Fork me on GitHub


I want my OS X VM

May 4, 2007 | Computers

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.

5 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  • It won’t happen. The reason they don’t allow you to run OS X in VM you stated. Its in the EULA. VMWARE would be out of business in a day if they allowed it.

    R.S. LIttle, May 11, 2007 6:49 pm | permalink

  • The question was more as to why Apple doesn’t allow it. I know that VMware and Parallels can’t do it and why. I wanna know just what reason Apple has to hold on so tight.

    Shawn Parker, May 11, 2007 9:19 pm | permalink

  • THere is a way. it is called "Mac on Mac", and has been scrapped since Intel 🙁

    Graham Fluet, June 9, 2007 11:06 pm | permalink


    Actually, this is not only possible, but easy to do under VMWare in only 7 steps!

    Here’s what I did personally, and it worked without a hitch. (BTW, my host environment is a Compaq Presario C508US notebook, Intel Celeron M, 1024MB RAM)

    Step 1:

    Install a full-blown instance of OS X86 10.x.x on your hardware by running OSX setup.

    During OSX setup, open up the Disk Utility and create 2 equal partitions.

    Format the first partition only at this time, making sure to select the Journaling option when formatting. Leave the second partition unformatted for now.

    Make sure that OS X installs OK, and then make sure you can boot into it. Once you get OS X up, running and stable, goto step 2.

    Step 2:

    Reboot your machine, and this time around install Windows XP from CD.

    When you get to the point in the XP install where you have to select which partition to install it, MAKE SURE TO CHOOSE THE SECOND PARTITION (in other words, NOT the partition where OSX is installed. Format the XP partition as NTFS.

    When you reboot this time around, voila, you will now be presented with a Darwin duel-boot menu, allowing you to choose which OS to spin up. This is a really cool Darwin feature. If you are at this point, move on to step 3.

    Step 3:

    Boot into Windows XP. You will of course notice that Windows cannot see the MAC volume.

    Download and install an app called MacDrive. This tool installs on Windows and it permits windows to not only SEE MAC volumes from within XP, but also to SEAMLESSLY move data back and forth. The install of MacDrive is important, so do not skip it. Once MacDrive is installed, make sure it is running and that you can see your Mac Volume. If you can, move to step 4.

    Step 4:

    Reboot. When you get the duel-boot menu, boot up into OSX.

    Download the latest beta of VMWare Fusion. This is wicked cool. It’s more or less just like Parallels Desktop For Mac, but of course better. Once Fusion is installed and running in OSX, move to step 5.

    Step 5:

    Make a new Virtual Machine in Fusion. Set the OS type to FreeBSD. Into that VM, again run the OS X setup, keeping the same choices and settings that worked for your host hardware. In other words, it’s literally a mini-clone of the OSX you’re currently running (Mac on Mac, to use a good phrase from this post).

    After your done installing OS X into your Virtual Machine, make sure the VM then reboots and launches OK.


    – Making 2 partitions, install OSX to partition 1

    – Install Windows XP to partition 2

    – Reboot and verify that you have a duel-boot menu

    – Boot back to XP and install MacDrive. Reboot

    – Boot back into OSX and install VMWare Fusion

    – Create new FreeBSD vm in Fusion

    – Install OSX into that vm

    If you’ve done all this successfully, move to step 6.

    Step 6:

    Boot back into XP. When you are in XP, you will now be able to browse and find the Virtual Machine you created in OSX. Copy this vm to your Windows XP partition.

    VOILA!! You now have a fully-functioning Mac OSX Virtual Machine which is usable in VMWare running on Windows. NOTE: You should now burn this vm to a cd dvd or Hard drive, just so you have a permanent backup of it somewhere! Move to step 7.

    Step 7:

    Reformat your whole machine. (make sure your OSX vm is stored somewhere safely elsewhere)

    Install Windows XP, Vista or whatever you like.

    Install VMWare Workstation 6 in Windows (won’t work with VMWare Workstation 5.x because Fusion has functions that 5 doesn’t have, but 6 does).

    Copy the OSX vm back onto Windows, and open it in VMWare just like any other vm.


    Jason White, July 30, 2007 7:50 pm | permalink

  • So, basically, you’re sayin’ that OS X will install directly into VMware Fusion? I thought both VMware and Parallels were limiting the install… I wonder if the hacked version of OS X that you have makes a difference on the install phase.

    Shawn Parker, August 5, 2007 1:55 am | permalink

Comments are closed