3 Best Ways to Perform iOS Development on Linux

Developing iOS apps on Mac is an effortless task because you have Xcode (official IDE of Apple) to work with. But is it possible to develop an entire application from scratch in a Linux environment without Xcode?

If you are using Linux OS and not planning to buy a Mac anytime soon and still want to develop an iOS application, then you can follow the suggested ways to develop iOS applications on Linux.

After referring to this guide, you will be confident to perform iOS development on Linux. So, let us discuss iOS development using Linux.

Overview of iOS Development Using Linux

Being an iOS developer, you know that using Xcode (IDE), you will be able to develop iOS mobile apps. However, Xcode only runs on a Mac computer. Thus, you need different ways to develop iOS applications on Linux.

For developing an iOS app on Linux, you need virtualization software.

But, how to use virtual access to virtual Mac OS? Here are the two virtual machines for you to choose from.

  • VirtualBox
  • VMware

With a virtual machine, you can run Windows on Linux operating systems (Linux OS) and even Windows on a Mac operating system. One of the significant benefits of virtualization software is that it helps running multiple OS side-by-side, which is beneficial to build cross-platform apps.

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Here are three ways with which you can develop iOS apps on Linux.

3 Best Ways to Develop iOS Apps on Linux

  1. Get Cloud Mac on Rent

    If you are not planning to own a Mac computer physically and still want to develop iOS apps, is there any alternative?

    You can rent a Mac online. But how to do that?

    Here are the 2 companies which allow you to rent a Mac in the cloud in exchange for certain fees.

    • MacStadium
    • MacinCloud

    Additionally, you get to choose from different Mac products like Mac Pro and Mac mini.

    Now, you can connect with a cloud-based Mac using a remote desktop connection. Linux offers Rdesktop remote desktop protocol for Linux operating systems. You can use this to access MacinCloud servers.

    Also, MacStadium offers different solutions for you according to your business type. They have 3 plans based on your business size.

    Device TypeBusiness Size
    Single Mac MinisIf you are running a company with a small number of employees, or you are an individual or a student, you can rent this plan.
    Orka CloudsIf your business requires higher automation and scalability, you can choose Orka Clouds.
    Bare Metal CloudsThis is the DIY (Do It Yourself) bare meta automation plan, in which you or your team will perform all the customization and deployment.
  2. Develop iOS Applications Using Cross-Platform Tools

    Picking the right cross-platform development tool is essential for building function-rich apps like Wikipedia and TripCase. As a result, businesses have started to develop their open-source library to allow developers to code iOS and Android using different platforms like React Native and Xamarian.

    We have listed down the platforms and programming languages used to develop iOS and Android app development.

    Cross-Platform ToolsProgramming LanguageApplications
    XamarianC#Storyo, Olo
    IonicHTML5Marketwatch, Pacifica
    CordovaHTML/JavaScriptVisual Studio, SworKit
    ReactNativeJavaScript, Java, C++, Objective-C, Objective-C++, PythonFacebook, Instagram, Bloomberg
    FlutterDart LanguagenGoogle Ads, Alibaba, Birch Finance

    Let us discuss the cross-platform tools in detail and know how they can help you to smoothen your iOS app development process.

    • Xamarin: Cross-platform tools like Xamarian will help you to develop apps that support Linux. Since, Xamarian is a .NET development platform, the tools and libraries of Xamarian are developed for iOS, Android, macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and Windows. In addition, with Xamarian, developers can reuse the code and share it on all parts of device platforms.
    • Ionic: The ionic framework is an open-source SDK for hybrid mobile app development, which is used for developing excellent mobile and desktop apps. Ionic uses web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to integrate React, Angular, and Vue.
    • Flutter and React Native: These are the widely used cross-platform solutions to develop apps for iOS. Flutter and React Native offer application development for Android, iOS, and UWP ( Universal Windows Platform). The social networking giant Facebook is backed by React Native, whereas, Google develops flutter.

    Using these cross-platform tools, you can develop apps in your preferred language and learn iOS and Android. You need to understand the basics of programming languages like Javascript, C#, Swift, and HTML5. Understanding the iOS and Android ecosystems is the added advantage for building powerful hybrid and native apps.

    You should know that most of these cross-platform tools require an iOS device or Mac simulator. If you don’t have a Mac machine, you can develop the hybrid apps using cross-platform tools and test your application using BrowserStack.com or Saucelabs.

    But, do Apple’s latest features work in cross-platform frameworks?

    If you are developing apps with cross-platform frameworks, you might not be able to work with Apple’s latest features. Since Apple takes months to make all the latest features available for cross-platform developers.

    In case if you are planning to develop cross-platform applications, then following the above steps will help you.

  3. Run macOS Environment Using Virtual Machine

    Using a virtual machine, you can run macOS inside your Linux operating system.

    But, which vendors to choose from? We have listed down 2 vendors below for you to choose from.

    • VMware WorkStation
    • VirtualBox

    You can use VirtualBox since its installation process is smoother, and you can quickly get it up and running for macOS in no time.

    To set up a virtual machine, you need to find a macOS image online (Copy of macOS) or you need to find someone’s laptop to get one. Then, by modifying settings such as hard drive space and memory, you can set up your virtual machine.

    Inside the virtual machine, it will look exactly like the Mac environment. You can install and set up Xcode, set up iPad and iPhone simulators, and work with it. However, it may require virtual ports for the minimum configurations to perform testing on real iOS devices.

    If you are ready to do little leg work, this option is the best solution for iPhone development. After this setting up everything, it will be easier for you to turn on and off your MacOS for app development.

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FAQs About iOS Development on Linux

How much time does it take to build iOS and Android apps?

The mobile app development time (iOS and Android app) can range between 2 – 6 months, depending on various factors. These factors are:

  • The complexity of the app
  • The location of the mobile developer
  • Features and functionalities
  • UI/UX design

What is an iOS Simulator?

During the development process, an iOS simulator will help you to quickly prototype and test build your application. iOS simulator is a part of Xcode tools and will be installed accordingly.

iOS simulator will work exactly like your standard Mac app while simulating iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.


We hope you have understood the 3 ways to develop iOS applications on Linux environments. Initially, it might become quite challenging to set up and build an iOS app on Linux.

In case of any questions, our iOS app development team will consult and help you to find a solution.

Bhaval Patel

Written by

Bhaval Patel is a Director (Operations) at Space-O Technologies. He has 20+ years of experience helping startups and enterprises with custom software solutions to drive maximum results. Under his leadership, Space-O has won the 8th GESIA annual award for being the best mobile app development company. So far, he has validated more than 300 app ideas and successfully delivered 100 custom solutions using the technologies, such as Swift, Kotlin, React Native, Flutter, PHP, RoR, IoT, AI, NFC, AR/VR, Blockchain, NFT, and more.