Is it possible to install Xen on Mac Pro?


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 7, 2014
I recently got a Mac Pro that has 6 Cores, 16 GM RAM, and 16 TB disk space. I want to isolate part of the hardware resources (say 4 cores and 10 GB RAM) for building VM using Xen.

The computer has Mac OSX Maverick installed. I am not sure if I can install Xen to provision a VM on top of the OSX. If yes, can I still work on the Mac Pro while running a VM on top of it? The whole point of the isolation is I want to do scientific computation on the VM while writing code on the Mac Pro with the remaining 6GB RAM and 2 CPU Cores.


macrumors 6502a
Feb 23, 2010
It's been a long time since I used Xen - since before the Citrix buyout in fact, but at that time, Xen was the host OS, meaning that it runs directly on the hardware, not inside of another OS like OSX.

What you can easily do is run virtualization that does exist within the OSX host, such as VMWare Fusion or Parallels. If you want a free alternative, there is VirtualBox. Any of the above will allow you to run one or more virtualized systems within OSX.

My personal preference is Fusion, but the others have their proponents as well.


macrumors 68030
Aug 8, 2009
Xen requires a modified kernel. That means you have to format the entire drive and install something that is able to run Xen (Linux, NetBSD or use something like XenServer from Citrix). You can then run vm's on top of that. I have no idea if Xen/XenServer is able to virtualise OS X but I do know that others have difficulties to do it properly. The graphics performance just isn't there since it seems very difficult to properly support OS X in this area. You can use VMware ESXi as an alternative; this one is able to virtualise OS X (there is official support for it as long as you run ESXi on a Mac).

If you want to run vm's in OS X, like in this case, then you need a completely different solution. The only 3 options available for this would be Oracle VirtualBox, Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion. All of these can configure a vm to have more than 1 virtual CPU and a specific amount of memory. Usually settings like that will cause performance issues so be careful with it. Virtualbox is free, the other two have trial versions. Use those and test out the setup first. I doubt it'll do what you want properly. It is better to do the computations on a different machine.


macrumors newbie
May 22, 2010
virtualbox: practically abandoned. stable on OSX host for short time intervals (few weeks), then mysterious crashes.

parallels: osx host only. not linux host.

xen: linux host only. not osx host.

kvm: linux host only. not osx host.

there is now really only one active osx + linux host virtualization solution, and that is vmware's .

I wonder whether some VMs can be moved across vendors. for example, is there a format that will run under xen and parallels?


macrumors 6502
Dec 6, 2010
virtualbox: practically abandoned. stable on OSX host for short time intervals (few weeks), then mysterious crashes.
I fully disagree with you from a high level, but agree with you from other perspectives concerning VirtualBox.

VirtualBox recently did a major release and announced their 5.x.y version. And the new version provided all kinds of new features and options. Due to this, I am going to strongly disagree with your basic premise that VirtualBox is being abandonded. I also have purchased/own copies of both Parallels and VMware Fusion, and, FWIW, I would rather chunk down $150.00 for VirtualBox, vs either of the two competitors.

That said, all the new features and options that are included in the new 5.x train of VirtualBox mean very little to me. Those options all seem to be focused in area's I care very little to nothing about. Probably of most interested to forum members here, why is there still no OS X guest additions? Or even any discussion of them from the VirtualBox developers?

And jumping back to all products, none of them seem to do a great job of virtualizing OS X, unless there is some recent product announcement that I have missed.


macrumors newbie
May 23, 2014
VMware Fusion has sanctioned support for virtualizing MacOS X, but only on Apple hardware. That said, I haven't tried it.
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.