Apple Silicon M1 Chips and Docker

Ben De St Paer-Gotch

Nov 16 2020

Revealed at Apple’s ‘One More Thing’ event on Nov 10th, Docker was excited to see new Macs feature Apple silicon and their M1 chip. At Docker we have been looking at the new hypervisor features and support that are required for Mac to continue to delight our millions of customers. We saw the first spotlight of these efforts at Apple WWDC in June, when Apple highlighted Docker Desktop on stage. Our goal at Docker is to provide the same great experience on the new Macs as we do today for our millions of users on Docker Desktop for Mac, and to make this transition as seamless as possible. 

Building the right experience for our customers means getting quite a few things right before we push a release. Although Apple has released Rosetta 2 to help move applications over to the new M1 chips, this does not get us all the way with Docker Desktop. Under the hood of Docker Desktop, we run a virtual machine, to achieve this on Apple’s new hardware we need to move onto Apple’s new hypervisor framework. We also need to do all the plumbing that provides the core experience of Docker Desktop, allowing you to docker run from your terminal as you can today.

Along with this, we have technical dependencies upstream of us that need to make changes prior to making a new version of Docker Desktop GA. We rely on things like Go for the backend of Docker Desktop and Electron for the Docker Dashboard to view your Desktop content. We know these projects are hard at work getting ready for M1 chips, and we are watching them closely. 

We also want to make sure we get the quality of our release right, which means putting the right tooling in place for our team to support repeatable, reliable testing. To do this we need to complete work including setting up CI for M1 chips to supplement the 25 Mac Minis that we use for automated testing of Docker Desktop. Apple’s announcement means we can start to get these set up and put in place to start automating the testing of Desktop on M1 chips. 

Last but by no means least, we also need to review the experience in the product for docker build. We know that developers will look at doing more multi-architecture builds than before. We have support for multi-architecture builds today behind buildx, and we will need to work on how we are going to make this simpler as part of this release. We want developers to continue  to work locally in Docker and have the same confidence that you can just build - share - run your content as easily as you do now regardless of the architecture. 

If you are excited for the new Mac hardware and want to be kept up to date on the status of Docker on M1 chips, please sign up for a Docker ID to get our newsletter for the latest updates. We are also happy to let you know that the latest version of Docker Desktop runs on Big Sur. If you have any feedback, please let us know either by our issue tracker or our public roadmap!

Also a big thank you to all of you who have engaged on the public roadmap, Twitter and our issue trackers highlight how much you care about Docker for Mac. Your interest and energy is greatly appreciated! Keep providing feedback and check in with us as we work on this going forward. ❤️