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Kabeyun

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Mar 27, 2004
3,154
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Searched but couldn't find an answer yet. Forgetting about virtualizing Windows for a minute, anyone have an inkling if Apple silicon machines will be able to virtualize older versions of macOS? I'm still (happily) running Mojave and still have a bunch of 32-bit apps I'd like to hang onto at least for a bit longer. It'd be lovely to run Mojave on a future Apple silicon purchase within Big Sur or whatever ARM-only macOS version follows, or is it the same issue - no Intel instruction set virtualization - regardless of the guest OS?
 

ChromeCloud

macrumors regular
Jun 21, 2009
234
440
Italy
Mojave does not run on Apple Silicon (ARM), so at least at the beginning, running a Mojave virtual machine will be as impossible as running a Windows x86 virtual machine.

Somebody might come up with an emulator in the future that lets you do this, but I wouldn't bet on it. And even if an emulator becomes available, it's likely it won't perform good enough to be actually useful.

If you are interested in running Mojave, the best solution is to keep your old machine around.
 

MisterMe

macrumors G4
Jul 17, 2002
10,709
63
USA
Someone will have to write an 32-bit Intel emulator that is the analog to veteran emulators like vMac or Sheepshaver. Unlike these emulators, this hypothetical emulator will not require a ToolBox ROM image.
 
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pshufd

macrumors 603
Oct 24, 2013
6,068
12,171
New Hampshire
Someone will have to write an 32-bit Intel emulator that is the analogs to veteran emulators like vMac or Sheepshaver. Unlike these emulators, this hypothetical emulator will not require a ToolBox ROM image.

It's not that simple. You have to write the other pieces - graphics, sound, USB, etc., too.

You could run Mojave as a Virtual Machine under Windows or Linux or as a Hackintosh if you must run Mojave (or Catalina or High Sierra). It's relatively easy to run Mojave in a Windows VM. Hackintosh is much more work.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 601
May 20, 2010
4,433
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Los Angeles, CA
Searched but couldn't find an answer yet. Forgetting about virtualizing Windows for a minute, anyone have an inkling if Apple silicon machines will be able to virtualize older versions of macOS? I'm still (happily) running Mojave and still have a bunch of 32-bit apps I'd like to hang onto at least for a bit longer. It'd be lovely to run Mojave on a future Apple silicon purchase within Big Sur or whatever ARM-only macOS version follows, or is it the same issue - no Intel instruction set virtualization - regardless of the guest OS?
As I think others have said, it's looking like virtualizing x86 OSes (which, unlike doing so on an Intel Mac, entails emulation on top of virtualization) won't be immediately doable. It also looks like it won't be terribly speedy. I've heard qemu tossed around in discussions, but that's not particularly speedy. Furthermore, VMware has stated that they're not going to be having the Apple Silicon/ARM64 versions of Fusion do emulation, just virtualization and I believe Parallels has a similar stance for their upcoming Apple Silicon versions of Desktop as well.

So, the short of it is that it looks like you're only going to get virtualization of ARM64 operating systems and not x86 or x86-64 operating systems at least for a while and that the only macOS releases you'll be able to virtualize will be Apple Silicon versions of macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 and newer (seeing as 11.0 was never available for download and wasn't even able to be restored using built-in recovery utilities [see the currently posted issues with Recovery on Apple Silicon Macs to catch up on that AppleTV+ original series]).

If you want to maximize x86 virtualization ability, I'd say pick up either the 4-port 13" MacBook Pro, the Intel Mac mini, or the 16" MacBook Pro while they still have Intel inside. If you want to hop on the Apple Silicon revolution, you can still do so, though that'd require a second Mac. Though, luckily they're all a bit less expensive than the remaining Intel Macs are, being on the low-end.
 

pshufd

macrumors 603
Oct 24, 2013
6,068
12,171
New Hampshire
As I think others have said, it's looking like virtualizing x86 OSes (which, unlike doing so on an Intel Mac, entails emulation on top of virtualization) won't be immediately doable. It also looks like it won't be terribly speedy. I've heard qemu tossed around in discussions, but that's not particularly speedy. Furthermore, VMware has stated that they're not going to be having the Apple Silicon/ARM64 versions of Fusion do emulation, just virtualization and I believe Parallels has a similar stance for their upcoming Apple Silicon versions of Desktop as well.

