I already have 2 versions of OS X. Can I run an existing one virtually?
March 25, 2017 8:47 PM   Subscribe

I have 2 physical hard drives in my Mac Pro, one with OS X 10.11 & one with OS X 10.6. I would like to use the install of 10.6 virtually instead of having to re-boot from 2nd drive.

I've looked at Parallels (only does Windows?), VMware Fusion & VirtualBox & they all want to create a new partition to install a new virtual OS onto, BUT.

I already have a perfectly good install of 10.6 & I don't want to have to go through re-installing it all again. It took me a long time to get this install of 10.6 the way I want it, with a ton of Logic Plug-ins, samples, reverb convolution files & plug-in presets that I need for older sessions. (Also GoLive, don't hate) Is it possible to get any of there (or perhaps another) virtualization program to recognize the install of 10.6 that I have on disk 2 so that I can run it virtually inside of OS 10.11?

Or is that just not how this works? Tired of re-booting once or twice a month just to run a few legacy apps that didn't make it past 10.6, and also, I don't really have room on the disk I'm using for 10.11 to install a whole nuther OS on it.
posted by Devils Rancher to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I run VMware Fusion and it copied existing installs of both Windows and Ubuntu and virutalized them so I can run them on my Mac. You then run these VMs in your existing partition - no rebooting required.
Not sure if this answers your question.
posted by Zedcaster at 9:20 PM on March 25, 2017

Parallels runs multiple operating systems OK, as does VMWare Fusion. I've also run VirtualBox on my Macs, but I don't have much experience with it.

I'm pretty sure Parallels and VMWare can both run MacOS as a guest under MacOS. Their default wizards assume you're going to install a new guest OS on a new virtual disk, but both have a way to point the VM at an existing virtual disk or a raw disk partition. And it sounds like you want to point whichever you use at a raw disk partition.

Which one are you going to use? (The installs are slightly different.) I think Parallels is a little more Mac-style, but I've been buying VMware recently because Parallels switched to a subscription model, and I only purchase fully-paid-up, perpetual licenses. I'll have nothing to do with a program I have to pay for monthly, that gets taken away from me if I stop paying.
posted by spacewrench at 9:23 PM on March 25, 2017

From the VMware manual;
"Migrating an Existing PC to a Virtual Machine
After you install the VMware Fusion PC Migration Agent on your PC, the Migration Assistant can make a network connection and convert the Windows PC to a VMware Fusion virtual machine."

posted by Zedcaster at 9:25 PM on March 25, 2017

I've got 10.6.8 installed as a guest in Virtualbox on my 10.11.x Mac mini no probs, but as a file.

I previously had a 10.6.x partition working in Virtualbox on my laptop, and have a vague memory that there was something minorly tricky about getting it set up. I don't remember what though, so it can't have been too much of a problem.
posted by Pinback at 9:43 PM on March 25, 2017

Response by poster: I want to install (let's say VM ware because of the price) on my OS 10.11 disk & point it at the install of OS 10.6 as the guest OS. I tried the migrating from an existing PC option, but it seems to be specifically seeking out a different piece of hardware on the network with a Win install on it. Also, I might need an older version of VMware ware to run 10.6 is a guest? I downloaded Fusion 8.5 & it deosn't list 10.6 as an option - just 10.6 server.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:47 PM on March 25, 2017

In Parallels, and I assume VMWare also, you can select devices to boot a VM from, in the order of preference.

To do this, in Parallels, create a new VM. There's a wizard thing that takes you through the steps:

1. In Parallels, select menu File->New.

2. In the wizard, select 'Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file' then click 'Continue'.

3. Next step, at the bottom of the dialog there's a checkbox: 'Continue without a source'. Select this, and then click 'Continue'.

4. It'll ask what the type of the OS will be, select whichever you want, and click 'OK'.

5. Next step, give your VM a name, and select the checkbox 'Customize settings before installation'.

6. It'll whir away for a while, creating the VM, and then show you settings dialog.

7. Select the 'Hardware' tab, and then select 'Hard Disk 1' from the list on the left.

8. On the left of the dialog, there's a dropdown labeled 'Source', if your disk containing the OS install that you want to use is plugged in and bootable it will be in the dropdown list, so select it.

9. Close the settings dialog.

10. Click 'Continue' in the wizard.

11. The VM should boot from your install.

Assuming that all is well you can, at some point, delete the HDD file that was automatically created for you when you created the VM. It won't be needed for booting your VM, so you may as well free up the space.
posted by veedubya at 4:52 AM on March 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Also, I should mention that the subscription for Parallels that spacewrench mentioned isn't the same model as, for example, a subscription for Office 365 or Adobe Creative Suite. And you don't have to go the subscription route anyway. You can still still choose a 1-time purchase.

A Parallels subscription just means that you'll be billed automatically once a year. It's exactly the same price as the non-subscription option, which is still available. The only difference is that, with the subscription, they throw in some remote access utility. If you cancel the subscription the software is still yours and fully usable.
posted by veedubya at 5:05 AM on March 26, 2017

You definitely can run OS X from a partition in VMware Fusion/Workstation, I've done it. The general procedure is to create a new custom VM, without installation media, and then add a virtual hard disk that points to your partition.

There are three hard(ish) parts:
  1. Creating the custom VM. This isn't that difficult, it's all doable from the user interface—but the UI generally tries to point people towards the much more common options such as installing from a CD.
  2. Generating the virtual disk that points to your partition. There might be a way to do this from the UI, I'm not sure. But I've found it easier to use the command-line tool that comes with VMware, located at /Applications/VMware\ Fusion.app/Contents/Library/vmware-rawdiskCreator. I've also written an open-source utility for this which provides some more advanced options.
  3. Finally, it may be problematic that you want to run version 10.6 in a VM. Apple only started explicitly allowing normal OS X VMs in 10.7; for earlier versions, only Mac OS X Server was licensed for this. Some VM software will attempt to detect the client version of 10.6 and lower, and give you an error—there are ways around this, but they can be complicated.

posted by vasi at 7:01 AM on March 26, 2017

Response by poster: 8. On the left of the dialog, there's a dropdown labeled 'Source', if your disk containing the OS install that you want to use is plugged in and bootable it will be in the dropdown list, so select it.

I get a failure a this point... Failed to configure the Boot Camp partition's hard disk. Details... Error: PRL_ERR_UNIMPLEMENTED (0x80000008)
Path: '/Users/chrisvreeland/Parallels/macOS 2.pvm/ST1000DM003-1CH162 (disk1).hdd'

This is beginning to look like more trouble than just rebooting every once in a while. I'm guessing it's because its 10.6 & not 10.6 server.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:53 PM on March 26, 2017

If they're old apps you might be able to just set up another low end Mac. Some of the older ones are crazy cheap.
posted by bongo_x at 8:42 PM on March 26, 2017

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