In recent months we have seen how the Asahi Linux project has made it possible to install Linux on Macs with the M1 chip. Now there are those who are working to do something like this, but on old iPad that were released before 2014.
These tablets are no longer officially supported by Apple and it is likely that many of the applications that users would like to use are no longer available, but they can still be used for small home servers or, why not, to mount retro gaming tablets.
That iPad you had in a drawer is still useful
A Linux developer named Konrad Dybcio has collaborated with an enthusiast who has an alias on Twitter “quaack723“and they have made it possible boot an iPad Air 2 with Linux kernel 5.18a unique milestone considering that this device was designed to run only Apple’s iOS (now iPadOS) operating system.
Took us >1 year (way too long) but, @quaack723 and I got it working after I realized we were missing a oneliner 😎
– Konrad Dybcio ✝️ (@konradybcio) June 1, 2022
For the project they have used a Linux distribution called postmarketOS based on Alpine Linux. The choice is logical since this “distro” is designed for Android devices.
In order to overcome the security mechanisms of the iPad, Dybcio seems to have used the ‘Checkm8’ exploit that it was discovered in 2019. So far they have achieved run Linux on various iPads that use the A7 and A8 chips —such as iPad Air, iPad Air 2, and some older generations of iPad mini.”
Everything indicates that it will soon be possible to replicate the process in any device with those chips, including iPhone 5S and even the original HomePod.
This unique project is still in preliminary stages and has significant limitations. At the moment it is not possible to mount a file system, and there is no USB or Bluetooth support. It will also be difficult to get network connectivity, audio or graphics acceleration – which is giving Asahi developers a lot of trouble – to work, but the project is on the right track.
It is true that at this point the A7 and A8 chips are modest and that they were usually accompanied by 1 or 2 GB of RAM. That limits the options, but if this initiative continues to give good news, it would be perfectly possible to reuse those old iPads to create small home servers, smart screens or retro gaming consoles.
Via | Ars Technica