So, the short of it is that it looks like you're only going to get virtualization of ARM64 operating systems and not x86 or x86-64 operating systems at least for a while and that the only macOS releases you'll be able to virtualize will be Apple Silicon versions of macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 and newer (seeing as 11.0 was never available for download and wasn't even able to be restored using built-in recovery utilities [see the currently posted issues with Recovery on Apple Silicon Macs to catch up on that AppleTV+ original series]).

If you want to maximize x86 virtualization ability, I'd say pick up either the 4-port 13" MacBook Pro, the Intel Mac mini, or the 16" MacBook Pro while they still have Intel inside. If you want to hop on the Apple Silicon revolution, you can still do so, though that'd require a second Mac. Though, luckily they're all a bit less expensive than the remaining Intel Macs are, being on the low-end.

I'd agree that we're not going to see reasonable macOS/x86 virtualization on Apple Silicon.

If you need Mojave, you could just get a used, older Mac and run Mojave on it and then VNC into it from your Apple Silicon Mac. Virtualization usually results in poor graphics performance. It's pretty easy to create a macOS Virtual Machine running on Windows using VirtualBox or VMWare too.

I have a Late 2009 27" iMac running High Sierra that I can just VNC into from my big Windows PC when I need to do something on macOS. It only has 4 GB of RAM right now but I'm going to upgrade it to 12 GB and it should be decent for running iCloud Apps. The old iMac is mainly going to be used as a television but I can use it as a Mac too from Windows.
 

ADGrant

macrumors 6502a
Mar 26, 2018
943
556
Searched but couldn't find an answer yet. Forgetting about virtualizing Windows for a minute, anyone have an inkling if Apple silicon machines will be able to virtualize older versions of macOS? I'm still (happily) running Mojave and still have a bunch of 32-bit apps I'd like to hang onto at least for a bit longer. It'd be lovely to run Mojave on a future Apple silicon purchase within Big Sur or whatever ARM-only macOS version follows, or is it the same issue - no Intel instruction set virtualization - regardless of the guest OS?
If virtualizing any x86 operating system is a priority, you should stick with an x86 Mac for now. You can of course just keep the Mac you have and buy an AS Mac as well.
 
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Yebubbleman

macrumors 601
May 20, 2010
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Los Angeles, CA
I'd agree that we're not going to see reasonable macOS/x86 virtualization on Apple Silicon.

x86 virtualization, no. I agree there. I do think that we'll get reasonable macOS virtualization, it'll just be with Apple Silicon native releases only (so, limited to Big Sur and newer).

If you need Mojave, you could just get a used, older Mac and run Mojave on it and then VNC into it from your Apple Silicon Mac. Virtualization usually results in poor graphics performance. It's pretty easy to create a macOS Virtual Machine running on Windows using VirtualBox or VMWare too.

I have a Late 2009 27" iMac running High Sierra that I can just VNC into from my big Windows PC when I need to do something on macOS. It only has 4 GB of RAM right now but I'm going to upgrade it to 12 GB and it should be decent for running iCloud Apps. The old iMac is mainly going to be used as a television but I can use it as a Mac too from Windows.
How is 3D graphics acceleration? Could you game that way via VNC? I've been toying with the idea of doing something like this for my own Mojave based needs with something like a 2013 or 2015 21.5" iMac (primarily because it's still small enough to stash in a corner and physically ignore).
 

pshufd

macrumors 603
Oct 24, 2013
6,068
12,171
New Hampshire
How is 3D graphics acceleration? Could you game that way via VNC? I've been toying with the idea of doing something like this for my own Mojave based needs with something like a 2013 or 2015 21.5" iMac (primarily because it's still small enough to stash in a corner and physically ignore).

I have a GB Ethernet and it's fine for iCloud Apps and you can watch YouTube videos if they aren't too large. But that's about it. If you want better graphics performance, you'd need 2.5 GB or 10 GB Ethernet. I'm just starting to look into that for home.
 

