Easy Hackintosh With Docker-OSX: Soon To Be Impossible?

The Docker-OSX project has to be among one of the easiest ways to get a fully functional Hackintosh off the ground on any Linux or Windows (10+) system, with the Docker image handling the heavy lifting of keeping the copy of MacOS happy and satisfied, even as the legality remains questionable, as we previously reported on in 2021. Officially, Apple’s software license for MacOS states that it can only be installed and use on Apple-branded hardware, which precludes the installation in e.g. a Docker container. This has left Docker-OSX in a gray zone where it’s technically illegal, but as it’s being advertised by its developer [Sick Codes] to be for use by security researchers who participate in Apple’s Bug Bounty program (including iOS, which requires XCode, which requires MacOS, etc.), it seems to slip through the cracks.

An obvious issue which may soon spell the end of MacOS-on-x86_64 and with it this use of Docker-OSX is that MacOS is now straddling Apple Silicon and Intel’s x86_64 architecture, with the latter no longer being sold by Apple’s in any of its systems after the recent introduction of its Apple Silicon-based Mac Pro. Although MacOS Sonoma (14) still supports x86_64, this support could be cut in MacOS 15 or 16, at which point running Docker-OSX with an Apple Silicon-only MacOS image would at the very least require an AArch64-based ARM system, though likely with an ISA extension level that matches the lowest-end Apple Silicon (ARMv8.5-A for M1).

Although this should not make it impossible to run Docker-OSX on future Linux (and perhaps Windows) systems on AArch64-based systems, it would make it more complicated and expensive as using one’s existing x86_64-based PC is no longer an option aside from adding a sluggish Qemu layer in between, which would add a significant performance penalty. If you are using Docker-OSX, what are your experiences and plans here?

42 thoughts on “Easy Hackintosh With Docker-OSX: Soon To Be Impossible?

  1. It’s clear that Apple has no reason to continue to support x86-64 beyond their standard support window for legacy hardware. I’m not so pessimistic to think that 15 or 16 will be the cutoff, I think it’s more likely to be 17 if Apple maintains their release per year cadence. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I can imagine an x86-64 VMX extension that mimics the ARM MMU closely enough to make running system-level emulation of AARCH64 perform well enough that the discontinuation of Apple x86-64 won’t matter.

    1. My understanding is some people like the polished environment, unified interface, combined with (seemingly) bug-free hardware drivers. That said, this ditches the hardware and since Mr. Cook took over, all the elements that made it desirable have declined.

      As for being a “locked in nightmare,” it’s only as locked in as Windows is, so if you think Windows is a locked-in nightmare then you’re in the clear.

      Any Apple hardware that is fully supported by Linux makes a good Linux host but under Mr. Cook, Apple has upped their hardware churn game which makes that less likely.

        1. As a corporate drone, my options were Mac or Windows (fully managed under Active Directory).

          While windows *has* gotten better in regards to the command line experience, I much prefer to use a Mac when I can’t use Linux, and (more importantly) someone else is footing the bill.

          It’s suboptimal, but at least it’s a level of suboptimal that I can deal with.

          1. I’m in same position , prefer the Mac over Windows for a few reasons:

            – stability and far fewer reboots = time
            – battery life with Apple Si is great
            – Linux like command line environment with same tools I like in Linux (nmap, curl, iperf, etc)
            – Integration with iPad and Apple Pencil is as seamless as it gets (OneNote with a pencil still sucks after so many years of Surface Pro development)

      1. Only as locked as Windows is?

        I guess that might be true for the Desktop. Or at least it was until they decided to roll their own hardware again.

        Except.. a Mac is the only way to build for their mobile platform. Their mobile platform which IS more locked than all the others. So as long as iOS development from Linux or Windows isn’t a thing I am going to say that iOS IS part of the Mac platform. And it is locked down to the point of uselessness!

        So yes. MAC is far more locked down than Windows.

