easily as I can on a PC?

No. It's definitely a special distro.

Did you have to do something special which requires Google's permission, to do it?

No, I just had to put it in developer mode. Same story on a more recent Chromebook which was Atom-based. Some Chromebooks require a hardware mod before you can install Linux; you have to open them up and set a jumper (or something), but both of mine didn't require that.

Here are the directions I used for my Samsung ARM Chromebook. These directions are probably obsolete for more modern hardware, so take them with a grain of salt:


>Look at the arm laptops that are released. Not a single one can run Linux.

Some of the earliest ARM laptops ran Chrome OS, which is an image based Linux distro (vs package based).

People have been running more recognizable distros on some of these models for a long time, with varying degrees of success.

Take it easy on the hyperbole. There are definitely options.

The vast majority of ARM SoCs' Linux support amounts to Linux forks, and not mainline Linux support. Forks eventually stop being maintained, and quickly become outdated.

Now that I look at it, it looks like this is the case for some[1] ARM Chromebooks, too, in that they are stuck having to use the specific ChromeOS kernels that ship with images for their Chromebook models.

[1] https://github.com/RaumZeit/LinuxOnAcerCB5-311

think this is an important reminder about what an extraordinary accident PCs were in their standardization and openness.

You have it backwards. Around the time, everything was open and well documented and hackable. PC, Amiga, ST, Archimedes... It was Macintosh that was uniquely closed.

I think having the ability to use products, any products, for a purpose that wasn't intended by their designers, is important to help overall progress of the humanity.

I don't know if that really happened by accident. I rather think it's the true nature of information to be open, and therefore for the platforms too

Yes, we should all have access to the US Gold Codes

Pdp-11 and VAX were also open.

Not exactly mass consumer devices.

It was cool back then, I played commander keen and lemmings on a gateway 2k. Lots of power, reactively cheap for a “ibm clone.”

But the reality is things are different now. The threat model is different.

You can’t just copy a “cdrom” full of 200 shareware titles you got in the mail and let your kids randomly run executables.

It was risky then too. MS DOS did have viruses, TSR programs and others could use TCP stacks ( like WatTCP ), data exfiltration via data files was a thing ( eg an infected wordstar that would save other files into a word star document being sent for printing).

I used to sell anti virus, and the threat models for some of the clients were Eye opening.

There was non-zero risk but it wasn’t remotely similar.

These machines dialed up bbs. No internet, no volumes of personal data like hd video and photos.

You didn’t have bank websites or online payment tools you could use people’s data to defraud.

My point is there no fitting the days of pc clones over today and having some direct comparison around “openness.”

You can on a raspberry pi. I recently confirmed keen runs as well on a rpi4 as it did on my old gw2k.

Win 3.1 audio drivers under dosbox are a bit beyond my current capacity for tinkering though.

I always felt manufacturers should be forced to open the boot-loader of their obsolete devices if not for consumer rights at-least "for the environment". Motorola offering unlock codes on their website albeit voiding warranty felt like a breath of fresh air[1].

PinePhone, other open smartphones are not available in my country due to embargo; So Moto G4 Play was the obvious second choice[2] for PostmarketOS due to availability of robust mainline kernel(MSM8916).

But guess what, Motorola removed unlocking support for older devices from their portal[3]! So even though G4 Play is available widely in the used market it's useless for any aftermarket OS efforts. There's absolutely no explanation for this decision from Motorola, other than making people buy their latest devices. So, it seems that the devices unlocked(hacked) by the community is still a better choice in the long run just because the manufacturers cannot be trusted for the devices 'we own?'.




I wonder if the right to repair laws that are gaining momentum might help fix this.

The forced open bootloader proposal is the only right to repair law that makes any sense.

Samsung has had bootloader unlocking as a feature in all their mobile devices for a very long time. It is available for all devices, new or old.

> Samsung has had bootloader unlocking as a feature in all their mobile devices

This is simply not true. Some of their devices provide that but many don't. Research carefully before purchasing.

I just realized that the US carrier locked devices don't have it. So, if you have one of those, unfortunately, you'll have to use a third-party method.

Some of the unlocked ones, too.

All Snapdragon variants of Samsung's Galaxy lineup are locked, regardless of carrier. This has been going on at least since the S7, and there are exploits to unlock bootloaders for such phones, at least as far as the Note 9 [1]. I would argue that if you need an exploit to unlock the bootloader, you are no better off than purchasing Apple.

