Installing Mac OS X (Snow Leopard) in VMWare Player 3
With this article, I’ll start by saying.. please purchase your copy of Mac OS X desktop software from Apple. It’s $29 and you get the original media (which is always good to have on hand).
To start, here are the softwares you will need:
- VMWare Player 3 (need to create login to download)
- Empire EFI 1.3.2 for VMWare
- Snow Leopard Install Media (Disk or ISO)
- 7zip (for opening Empire EFI archive)
- ImageBurn (for making ISO images from CD Media)
Installing Mac OS X on VMWare Player is a pretty simple install, but note that there are some important issues that aren’t yet resolved. I’ll explain the issues, however, after the install steps.
Inside the Empire EFI 1.3.2 archive, you will see the following files:
You will see that the extracted ‘Snowy_VM’ folder contains several files besides just the EFI media. Inside the Mac OS X Server*.vmwarevm directory, you’ll see it contains two .vmx templates for VMWare. Use the .vmx file without the underscore at the beginning. Note, you’ll need to use this template to get the install going. It’s far simpler to use their existing template than trying to figure out all the proper VMWare Player settings. So, use what’s given rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. If you absolutely feel you want to reinvent, then I’ll leave that for you to determine what’s necessary.
To begin, inside VMWare Player, select File->Open a Virtual Machine. Find the .vmx file mentioned just above and open it. Once opened, it will appear as ‘Mac OS X Server 10.6 (experimental)’ in the VMWare Player selection panel. From here, you will need to modify the settings for the CDROM device under this machine. Choose the ‘Mac OS X Server 10.6 (experimental)’ imported machine and choose ‘Edit virtual machine settings’ on the bottom right of the window. Now click the on the CDROM device and under ‘Connection’ change it to ‘Use ISO image’ and browse to and select the darwin_snow.iso image inside the Snowy_VM directory’. Click ‘OK’.
You’re now ready to boot. So, click ‘Play Virtual Machine’. Once the machine has started and the system begins searching for a CDROM (read the text on the screen), you will need to change the CDROM to the Mac OS X Snow Leopard media. I recommend using an ISO media to install. So, I will assume you are using an ISO image here. At the bottom of the active VM Window, right click the CDROM icon which may now be greyed out (disconnected) and choose ‘Settings’. Locate the Snow Leopard media on your hard drive and click ‘OK’ to accept it. Check the box next to ‘Connected’ at the top of the window and click ‘OK’ at the bottom.
The system should recognize the disk change and begin to boot the media in about 10 seconds. Once the install begins, you are now installing Mac OS X. Follow the steps to install Mac OS X. Once Mac OS X is installed, reboot. Note the hard drive given in this Snowy_VM archive is ‘ready to go’. So you don’t need to format it.
Booting issues with VMWare Player and Mac OS X
Let’s pause and explain this. When you reboot the first time, the system may or may not boot up. There are two behaviors you should watch for. The first behavior is that you get to the Apple Logo screen with the spinning lines. If it never progresses beyond this grey screen, then you will need to reboot and try again.
The second behavior is that it may get past the grey screen, but then Finder never appears and you see a forever spinning cursor. If you see this, you will need to reboot and try again.
These issues are annoying, but that’s why this is ‘experimental’. So, we live with these issues.
The third issue is that you will need to continually leave the darwin_snow.iso image in the drive all of the time to boot up Mac OS X. Hey, at least it works. Leaving it in the drive is really not a problem as it boots up so quickly. Perhaps they can create a standalone booter later, but for now this works.
Note, I recommend setting up a second CDROM drive inside your Mac OS X virtual machine’s settings. This way, you leave one CDROM always set up with darwin_snow.iso and you use the second one to load/unload other ISO images. If you like, you can set the second one up to your physical drive also so you can pop real CDs in the drives as you need. Note that if you change the darwin_snow.iso image to something else, you have to remember to set it back when you’re done. If you don’t do this, Mac OS X won’t boot. So, this is why I recommend setting up a second drive for loading ISO images.
Booting up successfully
After getting through any unsuccessful boot attempts (or not), you should get to the registration screen. After going through all of the registration screens you will be at the standard Finder desktop. At this point, you might want to change things like Sound and Display. Note that the sound and display drivers are just about as good as what’s in Virtual Box. In fact, Virtual Box’s resolution setup is a bit more complete than this. So, don’t expect a whole lot here.
Suffice it to say that you will need to follow editing of the apple.com.Boot.plist file as in the ‘Installing Mac OS X on VirtualBox‘ article on Randosity. Add in the lines related to the graphics. Once you have done this, edit the virtual machine in VMWare player and choose the Display setup. Under ‘Monitors’ change it to ‘Specify Monitor Settings’ and manually change the maximum resolution to ‘1366×768’. When you reboot, Mac OS X should go into this mode. If it doesn’t work, then you may have to fiddle with the apple.com.Boot.plist file until it works. Note that the resolutions here are limited, so don’t try to set up some odd resolution as it won’t work.
Note, this is the best resolution I could find. Note that in the above directory, you’ll see the file ‘EnsoniqAudioPCI.mpkg.tar’. This is a Mac OS X driver for audio. I have tried installing this without success. But, your mileage may go farther. The trick is in getting this into the Mac. So, you’ll need to start a browser and download the EFI file again on the Mac. Then extract it, find this file and install it.
At this point, you should be all set. You may run into the booting issues from time to time, just reboot until it boots up. Hopefully this booting issue will be fixed at some point. Good luck and happy installing.
If you’re looking for something that boots consistently for Mac OS X, has better video mode support and working sound, then I would suggest setting up Mac OS X on VirtualBox. The setup for VirtualBox is a little more complex, but it boots consistently every time, has its own standalone boot loader and offers a few more features.
If you have questions, please leave a comment below.