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Run Alpine Linux on your iPad – iSH

Recently I got my hands on a iPad Air 2 and I wanted to do see how the development is on this little machine. Although the device is aging with it’s iPhone 6s tier CPU, it still runs like a champ and can handle almost every task with ease, while running the latest iPadOS! I came across a project called ish.app and it certainly delivers. Basically you can run an emulated version of Alpine (probably virtualised) on your iPad and use all those Linux tools. I played around with git, neofetch and weechat and I must say, they work just as they would. My Air 2 is on the slower side being 6 years old, but it still works as you’d expect. You can edit all your files in vim and have a joyous time.

Simple neofetch output. To install applications, you run “app add <name of app>”

As you can see, it’s just a shell but the fact that you run a fully-fledged Linux VM on your iPad without the need for a remote host just shows that there is potential for an iPad being a decent portable dev machine. Of course, this isn’t going to be for everyone, I do Android app development and there is no way an iPad would replace a fully-fledged x86 machine for me. But there is potential for dabbling in python, using UNIX applications, doing quick git changes and more.

Here’s me running weechat, a browser and a video, all at the same time. Just showing the power this little Air 2 has.

It’s still beta-software so you need to install it through Apple’s “TestFlight” app. But if you want to play around with some Linux on your iPad or even iPhone, give this a shot.

Project page : Ish.app

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