I started this thread months ago to report what I encountered in the process of moving to an M1 Mac mini. Along the way there were more than a few surprises, issues, and changes that had to be dealt with by Apple, by third party developers, and/or by me.

  1. At the average user level the only thing most will notice are changes in the visual look and feel of macOS 11 (Big Sur) and noticeably faster performance of Apple silicon.
  2. At the Power user and troubleshooting level Big Sur has a ton of different features and under the hood organizational changes mostly related to enhanced security concerns and where and how this is managed can be significantly different between systems on Intel and Apple silicon.
  3. For the vast majority of developers moving to Apple silicon native code has been easy and straight forward.
  4. For a few developers, implementing their functional features on Apple silicon and Big Sur has presented significant challenges.

  1. BOOTABLE EXTERNAL DRIVES At this point in time, as far as I know, the ONLY bootable external drives are high quality Thunderbolt 3 SSDs connected directly to either of the two Thunderbolt 4 ports on an M1 Mac.
  2. BOOTABLE CLONES Given macOS 11.3 beta 5 or later (Apple fixed their ASR utility) on an M1 Mac, Carbon Copy Cloner Version 5.1.26-b4 (or later?) can make a bootable clone subject to the restrictions on all bootable external drives. (See this post for remaining questions and/or issues.)
  3. KERNEL EXTENSIONS Big Sur has made a concerted effort to move all kernel extensions out of the "system area" and into the "user area" which has presented significant challenges to some software developers. Most developers, like Rogue Amoeba, appear to have moved their extension functionality to a LaunchDaemon. For performance reasons SoftRAID has chosen to stick with Kernel Extensions. Installation of kernel extensions is a multi step process, typically requiring at least two reboots on M1 Macs. In some cases, mine included, installing those kernel extensions and updating evolved into an extended process requiring the use of the uninstalling utility in SoftRAID, deleting files via Finder, flushing caches with Terminal commands and numerous reboots. For others it has been a smooth and relatively simple process. In the final analysis my SoftRAID works and performs beautifully, but the SoftRAID 6.0.1 app cannot access or manage it because the drives in the array are formatted APFS (fix promised in SoftRAID 6.0.2) and the array cannot be encrypted (awaiting a "fix" in a future update of Big Sur).

  • My last stopper (SoftRAID) was resolved this morning! (See item 3 preceding)
  • Would I recommend a Mac with Apple Silicon?: You better believe I would. The startup has been a little shaky but everyone, including Apple, is on a learning curve with this OS and hardware platform. Considering the magnitude of the project, It has IMHO been surprisingly smooth.
  • Would I change anything?; There has been some criticism about the number of ports on the M1 Mac and to be candid, it has taken me several reconfigurations of my system (including upgrading two cables from Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 4) to get everything running the way I want, but the existing configuration and ports have proven to be very flexible and capable of supporting anything from a very minimal laptop configuration to a complex system such as mine with up to 17 external devices including four external SSDs, a four drive RAID array, three external HDs, two monitors, and assorted other low speed USB 3.0 printers/scanners/scales, and multiple bluetooth keyboards, trackpads, mice, headphones, speakers, etc.. I wondered if 16GB of memory would be enough, but I have never found "memory pressure" to be out of the green range. Similarly I questioned whether a 500GB internal drive would be big enough, but at the moment I have 192GB of free and purgeable space on the internal drive. So all things considered the answer is PROBABLY NOT.

Make intentional errors โ€”
Otherwise the Great Spirit realizes you have fulfilled your purpose on earth.

โ€” Navajo saying