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OS X working in VMWare on Thinkpad


rxmd
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There were some threads over the last months about how it was impossible to get OS X working in VMWare on recent Thinkpads (such as this thread and this thread). I just got OS X working in VMWare on my Thinkpad X60s, and I guess it would work on most other Thinkpads, too. (It does work natively, too, but that was not what I was interested in.)

 

The advantage of using VMWare is that a VMWare setup is easier to use productively. OS X on Intel still has some severe shortcomings, e.g. hardware support for sleep mode, power management or wireless networking, and these can be avoided in VMWare because OS X can use VMWare's virtual network adapter. Also, it's easier to switch between the Mac and Windows sides because you don't have to reboot. The disadvantage is that it is a little slower, but at least for me (and my Dual Core CPU) MacOS X in VMWare runs at acceptable speeds alongside Windows, and I don't notice much of a slowdown.

 

The problem on the Thinkpad appears to be the way in which newer VMWare versions (since 5.5) initialise the CPU. (This is why paevm=true no longer works on Thinkpads, too.) So the trick to get it working in VMWare is actually not a trick at all but just using an older version of VMWare. I use 5.0 at the moment, for which I had an old license sitting around. On the Thinkpad, 5.0 boots OS X just finde, while 5.5 and the newer, free Server versions apparently crash on loading the gray Apple screen. You don't lose a lot by choosing the older version, either. There is no support for Intel's Vanderpool virtualisation instructions, but they aren't that much of an advantage if you only run one VM at a time. Otherwise 5.0 does the job nicely and is compatible and mature.

 

Note that it does matter what OS X version you choose. Maxxuss suggested that there was a significant change at Apple during the 10.4.3 lifecycle (between versions 8f1099 and 8f1111) in the way memory was organised (it's all in his 8f1111 tuning guide for you to read). Hence, versions since 10.4.3-8f1111 are significantly slower under VMWare, in fact, slower by several orders of magnitude, so it looks like Apple changed this on purpose. So the version I would suggest is 10.4.3-8f1099 from the dtk-userdvd image. You don't lose that much either by choosing the older version if you're not a version junkie. I haven't tried 10.4.6 or so in VMWare yet (it runs natively, but without wireless and power management, it locks up when trying to go to sleep mode, and sound is a hassle to get working, so 10.4.3 in VMWare is actually a lot more usable in the end than 10.4.6 natively)

 

Note also that I am in no way endorsing the usage of OS X on non-Apple Intel machines. It's illegal.

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