Running Snow Leopard under VMware Fusion 3.1.3 on Lion

August 13, 2011 at 5:50 pm 8 comments

I found this post telling you how to run a Mac OS VM (client, not server) which has been updated quite a few times as VMware has changed their detection mechanism.  Hopefully, since Apple changed the licensing to allow clients to run virtualized, VMware will allow this without workarounds in the next version.

Anyhow, way down in the comments, SirB posted the most current method that works.  I’m placing it here for posterity, as I’ve just followed it and it worked just fine (though I did not have to do steps 8-10).  The only additional thing I did was set my networking as Bridged, not the default of NAT.  After appearing to work with NAT to start with, I later couldn’t connect to Apple’s update servers as I was trying to update my VM to 10.6.8.

————  The original post follows ————–

KR’ and some findings of my own … Working for an iMac running Lion 10.7.0 and VMware Fusion 3.1.3 as host system.

How to create a virtual Mac OS X 10.6 (“client”) machine using VMware Fusion 3.1.3. These instructions were cobbled together from previous posts with a lot of trial-and-error:

1. Quit VMware Fusion3 if running.
2. Apply the darwin patch as follows in terminal:

sudo bash;

cd “/Library/Application Support/VMware Fusion”;
tar cvf IsoImages.tar ./isoimages;

cd “/Library/Application Support/VMware Fusion/isoimages”;
mkdir original;
mv darwin.iso *.sig ./original;
perl -n -p -e ‘s/ServerVersion.plist/SystemVersion.plist/g’ < ./original/darwin.iso > ./darwin.iso;
openssl genrsa -out tools-priv.pem 2048;
openssl rsa -in tools-priv.pem -pubout -out;
openssl dgst -sha1 -sign tools-priv.pem < darwin.iso > darwin.iso.sig;
for A in *.iso ; do openssl dgst -sha1 -sign tools-priv.pem < $A > $A.sig ; done;

3. Create a fake Mac OS X Server install disk from a Mac OS X Snow Leopard install disk (retail version) as follows:

————- HINT to read carefully:
————- choosing your DVD *DEVICE* in Disk Utility,
————- and *NOT* the CD Image (icon) of the
————- ‘Mac OS X Install DVD’ in the column browser
————- is *CRUCIAL* to making this work

– Insert Mac OS X Snow Leopard install disk into your optical drive.
– Launch Disk Utility, select the device for your optical drive (note that this is NOT the Mac OS X install disk, but rather the device that has mounted it; the device should be named something like “HL-DT-ST DVD-RW GH41N”).
– From Disk Utility’s File menu, choose “New > Disk Image from [device]” from the File menu, set the image format to “DVD/CD master” and create the disk image.
– Mount the new disk image and turn it into a fake Mac OS X Server install disk with the following command in Terminal:

touch “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install DVD/System/Library/CoreServices/ServerVersion.plist”

4. Create a new virtual machine in VMware Fusion. I chose Mac OS X Server 10.6 64-bit as the type, but I suspect any type will work. Select the disk image from step 3 as the OS disk image.

5. Allow VMware Fusion to create your virtual machine and install Mac OS X Server 10.6 (really just your regular version of Mac OS X). After installation completes, the new virtual machine will boot and give you the “guest operating system is not Mac OS X Server” error. Let it shut down and proceed to the next step.

6. Choose “Show Package Contents” on virtual machine file for the machine created in step 4, then edit the vmx config file and change the firmware = “efi” line to firmware = “bios” (commenting this line out will NOT work).

7. Launch VMware Fusion once again and start your virtual machine. You’ll now be prompted by Mac OS X to create your administrator’s account. Have fun with your new Mac OS X virtual machine!

8. I created a VM. I had to edit the .vmx file to show ide0 instead of scsi1 for the CD image. It would not boot from a SCSI cd it said. I had to leave the firmware as “efi” .

9. On Intel iMac enter the “darwin_snow.iso” as boot image file for this virtual Snow Leopard Machine in VMware’s 1st CDROM/DVD config.

10. To Install VMware tools, use VMware menu “Virtual machine”, alternatively mount darwin.iso to the second DVD/CD drive and run the installation. Restart the VM.

11. Finally increase screen resolution.


Entry filed under: Mac.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christian Spence  |  September 2, 2011 at 3:28 am

    Followed this to the letter but experience the circle with diagonal line during the install. Happens about 2 – 3 minutes in while the spinning gear is showing. Ideas?

    • 2. ptaylor  |  September 2, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      I’m not familiar with that problem… Perhaps someone else will come across this post and have an answer, though.

  • 3. Mark Lambertson (@toolsdigitalage)  |  September 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I keep getting
    syntax error near unexpected token `newline’

    After I type
    perl -n -p -e ‘s/ServerVersion.plist/SystemVersion.plist/g’

    What am I doing wrong?

    • 4. ptaylor  |  September 2, 2011 at 10:03 pm

      Is that the entirety of the line? You should put everything up until the semi-colon on the same line (it’s split in this post).

      • 5. marklambertson  |  September 2, 2011 at 10:16 pm

        I’ll try again, thanks.

  • 6. marklambertson  |  September 2, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    I’ll be so happy when I get this working!

    • 7. ptaylor  |  September 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm

      Parallels just released version 7, which allows you to run Lion as a VM without jumping through all these hoops. I sincerely hope that VMware is working right now on a point update to allow the same on Fusion. I don’t care if there are no other new features!

  • 8. trevorjacques  |  October 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks for your instructions. They are the best of many I’ve found. 😀

    With your help, I have successfully created an SL installation (and used it to update itself to 10.6.8). I was careful to install Rosetta (because that was the whole point of this), but SL refuses to run, say, FileMaker 5.5 or 6. Each time the application starts a bouncing icon, which subsequently disappears. Hence, yours is the only set of instructions that have worked to do a successful OS installation, but the result is not good enough to be used to run old applications under Fusion, the latter running on Lion. 😦

    I noted in the Console that the error was FMP 215, which is, apparently: Administrator privileges cannot be duplicated.

    I’m logged in as the main user (I’ve not yet created any others), so I should have Admin privileges (or I should be asked for authentication).

    Do you have any idea what it takes to get Rosetta to work in side the VM? Thanks.

    P.S. I tried running the Fusion 3.1.4 VM in Parallels 7, but Parallels recognised that it was not a Server installation and stopped the VM running. 😦 (The conversion appeared otherwise clean, though.)


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