Bare Bones VMWARE possible on MAC?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Dorfdad, May 28, 2008.

  1. Dorfdad macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2007
    Im looking to start learning and testing some VMware Server, Windows, and OSX Server and Im wondering if there is a Bootlevel Vmware solution that will allow me to run concurrent vmware servers from the bare metal.. meaning not running inside any other OS (except Vmwares OS)

    Im not looking to run Windows VMware through OSX Servers desktop which is the easiest. Im trying to learn how coroporate systems use these servers for a possible future Job.

    If you can point me in the right direction it would be apperciated.

  2. torid110 macrumors regular

    Jan 22, 2006
    Jersey City, NJ
    I checked the Vmware ESX compatibility matrix and it doesn't have the apple hardware listed, but the compatiblity matrix is all servers, so that's not saying that it won't work. I've had friends install ESX on regular PC's with no issues. The caveat is you won't be able to have that may VM's running on top due to memory and disk constraints that you'll have on a PC class machine vs. server class machine. Here at work, we're running VMWare ESX on 8CPU machines with 64GB of RAM. But if you're just testing, go for it :) I'm not familiar with other solutions such as Xensource or Microsoft's virtualization solution. But if i read your post right and you're looking to learn about corporate environments, i would stick to VMware ESX which is the defacto standard, IMO.

  3. farmergiles macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2008
    ESXi... is it possible?

    does anyone have any further detail on the feasibility of running ESXi on intel Mac / Mac Mini?

    I'm considering running a couple of appliances within an esx container, and the mini would appear to be one of the best options for hosting this.

  4. jzuena macrumors 6502a


    Feb 21, 2007
    Lexington, MA, USA
    ESX requires at least two physical CPUs, so a Mac Pro is the only non-server Mac that would have any chance of running it. I don't know if that requirement is relaxed for ESXi.
  5. bartzilla macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2008
    I think ESX is fairly limited in what storage it supports too, it needs to see storage on either a SAN or a SCSI/SAS type bus from what i remember, making IDE/SATA a no-no.

    Of course, given the cost of ESXi these days, it wouldn't kill you to try it and see.

    Can you not do a minimal install of OSX and use fusion? Or bootcamp with a stripped down windows install and VMWare server? If the form factor and price of the machine are more important than the software you use to virtualise, these should allow you to put VMs onto a mini.
  6. pezza macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2007
    It's not possible to do a bare metal install on any Apple Hardware, it's all to do with the EULA.

    The only options that you have available are hypervisor based VM's, hence the existence of Parallels Desktop for Mac and Fusion. The only specific and legal virtualization solution for Apple Server OS is Parallels Server for Mac which is designed to run multiple server os's at the same time.

    A trial is available on the Parallels site.
  7. MEJ macrumors newbie


    Oct 16, 2003
    Saint Louis
    VMware's ESX EULA says nothing about installing (or not installing) on Apple hardware.

    And if you for some reason think that there's a EULA attached to Apple hardware that prohibits installing anything other than OS X, well... I can't help you.


    Having said that, I suspect ESX + EFI would be problematic at best. From what I understand, the most recent Linux distros are EFI-aware (friend of mine runs Fedora 9 and nothing else on his MacBook Pro) so perhaps something like KVM or Xen would be an easier-to-implement solution.
  8. bartzilla macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2008
    Say what?
    Do you have a source for this nonsense or did you just pull it out of your ear?
  9. pacmania1982 macrumors 6502a


    Nov 19, 2006
    Birmingham, UK
    Currently the only virtualization software which allows you to run OS X Server is VMware Fusion Beta 2 for Mac. Therefore, you wouldn't be able to run multiple copies of OS X by using ESXi server.

    Thats of course the official answer...I've not seen a version OSx86 with Leopard Server in...
  10. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Xen Server should work just fine. I think it also runs on MacBooks. Obviously your Mac won't be a Mac anymore at that point, just a Xen Server on a computer that happens to have an Apple somewhere on the case, and I don't think there is any VM at the moment that lets you run MacOS X.
  11. demenas macrumors member


    Aug 11, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    EFI shouldn't be an issue. Intel Macs have had BIOS emulation for over 2 years now, and will boot install disks like Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista natively.

    I believe ESX 3.5 now supports many SATA disk controllers.

  12. Sayer macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2002
    Austin, TX
    The EULA restriction is running multiple copies of Mac OS X simultaneously via VM solutions. Apple amended the Mac OS X Server EULA to allow VMs for that OS only.

    You can run other OSes on a Mac, but not multiple copies of your original Mac OS X install on the same mac at the same time. Its silly, but it makes sense when you consider all the support/liability that would come with multiple Mac OS Xs running simultaneously.

