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The (almost) definitive guide for installing MacOS 10.14 (Mojave) on ESXi 6.7 (WiP)

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Posted (edited)

Hi all,

This was originally a post asking for the definitive guide. Since I did not get a response, I continued tinkering. I eventually was able to patch something together based on other tutorials. Below what I have done.

 

If you run into issues or mistakes from my end, or certain steps don’t turn out to be necessary, please comment below so we can make this guide complete!

 

Starting point

  • ESXi 6.7 installed and working
  • My hardware: Fujitsu D3417-B2 (Intel C236), Xeon E3-1245 v6, 32GB RAM, 1250 GB SSDs and 8 TB HDDs
  • This guide assumes that all steps are executed on a mac; most can be done on most other operating systems as well, except for Step 3.

 

Aim
Installing fully functional version of macOS Mojave on ESXi. Why would one want this? I upgraded my server and installed ESXi (a virtualisation hypervisor) to run several operating systems side by side. Since the server is now located near my desk, I wanted to use the opportunity to also use that system as a workstation for some of my photo hobby stuff, rather than using my work MBP.

 

High-level steps

  1. Install ESXi (not covered here)
  2. Install Unlocker
  3. Create a bootable ISO
  4. Create a new virtual machine
  5. Install macOS
  6. Install VMware Tools

 

Required files

  • Unlocker. Latest version verified for ESXi is v.3.0.0 (https://www.insanelymac.com/forum/files/file/964-macos-unlocker-v30-for-vmware-esxi/ ; credits to @Donk; you need to be logged in to download)
  • MacOS Mojave (See instructions below. For this, you need a macOS machine)
  • VMware Tools for macOS (https://www.insanelymac.com/forum/files/file/31-vmware-tools-for-os-x-darwiniso/ ; credits to @MSoK; you need to be logged in to download)

 

Step 2: Install Unlocker
Normally, macOS can only be installed on Apple hardware. The unlocker will modify ESXi to accept non-Apple hardware for macOS VMs.

  • Using the link above, download Unlocker and upload the file to your ESXi systems
  • Enable SSH in ESXi
  • Open a terminal window
  • SSH into ESXi (“ssh login_name@ESXi_IP”)
  • Navigate to the folder where you uploaded the unlocker (datastores are located in “/vmfs/volumes/“
  • Unpack the Unlocker (“tar xzvf esxi-unlocker-xxx.tgz”)
  • You may need to make the script executable. This can by done by typing “sudo chmod -x esxi-install.sh” (you will likely be asked for your password)
  • Run the script using “./esxi-install.sh”
  • Reboot ESXi

 

Step 3a: Download MacOS Mojave
This is easy if you have a MacOS machine. There are other sources, but I would not recommend using them for security reasons

  • Within the Mac App Store find MacOS Mojave: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/macos-mojave/id1398502828?ls=1&mt=12
  • Click “Get” and the update process starts
  • Depending on the version of macOS installed, the update process will automatically halt after download or you will need to press CMD+Q as soon as the download is finished
  • As a result you will find a new ‘app’ in your applications folder: “Install macOS Mojave.app”

 

Step 3b: Create a bootable ISO
From the file above, we need to create a bootable ISO. Bill Plein made an excellent script for this that you can use one-on-one: https://blog.plein.org/2018/09/28/creating-a-macos-10-14-mojave-installation-iso/

  • Open the Textedit app and create a new file
  • In the app’s preferences choose ‘Plain text’ as the document format
  • Paste the script and save as “mk-mojave-iso.sh”
  • Open a Terminal window and navigate to the folder with the script
  • You may need to make the script executable. This can by done by typing “sudo chmod -x mk-mojave-iso.sh” (you will likely be asked for your password)
  • Then run the script: “./mk-mojave-iso.sh”
  • The script will run for a couple of minutes and as a result a file named “Mojave.iso” will be placed on your desktop
  • Upload the file to ESXi
  • NB: the file will be stored on your Desktop and hence possibly automatically synced with your iCloud, make sure to remove/delete it to save iCloud space

 

Step 4: Create a new virtual machine

  • Log into the ESXi web interface
  • From the Virtual Machines section click “Create / Register VM”
  • Click “Create a new virtual machine”
  • Give it whatever name you like
  • Choose “Mac OS” as the guest OS
  • Choose “Apple Mac OS X 10.14 (64-bit)” as the guest OS version
  • Choose the datastore you want to use
  • I opted to use 2 cores, 100GB and 4GB in RAM
  • Make sure to give the VM a unique MAC address by setting it to manual under Network Adapter 1 (I took the server’s MAC address and added ‘1’ to the last digit)
  • I chose adapter type E1000e for no particular reason, other than that one was required in one of my other OSs
  • As CD/DVD Drive 1, choose Datastore ISO file, make sure “Connect at power on” is checked and choose the bootable ISO that you uploaded
  • Click “Finish” to create the VM

