Intel-on-ARM and ARM-on-Intel

Lima supports two modes for running Intel-on-ARM and ARM-on-Intel:

Slow mode: Intel VM on ARM Host / ARM VM on Intel Host

Lima can run a VM with a foreign architecture, just by specifying arch in the YAML.

arch: "x86_64"
# arch: "aarch64"

  - location: ""
    arch: "x86_64"
  - location: ""
    arch: "aarch64"

# Disable mounts and containerd, otherwise booting up may timeout if the host is slow
mounts: []
  system: false
  user: false

Running a VM with a foreign architecture is extremely slow. Consider using Fast mode or Fast mode 2 whenever possible.

Fast mode: Intel containers on ARM VM on ARM Host / ARM containers on Intel VM on Intel Host

This mode uses QEMU User Mode Emulation. QEMU User Mode Emulation is significantly faster than QEMU System Mode Emulation, but it often sacrifices compatibility.

Set up:

lima sudo systemctl start containerd
lima sudo nerdctl run --privileged --rm tonistiigi/binfmt:qemu-v7.0.0-28@sha256:66e11bea77a5ea9d6f0fe79b57cd2b189b5d15b93a2bdb925be22949232e4e55 --install all

Run containers:

$ lima nerdctl run --platform=amd64 --rm alpine uname -m

$ lima nerdctl run --platform=arm64 --rm alpine uname -m

Build and push container images:

$ lima nerdctl build --platform=amd64,arm64 -t .
$ lima nerdctl push --all-platforms

See also

Fast mode 2 (Rosetta): Intel containers on ARM VM on ARM Host

Warning “vz” mode, including support for Rosetta, is experimental

⚡ RequirementLima >= 0.14, macOS >= 13.0, ARM

Rosetta is known to be much faster than QEMU User Mode Emulation. Rosetta is available for VZ instances on ARM hosts.

limactl start --vm-type=vz --rosetta
vmType: "vz"
  # Enable Rosetta for Linux.
  # Hint: try `softwareupdate --install-rosetta` if Lima gets stuck at `Installing rosetta...`
  enabled: true
  # Register rosetta to /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc
  binfmt: true
Last modified March 15, 2024: docs/config: fix broken links (2d69b14)