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I’m trying to install Snow Leopard Server 10.6.3, which I just purchased from Apple (so it’s not tied to any hardware), into a VMWare Fusion 5.x VM, and the install keeps failing.

At first I was getting “ERROR_DOWNLOAD_FAILED” as the reason, so I disabled the network adapter for the VM to see what happened. At that point, it failed with the even more helpful “support files could not be installed”. That’s it; it didn’t bother to tell me which support files, just that they couldn’t be installed. When I tried again, it went back to “ERROR_DOWNLOAD_FAILED”. I turned the network adapter back on, and failed the same way.

I’m using the default install options, which should require a little under 12GB, and the VM’s HD has 43GB available. The machine I’m running the VM on is a MacBook Pro (i7) running OS X 10.8.

Any insights are appreciated!

EDIT: see my answer below for the resolution, which required two steps.

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I found a link that might help: https://communities.vmware.com/thread/457351

You have Server, so that should be OK, try ripping it into a disk image (if you haven't already done so) and see if it will work with that instead.

I only have personal experience with Parallels, so I can't try it myself.

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  • Creating a DMG now; I’ll report back with results. Thanks for the leads! – Eric A. Meyer Feb 5 '14 at 17:15
  • Followup: the DMG approach definitely got me further, but then I ran into a CPU problem. Overcame that, looks like, but I’m still updating. I’ll write up everything once I’m finished! – Eric A. Meyer Feb 5 '14 at 22:07
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In the end, it was a confluence of two things: trying to install from physical media, and CPU incompatibility. Here’s how I got past it:

First, I created a disk image (.dmg) of the install disc, as per BoxOfSnoo’s answer. The thread s/he linked to led me to the VMWare Community article Creating a disc image from physical Mac OS X install media, which I used to get me past the “ERROR_DOWNLOAD_FAILED” barrier.

With that resolved, however, I immediately ran into the error “The CPU has been disabled by the guest operating system.” Googling that led me to the VMWare KB article Installing OS X Snow Leopard Server on an i5- or i7-based Macbook Pro fails with the error: The CPU has been disabled by the guest operating system (1026103), which informed me that OS X 10.6.3—the version that Apple ships you when you order it—is not compatible with i7 (and other) Macs.

I used the .vmx editing solution shown in that article to mask the CPU, which let me finish the installation. That done, I ran Software Update in the VM to update to 10.6.8, which can handle i7 (etc.) CPUs. Then I shut down the VM, removed the CPU-masking line I’d added to the .vmx file, and launched the VM. Success!

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