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I want my OS X VM

May 4, 2007 | Computers | By Shawn Parker

So, apparently the OS X EULA forbids virtualizing OS X in any form. And, no, I’m not late to this party, I just finally felt like writing about it (I really need to start writing regularly again). I’m wondering what the overall use of this is? Is it to protect the OS X experience? To keep it off of Windows? To protect the kernel and keep hackers at bay? I’m really not sure.

Allowing OS X to be installed in a VM (Virtual Machine) would take OS X into a lot of different places, including some places that Apple has a hard time with. Like the Enterprise (Enterprise being an overly fancy, Dilbert-esque, word for large companies). I would imagine that this would serve to sell more copies of OS X and to expose more people to the system. Something that I feel would be beneficial because everybody that I know who spends a decent amount of time with OS X likes it.

For my purposes, I want to be able to set up test environments. Too often I’ve installed some software that won’t completely build or that just plain doesn’t fit the bill. After a failed install or realizing that a particular piece of software is not what I want I wish that I had, and could afford, a test system to do this on so that I didn’t have to possibly compromise the live computer’s OS install.

Unfortunately the only option is to partition a hard drive and have multiple installs of the system. Not a very efficient setup to say the least. The ability to have a virtual machine of an OS X install would really help keep my systems cleaner. It would also allow me to try some potentially dangerous things – basically learn by doing things wrong – and not worry about what I destroy since its something I can easily revert back from.

I would also like to have older installs of the OS handy for testing. Something VMs are perfect for and certainly not something I want to dedicate computers to.

The only real reason I can come up with for not allowing OS X in a VM is that OS X drives hardware sales. If you need OS X you need Apple hardware. If someone could put OS X in a VM then there would be less need for Apple hardware in the lesser circumstances where someone is not running OS X as their main environment, but still needs to test in it. Microsoft doesn’t have this issue as a good deal of their bounty is made on Windows alone – they don’t have to worry about cannibalizing another aspect of their business by allowing VM installs of Windows.

So, now you’re thinking why don’t I just install it and not worry about it? Well, VMWare and Parallels are both needing support from Apple to maintain their products and get the information sharing needed to push their products forward – if they allow OS X to be installed by their software they run the risk of severing a tie with a very influential company and lose business because of it. Apple isn’t the largest market in the computer world but it is still large enough to have an impact on companies like VMWare and Parallels – hence their product offerings for OS X.

I simply can’t wait for the day when Apple allows me to have OS X in a VM so I can dash in, check compatibility, and then decide wether I want to do the same thing on my live system. Its a super effective way of testing and would make my life a bit easier if I could do it.

Tagged as: apple, machine, osx, parallels, virtual, vm, vmware