 

Step 5: Install MacOS

  • Run the VM you have just created
  • If everything worked correctly, the VM will boot from the bootable ISO (The screen will say it is “attempting to start up from … Virtual SATA CDROM Drive (1.0)”). If not, the ISO file was likely not created correctly (Step 3) or it was not properly mounted in Step 4.
  • You will see the white Apple logo and a progress bar
  • You will be asked to select your language
  • Then you will enter the setup menu, choose “Disk Utility”
  • Select the “VMware Virtual S..” on the left and choose “Erase”, this will format your virtual drive. You can give it any name you want (I went traditional with “Macintosh HD”, I chose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” as the format and “GUID Partition Map” as the scheme).
  • When formatted, you can continue the installation process (this mostly speaks for itself). You are asked several questions. I opted out of all things that would send data to Apple (location services, Apple ID) as I do not want to load their infrastructure with my system. Please share whether you succeeded if you have chosen otherwise.
  • You should now be able to boot into a working version of MacOS

 

Step 6: Install VMware Tools 
Finally, it is recommended to install VMware Tools. More info: https://www.vmware.com/support/ws5/doc/new_guest_tools_ws.html. It can be downloaded here: https://www.insanelymac.com/forum/files/file/31-vmware-tools-for-os-x-darwiniso/ (com.vmware.fusion.tools.darwin.zip.tar; extract and find darwin.iso)

  • Upload Darwin.iso to an ESXi datastore
  • Shut down the running MacOS VM (if you hadn’t done so already)
  • Edit the settings of the VM and navigate to the CD/DVD drive: replace the MacOS bootable ISO with the Darwin.iso file
  • Save and start the MacOS VM
  • When started, the darwin.iso should be mounted and you should be able to install VMware Tools

 

Acknowledgements
To tinker together the above, I used (amongst others) the below:

 

Open questions / TODO’s

  • How to realise video passthrough?
  • Add screenshots

 

I hope this is helpful; please share your experience so we can refine this guide if needed!

 

Thanks! J

Edited by 3JL

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questions:How to realise video passthrough?

 

Step 1: Goto Navigator --> Manage --> Hardware --> PCI Device , Selet Videocard Toggle passthrough and reboot ESXI

 

1.thumb.PNG.8a8c9a8597e1a7a9f299032b95f6de58.PNG

 

Step 2: Edit Virtual Machines settings --> Add other device --> PCI device

 

2.thumb.PNG.def8c4ccea0940b2a897fe8e8a1f57c8.PNG

 

Step 3: Power on Virtual Machines to install MacOS , In the installer, you can see that your monitor is working

 

Step 4: After the installation is complete, you will find that the system is stuck in the apple progress bar. Now you need to turn off the mac power and remove the graphics card from the settings.

 

Step 5: Turn on the system again, after completing the wizard, turn on the automatic login in the settings (otherwise you will not see anything) and put the system settings window on the far right (do not close), open the window when you open the login again when you shut down.

 

Step 6: Go back to set up pcie again,Power on Virtual Machines ,set second screen to main screen。

 

Step 7: now you can use video card do everything

 

 

Note: you need to pass through a usb port to enter the virtual machine, otherwise you will not be able to move the mouse to the second screen.

I tried setting svga.present = "TRUE" to FALSE in vmx to turn off the virtual display, which caused the graphics card to fail to output.

 

Add in vmx:

hw.model = "MacPro6,1"          (set mac model)
uuid.action = "keep"

 

questions:How to set CPU model?

 

My hardware: Dell R710 (Intel 5520), X5650*2 , 64GB RAM, GT730 pcie x8 , 250 GB SSD and 300 GB SAS

 

1315114004_2019-01-1510_48_51.thumb.png.3cfb91f12f527f9976c485626da8aaec.png

Edited by EmotionalAmo
Add Note and questions

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Hi @EmotionalAmo, thanks for your contribution! I have tried to follow your instructions, but it failed :( do you have any clue what I am doing wrong? (see attached images)

(I tried modifying an existing installation, that should work as well, right?)

 

Second question: Do I understand correctly that video passthrough can only work with auto login?

Screenshot 2019-01-21 at 22.39.10.png

Screenshot 2019-01-21 at 22.38.28.png

Screenshot 2019-01-21 at 22.37.58.png

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