My MacBook Pro was getting a little long in tooth late last year. I had already decided that it would be replaced with a MacBook Air as I had no need for additional muscle and thought I’d save a few bucks by downgrading. Then in November Apple announced their own ARM-based system on a chip. The M1 was launched on a new MacBook Air and that’s how I ended up with one.

Though not before exchanging notes with Don, VE3VRW of DogPark Software who was testing his MacLoggerDX and MacDoppler applications on the new silicon without issues.

The primary shack computer was in need of replacement too so I ordered a new Mac mini with the M1 chip to replace my old iMac. New machines, new silicon, what could go wrong? Turns out, not much as the transition has been almost flawless and the powerful new processor was all I needed for a complete overhaul.

Almost…

I’ve used Linux since the pre-1.0 kernel days. Yes. I’m that old. I still use it on a daily basis but these days it remains a useful tool, but has mostly been relegated to task work. Six Raspberry Pi’s and a couple of servers are running Linux or variants here but all of them are headless “boxes” though I do have an Ubuntu laptop that I use for testing code and other abstract notions.

Lately, that has included GNU Radio. It installed flawlessly and runs incredibly well on Ubuntu (21.04) and I’ve been using that a lot more lately. So it was natural to think about adding a new Linux box to the desktop line-up. I figured the NUC format would “pair” nicely with the Mac mini and that would result in having macOS and Linux at my fingertips in the shack.

At least that was my plan until I saw a mention from Daniel, EA4GPZ about using Docker to install GNU Radio on the M1 Mac.

This note describes the steps we took with the SETI Institute summer interns 2021 to install GNU Radio in their M1 Macs (MacBook Air M1 2020 model). We used gnuradio-docker-env as a starting point, which was of invaluable help.

Perhaps I should avoid another desktop machine and just use GNU Radio on my new Mac hardware? I don’t think so. While it can be done additional feedback suggests this is just a workaround for someone who only has an M1 Mac available and is not an ideal environment for GNU Radio at this point.

I’m going back to the initial plan to find new hardware with a desktop footprint, install Linux on it, and live happily ever after with both operating systems running concurrently at my fingertips…