How to run a Mac OS X VM on non-Apple VMware ESXi host.

darwin11GuestMany of you may have wanted to run a Mac OS X virtual machine in your vSphere setup but get hit with the error that darwin1164Guest is not supported, as outlined in VMware KB 2006093. As the KB explains that this is because you must be running Apple certified hardware to run a Mac OS X virtual machine. I’m sure that this has to do with the licensing of the OS X product. But you may want to run a vm or two to test software in your environment.

The Workaround

Luckily the heavy lifting to get around this has been done by InsanelyMac user Donk. He has created an unlocker tool for non-Apple hardware to be able to boot Mac OS X virtual machines. His tool works for other versions of VMware like Workstation but I’m going to focus on using it for ESXi.

There are two different versions of his unlocker utility, one for ESXi 5.0/5.1/5.5 and another for ESXi 6.0. Make sure that you use the appropriate utility for the version of your ESXi host.

How It’s Done

ESXi 6.0

Download Mac OS X Unlocker for VMware V2 (currently V2.0.6) from the InsanelyMac download page.

  1. Extract unlocker206.zip to a folder on your computer.
  2. Upload the contents to a datastore on your ESXi host.
  3. Put your host in maintenance mode.
  4. Enable the ESXi shell by following these directions if you haven’t already done so.
  5. Open the ESXi shell.
  6. Navigate to the directory on the datastore where the unlocker was uploaded to:
    # cd /vmfs/volumes/Datastore/DirectoryName
    

    Where Datastore is the datastore name where the patch file was uploaded to, and DirectoryName is the directory you created on the datastore.

  7. Make the install script executable.
    # chmod +x esxi-install.sh
  8. Run the install script.
    # ./esxi-install.sh
  9. Reboot the ESXi host:
    # reboot
  10. Exit maintenance mode, and enjoy.
  11. Use the darwin.iso file in the tools folder to mount and install VMware Tools.
ESXi 5.0/5.1/5.5

Download Mac OS X Unlocker for VMware (currently V1.3.0) from the InsanelyMac download page.

  1. Extract unlocker-all-v130.zip to a folder on your computer.
  2. Upload the contents to a datastore on your ESXi host.
  3. Put your host in maintenance mode.
  4. Enable the ESXi shell by following these directions if you haven’t already done so.
  5. Open the ESXi shell.
  6. Navigate to the directory on the datastore where the unlocker was uploaded to:
    # cd /vmfs/volumes/Datastore/DirectoryName/esxi
    

    Where Datastore is the datastore name where the patch file was uploaded to, and DirectoryName is the directory you created on the datastore.

  7. Make the install script executable.
    # chmod +x install.sh
  8. Run the install script.
    # ./install.sh
  9. Reboot the host.
    # reboot
  10. Exit Maintenance Mode, and enjoy.
  11. Use the darwin.iso file in the tools folder to mount and install VMware Tools.

Installing Mac OS X

You have to follow certain instructions to install Mac OS X from the installation media. It’s not complicated but it’s not straight forward either. You can view these instructions on the VMware website:

Summary

This quick little fix has been working for me on two virtual machines running Mac OS X 10.10. In the two weeks I’ve been running them I’ve yet to have any issues, performance or otherwise, with using this fix or using the virtual machines. I hope this article helps solve the issue of running Mac OS X on non-certified non-Apple hardware.

 

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3 thoughts on “How to run a Mac OS X VM on non-Apple VMware ESXi host.

  1. UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE

    I got my OSX 10.6 to install to the VMWARE ESXi server. It has done two updates, and the VMWARE TOOLS is installed as well.

    So now for the first of many questions (as I am very used to WINDOWS OSes installed under ESXi). In VMs where Windows is installed and VMWARE TOOLS is installed, you can press CTRL+ALT+ENTER and it will go full screen (as if you are not in a VM). This is not happening with this OSX install.

    Any ideas?

    Do I need to do anything special – recommendations to make sure this runs well? I am currently installing UPDATES (so far #2).

    Thanks in advance for all advice.

    Curtis

  2. thanks for the info, i found your post by googling for the unlocker (did it ages ago)

    about the install of osx.
    if you have a mac handy its easiest to make a USB stick with OSX on it (diskmaker X) and connect it via Vsphere client to the VM OR if you already have a VM with osx and want a second one…

    OSX: dowload the “install mac os…” from appstore
    OSX create a disk image (dmg) with 8gb.
    OSX copy the installer onto it with diskmaker X (it cant write straight to “internal drives” aka the VMDK)
    ESX: create another disk (vmdk) on ESX with 8gb, attach it to the VM.
    OSX: restore the disk image (DMG) to new disk (VMDK)
    ESX shut down VM and detach the disk (vmdk)
    next time you want to install an OSX just attach the VMDK to the VM and boot from it.

    just did that with 10.12 and thought might be helpful to others

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