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I have finally successfully managed to install Mac OS X in a virtual machine on my Windows 7 laptop using VirtualBox and a tutorial from Lifehacker.

Performance is very slow, with Mountain Lion reporting that it is seeing just 4MB video memory (I didn't manage to load the Intel HD3000 driver). Youtube is essentially unplayable, with even the audio potion stuttering. That said, the interface and general UI is pretty acceptable.

Even with such slow performance, does it make sense to download and develop with Xcode? I am allocating 3GB of RAM. What would performance be like under those conditions?

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you can try it and see, but I doubt it will be a suitable environment for development. –  jakev Sep 5 '12 at 18:59
    
Wouldn't this be more about tuning and configuring your VM software to match your hardware limitations than anything OS X related? –  bmike Sep 5 '12 at 19:21
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If this is a hobby and you are not planning on releasing any apps to the app store, and you can tolerate the slow performance and don't care about running on real devices, then don't worry about it. However, if you are creating a business the it is essential to run on real hardware. Any low end Mac (MacBook Air 11", is my current favorite) will blow away any virtual machine.

I have a fairly simple app that runs fine on my iPad and iPod Touch, but has all sorts of graphic anomalies in the simulator.

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Somewhere, VirtualBox warns you in the manual here that you will NOT have graphics acceleration. There are no accelerated drivers for Mac OS X, so you are essentially running in "safe mode" for graphics, using VESA drivers. Apple had a public driver API at one point, but there's got to be some reason that VirtualBox developers haven't released a graphics driver for OS X yet.

Read the manual page linked, it also documents other issues you will have with OS X guests.

The result is not virtualization, but closer to paraemulation with CPU virtualization. Your graphics system is fully emulated, mostly by Mac OS X itself due to the lack of accelerated graphics drivers.

Mac OS X virtualization in VirtualBox is not intended for serious desktop use. It is intended for server virtualization.

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Essentially, you're running 2 virtual boxes if you use the iOS emulator and take this approach. 1 for OSX and 1 (essentially) for the emulator. This can get very cpu and ram intensive but it's doable. Best bet, give it a shot. If you don't like, just remove the vm image.

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What about the legality of it? I own a license for Mountain Lion as I bought it for my personal MacBook Pro, but I've installed a hacked ISO for my work laptop –  Redandwhite Sep 5 '12 at 19:23
    
As far as I know, you dont pay for the content of the operating system, you pay for the rights of the operating system. Thus, this seems 100% legal to me. I did the opposite with Windows (and Android Emulator) about a year ago. –  Agent 404 Sep 5 '12 at 19:24
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OS X has only ever been licensed to run on Macintosh hardware. –  bmike Sep 5 '12 at 19:41
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AFAICT, this is not true. The iOS Simulator is not an emulator. It builds your code for x86, and links against native x86 frameworks. –  Ken Sep 6 '12 at 18:58
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