1: https://www.xda-developers.com/samsung-galaxy-s9-galaxy-note...

It's still a far fry from "no better," in my view. There's an ecosystem of Android software for these environments. For instance, LineageOS, as the typical first target, was unofficially ported to the Note 9 Snapdragon soon after the bootloader exploit. There are also existing tools for Google Apps, microG, Xposed, etc.

You've got fairly good jailbreaks for most iPhones, too, so in my opinion they're close.

Admittedly it's been a while since I've been on a jail broken iPhone, but AFAIK custom ROM support is almost completely missing from iPhones. The jailbreaking ecosystem there is more comparable to Xposed tweaks and root access on an Android device. Custom ROMs are far more extensive with their own software and theming frameworks, perspectives on usability and performance, and often completely different OSs (that are not Android) thanks in part to GSIs these days.

Didn't 'Knox' mess that up for newer phones? Anyways, couple of Samsung A/J series phones does seem to work well with PostmarketOS but unfortunately display brightness cannot be adjusted making it a hard choice.

You'll void your warranty and never be able to use Knox again if you switch back to Samsung firmware once you unlock bootloader. But no, Knox doesn't prevent you from unlocking bootloader in any way.

I was gifted an iDevice but sold it recently as Apple stopped supporting it. Having spent years bringing all PCs back to life with Linux all I could do was think what a waste of hardware!

I agree totally with ipadlinux.org!

> Obsolete iPads could be affordable personal computers and useful for project builds. We believe Linux is the key to bring new life to these devices.

Looking forward!

This is one place where apple’s ban on alternative browser engines really hurts users, IMO. I’d be pretty comfy using an old iPad that was out of security support, _if_ it had an up to date browser. But since browser engine updates are tied to OS, there’s no way for obsoleted iPads to keep being safely used as cheap browsing machines. in this sense it might even be possible that using an outdated android is safer, if you’re just browsing and you’ve got an up to date browser.

What iDevice? The iPad air 2 from 2014 is supported on iPadOS 14 [0] and iOS 14 goes back to the iPhone 6s from 2015 [1]. Even though older devices "aren't supported", Apple still might release an essential update for older iOS like they did with 13.7 [2], 12.4.9 [3], and 10.3.4/9.3.6[4].

0: https://www.apple.com/ipados/ipados-14/#content-toggle-spati...

1: https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-14/#content-toggle-fast-loadin...

2: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210393#137

3: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT211940

4: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210239

6 years is generous in the mobile hardware space, but when compared to traditional PC hardware, which the iPad is increasingly competing against, it is very disappointing for a piece of hardware to be out of luck after 6 years.

On Windows, any Windows 7/8/8.1 users got a free upgrade to Windows 10, and the minimum requirements for Windows 10 are the same as Windows 7 (other than for disk space, Windows 10 requires less). So that's any Windows PC in the last 11 years can still get an OS with security updates. And of course, you can always install Linux on a Windows PC.

The Apple side doesn't go quite as far back, but still most 2012 macs can install Catalina which will be supported until 2022. And Linux is pretty well supported on the non-T2 macs (pre-2015) as well.

PCs didn’t have as long of life in the 90’s to the early 2000’s, either. In 2008 only 33% of PCs were over 3 years old. Today it’s over 60% (haven’t found a more exact statistic). iPads were going through a similar maturing process and rapidly iterating on performance and features. It’s why I can accept the notion of hardware being obsolete sooner when being an early adopter.

The big thing that makes really old iPads not worthwhile to reuse is the battery. It often becomes cost ineffective to replace them. I’m looking at my 9.7” Pro with a cracked corner of its screen. Replacing the battery will damage the screen more causing a replacement for that, too. PCs don’t have the same expectation of parts wearing out - many easily can run 10 years with no hardware maintenance.

That's not taking into account how older machines are typically used though. Yes, you can install the latest Windows on a 1.6GHz dual core PC from 2006, but it's not going to make a great PC. On the other hand, it makes a fine host for a NAS device or some other home server, or a router/firewall, or a media PC to hook up to the TV etc.

An iPad or iPhone would do much of the same, and in some ways better or for different uses. It uses less power. It could be used as an in-wall display. It could be a WiFi repeater, or an access point given a USB ethernet adapter. People are creative, if you give them the chance. And none of those things really care if the battery is flat.

