Virtual machine aborts on MacAir with M1 chip

I have an undergrad physics major working with me, rather than try installing Aspect from scratch on his new Mac with an M1 chip, we thought we’d try the virtual machine option. He downloaded the M1 version of the virtual machine software. However, when he tried to power on the dealii/aspect virtual machine that we downloaded from Timo’s website, it aborts. I am not an expert VM user. I noticed that his machine only has 8 GB of memory. We tried reducing the memory cap and this got us further, but then it aborted again. At this point I’m trying to figure out if this is worth trying to get working or to instead just have him get an account on the cluster and run there. Has anyone else successfully run the virtual machine on a mac with M1 chip? Opinions on which direction to go with are welcome. Thanks, Magali

I may be wrong about this, but I don’t think that virtualization will work on an ARM-based mac. You would need hardware emulation in order to emulate the instruction set of an intel CPU. The only solution that I know of would be to create a new virtualbox linux image for ARM.


Thanks … that was my worry, but it was interesting that it gets part way.

Hi Magali,
We had similar issues with student laptops a month ago. Unfortunately the M1 support by VirtualBox is only in an early beta phase and when we tried to generate an M1 virtual machine image VirtualBox kept crashing on us (while setting up Ubuntu, even before we started installing deal.II or ASPECT). So for now the only install option for ASPECT on M1 is to install deal.II and then ASPECT natively following the instructions here: Apple ARM M1 OSX · dealii/dealii Wiki · GitHub

We may add a Docker image or VirtualMachine image in the next months once support for M1 is stable enough to do it.

Thank you! Good to know what paths not to go down.

A quick update: Setting up a preliminary docker image on Apple ARM M1 was simpler than expected. See my PR here for details: [WIP] Working Docker Apple M1 image by gassmoeller · Pull Request #5108 · geodynamics/aspect · GitHub. Not as comfortable as a VM for students, but at least we have one easy install option now for M1.

TLDR: If you want to test the new image on an Apple ARM Mac, install docker and run: docker run -it gassmoeller/aspect:latest-arm64.

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