External displays, Rosetta 2, Homebrew, and more

Photo by Ales Nesetril on Unsplash.

The first Apple silicon ARM-based M1 chip has received rave reviews due to its mind-blowing performance and efficiency. I’m impressed by the incredible performance and “System on a Chip” architecture that integrates CPU, GPU, unified memory, Neural Engine, etc.

I was so excited when I received my first M1 chip MacBook Air:

M1 chip MacBook Air by Eric Yang

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After spending a few days setting up Ruby, Python, Homebrew, and other apps on the laptop, here are the five things I have learned that can be interesting.

1. Fast, Fast, and Fast

The most impressive part came when building my Xcode project after cleaning the build folder. It took three minutes and 50 seconds to launch the iOS simulator with the MBP, while the same task took two minutes and 40 seconds with the M1 chip MacBook Air.

It’s approximately 30% faster! That’s even more impressive considering it’s a $1,000 fanless MacBook Air.

Comparison of the latest MBP with the M1 MBA by Eric Yang

2. Run External Displays

There are workarounds if you really need more than one external display. Nate P managed to support dual monitors on an M1 MacBook Pro by using the DisplayLink dock that uses its own software graphic card to drive the displays. Ruslan Tulupov managed to support six external displays from the M1 Mac mini and five external displays from the MacBook Air and Pro by using DisplayPort adapters and DisplayLink software.

Multi-display support by Ruslan Tulupov.

3. Install Rosetta 2

Rosetta 2 does not run like the app but works behind the scenes. It doesn’t come with macOS Big Sur but will be automatically installed when you launch the Intel-based apps for the first time.

To manually install Rosetta 2, use the following command:

To automatically agree with the software license agreement, we use:

Install Rosetta 2 by Eric Yang

4. Install Homebrew

Installing Homebrew in Intel-based Macs is straightforward:

But when running the command on the M1 chip MacBook Air, there is an error:

Error when installing Homebrew by Eric Yang

There are different ways to install Homebrew on ARM-based Macs.

Using the unstable, in-development ARM-based Homebrew

And add these paths to the environment:

Then restart the terminal and brew update.

Running with the prefix arch -x86_64 at ARM-based terminal

And then use it by prefix with arch -x86_64:

arch -x86-64 brew update

Running terminal from Rosetta 2

Then when launching the terminal/iTerm, it will automatically run in Rosetta 2 now. The command for Intel-based Macs works now!

I duplicated the iTerm and renamed it to have the ability to run both ARM- and Intel-based commands on my M1 chip MacBook Air.

5. Cool and Quiet

In comparison, the late-2019 MBP makes a loud fan noise when building Xcode projects and gets pretty warm by the time I’ve finished my everyday work.

Conclusion