> PCs didn’t have as long of life in the 90’s to the early 2000’s, either.

My parents used their Mac SE at least weekly from 1989 until about 2005, and it still works great today (but hasn’t been turned on in a few years).

It’s quite funny because when I was around 18 I worked with an older guy (he was around 55) repairing and restoring printers. He was complaining that when a motherboard broke we just switched it out for a new and threw the old one out. He remembered a time when he used to replace the broken component on the motherboard and had it working again instead.

Current Linux kernels support the 486 CPU from 1989, and I think you can reasonably run a current distribution and web browser on a PC from around year 2000, and you probably can't distinguish a 2005-2010 system from a current one using only a browser on common websites.

The actual minimum x86 CPU for modern Linux is a Pentium 2 (1997, source - https://www.debian.org/releases/stable/i386/ch02s01.en.html).

The practical minimum for a modern distro is probably a Core 2 Duo (2006). You will likely need a lightweight DE on such a system if using it as a desktop.

Some mainstream distros (e.g. Ubuntu) set their requirements higher than that.

That's the minimum CPU for Debian.

The Linux kernel supports the 486 CPU (also used to support the 386, but it was dropped, although it's probably possible to restore it with some work - the 286 can't be easily supported because it lacks 32-bit registers).

> you probably can't distinguish a 2005-2010 system from a current one using only a browser on common websites

If only this were the case. Common websites have become script ridden monstrosities that aggressively consume RAM and CPU. I routinely have 50+ tabs open; even on fairly recent hardware that can easily cause problems depending on which pages they contain.

while agreeing that software got worse, especially websites.

opera did gracefully open 100+ tabs in 2005 on a dualcore with a gig of ram.

the key was and is: disable javascript

Tried booting an old dual Xeon (Nocona, circa 2004) with 5GB of ECC ram a few months ago with several Linux ISO's. None of the kernels would get very far into the loading process before just stopping.

Meanwhile, FreeNAS worked and booted fine on it. Even though it only had 5GB ram. ;)

Also, you can install whatever you want on a PC regardless of how old it is. But on iOS you can't download an older version of the app unless you've owned it previously. I do have an iPhone 4 and it's useless because I can't get any apps for it.

While I understand your frustration, I would quarrel a bit with you calling that iPhone 4 "useless".

Even with the base OS software, you've still got a great music player, a great video player, a multi-function timer/stopwatch/alarm clock, a web browser, a camera, digital maps, a calendar, email, etc.

Main issue is it’s painfully slow if you kept it up to date. I have iPhone 4S running iOS 9. It’s unusable by my standards. It is blazing fast with iOS 6 though. AFAIK it’s possible to break Apple defences and install older OS for this device, but that’s only because of some vulnerabilities and not Apple generosity.

While windows 10 nominally has the same requirements as win 7, it is in my experience unusable without an SSD, whereas win 7 was very usable. YMMV

But then you have the other thing. An SSD can be installed in nearly any PC made in the last fifteen years. How do you upgrade the storage in an iPad? Or the memory for that matter?

> The Apple side doesn't go quite as far back

Oh they do, people have managed to get Big Sur running on Mac Pro 4.1 machines from 2009.

The problem with keeping Mac Pros usable is the GPU side since one is forced to use AMD, but the new drivers for new cards IIRC require AVX support on the CPU.

iPad 2. Also had an iPad 3, both are no longer supported by Apple.

Hurts, because the hardware still works.

I still read hacker news every day on something similar (I don't remember exactly), but no posts hosted on medium.com will open. And there is no ad blocker available as far as I know.

> but no posts hosted on medium.com will open

Sounds like a great feature!

Recently we had a post about websites smaller than 1MB, I think this is a much better metric: "Will load on iPad 2 in <10s". Or "Will load on a Pentium II without OOM"

You can jailbreak it to get that.

Yes. My iPad 4 (A1458) is doomed. No updates and new releases of apps don't work because the OS version isn't supported. I'm perplexed as to why the app store would even let me update those apps at all.

yup, my 2 still works passably as a youtube watcher though

I have an ipad2. Jailbroken with the ability for game emulation and multiwindow and mouse/keyboard support well before those were all allowed by apple. Clearly the hardware was always capable of lots.