        1. and windows is the only way to build for microsofts xbox platform, one which is also completely locked down as well.
          I fail to see how either of those reflect on a completely different platform/OS, and if they did it still entirely contradicts your conclusion.

          1. If it does matter, then it matters regardless of xbox because a popular game console should be way less important than one of the two common types of smartphone.

    2. I think people use Apple for the same reason a different segment of society spends the price of a small house on a pretty, shiny pickup truck when the only thing they will ever haul is the truck nuts they hang from the back.

      It’s a display of wealth for people with more insecurities than intelligence.

      1. A bit brutal, perhaps, but I hear you. There is probably more overlap between those two sects of society than you might think ;)
        But, yes, absolutely. Apple leans into the elitist element of their products and their “ecosystem” / culture is definitely a toxic one, in that it is ever-more restrictive to outside software users.
        I’ve only been in computer science the last few years, so dont know much, but for me I still use Apple extensively (and Linux…and Windows) because, at the end of the day apple products do a great job of letting you work across devices, easily, and if you drink the icloud kool-aid (which i do, for not much $$$, because it is convenient) you basically don’t have to think about automating massive aspects of your day to day social and work life. Could you, for example, set up the same level of cross-device integration and seamlessness as going whole hog on Apple if you used an android phone, a kindle fire tablet, an Ubuntu tower and an old laptop running Windows 7? Yeah, totally. But for laypeople like me, it’s a real pain in the ass to keep all these devices talking to one another, and it requires tons more time and upkeep to keep everything synced and accessible across devices in this example than if everything was apple.
        Definitely not an Apple fanboy over here, no way. But, they have made it very hard for people including myself not to believe that *their* metaphorical “apple of knowledge” is the only way of experiencing this level of day to day convenience. And you need a lot of computer science knowledge to get over this hurdle!

        1. The integration you are talking about was invented by DropBox which is and always has been a ctoss platform product well before iCloud and the rest carbon copied it. On Windows, phone integration is top level, you can call, message, interact, even see and click your phone sceen and open phone apps from the PC but also this is not new, has been invented long ago by AirDroid first on Android and now multiplatform. The omly reason why apple seems top notch on integration is because they keep closed, and do their best to prevent others to.integrate with them. The old Pebble watch, for instance, to show the same level of notifications on both Android and iOS had to perform serious hacks on the apple side because apple didn’t want it to.
          I have been an apple Macintosh user and developer for long but eventually got tired of behaviour aimed against user satisfaction when company inerests prevail.

    3. Because it’s really not much more “locked in” than any comparable Windows PC, and the quality and polish is well worth the downsides – you will not find better speakers or screens on any Windows laptop period. person. Apple Silicon Macs also beat the snot out of most AMD and Intel offerings in performance and power efficiency, plus all the features that macOS has over Windows (Handoff, Time Machine, Airdrop, etc).

      1. IDK about the speakers because I have never used the internal speakers on a laptop if I had something better.

        I looked up the screen; apparently it has less resolution and covers less of the adobe color space than my 6 year old thinkpad, although it does have higher framerate and much higher brightness including HDR. But that’s just one 6 year old option, on something that was more of a workstation laptop than a photo-oriented one. So I would expect a toss-up based on which of the traits you value most.

        For efficiency, we could have a complicated discussion about operating systems and cpu optimizations and power-related-driver issues what software is running at any given time. AMD chips aren’t bad, though, to the point that I imagine the biggest problem will be all the inefficient software and services keeping the thing active.
        But for performance? What are you smoking? There’s laptops out there with reasonably high end desktop chips shoehorned in! Of course there’s no competition on pure performance.

        Anyway, the name-brand features with an integrated experience are a significant part of the lock-in. You might have to pick through the options to find which way to do various things on Linux and Windows is your favorite, and it might not be made by the same people as made some other part of the system, but that’s how choice works.