Kabeyun

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Mar 27, 2004
3,154
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Eastern USA
If you want to maximize x86 virtualization ability, I'd say pick up either the 4-port 13" MacBook Pro, the Intel Mac mini, or the 16" MacBook Pro while they still have Intel inside. If you want to hop on the Apple Silicon revolution, you can still do so, though that'd require a second Mac. Though, luckily they're all a bit less expensive than the remaining Intel Macs are, being on the low-end.
Yep, that’s why I’m glad to have a new (2018) 6-core Intel Mini. Going to jump to an AS laptop at some point, but frankly my late 2012 MBP is still doing just fine.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 601
May 20, 2010
4,433
1,209
Los Angeles, CA
Yep, that’s why I’m glad to have a new (2018) 6-core Intel Mini. Going to jump to an AS laptop at some point, but frankly my late 2012 MBP is still doing just fine.
The Late 2012 13" will certainly be able to run a macOS version (Catalina) that is getting security updates through 2022. But I would stop using it as a Mac at that point as it becomes a security vulnerability; no signs of it not being able to run either the semi-annual releases of Windows 10 or the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) releases of Windows 10 and being supported until at least 2029. Though, I might re-apply thermal paste at some point if that's the strategy.
 
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Yebubbleman

macrumors 601
May 20, 2010
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I have a GB Ethernet and it's fine for iCloud Apps and you can watch YouTube videos if they aren't too large. But that's about it. If you want better graphics performance, you'd need 2.5 GB or 10 GB Ethernet. I'm just starting to look into that for home.
Man, that's somewhat of a bummer, but makes sense. 10GbE is awesome, but most of my machines are laptops and it's highly unlikely that I'll wire them up accordingly. But it is VERY tempting to go that route.
 

ADGrant

macrumors 6502a
Mar 26, 2018
943
556
If you want to maximize x86 virtualization ability, I'd say pick up either the 4-port 13" MacBook Pro, the Intel Mac mini, or the 16" MacBook Pro while they still have Intel inside. If you want to hop on the Apple Silicon revolution, you can still do so, though that'd require a second Mac. Though, luckily they're all a bit less expensive than the remaining Intel Macs are, being on the low-end.
Personally I would not buy an Intel MacBook right now, the next wave of Apple Silicon will make them all seem very dated. I was considering a 16 MBP but then the ARM migration was announced closely followed by the 2020 iMacs. Since with Covid I don't really need a laptop, I bought the iMac instead.
 

Nate Spencer

macrumors member
Jun 5, 2015
54
30
I imagine it will be as bad or worse than my testing w/ win 7 and 8.1 on qemu and UTM (qemu arm). Probably some multithreading improvements, driver optimization and JIT runtime will help so much. 32-bit mac apps are probably like the PPC it's most likely just to keep working hardware and OS around.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 601
May 20, 2010
4,433
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Los Angeles, CA
Personally I would not buy an Intel MacBook right now, the next wave of Apple Silicon will make them all seem very dated. I was considering a 16 MBP but then the ARM migration was announced closely followed by the 2020 iMacs. Since with Covid I don't really need a laptop, I bought the iMac instead.
I don't know that they'd seem dated as much as the performance of Apple Silicon models are simply better. It's not like 9th and 10th Gen Intel is all that dated in the PC world. Tiger Lake adds some pizazz factor, but not anything game changing. Don't forget that there are some that still need Intel Macs for software that won't make the jump and/or won't run well in Rosetta and/or need x86 OS virtualization (for Windows, pre-Big Sur versions of macOS, and Linux distros for which there isn't an ARM64 version) and Boot Camp.
 

ADGrant

macrumors 6502a
Mar 26, 2018
943
556
I don't know that they'd seem dated as much as the performance of Apple Silicon models are simply better. It's not like 9th and 10th Gen Intel is all that dated in the PC world. Tiger Lake adds some pizazz factor, but not anything game changing. Don't forget that there are some that still need Intel Macs for software that won't make the jump and/or won't run well in Rosetta and/or need x86 OS virtualization (for Windows, pre-Big Sur versions of macOS, and Linux distros for which there isn't an ARM64 version) and Boot Camp.
The power and thermal inefficiencies of Intel Silicon are easier to ignore in a desktop plugged into wall power with a large heatsink and fan.

