Apple's powerful desktop workstation, the Mac Studio, is very tempting. Thanks to the Apple M1 Ultra processor, the Mac Studio is still the fastest Mac on the market, even competing with the "cheese grater" Mac Pro. Out of the box, the Mac Studio will run macOS Ventura, but what if you want to leverage that power in a different OS? If you're wondering whether you can run Linux on the Mac Studio, we have good and bad news.
The bad news is that it's still impossible to run Linux — or Windows, for that matter — natively on macOS. While Intel-based models made it easier to install different operating systems, Macs running Apple Silicon are more locked down. The silver lining is that you can run Linux on the Mac Studio, but it'll have to be through a virtual machine (VM).
Using a virtual machine to run Linux on the Mac Studio
If you really want to use a Linux distribution with the Mac Studio, you will first need virtualization software that supports the Arm architecture. There are some options here, but a great solution is Parallels Desktop 18. This virtualization software allows you to run Windows, Linux, and other operating systems on macOS, including Apple Silicon Macs. It's paid software, though, so you'll have to shell out at least $99.99 for a perpetual license or $79.99 per year if you want the subscription model.
Parallels Desktop makes it very easy to run Linux on macOS since you can download your preferred Linux distribution, with options including Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, or Kali Linux. You may be able to use other distributions, but you'll need to make sure they offer images for Arm devices, which many don't. Most operating systems are still designed for x86 or AMD64 processors, so you're probably better off using one of the images made available to you.
Another advantage of running Linux in Parallels is that you can use something called Coherence mode. This actually makes it possible to open Linux apps right next to your Mac apps, to the point where you see your Linux apps on the macOS dock. You don't have to go into the Linux interface every time, which is something you can't do on Windows.
Parallels Desktop is the software to use if you want to run virtual machines on your Mac. That means you can run Windows, Linux, and other macOS instances in one place.
If you want a free solution to run Linux on the Mac Studio, another option is using an app called UTM. It's available for free on the official UTM website or for $9.99 on the Mac App Store, and it also offers a relatively easy setup for Linux. Thanks to the gallery of available operating systems, you can also easily set up a new virtual machine and get started. However, you don't get a feature like Coherence mode, but not everyone will need that.
If this has convinced you to get the Mac Studio, you can order it below. Most configurations are only available from Apple directly, but buying from Best Buy may be more reliable for some customers. Shipping dates seem to be delayed by a couple of weeks due to high demand, which isn't too surprising considering this is one of the best Macs you can buy right now.
Apple Mac Studio
The new Mac Studio is powered by Apple Silicon — either the M1 Max or the M1 Ultra chip — but it can run Windows through virtualization.