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Installing MAC OS X on ESXi

Installing Mac OS X on a VMWare machine can be tricky believe me, I know, I just did it! Keep in mind that I am a PC kind of guy, my knowledge with Mac is extremely limited, to the point where I never owned a Mac or even fixed one! 

When customers were asking me to troubleshoot and fix their Apple products, I was referring them to another company, the real "specialist" since I did not support Apple products.

I spent 2 nights, few hours per night trying to install a VM running Mac OS X on my ESXi Server, running on a Dell 2950 Server so obviously not a genuine Apple machine. I thought that it would be nice and maybe helpful for others to post how I did it.
I read, read and read procedures on many websites on how to do it but for some reason I never found THE site to solve all my problems. I succeeded because I took a little bit from each site I visited. Now, maybe you ended up here because you are are having the same issues I had or maybe simply because you want to configure Mac OS on a VM and you were looking for some guidance. Hopefully this tutorial will help you accomplish what you are looking for!

First of all, before we start let's assume that you have ESXi 6 installed, configured and running. You understand the mechanic behind ESXi and can create VMs. This tutorial will not demonstrate or explain how to install and configure ESXi.

Second, Mac OS will only runs on Genuine Apple Product, by installing it on a non Genuine Apple device you are violating Apple Licensing Terms. I had to make you aware of that, an important point in my opinion. This tutorial is for educational purposes and do not promote the use of Mac OS X on non Apple device.

Patching the Server

Let's start! Since Mac OS X won't run on PC, you have to first install a patch on your ESXi Server. You can find the patch call Unlocker on this Website. The version I used at the time was v2.0.8. You can find the instruction on their website on how to install/apply the patch but long story short here is what you have to do:

Upload/Transfer the files to the ESXi Host either using vSphere client or SCP. I transferred the folder through the datastore, it worked quite well.

!!! WARNING: use a datastore volume to run the scripts !!!

Once done, connect to your ESXi Host using SSH and run the following commands from the folder where you uploaded these files, in my case:

  • cd /vmfs/volumes/datastore1/Mac\ OS\ Install\ Files/unlocker208 (note that the "\" because I have spaces in my folder name)
  • chmod +x esxi-install.sh (to ensure the ESXi scripts have execute permissions on this file)
  • chmod +x esxi-uninstall.sh (to ensure the ESXi scripts have execute permissions on this file)
  • ./esxi-install.sh (to apply the patch) or ./esxi-uninstall.sh (to remove/revert the patch)

Please note that you will need to reboot the host for the patches to become active.
The patcher is embbedded in a shell script local.sh which is run at boot from /etc/rc.local.d


  1. Any changes you have made to local.sh will be lost. If you have made changes to that file, you will need to merge them into the supplied local.sh file.
  2. The Unlocker runs at boot time to patch the relevant files and it now survives an upgrade or patch to ESXi as local.sh is part of the persisted local state.

Creating the VM

Once that's done and you have rebooted your Server, you can create your VM. Now that's easy but you need to know one thing, choose the custom mode when creating your VM so you can choose v10 and not the default v11. If you don't do that your Mac OS X won't boot! It will freeze with the Apple logo like it did for me!

For some reason (I was probably too excited) I did not see the notice on the developer website:

IMPORTANT:If you create a new VM using version 11 hardware VMware will stop and create a core dump. There are two options to work around this issue:

  • Change the VM to be HW 10 - this does not affect performance or
  • Edit the VMX file and add: smc.version = "0" | 

Uploading Mac OS X, Booting and Installing

Now that your VM is created, you simply need to boot with a bootable Mac OS X media... Which was a problem for me. I have no Mac here therefore I was unable to use one to easily create my Bootable media. I tried downloading different version of Mac OS X (which is fairly hard to find) from different site, I even tried downloading VM files but nothing worked. After many frustrating hours, I finally found a version of Mac OS X Mountain Lion v10.8. Note that if your are not familiar with Mac, the OS file comes as InstallESD.dmg. Contrary to what I read on many websites, you don't have to do anything since .dmg files are natively supported by ESXi. You don't have to convert the file to an .ISO.

Luckily for me this OS and file was bootable. I simply uploaded the InstallESD.dmg to my datastore and configure my VM to boot from it.

If you would rather use a Yosemite or El Capitan, I believe these OS are not bootable, correct me if I am wrong, like I said I have limited knowledge with Mac Os. To fix the issue if you don't have a Mac handy, I found this software Transmac, with a 15 days demo licence where you can create a bootable USB stick with Mac system files and also restore a Mac OS X image (dmg files) on your bootable token. you can then boot from your USB device instead of transferring files to your datastore.

You can find an online procedure on how to use Transmac on this Website.

Looking at it now, it's nothing really complicated I think, you just need to know some details ... important details that can prevent your project from being a success and turning it into a frustrating nightmare!

Comments 1

Guest - Walterrruiz on Thursday, September 15, 2016 06:55

My compliment about this blog is exceptionally positive I visit this blog first time and inspire by this good stuff work. Incredible post keeps up posting such great information.

My compliment about this blog is exceptionally positive I visit this blog first time and inspire by this good stuff work. Incredible post keeps up posting such great information.
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Thursday, June 20, 2024
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