March 27, 2023

Apple has transitioned Macs from Intel to ARM (M1/M2) chips. Within the course of it has offered an emulation layer (Rosetta2) to make sure that the brand new ARM Macs can nonetheless run purposes created for Intel Macs. The emulation works very nicely, however is quoted to be some 20% slower than operating native ARM binaries. That will not look like rather a lot, however it’s vital on processor intensive purposes corresponding to my very own data wrangling software, which regularly processes datasets with tens of millions of rows by way of complicated sequences of merging, splitting, reformatting, filtering and reshaping. Additionally individuals who have simply spent a small fortune on a shiny new ARM Mac can get grumpy about not having a local ARM binary to run on it. So I’ve been investigating transferring Simple Knowledge Rework from an Intel binary to a Common (‘fats'[1]) binary containing each Intel and ARM binaries. It is a course of acquainted from transferring my seating planner software for Mac from PowerPC to Intel chips some years in the past. Hopefully I’ll have retired earlier than the following chip change on the Mac.

My software program is constructed on-top of the wonderful Qt cross-platfom framework. Qt introduced help for Mac Common binaries in Qt 6.2 and Qt 5.15.9. I’m sticking with Qt 5 for now, as a result of it higher helps a number of textual content encodings and since I don’t see any specific benefit to switching to Qt 6 but. However, there’s a wrinkle. Qt 5.15.3 and later are solely accessible to Qt prospects with business licenses. I need to use the QtCharts part in Simple Knowledge Rework v2, and QtCharts requires a business license (or GPL, which is a no-go for me). I additionally need entry to all the most recent bug fixes for Qt 5. So I made a decision to modify from the free LGPL license and purchase a business Qt license. Fortunately I used to be eligible for the Qt small business license which is presently $499 per yr. The push in direction of business licensing is controversial with Qt builders, however I actually recognize Qt and all of the work that goes into it, so I’m completely satisfied to help the enterprise (not sufficient to pay the eye-watering price for a full enterprise license although!).

Transferring from producing an Intel binary utilizing LGPL Qt to producing a Common binary utilizing business Qt concerned a number of main stumbling factors that took me hours and a number of googling to type out. I’m going to spell them out right here to avoid wasting you that ache. You’re welcome.

  • The most recent Qt 5 LTS releases should not accessible by way of the Qt upkeep instrument in case you have open supply Qt put in. After you purchase your business licence it’s essential to delete your open supply set up and all of the related license information. Right here is the knowledge I received from Qt help:
I assume that you just had been beforehand utilizing open supply model, is that appropriate?

Qt 5.15.10 needs to be accessible by way of the upkeep instrument however it's required to take away the previous open supply set up fully and in addition take away the open supply license information out of your system.

So, first step is to take away the previous Qt set up fully. Then take away the previous open supply licenses which could exist. Directions for eradicating the license information:

Unified installer/maintenancetool/qtcreator will save all licenses (downloaded from the used Qt Account) inside the brand new qtlicenses.ini file. It's worthwhile to take away the next information to totally reset the license data.

Home windows


"/Customers/$USERNAME/Library/Software Help/Qt/qtlicenses.ini"
"/Customers/$USERNAME/Library/Software Help/Qt/qtaccount.ini"

As a aspect word: If the information above can't be discovered $HOME/.qt-license(Linux/macOS) or %USERPROFILE%.qt-license(Home windows) file is used as a fallback. .qt-license file might be downloaded from Qt Account.
Make sure you title the Qt license file as ".qt-license" and never for instance ".qt-license.txt".


After eradicating the previous set up and the license information, please obtain the brand new on-line installer by way of your business Qt Account.
You may login there at:

After putting in Qt with business license, it ought to have the ability to discover the Qt 5.15.10 additionally by way of the upkeep instrument along with on-line installer.
  • Then it’s essential to obtain the business installer out of your on-line Qt account and reinstall all of the Qt variations you want. Gigabytes of it. Time to drink some espresso. Numerous espresso.
  • In your .professional file it’s essential to add:
  • Observe that the above doubles the construct time of your utility, so that you in all probability don’t need it set for daily improvement.
  • You should use macdeployqt to create your deployable Common .app however, and that is the important step that took me hours to work out, it’s essential to use <QtDir>/macos/bin/macdeployqt not <QtDir>/clang_64/bin/macdeployqt . Doh!
  • You may verify the .app is Common utilizing the lipo command, e.g.:
lipo -detailed_info
  • I used to be in a position to make use of my present practise of copying additional information (third occasion libraries, assist and many others) into the .app file after which digitally signing all the things utilizing codesign –deep [2]. Fortunately the one third occasion library I take advantage of aside from Qt (the wonderful libXL library for Excel) is accessible as a Common framework.
  • I notarize the applying, as earlier than.

I did all of the above on an Intel iMac utilizing the most recent Qt 5 LTS launch (Qt 5.15.10) and XCode 13.4 on macOS 12. I then examined it on an ARM MacBook Air. Little doubt you too can construct Common binaries on an ARM Mac.

Unsurprisingly the Common app is considerably bigger than the Intel-only model. My Simple Knowledge Rework .dmg file (which additionally consists of a number of assist documentation) went from ~56 MB to ~69 MB. Nonetheless that’s nonetheless positively anorexic in comparison with many bloated trendy apps (taking a look at you Electron).

A few checks I did on an ARM MacBook Air confirmed ~16% enchancment in efficiency. For instance becoming a member of two 500,000 row x 10 column tables went from 4.5 seconds to three.8 seconds. Clearly the efficiency enchancment is determined by the duty and the system. One buyer reported batch processing 3,541 JSON Information and writing the outcomes to CSV went from 12.8 to eight.1 seconds, a 37% enchancment.

[1] I’m not judging.

[2] Apparently using –deep is frowned on by Apple. Nevertheless it works (for now anyway). Chunk me, Apple.