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

Comments (4)

casiimir's photo

Actually I'm thinking about to sell my actual macbook air to buy this new one... the air with the new M1 cpu, actually the arm versione supports most of the suite that I use for development (I'm a front end)... What do you think about the difference between pro and air?

Show +1 replies
casiimir's photo

Gunnar Torfi Steinarsson The RAM is the same too, the big differences I think should be the fan(macbook pro, air is fanless) and, in the economic versions, the GPU (7 core vs 8 core)... But for my development, I think nothing really important...

Gunnar Torfi Steinarsson's photo

casiimir Sounds like you should be good with the Air! Let me know what you end up with :)