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Asahi Linux conformant to OpenGL 4.6 & OpenGL ES 3.2 on Apple Silicon Macs

Asahi Linux brings the open source operating system to Apple Silicon Macs

The Asahi Linux project for Apple Silicon Macs has just become conformant to OpenGL 4.6 and OpenGL ES 3.2, surpassing Apple's current support.

Apple moved away from OpenGL support after it began to focus on its proprietary Metal graphics API. That means since macOS Mavericks in 2013, Apple has been conformant with OpenGL 4.1 even though it officially deprecated support for the standard in 2018.

The Asahi Linux project announced a new milestone was met with its work on conformant GPU drivers. After releasing an OpenGL ES 3.1 conformant driver in August 2022, the project has now surpassed Apple's implementation by being conformant with OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenGL 4.6.

There's a lot of technical background to these systems and implementations, but on a basic level, Linux users on Apple Silicon Macs will get better performance from some apps. Workloads that rely on things like Blender, Ryujinx, and Citra now have a compatible and conformant GPU driver for Apple Silicon Macs.

Jumping from OpenGL 4.1 to OpenGL 4.6 adds several features, like:

  • Robustness
  • SPIR-V
  • Clip control
  • Cull distance
  • Compute shaders
  • Upgraded transform feedback

Apple requires developers to make apps with its Metal APIs, which are more modern and reduce overhead for performing tasks. However, that means supporting a proprietary system that is inherently useless if you want to take your app outside of the Apple ecosystem.

The Asahi Linux project already has a new target in sight — Vulkan. Like Metal, it's a driver meant to reduce operation overhead, but it's open source.