Windows, macOS – which one do you want to use today? On a traditional setup, you’re stuck with one or the other. But with virtual box, you actually have macOS on a Windows PC.
According to Wikipedia, Oracle VM VirtualBox is a free and open-source hosted hypervisor for x86 virtualization. Now you can use Ubuntu on Mac OS, install whatever apps you want, and still. Microsoft-hosted agents that run Windows and Linux images are provisioned on Azure general purpose virtual machines StandardDS2v2. These virtual machines are colocated in the same geography as your Azure DevOps organization. Agents that run macOS images are provisioned on Mac pros.
It’s the freedom that computer users have enjoyed with Linux and other operating systems.
But Apple has made it difficult to install their operating system on anything other than their own hardware. All of that is changing, and Virtual Box is responsible for it and the rise of the Hackintosh.
New to hackintosh? Learn more about it in our what is hackintosh? overview.
Note: A lot of people will be able to get a mac virtual machine one Windows running smoothly, but sound doesn’t seem to work well. That’s really not an issue because you’ll still be able to access all of your apps and software.
I also recommend that you have access to a real Mac. You might be able to find some distributions of the High Sierra ISO online, but there is always a risk when downloading from an unofficial source. Instead, borrow a Mac from a friend, or use your own and download the High Sierra OS from the App Store.
Check out our high sierra installation guide for hackintosh
Everything You Need to Get Started with Installing macOS on VirtualBox
Before we go through the steps on how to install macOS on Virtual Box, let’s get everything together that you’ll need to get started.
- Open up your Mac
- Go to the App Store
- Type in “High Sierra”
You’ll want to search for your desired operating system (we’ll be using High Sierra), and Download it.
Note: You’ll need a decent computer to be able to run Virtual Box. Your computer will need to meet these minimum requirements:
- Dual core processor
- 4GB Ram or higher
If your computer doesn’t meet these requirements, you won’t be able to run macOS properly. You’ll be able to download VirtualBox from the official website. I’m not going to go through the installation process, as the website will have all of the information you need to be able to install VirtualBox.
I do recommend that you read all of the documentation and ask any questions that you have in the community section of the website.
VirtualBox 6.0 was just released, so it’s definitely a great time to get started with your own macOS.
Extract macOS Sierra
Make sure you’ve downloaded High Sierra, and then you’ll want to run a few commands from your terminal . You’ll be able to open the terminal at: Applications > Utilities > Terminal. Once inside of the terminal, you’ll want to run the following commands:
Go to your desktop and rename the file, removing the “.cdr” extension. You need this extension to read “.iso” for it to work properly.
You’ve successfully created your own ISO file so that you can bootup your macOS.
The next step is to copy the file over to your Windows machine (using a large USB drive seems to work best). This file will be mounted in your virtual machine later on in the article, so it’s very important that this step is completed successfully.
Creating a mac Virtual Machine on Windows
You’ll want to create a virtual machine, and this is really easy. You’ll open up VirtualBox and click New. You’ll want to have the following parameters selected or entered before clicking Next.
- Name: High Sierra
- Type: Mac OS X
- Version: Mac OS X (64-bit)
Macbook Vmware Ubuntu
Pay attention when selecting the version because you may find that High Sierra is offered as a version when you go to install it. But if it’s not, you can just choose the settings I listed above and they should work fine.
You’ll then be proceeding through all of the settings.
When you come up to the RAM setting, you’ll want to be generous. VirtualBox requires a minimum of 4GB or RAM to run, but the more the better.
You’ll want to provide at least 4GB to your macOS, or 4096MB to be precise. A general rule of thumb is that if you can spare it, supply more RAM to your virtual machine. RAM will allow the operating system to put more information into memory and retrieve it faster.
For better overall performance, supply as much RAM as you can.
The next steps are also important, and they’ll include:
- Hard Disk: Choose the “Create a virtual hard disk now” setting.
- Choose VDI when choosing the hard disk type.