I’ve been hoping to see a project like this surface for vintage iPhones. Even devices going back to the iPhone 4S are absurdly fast in a way, great networking, would make fine brains for robots and all sorts of devices. It’s a pity that so many disappear from the world in one way or another.

I actually still have a 5s that I barely used due to country zone restrictions at the time. It would be cool to unlock this and get this running on a Linux os

There are third party repair places that may be able to fix your iPad for you although if it's the digitizer or screen, it may cost more to fix than the iPad is worth.

A new iPad is around AU$500, a replacement LCD is around $35, a replacement digitiser around $25, and the tool set around $15.

The expensive part is labour. If you're willing to risk some time and money on failure you can have a go yourself, there are excellent guides online.

I have an iPad 2 that I bought new long ago and have since given to my young children. Unsurprisingly one of them dropped it and the screen stopped working. I ordered the kit, opened it up, and reseated the LCD. Would have gone flawlessly if I'd been more careful while opening it up, as it stands I now need to replace the digitiser, but it's still much cheaper than a new tablet, especially while my elder daughter is in a phase of thinking she is smarter than us and can ignore warnings like "if you balance that on your knees it will fall off and break."

That's a new iPad, not the iPad under discussion, which is worth much less. You can often buy a replacement out-dated model for around that $75 mark, and that's ignoring the time cost of trying to fix the broken one.

This is true, but I also attach some value to avoiding the electronic waste of throwing out an iPad with mostly working parts.

Even if you don’t get new OS versions, you still get OS patches and security update for several more years. Also the App Store still seems to support devices seemingly forever. I was still able to download apps on my iPhone 3G seven years after I bought it. In terms of useful working life, these things are incredible.

Unfortunately you can’t download apps that the publisher removed from the store (EA Games, looking at you) even if you paid for them. If you don’t backup the IPAs (and/or don’t have a way to install them...) then you’re stuck. At least you can get a refund from Apple if you can find your iTunes/App Store purchase receipt.

Why do you need a receipt? Seems like Apple would have all of that information..

No idea! But when I asked for a refund for my purchase of the iPad version of C&C Red Alert 3 (which I bought from the App Store around 2012) after EA pulled it around 2015 I contacted iOS App Store customer support who told me to forward them a copy of my App Store purchase receipt e-mail to get a refund.

Through that website I found the iSH app and it’s amazing. It’s an Alpine Linux shell in an x86 emulator and it’s on the App Store.

I just installed gcc, Java, and Python on my iPad Pro. I can also install Ruby, PHP, etc. I can do most of my work now from my iPad without using Remote Desktop. Game changer. This app should be included on iPad Pro by default.

It’s nice to have. As said in previous comments regarding ish releases, from TestFlight beta to the AppStore, it’s pretty slow compared to something more "native" like termed on android.

I love that it can access files (your iCloud files for instance) from the system but mounting them within "Linux" with a simple "mount -t ios . /mnt". The other way is also possible, accessing is files from the files app.

iSH is very good, and it is Alpine, but it's not _quite_ Linux, if I understand correctly. Note that the output of `uname -a` reports a kernel version of `4.20.69-ish`.

It reimplements system calls at the moment; you can consider it to be similar to Wine or WSL1.

Is that a real version number or just a week+sex number joke?

It’s a highly nice number.


iSH is amazing, but in practice most things don't work.

Try doing a git clone of a large project, it takes forever and the phone gets uncomfortably hot. Also if you don't keep the phone from locking you will have to restart the (possibly 20-30 minute long) process. You can do this by turning on location tracking (this is something apple mandated) which probably turns on the GPS RF amplifier and is one of the fastest ways to drain the battery. I've had the phone shut down while charging leaving the GPS running with another CPU intensive app before (Spotify I think.)

But on the iPad this is just about the only choice.

What happens when Apple fixes the exploit? Perhaps they can even do it remotely.

From this my only reaction is: why even bother with Apple hardware? You can't build on the brand, it's just a too unreliable path to take.

This is using the Checkm8 exploit which takes advantage of an unfixable BootROM vulnerability that exists on all devices between iPhone 4s to the iPhone X. This includes all ipads and other iOS devices using Apple silicon from the same generation. https://checkm8.info/blog/checkra1n-jailbreak-exploit

> why even bother with Apple hardware?

1. It's nice hardware (slim, good build quality). 2. Linux often supports hardware well after official support ends, prolonging its usefulness and keeping more gear out of the landfill.

