magoo2
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OS X Server virtualization in VMware Fusion: opinions?

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I would like to share my experiences with virtualizing OS X 10.6. Snow Leopard Server in VMware Fusion 5.

Compared to what Fusion offers in terms of Windows virtualization, the OS X Server virtualization seems quite poor to me:

  • no audio input, no audio output (this seems one of the worst limitations at all!)
  • no drag & drop between the host and the VM
  • no Wi-Fi
  • multi-display full screen not possible
  • no 3D graphic acceleration, no Quartz Extreme support, only SVGA

Regarding audio in/out, there are some hacks around but they seem to work only on hackintoshes, not on Apple hardware.

(at least not on mine).

See thread:

http://communities.vmware.com/thread/240010

Smiley Happy  I invite everybody who has collected experiences in OS X Server (or Client) virtualization to post their opinion in this discussion thread.

Thank you!

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SvenGus
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Sound indeed works on OS X 10.6 (Server) in Fusion, with the VMsvga2 AC97 driver, available from the link:

                         EnsoniqAudioPCI_v1.0.3_Common_Installer.pkg

... and this package must be installed inside the virtual machine, i.e., inside the guest (not in the host!); before using this driver, one must create a new sound device in the VM's settings, and then edit the .vmx, changing the line:

sound.virtualDev = "hdaudio"

... into:

sound.virtualDev = "es1371"

... and sound will then work, albeit certainly not with a very high quality.

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SvenGus
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Sound indeed works on OS X 10.6 (Server) in Fusion, with the VMsvga2 AC97 driver, available from the link:

                         EnsoniqAudioPCI_v1.0.3_Common_Installer.pkg

... and this package must be installed inside the virtual machine, i.e., inside the guest (not in the host!); before using this driver, one must create a new sound device in the VM's settings, and then edit the .vmx, changing the line:

sound.virtualDev = "hdaudio"

... into:

sound.virtualDev = "es1371"

... and sound will then work, albeit certainly not with a very high quality.

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SvenGus
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BTW, it would be a good thing to have Unity view also for OS X (Server) guests: Parallels Desktop 8 already has this (at least theoretically, while in practice Coherence view in OS X (Server) guests doesn't yet seem to work reliably).

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magoo2
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Hi Sven G,

thank you, the following step helped:

... before using this driver, one must create a new sound device in the VM's settings, and then edit the .vmx, changing the line:

sound.virtualDev = "hdaudio"

... into:

sound.virtualDev = "es1371"

... and sound will then work, albeit certainly not with a very high quality.

I was not aware of this.

In fact, in another discussion thread:

http://communities.vmware.com/thread/240010

it was not mentioned.

Additionally, when all this is done, it is necessary to go to the Sound preference pane in the Guest VM's "System Preferences" (OS X Server) and check that the Sound Output is correctly set to "Line Out".

Now the audio output is working!

But the graphic performance still sucks Smiley Sad

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There's no 3d acceleration support for OSX guests yet. 

Remember, you have to manually install VMWare tools in most cases.

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magoo2
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The bottom line of all this is that despite VMware advertising Fusion as a software that is able to virtualize Mac OS X (client/server) and charging real money for it as a commercial solution:

  • the implementation is quite lousy (compared to Windows virtualization).
  • requiring customers to install third party patches and to hack the .vmx file in order to get back such a basic feature as the audio is simply unacceptable (and what is worse, VMware does not even provide the necessary instructions for how to do this)
  • the emulated graphic card has so many limitations that even standard Mac software, such as iLife does not run in the VM

VWware has got a lot of work ahead in order to bring OS X virtualization to an acceptable level and obtain customer satisfaction with Fusion.

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As I noted in the other thread, OSX virtualization is a 1.0 release.  Audio works just fine for currently supported OS versions (10.6 has been depreciated by Apple), and the 3d acceleration limitation is the same for many non-windows OS's.

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SvenGus
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Yes, I think that VMware Fusion should be geared also towards technology enthusiasts (like myself and others): for example, virtualising OS X 10.6 Server gives the possibility to run old PPC apps (with Rosetta), something that one might enjoy from time to time (for example, AppleWorks 6, Adobe CS2 apps, and so on).

Thus, it would be a good thing if also legacy OSes - such as OS X 10.6 Server - were better supported.

Well, let's hope for some improvements in the future...

BTW, there is also another audio option for Snow Leopard Server VMs: the VoodooHDA project, which is a driver for Intel HD Audio and so doesn't require modifying the .vmx (anyway, the last time I tried it, it didn't work; but it could have improved, in the meantime).

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SvenGus
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I tried the latest VoodooHDA again, and, besides being more difficult to install, the sound quality was worse than that with the VMsvga2 driver, which thus still seems to be the recommended one for Snow Leopard Server VMs.

BTW, from what I have read on the web on different forums, the built-in AppleHDA driver doesn't work in Snow Leopard Server because on that OS it only supprts a limited range of devices; while in Lion and Mountain Lion it also supports the VMware emulated sound card natively: that's the reason why one must use AC97 (es1371) audio in Snow Leopard Server.

Just FYI...

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