    Not saying it wouldn't be nice for a programmer (like me) to run 10.4.11 alongside 10.5.5 for dev and testing purposes instead of having to completely reboot just to test a change I make. I guess I should invest the time at work to setup 10.4.11 and even 10.3.9 Macs with VNC so I can stay at my desk and still test my app on other OSes/hardware. Fun!
  13. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    ESX 3i is now a free download:

    It comes with a FREE license supporting unlimited CPU's and *everything* you need to run on a SINGLE computer. If you want to use any of the features that require two or more VMware ESX 3i-enabled systems, then you've got to pay for them.

    ESXi supports IDE, SATA, and SCSI storage.

    Note that I've tried installing ESXi on my Mac Pro via burning the ESXi image to a bootable USB stick, and the Mac Pro refused to boot from that (one of the nice things about ESXi is that it will run from a USB stick on supported systems). It did, however, for the most part install and run just fine on one of my internal disk drives (SATA).

    I didn't leave it on long enough to see if ESXi could address all 8GB of my RAM, but it did install. People have reported great success running ESXi on computers with one physical processor (Core 2 Duo or Quad).

    So, personally, I'd give that a go. Worst case, you waste 5 minutes registering with VMware for your free serial and a CD to burn the ESXi images to. You will need a Windows system to manage ESXi afterwards, since Virtual Infrastructure Client is Windows only.

  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I think you have this wrong.

    The EULA applies to Mac OS X. In this case there would be no Mac OS X running. The "bare metal hypervisor" is the OS. And then on top of thios you'd run other OSes like Linux, Solaris or Windows XP.
  15. martolu macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2008
    are you sure that FREE ESXi supporting unlimited CPU?

    ScottishCaptain are you sure that FREE ESXi supporting unlimited CPU? I heard that FREE ESXi can be install on machine with one physical CPU and max 8 GB of RAM. I found on VMWARE website ( this information:
    "Support for powerful physical server systems. Take advantage of very large server systems with up to 32 logical CPUs and 256GB RAM for large scale server consolidation and DR projects." but i think that big possibilties have to cost.
    I need to install FREE ESXi on machine with two physical processors (one physical = two cores so all server will have 4 logical CPU cores) It would not be problem because i could test :) but i have to know before installation that is it possible to install FREE ESXi on machine with two physical CPU without any waste of CPU?
  16. wetrix macrumors 6502


    Dec 1, 2006
    Auckland, New Zealand
    ESXi runs fine on a 2008 Mac Pro. The installation can hang sometimes, but you just restart it and it works next time.

    Each virtual machine is limited to 4 CPUs, so you need at least 2 virtual machines to use all the processors on a 2x Quad Core.

    Parallels Server for Windows runs fine on the Mac Pro too and is also limited to 4 CPUs per VM.

    XenServer 5.0 runs fine too. It supports 8 CPUs per VM.
  17. bigredgpk macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2005
    Has anyone else had any luck with ESXi on a Mac mini?

    I downloaded the lastest ISO last night, booted it on my mini (2.0ghz 2008 model) and I got to the screen where it is loading the software but it hangs after a few seconds. Any ideas? it does have the stock 1gb of ram right now. I'm going to upgrade it. maybe i should do that first?

  18. jzuena macrumors 6502a


    Feb 21, 2007
    Lexington, MA, USA
    Although I can't find a source that says ESXi requires two physical CPUs to run, ESX does have that requirement. I also did a search on their hardware compatibility list and see only Xeon-based servers. I didn't look up each of them to see if any have only one CPU, but I'm guessing they are all dual CPU machines.
  19. mags631 Guest

    Mar 6, 2007
    I have esxi running on a non-Xeon processor, a Q9300.

    I did have to do a song-and-dance to get esxi to recognize my ethernet controller and SATA drives -- but all of that was easily found and accomplished via searching Google.

    No data on whether this runs on a Mac Mini or not.
  20. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    No, you have that backwards. you should have said "It's not allowed to install Mac OS X on Virtual Machine, it's all to do with the EULA." Apple can't care less what you run on their hardware, run Linux or BSD if you like
  21. mkelly macrumors regular

    Nov 29, 2007
  22. tji macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2004
    Mountain View, CA
    No, ESX does not have that limitation. I run servers of all vintages in an ESX development lab, one of the older has only one single core CPU (with hyperthreading). ESX runs fine on that. I have also installed ESXi on my old whitebox x86 server with a single Core Duo CPU, and several single CPU (quad core) systems at work.

    The old versions of ESX were picky about the storage controller (originally only supporting SCSI, and improving IDE/SATA support in ESX 3.5 and more in ESX 4.0).

    Probably the biggest question mark for running ESXi on a Mini is the ethernet controller. ESX is fairly picky about the NIC. I use only Intel e1000's at work. I have had mixed results with Broadcom NICs (which are supposed to be supported). The new Mini has an nvidia ethernet controller. I didn't think these worked with ESX, but a couple Google searches turned up people reportedly using the nvidia 'forcedeth' driver in ESX. So, maybe it will work.

    Since the new Minis are reported to support 8GB of RAM now, it would make an excellent ESX server if the ethernet works. If not, Xen or Hyper-V are also options, but neither are as good as ESX.

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