I need to run 4 instances of Mac OS X desktop (10.4 to 10.7) for our continuous integration setup (so they need to be on all the time). I've used PC hypervisors in the past (XenServer, ESXi, etc) but never for a Mac.

Is it possible to run those guest operating systems on a Mac Mini hypervisor?

Edit: Ideally, it should be managable remotely (like XenServer and ESXi), desktop virtualization software (like VirtualBox) isn't really what I had in mind.

  • This looks like what I need, but I'm not sure (parallels.com/uk/products/server/mac/audience/mme). Can anyone say for sure whether I should buy this? The data sheet is a little vague, nowhere does it say "you can run OS X as a guest", and £249.00 seems quite expensive since I'm doing this for an open source project. – nbolton Aug 28 '11 at 23:42

You might take a look at VirtualBox which includes a GNU GPL version as well. It offers limited/experimental capabilities to run virtualized OS X VMs, but I think Apple generally forbids virtualizing OS X via their licensing/usage terms.

  • Thanks, it might be an option -- but a bare metal hypervisor would be better (host uses less resources, and would give me remote admin). – nbolton Aug 28 '11 at 23:45
  • Is there a "bare metal" hypervisor based on OS X? I am pretty sure there isn't. – EmmEff Aug 29 '11 at 0:39
  • 1
    With phpvirtualbox and/or some scripting, you can do all sorts of remote admin with VirtualBox. I wouldn't discount it simply because it's not bare metal. I think you will into licensing and/or compatibility issues running OS X on top of XenServer, OVM or ESXi on your Mac Mini hardware. – EmmEff Aug 29 '11 at 0:40

There are licensing issues with the scheme that you propose. See this previous answer regarding the Mac OS X EULA, which will lead you to additional information. Summary: you can't do what you want as virtualization, as versions prior to 10.7 were not available for virtualization at all per their license.

Neither VMWare or Parallels will talk publicly about circumventing the Apple EULA for pre-10.7 versions. VMWare Fusion actively prevents virtualizing the OS X client versions (there are one or more workarounds that I've seen; Google is your friend here).

I know of no hypervisor software that will allow you to accomplish your goal, either. Sorry.


You have confusion between PC and Mac, they are both x86/x64, they are the same as John Hodgman and Justin Long have demonstrated before. The compatibility concern should only arise with older PowerPC based Macs, and the EFI boot process instead of BIOS.

Therefore XenServer would run fine, ESX 4.0 does not support EFI as discussed here:


Recently discussion about vSphere apparently supporting EFI on XServe:


What's New in VMware vSphere 5? * Support for Apple products -- vSphere 5 supports Apple Xserve servers running OS X Server 10.6 (Snow Leopard) as a guest operating system.

To read for yourself, the What's New PDF can be downloaded from this web page "VMware vSphere for Small and Midsized Busienss":


  • No, you're confused. – Nick Bolton Sep 6 '11 at 13:23
  • Intel based Macs still don't use legacy BIOS. – Noah Apr 1 '14 at 15:02

I currently run 10.7 (was originally 10.6 then upgraded it) in ESXi 5 on my Mac Mini (Upgraded from 4GB RAM to 16GB) without any issues.

The performance isn't great when using the actual desktop, but for your requirement (I'm doing the same, using the VMs as build bots) it works absolutely fine.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .