Accessing different Mac OS X versions for testing.

Our testing of services on older releases of Mac OS X has been hampered by a lack of hardware on which to conduct the testing. I was asked to investigate whether it would be possible to run Mac OS X in a virtual machine allowing us to have older version of the OS available for testing. Note that to remain within the law, the VM must run on genuine Apple hardware.

So far I have managed to get both Mavericks (OS X 10.9) and the recently released Yosemite (OS X 10.10) running in Virtualbox on my 2013 Macbook Pro running Mavericks. I still have to test earlier versions of the OS such as Mountain Lion.

The main thing that needs to be done to run Mac OS in a vm is to extract the OS X distribution from the upgrade executable downloaded from the app store and convert this to a bootable disk image which can be mounted in the Virtualbox VM. For Mavericks, I followed the instructions at this site. Installing Yosemite is trickier since following the method which worked for Mavericks produced a bootable image which was missing some files. Following the procedure here did the trick though I note that there is a new version of iESD (the utility used to produce the boot image) which offers support for Yosemite so this may no longer be necessary.

As far as Virtualbox itself goes, all of this has been done on Virtualbox 4.3.18. On my late 2013 Macbook Pro, the only guest settings I needed to change were in the 'Motherboard' tab of the system page. Make sure that the Chipset is set to PIIX3 and the Enable EFI checkbox is ticked.

Using the shared access testing machine

If you don't have access to Apple hardware to run a VM on or you simply don't want to set up a VM yourself, there is now a Mac Mini set up with ready made VMs running Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) and 10.10 (Yosemite). This machine is called and can be accessed via VNC. On a DICE machine, simply type vncviewer multimacs and when asked for a password use the password associated with the CO Apple Id (ask Craig or Toby if you don't know what this is). Multimac has a group account set up called cos which uses the same password.

Using the VMs

As mentioned above, there are two VMs ready for use, one running Mavericks and one running Yosemite. If you think your investigations are likely to materially change the VM, please take the time to clone a new VM for your own use (right click on the VM you wish to use, select clone and then select the full clone option.

-- CraigStrachan - 20 Feb 2015

Topic revision: r5 - 22 May 2015 - 09:08:15 - CraigStrachan
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