Initially, you may need to install Mac OS on a virtual machine, for example, if you need to test applications that can only run on Mac OS. Mac OS cannot be installed on VMware ESXi or VMware Workstation.
As you may or may not know, ESXi will not allow you to start macOS virtual machines by default. It is in view of the fact that Apple TOS requires macOS VMs to run only on Mac hardware.
Luckily, some very talented people have created an unlock to allow you to run macOS VM on your ESXi host, whether it’s Apple hardware or not.
Installation practice for macOS on VMware ESXi
Before setting up your macOS VM, you will need to ensure that you take care of the following prerequisite tasks:
- Download the unlocker file;
- Download the latest VMWare tools for macOS;
- Create a bootable macOS .iso file;
- Ensure you have SSH access to your ESXi host.
Preparing the ISO Installation Image
To get started, you must have the ISO image of the macOS installer. If you do not already have the ISO image, you can manually create the ISO image for installation by downloading the package from Apple’s official website.
You can use Sierra blank ISO image, for instance. Now that your bootable ISO image with the macOS installer is ready, you must prepare your ESXi host to install Apple Mac OS as the guest VMs operating system.
You need to enable SSH access, download the patch, copy the patch to the ESXi server filesystem, and patch the ESXi server.
Installing mac OS for VMware vSphere hypervisor is of utmost importance for the macOS installation in general. VMware ESXi Server
Running the Unlocker
Assuming all prerequisite tasks were completed, you are now able to begin the process of installing your macOS VM. The starting point in doing so is to upload your unlocker file to one of your ESXi host’s datastores, as shown in the image below.
As you can see, we have included the macOS .iso, along with the VMWare tools for macOS.
After moving the files to your data store, you will need SSH on your ESXi host, as shown above.
Once SSH’d in, you will need to locate your unlocker file. If you stored it in a data store, as we suggested, you should be able to find it under /vmfs/volumes/.
After locating your unlocker file, you will need to perform the following actions:
- Using tar xzvf esxi-300.tgz, unpack the unlocker file
- Using chmod +x esxi-install.sh, make the newly unpacked script executable
- Finally, run the script with ./esxi-install.sh
After running the script, you should receive confirmation that your unlock was complete and that you will now need to reboot your host.
Installing VMware Tools
Install VMware Tools for macOS running VMware VM to improve performance and user experience. When you apply the unlock patch to VMware Workstation, the darwin.iso image with VMware Tools for macOS is copied to the VMware Workstation directory.
If the darwin.iso image is missing on your ESXi after applying the patch, you can manually copy the ISO file to the data store using WinSCP, the VMware Host Client, or the VMware vSphere client.
You can download VMware Tools for Mac OS X from the official VMware website.
Transfer patch files to the ESXi data store
After downloading the patch, copy the patch files to the ESXi data store. Copy the unlock files from your local directory to your data store on the ESXi server.
You can use WinSCP, which supports SSH file transfers using SFTP, SCP, WebDAV, or S3 protocols (in Linux, you can use equivalent software). WinSCP has a graphical user interface (GUI) and consists of two main panels.
Now that you have the unlock enabled, setting up your VM is as easy as any standard Windows or Linux VM. To install macOS, follow this procedure:
You will notice that now, on the “Guest OS Family” dropdown menu, you can select “Mac OS”. Doing so will allow you to choose from many different macOS versions.
From here, choose the specs for your new VM.
After booting the VM up first, take advantage of the Disk Utility to format your new virtual disk. You will be looking for a disk roughly the same size you set up in the previous menu.
The outcome should look something like this. Do not delete other discs that may appear on this screen.
After formatting your disk, you will want to quit Disk Utility, go back to the main macOS Utility page, and select “Install macOS”.
This will complete the rest of the installation process for macOS Mojave. Once booted, you will be prompted to follow the typical macOS setup steps.
Installing macOS Mojave on a macOS virtual machine with a VMware unlocker is notable to the datastore ISO file software license agreement.
Install macOS – a personal experience
I will share something with you. For a start, I have provided a superb connection to my home network.
Therefore, I can open VMware Workstation Pro, connect to that VM, and have an iMessage window open on any capable device running VMware Workstation. I like it because I would write messages with a physical keyboard rather than on a small screen.
Is iMessage a super elegant solution for using operating systems other than macOS? That’s a debate. Is it functional, and does it generally do the job? Yes. I’ve been using this setting for months and have not encountered any problems.
The only thing that can sometimes get annoying is that there is no hardware acceleration on this VM, which means that all the animations are pretty changeable and not so enjoyable. Yet, these animations can be reduced in macOS settings.
Having this VM around was highly convenient, and I encourage you to try it out for yourself if you are an iMessage user and have an ESXi host like me!
MacOS can be installed on VMware VMs running ESXi. It can be done after you have prepared a bootable image for an ISO installation, applied a free patch to the ESXi server, and configured specific VM settings.
Installing the macOS unlock patch on ESXi servers used in production environments is not recommended to minimize the likelihood of any possible problems or adverse impacts on the production VMs.