- Choose Fixed Size instead of Dynamic for added speed.
- Set the size of the drive to at least 25GB.
You’ll now have your virtual machine using the RAM and disk space properly, and you’ll have to work your way through a few screen prompts before having everything setup properly.
Configuring Your VirtualBox to Run macOS High Sierra
We’ve made a lot of progress so far, and now it’s time to configure your virtual machine properly. You’ll see in the main window of VirtualBox that “High Sierra” is listed. Click on this and then click on the “Settings” button.
You’ll want to go to “System” and make sure that the following are unchecked on the Motherboard tab:
Click on the Processor tab and make sure that you have 2 or more CPUs set for your virtual machine.
The next few settings are rather simple:
- Display: Video Memory with a minimum of 128MB
- Storage: Click “Empty” and then click on the CD at the top right. Choose your High Sierra ISO file
Now you’ll need to click “Ok,” and save all of the changes you’ve made. Close out your VirtualBox now.
Apple is very strict on the system that their operating system runs on, so it’s very important that you do your best to configure your virtual machine in such a way that it tricks the installer to thinking you’re on a retail machine.
We’ll now be going into the Windowscommand prompt.
You’ll do this by:
- Clicking the Start Menu
- Typing “Command Prompt”
- Right-clicking on the Command Prompt desktop app
- Choosing Run as administrator
It’s very important to follow all of the following command prompts exactly. Your goal is to run each command, one by one, hitting the Enter button and waiting for the command to complete successfully.
Remember that VirtualBox needs to be closed before running these commands, or it won’t work properly.
You have to make sure that the virtual machine is properly named “High Sierra” for this method to work. If not, you’ll be able to go back and make changes to the name to get everything to work properly.
Once all of the commands are completed, and there are no errors, you’ll then be able to open up your VirtualBox and get macOS High Sierra installed properly on VirtualBox.
It’s a long process, but we’re almost done with your installation.
Running VirtualBox and the macOS Installer
You’ve almost learned how to install macOS on VirtualBox entirely, and we’re on the home stretch. You’ll want to open up your VirtualBox and then click on your virtual machine that you set up earlier.
Now, click “Start.”
There will be a lot of information displayed on the screen as everything starts running. I recommend stepping away from the machine and letting it run for a few minutes before coming back. Some errors can hang for 5 minutes or longer.
Macos Ubuntu Virtualbox
If you’ve done everything properly, you can be confident that the installer will boot properly.
You’ll eventually be presented with the option to pick a Language. If you’ve reached this point, you’re doing very well and are almost ready to run your macOS.
The next steps can be followed:
- Choose your desired language, and click
- Click “Disk Utility” and then
- Click “View” and then “Show All Devices.”
- Click on your empty virtual drive that has been setup and click “Erase.”
- Choose the following settings:
- Name: Macintosh HD
- Format: Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
- Scheme: GUID Partition Map
- Click “Erase” and close Disk Utility when the process is complete.
- Click “Reinstall macOS.”
- Click “Continue.”
You’ll come up to one point where you’ll be asked to choose a hard drive, and you’ll want to select the Macintosh HD partition that you just created with the Disk Utility.
We’ve successfully copied all of the files on the virtual machine, but we’re not done just yet.
Exit your virtual machine and then go back to your virtual machine’s settings. You’ll need to change up your Storage settings. Click on your ISO for High Sierra in the “Storage Tree.” You’ll click that CD icon just like we did earlier and then choose “Remove Disk from Virtual Disk.”
You need to do this to unlink the ISO from your virtual machine.
Start up your virtual machine and you should come across a black screen with the EFI Internal Shell. You’ll want to look for FS1. If this is listed in yellow, click on the virtual machine and then type fs1: and hit the Enter button.
You should be in the fs1 directory.
Type in the following commands:
- cd “macOS Install Data”
- cd “Locked Files”
- cd “Boot Files”
Now we’ll run the installer by running: boot.efi and hitting enter.
