BennyNZ
Contributor
Contributor

A MacOS VM

Does anyone know if there are plans to allow creating a MacOS VM in the Tech Preview prior to any production release?

I'm in the process of migrating from a 2019 MBP and wanting to virtualise that device on my M2 so I can refer to the MBD OS at times when I find I need to move some configuration across to the new device.  

(I've avoided using the MacOS Migration tool because I've used that numerous times over the years and I want to avoid migrating old/legacy and stagnant configuration - so I've started the M2 as a new device - most of what I need I've migrated, but the idea is to run the VM as and when I figure out I missed something).

Thanks

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15 Replies
Technogeezer
Champion
Champion

A 2019 MBP is an Intel Mac. That will never be able to be virtualized on an Apple Silicon (M1/M2) Mac. The closest you'll get is to run an Intel macOS is a copy of QEMU to emulate an Intel processor, but it will be slow as molasses. 

Even if you were able to run your old macOS on Apple Silicon, you'd be faced with having to re-install macOS and rebuild from a backup of your old machine. You might consider mounting a Time Machine backup disk of your old Mac and then search through it it for something you need.

VMware is still trying to decide what they're going to do about virtualizing macOS on Apple Silicon. Part of the conflict is that VMware is developing their products for a virtual machine model that's in line with the ARM SystemReady specifications, and macOS is built for Apple's proprietary hardware architecture (which is NOT ARM SystemReady).

According to VMware they'd have make changes to Fusion to support the proprietary macOS quirks that could introduce incompatibilities with ESXi and Workstation. Also, existing Apple APIs don't come close to the functionality that people expect from a virtualization product.

In the mean time the frameworks Apple is providing in Monterey and Ventura that are enabling alternatives such as VirtualBuddy to easily virtualize Monterey and Ventura on Apple Silicon. Some of them are open source and/or free. I've used this to get the public beta of Ventura working on my M1 Mac mini with Monterey and VirtualBuddy. These solutions are nowhere as near as full featured as Fusion but it they the job done.

Parallels is IMO not providing any additional value for macOS virtualization on Apple Silicon Macs over these free/open-source alternatives. I'd try one of them out before I shell out the money for Parallels. 

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BennyNZ
Contributor
Contributor

Absolutely, my plan was to create a new VM and use the migration from the Intel Mac - it's for embedded configuration I've made over the years rather than simple things like apps - for example I use a specific DNS resolver, which, as much as I have configured that on the new Mac, there are things I've configured over the years in the old OS that I can't remember, so having a migrated copy of the OS would help with some of those things if they ever crop up - I can simply head over to the old OS and see what's configured then move it over. 

Great idea re VirtualBuddy and Ventura - I'll have a look.   I don't need much functionality, I just need a virtual instance of the old OS via the new build and migrate.  I'll have a look, thanks for the ideas!

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So if/when Fusion supports Mac VM's on apple silicon, it's fairly straightforward to do.  Make a clone (carbon copy cloner) or use time machine (less reliable) to an external hard drive.  Then create a new MacOS VM, and attach that USB drive to the VM.  During the initial setup wizard (before creating a user account), select 'migrate from another mac' and choose that hard drive.  That'll bring over everything.  Don't use Wifi migration or target disk mode on the old mac - it's an order of magnitude slower, and may be unreliable that early in the VM installation process.  Doing it after creating a user will result in permission errors.

You won't have that old OS - that'll never work virtualized at all because of the intel->m1 migration, but assuming those apps/configs work on the new M1 OS, you should be good to go.

BennyNZ
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks.  The technical side I am good with, it's the fact that I cannot run MacOS at all in the Tech Preview and wondered if it will come to the production release. 

A lot of the potential 'hidden' config I might need is in the user library and plist files etc.  An alternative option is to simply copy the library folder and subfolders for now, until I can run a VM, if that is ever possible.  

Thanks for the replies both of you.  Appreciate it. 

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Technogeezer
Champion
Champion

It’s fairly easy to use Virtual Buddy and create a Monterey VM on the Apple Silicon Mac. (You don’t need to install the Ventura betas). 

It's *really* rudimentary though.  I have decent confidence that we'll see it in Fusion, but suspect they're focused primarily on solid Windows support now that the handcuffs are off.  Maybe a dot-1....but the Fusion team has a history of very nice surprises, so never say never.

 

As an aside, I do wonder if all this is Apple's long term play - move MacOS to always be in a VM running on a small, secure, Type I hypervisor.

DaveP
Commander
Commander

Time to find an alternative as VMware are dropping support for macOS guests from Fusion 13.

https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/88697

And for ESXi:

https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/88698

Looks like they may still work but no new developement.

BennyNZ
Contributor
Contributor

Yeah it works for what I needed.  I may never spin up the VM I created, but I can at least do so if needed, and I'll only need it for a few mins if so.

Shame they don't support iCloud etc.  Else it would make the VM usable too.  Hey ho. 

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BennyNZ
Contributor
Contributor

End of support - big news!   Disappointing, but perhaps not a huge surprise. 

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palter
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I  asked @Mikero on Twitter about this when I first saw the KB article for ESXi. He responded

Yah, I helped write it, while throwing up in my mouth the whole while.

Frankly, I don't care what the GOS team thinks. They're wrong to drop this.
Our customers need this, our own employees need this, and so I'm pushing as hard as I can for a path forward.
Because OS validation is centralized, it's a side-effect of no M1 support for ESXi.

What the underlying things is saying is that we won't do "VMWARE" VMs for macOS, starting with ESXi.

On macOS hosts tho, with Fusion, we have options that are unavailable to ESXi as the Host OS.

I'm confident we will figure something out at least for Fusion.

Mac mini (M1/8GB/512GB), Intel NUC10i5FNH w/ESXi 7.0,
iPhone 14 Pro Max (256GB), iPad Pro 12.9" (5th gen, M1/16GB/1TB)
40mm Watch Series 6 (Titanium), TV 4K (3rd gen), TV 4K (1st gen)
BennyNZ
Contributor
Contributor

Brilliant, Palter!  

Love the "while throwing up in my mouth" comment haha.  

Sounds like it may not be over yet, then.  It would be a huge surprise if they dropped it for Fusion in particular.  Here's hoping they find a way. 

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DaveP
Commander
Commander

That's encouraging. macOS Monterey and Ventura have the virtualization framework which Apple added for macOS VM support. (Virtual Buddy and a bunch of other open source projects are already using this.) This is at a higher level than the hypervisor framework which VMware are already using in Fusion 12 to replace the VMware monitor and kexts.

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It's really rudimentary at best though.  As I mentioned in another thread, I do wonder if Apple's headed towards running all Mac OS as a VM on top of a highly secure hypervisor, but we'll see.

As far as Fusion support, In Mike We Trust 🙂

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VirtualMac2009
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Hopefully they will change their mind and allow virtualizing different macOS versions in VMware Fusion. Parallels Desktop allows it.

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Technogeezer
Champion
Champion

I hope so too. It would be nice if VMware could bring macOS virtualization to the market and still provide the things we expect for Fusion (suspend/resume, snapshots, split virtual disks come to mind immediately). Things that Parallels doesn't do today. I have a very strong suspicion that Parallels is using the same upper level virtualization framework as the open source utilities (and Apple's own demonstration source code)  because there are too many similarities between what they provide (and don't provide) to what Apple's framework does and doesn't provide.

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