You can now run macOS for M1 on Intel - if you want

Apple M1
(Image credit: Apple)

BlackBerry (opens in new tab) Cylance has managed to successfully emulate the Apple M1 (opens in new tab) silicon using the open source (opens in new tab) QEMU hardware virtualizer.

The Apple M1 is the company’s first indigenously-designed Arm-based systems-on-a-chip (SoC), which includes both a CPU (opens in new tab) and the GPU.

And while QEMU could already simulate both the 32-bit and 64-bit Arm processors, thanks to Blackberry it is now even possible to emulate the M1 SoC on top of regular x86 machines.

Although anyone can follow the detailed step-by-step instructions published by Cylance, the process is designed particularly for security researchers and pen-testers.

“Pen-testers and researchers can use the virtualized environment of a stripped-down MacOS kernel for debugging and vulnerability discovery, and this illustrates the extent to which one can use emulation to manipulate and control the kernel to their desired ends, whether it be to find a critical bug or to patch an area of the kernel,” explains BlackBerry in a post detailing the instructions.

Cross-platform emulation

Emulating alien hardware has long been a favorite with developers and testers to experiment with multiple hardware without incurring the cost of physically procuring the hardware.

With its ability to simulate several platforms, QEMU is the popular option for doing cross-platform emulation. No surprise then that BlackBerry has leveraged it to help emulate the M1 SoC.

Note however that BlackBerry’s instructions to get a stripped down M1 macOS kernel to boot under QEMU is fairly involved. 

Also, don’t expect to boot into a graphical desktop when you’re done. Following the procedure you’ll be dropped to a shell, which is the ideal environment for security researchers to find bugs and discover vulnerabilities.

Via The Register (opens in new tab)

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.