If everything goes well, you’ll come across a graphical installer and will just have to work through the prompts. The virtual machine will reboot eventually and then you’ll need to go through the settings and the rest of the setup process.
Soon enough, you’ll be right inside of macOS, where you’ll be able to start using your mac virtual machine on Windows.
Having a virtualbox mac OS is the easiest method of using mac as and when you need it. In addition, using virtualbox is far less complicated than the dual boot hackintosh method we have looked at previously.
I first learned about
QEMU three years ago when I wrote a guide on how to virtualize macOS on a Linux system. Today I will be showing the opposite, virtualizing Linux on macOS using the same tools. I was surprised that with so many software developers using MacBooks everyday, nobody has created a guide on how to use
QEMU with macOS.
Run Macos As Vm
QEMU better? First of all, it's free and open-source. Unlike Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion, you won't need to pay for expensive subscriptions or manage licenses. There does exist an open-source alternative (from Oracle!) called VirtualBox, which works pretty well. However, VirtualBox does not support macOS's Hypervisor.Framework, a virtualization API created to limit kernel modification. This means the installer will ask for admin access to install kernel extensions, a feature Apple is now phasing out for security reasons.
QEMU on the other hand has had support for Hypervisor.Framework since 2018. Just say no to kexts!
Furthermore, like many developers, I like to run VMs headless, i.e. without a desktop GUI, so that I can SSH into them. Running VMs in the background seems like a simple feature, but it requires a lot of complex configuration for both
VirtualBox and VMWare Fusion. And Parallels wants you buy the Pro Edition to gain access. Market segmentation at its finest... With
libvirt, VMs start headless. Plus, when you shutdown macOS, it sends a shutdown signal to your VMs as well.
To be clear, this method doesn't support USB Passthrough, GPU Passthrough, or bridge networking. But if you just need to test, for example, node.js or nginx on a Linux VM, then this method is great.
Installing libvirt and QEMU
- First, install homebrew, which is a package manager for macOS.
brew install qemu gcc libvirt.
- Since macOS doesn't support QEMU security features, we need to disable them:
- Finally start the libvirt service, with
brew services start libvirt. It will start after boot as well.
Installing Ubuntu Server 20.04
There are two ways to access the virtual display of the VM, either using a VNC client or the virt-viewer program. I recommend RealVNC Viewer. The VNC client is responsive and quick to install, but if you have multiple VMs you need to manually manage the different ports. With virt-viewer, you get a popup with all the VMs currently running, but it is laggy and takes an eternity to install. virt-viewer can be installed through homebrew. The rest of this guide uses VNC.
vmsfolder in your home directory, and generate a disk image. Change
50gto the size of your prefered disk:
Download the Ubuntu Server 20.04 Install Image and my libvirt XML template and place the .iso and .xml files in the same folder.
Modify the following elements in the
ubuntu.xmlfile to match your your VM preferences and file paths. Save, then run
virsh define ubuntu.xmlfollowed by
virsh start ubuntu.
Start RealVNC Viewer and connect to
localhost. Click the
Ctrl+Alt+Delbutton to reboot the machine, and quickly press
Escto get into the boot menu. Press the number that matches the Ubuntu Server image.
Install Ubuntu Server normally, making sure to enable the SSH server. Once it restarts you can connect to the VM from your terminal by running
ssh -p 2222 [email protected].
To send a shutdown signal to your VM, run
virsh shutdown ubuntu. To force shutdown, run
virsh destroy ubuntu.
To forward a port, e.g. port 443 from the VM to port 8443 locally, run the following:
ssh -p 2222 -L8443:localhost:443 [email protected]
Azure Vm Macos
If you want to create multiple VMs, create an XML file for each machine with a unique UUID, VM name, and VNC port. Also, change the
hostfwd argument so that each VM exposes a different port for SSH, e.g.
2223 instead of
2222. After you have defined them all, you can get a list of the VMs that are currently running with
Run Macos In Vm
Note: More discussion on Hacker News