Mac OS X Lion on vSphere ESXi 5

I find my MacBook Pro mid-2009 quite slow when rendering my personal H.264. I would like to see if the Sandy Bridge Core i5 2500T in my hypervisor does a better job. So I installed Mac OS X Lion as a virtual machine on my ESXi v5.

I’m not sure about licensing… Purchasing Lion for App Store for your Mac, you seem to have the right to install it on every Mac you own… My Hypervisor is not a Mac… But I bought Lion… Anyway, here’s a simple way to install Mac OS X Lion in ESXi 5.

By default, there is a Mac OS X template in ESXi wizard. But it won’t boot.

So grab the ESXi 5 Mac OS X Unlocker archive. Transfer the esxi directory to the ESXi, run the script and reboot:

# cd Downloads # cd unlock-all-v110 # scp -pr esxi # ssh $ cd /tmp $ ./ $ reboot

Wait for the ESXi to reboot and connect the vSphere client to create the virtual machine. From the “Create New Virtual Machine” wizard, select “Custom” configuration. Fill-in the VM name, destination storage and Virtual Machine Version (I used v8). As the “Guest Operating System”, select “Apple Mac OS X 10.7 (64-bit)” from the “Other” section. Follow the wizard until the VM is created. Attach the installation image in DMG format and start the installation.

Once done, install the VMware Tools.

Activate remote connexion using the “System Preferences”. Click the “Sharing” icon in the “Internet & Wireless” section. In the “Service” section, click the “Remote Management” item. Select the permissions for remote users ; mine can do everything. Then, connect to the Mac using the reference in your finder. From there, play with it as usual!

Regarding performance, the virtual machine behaves quite normally (in remote connexion ; the VMware console lags a lot). Only running GeekBench on it indicates that I don’t really benefit of the CPU upgrade: 3584 for the MacBook Pro vs 4229 for the virtual machine.

That won’t prevent me to looking at the new MacBook Air mid-2012…

Source: ESXi 5 Mac OS X Unlocker


  • Joel Carnat Tue, 17 Jul 2012 19:46:12 +0000 Reply

    Note that configuring 4 cores and 8GB of RAM in the virtual machine rank the VM a higher score: 6329. This is a more expected value according to the score list ; not that far from the MacBook Air (13-inch Mid 2012) score…

  • key873 Sat, 25 Aug 2012 19:18:23 +0000 Reply

    getting error “line 22 permission denied” when run ./ tried chmod 777 also tried v102 and get error line 21. using esxi 5 with core i7 pc. any help?

    • Joel Carnat Mon, 27 Aug 2012 15:03:24 +0000 Reply Author

      did you connect using root?

  • key873 Thu, 30 Aug 2012 22:53:15 +0000 Reply

    yes, i did connect using root. before I ran the chmod 777, it was also giving a “permission denied” error and it would not run at all. Then, after the chmod, it started to run and gave the permission error at line 22.

    • Kris Mon, 17 Dec 2012 09:51:39 +0000 Reply

      Key873, have you solved it? How? Same problem here.

  • periqo Thu, 04 Oct 2012 18:13:35 +0000 Reply

    You have to type case sensitive when you apply chmod to the files!!!

  • Alex Mon, 26 Nov 2012 18:44:14 +0000 Reply

    Thank you!

    The only helpful article on subj.

  • Kris Sun, 16 Dec 2012 20:58:23 +0000 Reply

    I have the same problem a key873. Permission dinied error at line 22.
    Anyone has a solution?

  • Jason Sun, 10 Feb 2013 22:14:19 +0000 Reply

    I had to give Unlocker.ESXi execute permissions. (not to mention the script)
    chmod a+x Unlocker.ESXi

  • patpro Sun, 23 Jun 2013 09:18:08 +0000 Reply

    I’ve also made some virtualization tests of Mac OS X, but running on top of ESXi installed on my Mac Pro, using passthrough to get more performances. But I’m afraid there are too many limitations (no sound…) to create a proper virtualized workstation ( )

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