How to: Virtualize Mac OS X Lion

A virtual machine (VM) is a software implementation of a machine that executes programs like a physical machine. VMs are separated into two major categories; these categories are based on their use and degree of correspondence to any real machine. A system virtual machine provides a complete system platform which supports the execution of a complete operating system. A process virtual machine is designed to run a single program, which means that it supports a single process. Any software running in a virtual machine is restricted and it cannot break out of its virtual world.


The virtualization story for Mac OS X is about to change, a lot. This is a positive change as Lion’s licensing changes the rules for virtual machines. In some circumstances for certain enterprise deployments, virtual Mac OS X environments are held in a very high light. By giving access to Mac only applications, the demand increases without having to supply Mac hardware on a one-to-one basis.


Leopard started the virtualization for Apple. Apple began to permit limited virtualization of Mac OS X, with two major caveats: you could only run VMs on Mac hardware (no blade server racks full of HP gear serving out Mac desktops). By doing this, it cost a steep price because you needed a Mac OS X Server license. Since it was so expensive, few people took advantage of it.


Lion’s new EULA is prepared to change all the rules. 10.7 users will be allowed to run one or two virtual Mac instances on each physical Mac. The tools will be helped by VMware Fusion, Parallels, VirtualBox or others. The people that will benefit from this are developers, IT managers and others who need to keep a known-good test environment or try out new apps in a controlled fashion. Like this article? Hate this article? Leave a comment and we will let you know as soon as possible.

5 replies on “How to: Virtualize Mac OS X Lion”

Doesn’t the “caveat” that virtual OS X instances could only be run on Macs still apply to Lion? I don’t understand the point you’re making there.

Also, this isn’t quite a How-To article. I was looking for a “How-To” tutorial style thing coming here.

The major difference is that before Mac OS X Server was only abele to be virtualized which cost quite a substantial amount more than the 29.99 of the client Snow Leopard.

Lion will allow you to virtualize Lion (Client) on top of another Lion instance instead of Lion Server. However, this can only be taken advantage of with a Mac running Lion.

We’ll post a guide to virtualize Lion on Lion soon.

Yes OS X instances can only be run on Mac hardware. However, previously only OS X Server could be virtualized which caused pain in the Server licensing. 

With Lion, you can now virtualize Lion client on top of another Lion client image, which saves in the Server licensing. Also, the setup and configuration for virtualization of client and server side images are always a little different. 

Don’t worry, we are going to have a “how to” virtualize Mac OS X Lion coming soon :).

In what way is this a how to?? What utter BS for the sake of google rankings. VMWare only has options for 10.5 & 10.6 hence my looking for info on HOW TO do this, not blabbering about why I would want to!

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