VirtualBox Beta Runs Mac OS X

A new beta build of VirtualBox, Sun’s Oracle’s free x86 virtualization software, makes it possible to run Mac OS X as a guest operating system…no shenanigans or flaming hoops to jump through, just pop in the $30 retail Snow Leopard upgrade disc and go. This had previously only been possible with some awkward Hackintosh-style maneuvering, or using recent editions of commercial virtualization products.

At this early stage, performance is fairly sluggish, the screen size is fixed and there’s no sound support, but the OS otherwise appears to run feature-complete (including networking and USB). Hopefully future builds will ramp up to the level of functionality and performance that VirtualBox provides for other guest operating systems.

Installation tip: when you come to the step prompting for a target disk for installation (which will likely show no available volumes), run Disk Utility from the “Utilities” menu, format the virtual disk image you created when setting up the VM (Mac OS Extended, Journaled), then exit Disk Utility to return to the OS X installer. You can then select the newly-formatted virtual disk and proceed with installation.

37 thoughts on “VirtualBox Beta Runs Mac OS X

  1. (1) use the fixed size hard drive; the dyanamically expanding drive format doesn’t work in OS X

    (2) folder sharing in Virtual Box does not work in OS X, but the guest system can see the host system’s Mac OS-shared drives…

    (3) multiple monitors caused a kernel panic for me.

  2. I hope they do eventually release drivers for OSX to run faster on the VM. I have OSX on VMware, but it is horribly slow. The reason for that is that it needs drivers installed on the guest OS, and the folks at VMware won’t release them due to concern about apple suing them: Installing OSX on a VM is specifically disallowed under its EULA.

  3. I am receiving an error when I try to boot up the VM “failed to open a session for the virtual machine OSX 10.6.
    cannot load R0 module C:

    Failed to register ourselves as a PCI Bus

    Unknown error creating VM (VERR_MODULE_NOTFOUND)

    Result Code:
    E_FAIL (0x80004005)
    IConsole {6375231a-c17c-464b-92cb-ae9e128d71c3}

    I am running Windows 7 64bit
    my computer has 4GB RAM with an i5 proc
    hardware virtualization is on

  4. @ Mr.Chibbles

    I’m having the same issue with my pentium E5200 and win7 x64, I’m wondering if it’s the 64 bit Windows that is causing problems?

    On a side note, I’m not using hardware virtualization as my processor doesn’t support it

  5. I like how the post forgot to tell people the host needs to be a Mac OS X.

    Better title would be
    VirtualBox beta runs Mac OS X as guest when host is Mac OS X.

  6. Yo dawg, we herd you liked osx so we put osx in your osx… ok that’s enough :)

    But seriously, this is pretty cool. I wonder if this will ever be supported in VirtualBox on other platforms. And how long it will take the big apple to notice and get their lawyers on Oracle.

  7. As far as there being many better Linux distros, I have tried a great number of them and found all to be lacking in numerous ways. No matter how far we’ve come lately, Linux doesn’t “just work”.

    At first, when we ran MacOS 9 on our office computers, I hated it. Once we upgraded to OSX in the mid oughts, I wished I could afford to have a nice mac on my desk at home. I am a PC user for over twenty years, and yet I prefer the simple elegance of the Mac any day. I find myself constantly trying to Exposé when I’m at my home PC, which is irritating to say the least.

  8. @Ivan

    Correction: You can run OSX as guest no matter what host it is. The only requirement is that the host hardware is a Mac.
    This is because OSX needs to access the crypto keys on Mac Intel CPUs to install. Virtualbox is able to pass the keys from the host hardware to the guest OS but not able to emulate them (it would make Apple pretty upset anyway).

  9. Well that’s kind of stupid.

    “Hey! Our car can fly!*”

    *note, car must be parked in plane for flying to be possible.

    “You can fly regardless of what you’re sitting in, as long as whatever you’re sitting in is in a plane.”

  10. @MrX

    Actually, the keys are stored inside the System Management Controller (SMC) on the host Mac system, not inside the Intel CPUs (that would imply Intel customizes their processors for Apple- which they do not).

    Most commercial packages like VMware or Parallels emulate the SMC in software- or at least enough of it to pass through the keys on the host SMC controller so DSMOS.kext can decrypt the binaries in /System/Library/CoreServices.

  11. It’s quite amusing to see so many people bash Mac OS X. It’s actually a great OS. We run ubuntu on all of our work machines because it’s easier to avoid any malware and slow staff down from installing things they shouldn’t but seriously, it’s really not anywhere near the standard of OS X when it comes to an OS experience. Yes there are tonnes of free apps which is great but everything is just a little more work and a little more ugly than OS X.

    Mac – The power of *nix and the ease of Windows.

  12. For those of you who keep asking
    “why would you want to virtualise MacOS on a Mac anyway” ?
    the simple answer, in my case at least anyway, is that I am a software [web apps mostly] developer and my host is Ubuntu Linux and I need to test applications in Win and Mac, and the ability to do this using virtualisation and all at one time with restarting and booting to a different OS is a real time saver .

  13. From the vbox User manual (pdf) p48 :
    > Only the Mac OS X Server is designed to be used
    > in a virtual environment and therefore, VirtualBox
    > does not support Mac OS X client as a guest.

    > For most versions of Mac OS X Server, Apple prohibits
    > installing them on non-Apple hardware.
    So it appears that even if running the desktop OS X seems
    to work, it’s not legal.

  14. The main reason for running OS X on OS X is so that you can move to 10.7 “Lion” even if you have a couple of programs that require Rosetta (PPC emulator) which is being dropped after 10.6. So you can run 10.6 AND 10.7. Same reason Microsoft includes a virtual Windows XP in some versions of Windows 7.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.