        Speaking of features like airdrop, has anyone seen an iphone wirelessly crashed yet using this fall’s IOS bluetooth bug “in the wild”? It’s been a couple months, and I haven’t seen any update from Apple about it yet, but it seems easy to do and to scale up to potentially worrying situations. The bug looks like this: you see a few popups as if devices were trying to pair with your iphone, then it freezes and eventually reboots. If bluetooth is on when it comes back, it can happen again. Something that can transmit arbitrary bluetooth just has to send a few malicious messages to all iphones and ipads in range – it doesn’t take a specific device, although the headlines mention the flipper.

        1. I ran into that Bluetooth bug a month ago had no idea what it was at the time, guess it’s good to know now though.

          It was a nightmare to deal with my phone just randomly froze up while shopping then rebooted and froze immediately again. It did that around 5 or 6 times and the whole thing lasted 20ish minutes maybe.

          I don’t remember trying to pair to any bluetooth devices, only ever connected to the shops WiFi. I did have my watch on me but I’m not sure if it was connected or not and it’s never given me a problem in the two years I’ve had it.(forerunner 255s) I did get an odd pop up at one point about some Bluetooth connection (it was that kind of pop up you get when you pair AirPods.) but I couldn’t read it said it was popping up and disappearing really fast.

          1. That’s exactly right; you will see popups as if something were trying to pair but they won’t actually be real. The original version did nothing but spam popups, but with the later version they found a packet that makes it eventually crash. Doesn’t happen if you’ve got bluetooth turned off quickly enough, but Apple likes to turn it back on in a day if you just turn it off the normal way, if I remember right.

    4. I’m a developer who has been writing embedded, cloud, and desktop software for 20+ years. Over that period of time I’ve made many contacts with developers at Google, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, etc. It has been my observation that at least 2/3 of those TECHNO developers have chosen to use Macs. I am working on a software project now for an embedded medical device. There are 13 of us on the team. The six of us that use Macs have absolutely no issues with compatibility, performance, or usability as we integrate into the development environment. Interestingly enough, virtually all of the developers in our organization that are using Windows laptops run some sort of Linux environment, usually Windows Subsystem for Linux, Ubuntu Multipass, or something similar.

    5. UNIX with a great GUI. Never crash. Updates do not require restarts – almost never. Bulletproof tools and includes fully integrated suites you pay extra for in Windows and are incomplete/buggy on Linux (LibreOffice). You are not bombarded by update popups and begging you to change your default whatever.

      And all the cool kids are making their research and Big Data and AI tools on Macs as well as everything in computer science grad schools. All the neat Linux apps have OSX versions because UNIX. Terminals nearly the same as Linux. Did I mention never crashes? And you have KiCAD, balenaEtcher, X-Code, all the usual IDE’s and such an easy-on-the-eyes GUI.

      Superior graphics due to the fundamental way the graphics coordinate system and drawing works. A 5 year old system is just fine. I’m writing this on a 2014 iMac 27″ Retina with 32G of RAM, SSD, and quad I7 at 4GHz. Bought it as a refurb 5 years ago.

      I’m sitting next to a Win10 Pro used for shipping that I literally hate for the way it fights productivity. And a couple of nice Debian PC setups with multiple displays with great performance used for dev work. The overhead of keeping them up to date and solving dependency problems, etc. has caused them to be used pretty much only for dev and R&D.

        1. Because the university kids are using Windows laptops now? Or Ubuntu? Or MS finally got smart about how to do graphics displays? They have all quit using Pandas and JupyterLab? My iMac is running the latest macOS, so? Or maybe EVERYONE in Palo Alto has quit using MacBook Air at the coffee shops?

    6. Locked in a nightmare? I don’t even know what that means, but under the hood in the Terminal application is a fully UNIX like OS with a polished UI on top.

      Specifically, under the hood the OS is mostly open source called Darwin which is derived from NeXTSTEP, BSD, and Mach. It is built on an open source XNU kernel (X is Not Unix) which incorporates most of 4.3BSD with updated code from OSFMK 7.3 and FreeBSD.