Granted, if you already have the device, then 2 is a good reason.

But buying a new such device doesn't sound like a good idea, even if the hardware is somewhat better. You'd be supporting Apple and this means that (if lots of people have this behavior) the competition falls even more behind. There might come a day when there will be no more exploits left on Apple hardware, and then we're stuck with the choice of going to the competition which might then be worse because of the shortsightedness in our purchasing behavior, or buying into Apple's walled garden.

Making purchases based on marginally better products (following the gradient of quality) may be satisfying in the moment, but is not very wise on the long term.

If I recall correctly, the checkm8 exploit they use is a bootrom exploit, meaning it occurs at a low-enough level exploit that it can only be patched with new hardware. Every iOS version on vulnerable hardware will forever be exploitable.

See “iDevice Compatibility” on this page: https://pangu8.com/jailbreak/checkm8/

Hi. Just letting you know, I think this is a shady website. Pangu was a hacking/jailbreaking team, this website has taken that name to lure in people who are looking for a jailbreak tool.

They also have downloads and stuff available but obviously the official sources of such tools should be preferred!

I just really wish there were some alternative uses for iPhones and iPads once they hit obsolescence. I’d love to use them as little smart home interfaces or poor-mans homepods. But they don’t generally support that kind of use...

I'm currently using my old iPhones for doing camera-trap photography and videography. I've got a 5s recording some bird feeders in my yard, for example. Decent camera for filming during the day. Unlike my DSLR, it's not artificially constrained to only recording 15 minutes at time. It's tiny, and if I have it near an outlet I can even power it so I don't need to worry about recharging it. It also does slow-mo if you don't mind going down to 720p. I think an iPhone 6 can do slow-mo at 1080p.

Looks cool. How you solve the small space issue in old models?

It hasn't been an issue so far. I have recorded well over an hour at a time and had plenty of space left on the device. I haven't tried leaving it recording overnight (since the birds are in torpor then anyway). That particular phone was 64GB, which can hold something like ~4 hours of 1080p30 video.

The phone contains no apps other than the pre-installed ones, and no data other than the video I'm capturing. After moving the videos to my computer, I remove them from the phone.

Run a local web server for the interface and enable guided access to prevent accidental clicks and swipes. Should make a decent smart interface or destination to push video or audio.

My mom uses an iPhone 5s as a hearing aid for her TV, with her airpods (1st gen). She cannot be happier. She does not bear using true hearing devices but this has helped her a lot.

maybe sell it on ebay for whatever and buy an old android instead. having an app like tasker makes it a lot easier for that type of automation. you can even use tasker to make a basic interfaces if you want to control a lot of different things from one screen

Android isn’t really what I’d call ‘Linux’ on the iPad.

I’d be interested in running a real Linux on my old iPad hardware.

Android uses the Linux kernel too, if the Linux kernel can run on the iPad, it is probably relatively "easy" to switch to a different userspace. At minimum, one can run (for eg) Debian in a chroot on Android:


I think you meant GNU/Linux instead of "real".

Android is a real Linux in the same way that iOS is a real BSD Unix.

No, I don't think that's true. Android is just Linux with an Android userland.

Richard Stallman was quite correct to call it GNU/Linux, as much as I dislike the guy.

It's a long term pattern that keeps playing out to say "Richard Stallman was quite correct <insert topic here>, as much as I dislike the guy."

Maybe we should pay more attention to what he says!

Except that you are only allowed to use these Linux calls,


Anything not white listed on the LinuxSE and seccomp configurations, just has as outcome killing the "naughty" app.

iOS is just BSD/Mach with an iOS Userland. Here is the kernel: https://github.com/apple/darwin-xnu

Yes. it's accurate to describe iOS as iOS/Darwin, and macOS as macOS/Darwin. But "BSD" implies a BSD userland to most people, which macOS has but iOS doesn't.

Linux implies a GNU userland to most people which Android does not have.

Alpine Linux is unequivocally a Linux despite not having much to do with GNU in userland.

It has a work-alike of the gnu userland.

Well, that's precisely what Stallman was trying to address, wasn't he? Trying to separate out the Linux kernel from the GNU userland.

Yes, but he had failed before he even started trying to get people to say GNU/Linux instead of Linux.

That’s my point - when people say Linux they generally mean GNU/Linux not Android.

Equally, people are generally not talking about only the kernel, when they say Linux. Usually when someone is talking about only the kernel they say ‘the Linux kernel’.