I plan to keep my Intel Mac for at least another 7 years. Perhaps by then the cloud will run on ARM Linux instead of x86 Linux.
 

Yebubbleman

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May 20, 2010
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Los Angeles, CA
The power and thermal inefficiencies of Intel Silicon are easier to ignore in a desktop plugged into wall power with a large heatsink and fan.
Most definitely. And certainly, I would never want to own any 13" or 15" MacBook Pro released between 2016 and 2019. Though, for some, that portability is key. My Mac is not my primary machine anymore and I only have so much room for multiple desktops. Certainly an Intel iMac or Mac mini would be preferable to most Intel MacBook Pros, but it may end up just being easier to just get it to go.
I plan to keep my Intel Mac for at least another 7 years. Perhaps by then the cloud will run on ARM Linux instead of x86 Linux.
Are there not cloud instances of ARM Linux (nor cloud services running on ARM Linux)? I know that there aren't as many ARM64 distros as there are x86 and x86-64 distros (Ubuntu only had an ARM64 version of their Server variant last I checked). I seem to recall even Microsoft was trying to cut a deal where the cost of their cloud-hosted Windows 10 desktop environments would be reduced if the subscriber went for something running Windows 10 for ARM64 rather than Windows 10 for "x64".
 

ADGrant

macrumors 6502a
Mar 26, 2018
943
556
Most definitely. And certainly, I would never want to own any 13" or 15" MacBook Pro released between 2016 and 2019. Though, for some, that portability is key. My Mac is not my primary machine anymore and I only have so much room for multiple desktops. Certainly an Intel iMac or Mac mini would be preferable to most Intel MacBook Pros, but it may end up just being easier to just get it to go.

Are there not cloud instances of ARM Linux (nor cloud services running on ARM Linux)? I know that there aren't as many ARM64 distros as there are x86 and x86-64 distros (Ubuntu only had an ARM64 version of their Server variant last I checked). I seem to recall even Microsoft was trying to cut a deal where the cost of their cloud-hosted Windows 10 desktop environments would be reduced if the subscriber went for something running Windows 10 for ARM64 rather than Windows 10 for "x64".

AWS does offer ARM VMs for Linux but most of the cloud still runs on x86 Linux. Docker & Arm did announce a partnership last year so I do expect ARM usage to grow. Perhaps the Apple Silicon Macs will help grow the ARM Linux ecosystem.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 601
May 20, 2010
4,433
1,209
Los Angeles, CA
AWS does offer ARM VMs for Linux but most of the cloud still runs on x86 Linux. Docker & Arm did announce a partnership last year so I do expect ARM usage to grow. Perhaps the Apple Silicon Macs will help grow the ARM Linux ecosystem.
I think the hope is that Apple Silicon Macs help grow all other ARM ecosystems. I'm not saying that I'm ready to ditch x86 in Windows (and it's not even like I'm not having my own separation anxiety with it in macOS), but if this is the future of computing, then that's where we all need to go eventually.
 
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Yebubbleman

macrumors 601
May 20, 2010
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Hadn’t thought of that, thanks. But one the words “thermal paste” flirt with my to do list, I’ll buy a new laptop!
I mean, I did that to my Late 2012 13" MacBook Pro while upgrading its 128GB SSD in preparation to lend it to my step-father, who only had a Mid 2011 Mac mini (and one dying from AMD GPU related logic board failures), as a stop-gap until the Apple Silicon Mac he wants to get comes out. Once he buys said Apple Silicon Mac and returns my Late 2012 13" to me, I'll probably put Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB 2016 on it (which, unlike that Mac's final macOS, will be supported with security updates until 2026). Then I'll either shelve it or sell it.

Macs are lasting long enough now that this isn't a bad idea to replace the thermal paste if you're to keep it past 5 years. Hell, just last weekend, I helped a friend do a similar operation on her Mid 2014 15" MacBook Pro; got an OWC 1TB drive (because her 512GB drive was full), went in, dusted the thing out completely, re-did the thermal paste, which was almost non-existent at that point. Clean install of Big Sur. Now she says the thing runs cooler and like it was brand spankin' new.
 
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