Building Native Images with GraalVM and Spring Native on Apple's M1 Architecture

Engineering | Josh Long | March 23, 2022 | ...

It finally happened! They did it! They did it just in time for me to get on the road and start building applications on the road with my shiny new laptop, too! JOY!! Oracle and the GraalVM team released GraalVM and the GraalVM native image capability for Apple M1! I've been waiting for this day for so, so, so long! I bought the first Apple M1 the day of the announcement way back in 2020 (does anybody remember that far back? That was, meteorologically speaking, the early pandemic period).

Apple's M1 devices are insanely fast, energy-efficient beasts of machines that run circles around all but the beefiest and latest-and-greatest Intel/NVidia configurations while also consuming a pittance of the power that other configuration does. In short, I'm a big fan. But the move to this new architecture hasn't been without its troubles.

Some Adobe applications (like Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects), Docker, and GraalVM were the biggest hurdles to making my M1 machine (which I have since upgraded from the first 13" MacBook Pro 2020 M1 to the 16" MacBook Pro 2021 M1 Max model) my daily-driver. Docker's gotten better. Adobe Premiere's gotten better, and After Effects isn't too far behind (but still no joy there). And now, as of yesterday, at long last, GraalVM has gotten better.

However, it's not yet GA, and it's not even in the fantastic SDKman project. So installing it could've been tedious. Do you all remember adding things to your PATH manually? I do, and I don't like it! So I Googled but came up empty. Then, just when I'd resigned myself to having to work, I realized my incredible friend and community legend Matt Raible (@mraible) had already figured it out. So I pinged him, and he sent me this ticket he'd filed against the M1 build and Spring Native detailing how he got it working and how to verify the break.

Here are his steps as they applied to me. NB: I think they've since released a newer version of GraalVM even since one day ago when Matt wrote the blog, so as a result, my version numbers are .1 off from his.

First, you'll need to download the developer preview build. I'm using 22.2.0-dev for Java 17. So I chose to download this binary.

I put that .tgz file on my $HOME/Desktop and then ran this script to get it installed and usable for SDKMan. These are the same steps as Matt details in his original ticket.

#!/usr/bin/env bash 
cd $HOME/Desktop/  
rm -rf graalvm-ce-java17-${BUILD}-dev  || echo "no directory to delete."
tar zxpf graalvm-ce-java17-darwin-aarch64-dev.tar.gz 
rm -rf $INSTALLED_PATH || echo "no directory to delete."
mv $HOME/Desktop/graalvm-ce-java17-${BUILD}-dev/Contents/Home $INSTALLED_PATH
sudo xattr -r -d ~/.sdkman/candidates/java/${BUILD}.dev.r17-grl

Put all of those instructions in a text file called on your $HOME/Desktop, then run chmod a+x $HOME/Desktop/ to make it executable and then run it with $HOME/Desktop/

Youll need to make this newly installed version the default one for your operating system, so issue the following command:

sdk default java ${BUILD}.dev.r17-grlz

Once that's done, you'll need to install the native-image compiler command with the gu utility in the GraalVM distribution:

gu install native-image

Open a new shell and verify that everything's working:

➜  java --version 
openjdk 17.0.3 2022-04-19
OpenJDK Runtime Environment GraalVM CE 22.2.0-dev (build 17.0.3+4-jvmci-22.1-b03)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM GraalVM CE 22.2.0-dev (build 17.0.3+4-jvmci-22.1-b03, mixed mode, sharing)

With that, you should be all set. Then you need an application against which to test. So go to my second favorite place on the internet, start dot spring dot io, and generate a new application with everything pre-configured. Click Generate and then unzip and open the resulting pom.xml in your Java IDE of choice.

Replace the with the following contents:

package com.example.m1native;

import org.springframework.boot.ApplicationRunner;
import org.springframework.boot.SpringApplication;
import org.springframework.boot.autoconfigure.SpringBootApplication;
import org.springframework.context.annotation.Bean;
import org.springframework.web.reactive.function.server.RouterFunction;
import org.springframework.web.reactive.function.server.ServerResponse;

import static org.springframework.web.reactive.function.server.RouterFunctions.route;
import static org.springframework.web.reactive.function.server.ServerResponse.ok;

public class M1nativeApplication {

    public static void main(String[] args) {, args);

    RouterFunction<ServerResponse> routes(CustomerRepository repository) {
        return route()
                .GET("/customers", request -> ok().body(repository.findAll(), Customer.class))

    ApplicationRunner runner(CustomerRepository repository) {
        return args -> repository.findAll().subscribe(System.out::println);

interface CustomerRepository extends ReactiveCrudRepository<Customer, Integer> {

record Customer(@Id Integer id, String name) {

Add src/main/resources/data.sql:

insert into customer (name ) values('Josh');
insert into customer (name ) values('Mario');
insert into customer (name ) values('Amey');

Add src/main/resources/schema.sql:

create table if not exists customer
    id   serial primary key,
    name varchar(255) not null

There ya go: you have a reactive, non-blocking web application talking to an embedded, in-memory SQL database. Let's turn this thing into a native image. On the command line, run the following incantation:

mvn -Pnative -DskipTests clean package 

That'll take about 45 seconds to finish. Have a few sips of coffee and then run the application in your target/ directory:

➜ target/m1native
2022-03-23 16:24:15.063  INFO 13901 --- [ ... ] Started M1nativeApplication in 0.036 seconds (JVM running for 0.038)
Customer[id=1, name=Josh]
Customer[id=2, name=Mario]
Customer[id=3, name=Amey]

Hell yeah! Rock on GraalVM! This is amazing! I know there are bound to be bugs or issues, but the fact that this works so well for nothing but a developer preview build? That's dope.

Now to figure out what to do with my creakingly old and irrelevant Intel MacBook Pro...

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