GNU/Linux usually only gets used by the FSF or during discussions of this kind.

“Many Linux distributions use the word "Linux" in their name, but the Free Software Foundation uses the name GNU/Linux to emphasize the importance of GNU software, causing some controversy.” [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux

The opposite tho. Darwin uses a BSD userland (and a proprietary GUI stack) atop a custom kernel while Android is a Linux kernel with a custom userland (and again a proprietary GUI stack.)

They do both use bash tho ;)

Used to. Macs switched to zsh :-)

What? Android’s kernel is a pretty close derivative of upstream Linux while iOS’ kernel has almost nothing to do with any current BSD distribution.

iOS kernel is Darwin, a current BSD: https://github.com/apple/darwin-xnu

Darwin only half BSD. It uses a Mach kernel and Bash but BSD utilities instead of coreutils. It’s development and administrative utilities along with its init system are custom as well.

Fair enough, but that still means this statement (made by ArgylSound): “iOS’ kernel has almost nothing to do with any current BSD distribution.” is false.

XNU, Darwin's kernel, is Mach + FreeBSD[1].

[1] https://github.com/apple/darwin-xnu

For more background, see https://developer.apple.com/library/archive/documentation/Da...

There it clarifies that it is "mostly" FreeBSD. The Mach being used also differs significantly from CMU Mach and what you might find by looking for Mach3/4 source dumps.

One of the biggest challenges in "converting" NeXTSTEP (MacOS's predecessor) to OS X was both updating software to newer versions and eliminating expensive licenses from AT&T and Adobe.

NeXTSTEP was a "capital U" UNIX with AT&T proprietary code, based on 4.3/4.4BSD (encumbered). Every copy needed a UNIX license and royalties to AT&T.

NeXT was based on Mach2, which had 4.3BSD deeply integrated into the kernel source tree. Device drivers were both native BSD ones along with a "DriverKit" interface that used Mach messages to write userland device drivers.

CMU Mach v3 and v4 cut out all the BSD code and put it into a userland "UX Server", a model incompatible with NeXT. So instead, Apple took the OSF/1 Mach kernel, derived from Mach 2.5, and replaced the BSD subsystem code with 4.4BSD-lite, gradually updating its subsystems with FreeBSD ones.

So TLDR, Darwin/XNU has both a BSD userland and essentially a FreeBSD kernel. When you make a "UNIX-y" syscall from C in MacOS, you're "talking" to a "FreeBSD kernel".

a-Shell [0] is missing from this list.

It's a completely different approach from iSH (a couple of precompiled binaries and the capability to execute WASM/WASI "binaries", rather than userspace x86 and Linux syscall emulation) but complements it quite nicely in my experience.

[0]: https://holzschu.github.io/a-Shell_iOS/

Still have some old ipads (new iPad, 3rd gen, iOS9) and other iDevices. Would live to run Linux in them... But this is not doing that, right?

My old iPad Air still might have the nicest screen I own across all devices, and great battery life ~7 years later. But it's feeling sluggish and is no longer supported. It's a real shame I can't run Linux on it or at least use it as a portable monitor for my Android phone.

Everyone here harping on about how everything should be as open as “PCs”:

Do you realize that maybe some people desire things that are locked down and curated, and perhaps that may be the reason why Apple is richer than Scrooge McDuck?

And indeed, PC is the odd one out here; Apple have been locked down since before 1984 like the Commodores and Atari STs they grew up with.

Why can’t we have both? The current balance is perfect: Apple for those who like Appleness and PCs/Androids/etc. for everyone else.

By insisting your dogma upon upon those who don’t want it you’re yourself becoming the monsters you profess to combat.

Although yes, I too would like the iPad to be more open. iOS is such a painful gimping of such beautiful hardware.

Remember: app curation by Apple isn't driven by any kind of instrumentation and doesn't prevent malware until after it becomes well known. There is no advantage it gives to consumers, it just prevents apps from taking users from Apple's services.

That is: the iphone app store doesn't improve upon the OSX security situation.

Also, at least the commador64 had publicly available schematics (I think they may have been included with the machine.) The only modern phone doing this that I'm aware of is the PinePhone.

> Do you realize that maybe some people desire things that are locked down and curated

I don't think most Apple users desire this when they're making a purchase. It's more that they don't particularly care as long as the device does what they need it to do.

