How to Run Ubuntu Linux on Apple Silicon Mac

Jul 8, 2024 - Leave a Comment

Running Ubuntu Linux in a VM on a Mac with UTM

Want to try running Ubuntu Linux on your Apple Silicon Mac? You can do that easily, running Ubuntu right alongside MacOS, and without having to deal with any partitioning, installation headaches, dual booting, or loss of the Mac operating system itself. This is possible with the help of virtual machines, which allow you to run another operating system virtually on top of your Mac, just like any other app.

Running new and different operating systems concurrently with MacOS has never been easier thanks to virtualization apps like UTM, VMWare, VirtualBox, and Parallels, and in this particular article, we’ll be showing you how to run Ubuntu Linux on an Apple Silicon Mac with UTM.

How to Run Ubuntu Linux on M-series Mac, the Easy Way with UTM

The simplest way to get Ubuntu Linux running on a Mac is with a pre-built virtual machine package, which you can immediately run in UTM. This is about as easy as it gets for setting up a VM, here’s all you need to do:

  1. Get UTM free from the developer here before anything else, if you have not done so already. It’s the hypervisor app that allows you to run virtual machines easily on the Mac. After you have downloaded UTM, be sure to install it by dragging and dropping it into the Applications folder on the Mac
  2. Next, go to the UTM Gallery and locate “Ubuntu ARM64” and click on that (or go here directly) and click on “Download” to start downloading the preconfigured VM file
  3. Unzip the file from the user ~/Downloads folder
  4. Open the Ubuntu VM zip file you downloaded

  5. Double click on Ubuntu.utm to launch the preconfigured virtual machine directly into UTM
  6. Select Ubuntu in the VM list, then click on the big play > arrow button to start the Ubuntu Linux virtual machine
  7. Start the Ubuntu Linux virtual machine in UTM

  8. Important: login with username “ubuntu” and password “ubuntu” (without quotation marks) when requested, this is a preconfigured virtual machine and that is the user account that comes with it
  9. Login with ubuntu username and password

  10. Soon you’ll be at the Ubuntu Linux desktop, free to engage with Ubuntu however you wish
  11. The Ubuntu desktop running in a UTM VM

If you’re already familiar with Linux, have at it, you’re all setup and ready to go.

Using Ubuntu Linux on a Mac with UTM

If you’re new to Linux, just explore around. The modern Ubuntu graphical user interface should be familiar to just about anyone who has used either MacOS or a Windows PC before, as it offers a similar enough GUI and user experience to be familiar and usable.

Since this Ubuntu Linux installation is self-contained, you can’t hurt anything on your Mac by messing around within the virtual machine, so don’t be worried about breaking anything as you explore the virtualized linux environment.

Adding & Installing Apps Into Ubuntu in the VM

Bonus tip: let’s cover how to install apps into Ubuntu Linux, using apt. apt is a package manager in Ubuntu Linux, which you can think of kind of like Homebrew for Mac in that it offers a command line interface to install apps.

You can install apps into Ubuntu from the Linux command line with the following syntax:
sudo apt install appname

For example, to install htop:

sudo apt install htop

Using apt install to install apps at the command line in Ubuntu Linux

Additional Resources

You may find the following resources to be helpful as you play around with Ubuntu Linux running in a virtual machine.

By the way, Ubuntu isn’t the only type of Linux you can run in UTM or virtualized on a Mac, and if you want to check out another distribution, you can also run Fedora Linux in a UTM VM too. And you don’t need to be limited to virtualizing Linux either, you can also run MacOS Sonoma in a UTM VMA, and Windows 11 too.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks

Leave a Reply


Shop on and help support OSXDaily!

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates

Tips & Tricks


iPhone / iPad



Shop on Amazon to help support this site