I have a roommate with a mid-2010 MacBook Pro running OS X 10.6.8. I would like to experiment with OS X 10.8, but don’t want to make them upgrade their Mac since 10.6 is still receiving security updates and they subscribe to the "if it isn’t broke don’t fix it" computer philosophy. Is it technically possible to run OS X 10.8 in Virtualbox with 10.6 as the host OS? If so how do you do this, and what is the legality of doing so?

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    The legality gets decided by judges in court, but the license for Mountain Lion says you have to run it on Mac hardware and nothing I can see about not virtualizing the OS onto an older but licensed OS. The mountain lion license clearly says you get two virtual licenses for personal, non-commercial use as well as other situations like testing, development and server.
    – bmike
    Nov 12, 2012 at 16:37
  • Then the question is how to create a dvd install disk with out installing the OS? My understanding is you have to get it through the app store, would there be an option to create an install disk with out upgrading from 10.6 to 10.8?
    – Jared
    Nov 12, 2012 at 18:29
  • @Jared related question apple.stackexchange.com/questions/80680/…
    – Simon
    May 23, 2013 at 18:39

1 Answer 1


I haven't seen people have good luck using non-server versions of OS X on Virtual Box since they explicitly do not support Lion or Mountain Lion by intention and design.

Here is the forum post I refer to when I can't remember which OS virtual box has done the work to make the install go smoothly.

The relevant section reads "the new Mac OS X as Guest feature is only available to users with Apple/Mac hardware, and only for "Mac OS X Server" installations as a guest OS."

It goes on to explain that they do not welcome any discussions on this topic on their site as it could be construed as bypassing Apple Software License Agreement (SLA).

This is quite problematic since the obvious way I would get to Lion Server or Mountain Lion Server would be to start from the 10.6 Retail DVD and then use the App Store to upgrade. Furthermore the FAQ in their forum are from 2007 and 2010 and are marked as "outdated - do not use these" for the most part. I apologize for the wordy non-answer but despite some time working on this, it's not at all clear what set of steps are needed to get going. I'll revise this if I get things working using VB but at some point will switch to Parallels or VMWare as I've heard they make it easier to get going.

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    That was true earlier. The license changed for 10.8. Nov 21, 2012 at 18:37
  • There is no such thing as 10.8 Server. Server is now simply an app from the App Store, hence the reason for the licensing change as @thorbjorn-ravn-andersen mentioned. It should work as long as the hardware supports it.
    – bispymusic
    Mar 1, 2013 at 22:39
  • @bispymusic I count three servers (two hardware and one software) that are 10.8 :) You are correct that a stand alone server install process was last sold as 10.6, though if that's what you mean...
    – bmike
    Mar 1, 2013 at 23:08
  • I mean OS X Server itself is simply an app now. It's release cycles are now independent of the OS updates. In fact if you buy a hardware server and wipe the OS (as I've done at work this week), Apple simply loads OS X onto it. You're left to manually download the Server app. And the server app dropped the version name with the launch of 10.8. Semantics? Maybe a bit, but I think that's why Apple changed the restrictions on it.
    – bispymusic
    Mar 2, 2013 at 2:34

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