The desire for devices to be open for tinkering is more from technical users who are already used to open platforms.

Apple could just as well make devices to satisfy both groups, but it's not in their financial interest to do so.

They don't seem mutually exclusive. iPad could be exactly the same for people who want that but still open for people who don't. I assume you're not suggesting people buy Apple stuff because they know others can't play with it, like some weird jealous children?

Why couldn’t Apple provide this choice?

Why doesn’t every company do everything? Why doesn’t Nintendo make phones? Why doesn’t Boeing make game consoles? They chose a market and they’re serving that, and millions of their customers are happy with them. If people need something different then other companies are there to cater to them.

Right, because phones with a few bits changed is equivalent to a company making an entirely different product…

What is a good tablet that can run Linux?

Remarkable 1 & 2 come with ssh and root access. Whilst they're more eReader than tablet, they are decently powerful, with an active community around them.

Microsoft Surface Go is almost flawless in terms of Linux support, only the webcamera doesn't work. The rest is fine out of the box, with a stock kernel.

It's more of a PC, but that's an advantage I think.

Is there an up-to-date resource like r/SurfaceLinux? The compatibility guide in the side bar doesn't even list to Go devices.

Their wiki is excellent: https://github.com/linux-surface/linux-surface/wiki/Supporte...

It's linked on Reddit, but the new UI makes it hard to find.

Google Pixel C: https://github.com/pixelc-linux/documentation

Disclaimer: I'm one of the authors

Is there an available form-fitting folio keyboard with at least a six-row PC-104/105 equivalent keyboard?


I'm sorry but I'm not aware of any keyboard like that, bit that's just because I've never been interested in it.

What I can say for sure is that any Bluetooth keyboard works, so, as long as you find a folio-fitting one you should be fine.

This is what I’d buy:


Haven’t used one. I like the pinebook pro.

It's out of stock though. :(

Google seems to be pushing for Linux on Chromebooks with Crostini and I was excited with the idea of having a tablet that can spin up Linux on the go when Lenovo launched the Ideapad Duet earlier this year. Unfortunately couldn't get one as it's not released in my region and it's running on a mid range Mediatek so it's nowhere close to iPad level performance.

Not a tablet exactly, but some Chromebooks can run a Linux VM.

a container, with all the things that this implies - no direct network hardware access, for example

Checkout the hardware comparability on PostmarketOS's wiki

It's a bit overwhelming. There is a giant list of phones/tablets here[1] but there is no way to quickly assess their compatibility and compare their capabilities.

1 - https://wiki.postmarketos.org/wiki/Devices

They re-organised that page into tiers of device support, it is much more useful now.

Anything in the testing category is mostly "barely works"

It's also possible to get Linux on iPad with raspberry pi as an accessory: https://youtu.be/IR6sDcKo3V8

I have an iPad mini on which I've forgotten the password and no longer have access to the E-mail address. I didn't steal it, I was using a work address. I no longer work there nor am I on friendly terms with them anymore so access to the e-mail address is out of the question.

The ipad is now blocked. I would love to install linux on it just to get it working, but I can't find any way of unbricking it. I also don't know what to search for on Google.

Do I have any chance with it?

If the iPad was your property but you used an Apple ID associated to an email address you didn't control, and you forgot the password, you're out of luck.

There is precisely one exception: if you have a copy of the original purchase receipt/invoice which shows the serial number, contact Apple Support and request that Activation Lock be disabled.

I got the iPad from work when it was replaced after going out of service after 3 years. I had my apple account set on it, but initially it was activated with the work address. Now it's under "Activation lock" unless I input my old address and password.

It says "This iPad is linked to an Apple ID. Enter the Apple ID and password used to set up this iPad"

Obviously I don't have the receipt.

I was hoping this would bring a dead weight ipad mini back to life, but was very sad to not see it on the support list. Great project either way!

Frankly even though I have been a Linux user for a long time now, I don't even want/wish/hope for Apple to let me run it on Apple hardware. As long as they let me sync my files with something like Syncthing, I'll be happy (also because some of their apps are actually high quality). But even that seems like a no no which is really disappointing.

The focus is on older devices - which Apple might still support somewhat - but most apps won't. I can't get any new apps on my iPad 2, which went upto iOS9. I'm having to run it on iOS8 though, because iOS9 basically makes it unusable by being super-slow.

Ish might support that. It can export its file system as an ios folder, and there’s a way to force ios to let it run daemons in the background.

However, you might have to manually start it at each reboot or something.

Was surprised to learn people have booted Android on iPhone 7 successfully. Could others really build a full OS from the exploit?

Something like this would be great. Linux running on an iPad pro would be a dream mobile setup.

I'd settle for Rockbox on older hardware...a full Linux setup would be amazing.

I think that Apple should make available the private HW keys on the day when they stop support its idevices. This would support a greener planet and happier people that could keep enjoying their devices based on linux or whatever.

What is the status of Android on iPhone?

The checkmk8 jailbreak seemed promising, and it given all the crazy talented people in the world, it wouldn't be completely unexpected to see a useful Android port soon.

IIRC someone ran some very limited Android builds. They supported the bare minimum of the hardware features.

I wonder, though, why use Linux kernel? This feels like one of those 10-year projects that will never reach any semblance of a usable state because reverse engineering hardware enough to write drivers is quite an insurmountable task for a project that runs on sheer enthusiasm. Wouldn't it be much easier to use the original Darwin kernel with its 100% working drivers and port the Android userspace to run on top of it, including the .so loader and any necessary shims?

It has jailbroken Linux on iPhone 7; there are no full jailbroken iPad (Pro) options?

Anyone use the altstore and how safe is that. Got source like GitHub or just binary?

Try vi and after escape cannot type q! May be why they said only Ed

TL;DR - it's a wish

The title on the page is "Linux on iPad"

I was thinking the title meant that I could sync an iPad with Linux...too bad. I was hoping that someone made it possible to sync music with the latest iOS.

Yes. Can someone fix this? I only clicked because I was puzzled. Was expecting something about emulating iOS on Linux.

and the caption is “iPad Linux”.

It's just inviting 'GNU with Linux' jokes really, isn't it.

It would be if it were actually Gnu, but it’s just Android.

I just meant the phrasing, as it was, 'iPad on Linux' was reminiscent of that.. 'meme' or whatever we'd call it, not that it had anything to do with GNU.

... or as I've recently taken to calling it, iPad plus Linux.

Why would you use an ipad for linux when you pay triple what you should for the tablet to get Apple's OS on it? Must be just a challenge since you don't own your tablet (AKA root).

Apple's tablets are essentially the only ones worth buying; nobody really makes good ones these days.

The latest Samsung Tab is pretty good; did you try it?

Even the previous one is still pretty good (satisfied Galaxy Tab S6 owner here).

Not the latest one, no. Does it still support DeX and such?

the website says "With hardware becoming more and more powerful every year, obsolete iPads (according to Apple) should be allowed to continue to serve a purpose."

> obsolete iPads (according to Apple) should be allowed to continue to serve a purpose

props to apple for pushing linux (just kidding)

Among other factors: standardisation of form factors providing a useful hardware accessory market.

Tablets of and by themselves are pretty, but not especially useful. aa folio keyboard combination (case with integrated keyboard) is a game-changer ... but must be specifically fit to every individual tablet size, which Android device manufacturers have insisted on not standardising. Desktop systems need only agree on connector ports, tablet design requires agreement on all dimensions of the tablet. And nobody's doing that in Android land.


(There are othher grievous problems with Android, I'm focusing on the physical here.)

Apple's iPads, at least, offer a set of fixed sizes and are (for now) ensuring matching keyboards through third-party vendors. Many of those keyboards are crippled for Linux use (missing critical keys, such as esc, or entire rows, as with function or numeric keys), but there are at least a few options.

Apple are also providing extensive onboard storage up to 1 TB or more), where Android offerings are still often only a few GB. The latter is insufficient for my primary use: as a portable text library. (128 GB is about the minimum useful storage for this). Audio, image, or video work is even more constrained.

The reader function is where tablets shine over laptops, at least in form. The latter have compute power and flexibility, but displays are unsuited to reading, especially at 9:16 ratios: too short to read portrait, too small to display 2-up readably, and incapable of rotating in most cases. A tablet in portrait mode is a reasonably good reading device. Except that the OS and app infrastructure are utterly unsuited.

This is a long-standing complaint, and I'm seeing little progress. Google have no interest in breaking free of advertising-based captive markets, Apple ... I don't know why, but are similarly brain damaged.

It's the war on general-purpose computing. From at least two fronts.

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