One of those “Holy shit! How did I miss this?” moments: I ran across a mention of OrbStack in a discussion thread recently and checked it out. The way people describe it as a better Docker for Mac is true, but it also is basically WSL2 for the Mac, too.

Don’t get me wrong, having a faster and less memory-hungry Docker implementation is pretty awesome. So is the fact that it uses Rosetta for Intel code emulation (and that emulation of the linux/amd64 platform seems way more reliable than I experienced in Docker for Mac). The thing that isn’t completely obvious from the documentation and the way people describe it is that you can drop into a Linux shell anywhere in your user’s file system on the Mac.

If you’re in the terminal in directory/Users/foo/bar and open the Linux shell (with the orb command), you end up at a Linux command prompt in exactly directory – the whole of /Users is mounted into the VM so you can access all of your data from the Linux side. Given that this happens transparently in the same terminal session, it makes using macOS or Linux commands close to seamless, in a way that WSL and WSL2 on Windows don’t quite manage to do.

So, in short: this is one of the more exciting tools to come along for a while for developers that target Linux but want to work on the Mac!