Based on evidence from my own Macs, VMware Fusion 11 does not offer simulated Metal-capable graphics at all, on any Mac, whether or not the host has Metal-capable graphics. Despite this, Mojave in the VM works without Metal.
I have Mojave VMs running in Fusion 11 on a 2011 MacBook Pro and a 2013 MacBook Pro (both running High Sierra). The 2013 model has Metal support natively, the 2011 model does not. Neither of them had any problem installing Mojave in the VM and neither of them show Metal capability being available within the VM.
I don't have a 2010 or 2012 Mac Pro to test with, but there have been several reports in the community forum from people being unable to install Mojave in a VMware Fusion 11 VM with a complaint from the installer about Metal support, and at least some of those have identified they have a 2010 or 2012 Mac Pro (all the others I saw did have a Metal-capable graphics card). The others didn't indicate they were running a trial version, so that is not likely to be a factor.
If Mojave in a VM really did require Metal from the host then I should not have been able to install it on my 2011 MacBook Pro.
Setting aside the VM question for now, when you install Mojave, it checks for a compatible model. The 2010 and 2012 Mac Pro are the only supported models which might not have Metal-capable graphics, so when the installer sees it is running on those models it does an extra check for whether the graphics card is capable of Metal (it also appears that it needs macOS 10.13.6 installed first on those models, based on reports I've seen elsewhere and messages inside the installer). Every other Mac model supported by Mojave is known to have Metal support, and it appears the installer does not check Metal for those models.
When installing Mojave in a VM, I suspect what is going on is that VMware Fusion 11 on a 2010 or 2012 Mac Pro is passing through enough information about the host that the installer running in the VM detects it is running on a 2010 or 2012 Mac Pro, therefore it needs to check for Metal capability. That capability is not present in the VM (whether or not you have a Metal-capable graphics card) therefore the installer refuses to proceed.
If that theory is right, then Apple and/or VMware are going to have to modify something to enable Mojave to be installed in a VMware Fusion 11 VM on a 2010 or 2012 Mac Pro.
Parallels Desktop 14 may be working because either it provides emulated Metal support within the VM (even if the host doesn't support Metal), or it is supplying less information to the VM so the installer doesn't detect it is running on a Mac Pro, therefore the installer doesn't do the extra test for the Metal-capable graphics card.
I'll have a look at Mojave in a PD14 trial later and see if it works on my 2011 MacBook Pro so we have another data point.
Further details after experimenting with Parallels Desktop 14 Trial on my 2011 MacBook Pro:
As expected, PD14 also allows Mojave to be installed in a VM (despite the host not supporting Metal). After install, it also does not have Metal available inside the VM (I'm checking by seeing whether Metal is mentioned in System Preferences > Graphics/Displays, and whether any running processes have "metal" in the name, ignoring case).
I think I've found why VMware Fusion 11 and Parallels Desktop 14 behave differently as far as 2010 and 2012 Mac Pros are concerned.
Doing an ioreg -l on the host and VMs in both VMware and Parallels reveals the following identifying details for the platform (trimmed to only show relevant lines):
+-o MacBookPro8,1 <class IOPlatformExpertDevice, id 0x100000110, registered, matched, active, busy 0 (15056 ms), retain 42>
| "compatible" = <"MacBookPro8,1">
| "board-id" = <"Mac-94245B3640C91C81">
| "product-name" = <"MacBookPro8,1">
| "model" = <"MacBookPro8,1">
VMware Fusion 11:
+-o VMware7,1 <class IOPlatformExpertDevice, id 0x100000112, registered, matched, active, busy 0 (38584 ms), retain 23>
| "compatible" = <"VMware7,1">
| "board-id" = <"Mac-94245B3640C91C81">
| "product-name" = <"VMware7,1">
| "model" = <"VMware7,1">
Parallels Desktop 14:
+-o Parallels14,1 <class IOPlatformExpertDevice, id 0x100000114, registered, matched, active, busy 0 (19531 ms), retain 57>
| "compatible" = <"Parallels14,1">
| "board-id" = <"Parallels Virtual Platform">
| "product-name" = <"Parallels14,1">
| "model" = <"Parallels14,1">
The key one is "board-id". VMware Fusion is passing through the host's Board ID, Parallels Desktop is not.
Apple's installers often use the board ID to uniquely identify specific Mac models for some tests. I haven't found the code in the Mojave installer which checks for a 2010 or 2012 Mac Pro, but it is almost certainly looking for that board-id value. VMware Fusion looks like the host as far as board-id is concerned, Parallels Desktop does not, therefore only VMware Fusion is triggering the Mojave installer's special check for Metal support on a 2010 or 2012 Mac Pro.
Thank you dempson. Your finding inspired me to check the VM settings in the .vmx file, and I found out setting "board-id.reflectHost" to "FALSE" skipped the special check and allowed installer to continue. That's probably the solution to install Mojave in Fusion 11 on an incompatible Mac Pro.
You could try adding this to the VMX file when the guest is powered off and see if it makes a difference.
board-id.reflectHost = "FALSE"
EDIT: Duplicate I missed the last post to the thread.
Thanks to you wahah23
I can confirm Upgrading from 10.13.6 to 14.x on Fusion 11.11.1 on MacPro 5,1 works. when setting "board-id.reflectHost" to "FALSE"
I suggest "board-id.reflectHost" to "TRUE" post install since my MacPRo 5,1 with generic Radeon RX580 8G graphics card was not accelerating the guest.
In case your just new to this problem
Here's the problem you'll see
Change the settings by editing the VM file in the finder ( right Click the VM to show the PACKAGE CONTENTS of the bundle )
Then Right Click the VMX and edit with TEXTEDIT ( make a safe copy first)
edit the line "board-id.reflectHost" "TRUE" to "FALSE"
Restart the VM and request the Mojave update.
Go for Lunch this takes an hour and several restarts on the VM.
Jumping to Current 10.14.6 was no issue
For Noobs a reminder
Gotchas for Mac OSX Guests
From this page
Running VMware Tools in Mac OS guests has these limitations:
- No support for Unity.
- No multimonitor support in full screen.
- No USB 3.0 support.
- Mac OS X Server guests do not support sound.
Begs the question why Fusion doesn't have a checkbox GUI for this VMX line?