    7. I’m a mobile app developer and I’m basically forced to use macOS for work even though I hate it. I think most of the tech-people who use macOS are in the same boat as me. Or maybe they just like Tim Cook. Who knows?

  2. i believe that the hackintosh community will eventually migrate to neoverse or similar cpu’s and architecture. I believe there will be a bit of a curve getting it all up and going but i do believe it will eventually happen.

  3. If you are a security engineer that need to test OSX related security, you or your company are probably well able to buy a Mac or two to gut them and probe them. This useless fetish for Mac OSX is just ridiculous. You can buy a used Mac Pro for pennies and surely for less time/money than it takes to do all this tweaking. With an average $50/hr for a decent security tech, with the time wasted to do all this and make it work, you can buy a truck load of Macs.
    I understand the experimental/discovery part of it, but the usefulness and the reasons behind it are riding the edge of “waste of time and money”.
    It is funny how a lot of those that dislike Apple have this huge fetish for their products

    1. A Mac Pro will not be possible to keep in a repo and spin up as many copies of as required in the cloud for research. It simply isn’t comparable to use old used hardware for security research. The administration load alone will be immense, and the lack of usability will cripple the possibility to get work done.

  4. As a Docker-OSX user who only needs it as a trusted device for 2FA and verification codes (OpenHaystack and iMessage / pypush) which still works fine on Catalina, a quick calculation tells me I should be fine for at least a decade more. (Catalina is 4 years old, the latest x86 version comes out in about 2 years or so maybe, hopefully supported for 4 years also.)

  5. I occasionally find these anti-Mac rants amusing, but almost never particularly well informed. Acquisition cost (purchase price) is typically around 15% of the Total Cost of Ownership of a computer over its service lifetime. Productivity, employee training costs, amount of time necessary to resolve problems, etc. all contribute to the REAL cost of a computer over its service lifetime. If you’ve got more than a dozen or so users, the differential in TCO becomes substantial. IBM begin allowing its users to choose between Macs or Windows PC roughly 7 years ago. They now have over 300,000 Macs deployed across all of their divisions, and they have noted a $535 LOWER TCO for Mac users vs Windows users. Plus, a dramatic difference in user productivity and satisfaction. A few minutes of Googling will take you to one of the many articles that IBM has written extolling the virtues of Macs over PCs.

    Decisions on what kind of computing infrastructure should be deployed in an organization are best made by determining how well the needs of the organization are met, and not by the preferences of the IT department. In Fortune 500 where tech-savvy employees are given the choice to decide what kind of computer to use, the Mac wins greater than 65% of the time. Which means the organization wins, why having less frustrated, more productive users, that tend to have far fewer issues with their machines which in the end costs the company less money over time.

  6. There is an easy solution to this (I do this all the time when I need to run, say, aarch64 binaries in a “native” environment but just want a docker to build something that doesn’t play nice with a cross compiler):
    1) Build a statically linked qemu-user suite corresponding to your target.
    2) Install binfmt_misc hooks with the ‘F’ (fix binary) flag.
    3) Docker (or chroot) to your heart’s content.

  7. I use this, because I preferred to run Linux on my MacBook pro (I like the hardware), but still want macOS around (running on top, not dual-booted) so I can compile software and stuff. I do everything in Linux, then spin up either Mac or Windows in qemu to test the code and compile it for my Mac/Windows colleagues.

    I think a lot of people who whine about Mac being locked down maybe haven’t used it extensively. There’s definitely a learning curve if you grew up on windows or Linux, but that’s it (stuff is in different places, has weird names, and apple makes you jump through hoops to put yourself in danger, compared to Linux with zero checks in place except for needing sudo to delete your system)

    1. It doesn’t matter what way you look at it apple in general is so locked down and has more security holes than any other os that’s why apple has to have security updates on a daily basis you will not see that on any android device as they are more secure than any iPhone take Samsung devices for instance the most secure android phone in the world and apple copies most of the ios software applications from Samsung anyway.

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