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Gunnar Torfi
Gunnar Torfi

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Is M1 a good choice for developers?

Being an Apple fanboy I decided to buy the new MacBook Pro M1 when my old Intel model gave up on me. I ended up with the 13" 8GB RAM version. So far it has been a smooth transition apart from a few hindrances.

🖥️ No support for two external monitors

That there is not support for multiple external monitors is stated on Apple's website so it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. I've always had just one external monitor and have used the MacBook on a dock, so this won't trouble me at all.

📦 Homebrew

Homebrew is one of those tools that without a doubt make your life easier but isn't essential to have. There are ways to make Homebrew work on M1 based Macs, but I didn't bother going through the trouble.

🐳 Docker

Docker offers a beta version for M1 so I decided to download it. At first, it got stuck in the "Docker Desktop is starting" phase but after a simple quit & relaunch it started up nicely. So I decided to deploy a new update to our backend in our QA environment (a deployment in our Kubernetes cluster on GKE) and that's where I ran into the first serious issue.

🐛 standard_init_linux.go:211: exec user process caused “exec format error”

I'm no expert on low-level engineering so I'm not going to pretend that I know exactly what this means but I believe it has something to do with the Docker image being built with a different architecture than the machine trying to run the image. I haven't spent time finding a workaround, so I let my colleague build the backend for me 🤷‍♂️

🕸️ A safety net

Rosetta lets you run applications using the Intel architecture that eases the transition from Intel to Apple Silicon processors. To enable Rosetta for an app simply right-click the app icon → Get Info → Open using Rosetta.

📈 Chrome vs Safari

I noticed my computer was getting immensely slow so I opened up the Activity Monitor. There I saw Chrome was eating up so much CPU & Memory so I decided to open the same tabs in Safari - the difference was gigantic! I went from barely being able to type to my computer not breaking a sweat.


Everything feels more snappy on the M1 than it did on my previous Intel model that in my opinion makes up for the troubles described in this post. I'm excited about the future of the M chips and how the competitors will answer with this great innovation from Apple.

Do you own a Mac with the M1 chip? How is your experience so far in terms of compatibility?

Have any questions? Hit me up on Twitter 🐦 gunnarthedev

Top comments (6)

marcostreng profile image
Marco Streng • Edited

Received my M1 (Air) today.
First impression is great! Had no trouble with installing homebrew or other apps. VS Code Insiders build is also running fine until now. My webpack builds for example are twice as fast as on my Intel MBP 2020. And all without a fan running every 5 minutes.

gunnarthedev profile image
Gunnar Torfi

That's awesome!
If you've used Docker, let me know if you ran into the same issue I mentioned about the architecture.

saqibameen profile image
Saqib Ameen

Hey, do you use it on daily basis? I'd love to know how it works with different development tools and how's the performance of the apps with rosetta 2?

gunnarthedev profile image
Gunnar Torfi

I do use it on daily basis at work, yes.
I haven't found any performance issues with Rosetta 2. I'm a full-stack developer using React, Meteor, Node.js, GraphQL, Express, Typescript, Docker, Kubernets. Haven't run into any other issues than described in the post!

ruslanskira profile image
Ruslan Skira

Because M1 does not support the 3.6 Python version I started work in Docker.
With 8 Gb it is horror. Tests run in 5 min just relaunch. Need more Ram.

vinibrsl profile image
Vinicius Brasil

I've been using an Air M1 and it's already better than my 2017 Pro. No more overheating, Docker has been working great, performance is undeniably better.