Linux on iPad? Soon it may be possible to do it

Many of us find old iPads lying around the house , unfortunately no longer usable given Apple's decision to end software support : this implies stopping the latest versions of iOS and for some apps this means ending support. The online community, however, never remains idle, and on the old iPads with Apple A7 and A8 chips it could be possible in the future to use Linux on the iPad.

Developer Konrad Dybcio and a Linux enthusiast, known online as quaack723 , teamed up to be able to boot the 5.18 Linux kernel on an old iPad Air 2 , a major feat for a fully designed device. to never run any operating system other than Apple.

linux ipad

Linux on iPad? Everything is possible

The project seems to be based on the postmarketOS distro, a constantly developing distro designed to run on Android smartphones as a replacement for the Google operating system itself. PostmarketOS in turn is based on Alpine Linux, a distro developed with safety and lightness in mind. It is so minimal that a classic PC installation requires only 130MB of space.

The developers behind this project did not explicitly explain how they succeeded in the feat, but a hashtag suggests how. Apparently, the Checkm8 exploit, discovered in 2019, has been exploited . The exploit in question would exploit a bug in the startup code of the device: it is the code that runs before all the others, and is stored in a ROM. This implies that it can never be patched , as ROM is read-only memory. The exploit therefore allows you to execute "customized" code.

For now, developers have only managed to run Linux on some older iPad hardware using A7 and A8 based chips, including iPad Air, iPad Air 2, and some generations of iPad Mini. But subsequent tweets imply it will be possible to run Linux on any device with an A7 or A8, including the iPhone 5S and the original HomePod.

Development is, of course, still in its infancy: from the shared photos it is clear that the Linux boot process is not completed . Then there is no management of important elements such as communication via USB and Bluetooth which are not, at least for now, supported. Also missing are key elements such as support for network features, audio, graphics acceleration, but the demonstration that startup is possible should be able to attract other developers willing to collaborate .

A little history of the iPad Air 2

The iPad Air 2 is the second generation iPad Air series tablet designed, developed and marketed by Apple Inc. It was announced way back October 16, 2014 , along with the iPad Mini 3, both released on October 22, 2014. iPad Air 2 it is thinner, lighter and faster than its predecessor, the iPad Air, and features Touch ID. The height, width and size of the screen are the same as those of the previous first generation iPad Air.

Support for the iPad Air 2 was discontinued on March 21, 2017 as was the iPad Mini 2, exactly one year after the first generation discontinued. Its successor, the third generation iPad Air, was released on March 18, 2019.

The iPad Air 2 inherits similar hardware to both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus with a major change in the processor of the Apple A8X, the high-end 3-core variant of the Apple A8. The iPad Air 2 has 2GB of RAM, making it the first iOS device to have more than 1GB of RAM at the time, and the 8-core PowerVR GPU. It includes an enhanced 8-megapixel (3264 × 2448) rear camera with 10fps burst mode and 120fps slow motion video, similar to the capabilities of the iPhone 5S camera.

The Linux on iPad article? Soon it may be possible to run it was written on: Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .