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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Install Snow Leopard on VirtualBox with Core i5 CPU

There are a few good articles explaining how to install Mac OS X on VirtualBox and a lot of people had reported success:


But unfortunately, when I try to install on my Lenovo ThinkPad X201 with Core i5 M520 CPU, none of those guide worked. I couldn’t boot up the Mac Installer DVD from the virtual machine. After a number of hours try and error, I finally got to the conclusion that all my failures were because, the boot loader and OS X version combinations that I tried, none of them supports my Core i5 CPU.

I then searched up and down for the support of Core i5 boot loaders. With help from my friend, I found this page. It has no mention of VirtualBox but the tools and instructions worked for me. When I was about to write a full blog of the detail steps, I came to know from Dinesh that he actually had a post about using iBoot with VirtualBox, which was pretty much what I did.

Now you have two options to go. a) Use a pre-built VirtualBox disk image (.vdi) that has both Snow Leopard 10.6.4 and boot loader pre-installed; b) install manually step by step yourself.

Using Pre-built Disk Image

This is an easiest option to go,

  1. Download the the disk image following the links provided in the end of all steps. Total 7.5G compressed and 12G expanded.
  2. Unzip it using 7-Zip, a really cool free utility that can open almost any compressed file including .iso image.
  3. Rename the downloaded vdi file to something reads better to you, say SnowLeopard.vdi and place it in the your virtual disk image folder. You can find your Default Hard Disk Folder in settings of the VirtualBox console (File->Preferences or Ctrl-G)
  4. Complete only the step 1 of the instruction here to create the Virtual Machine, except that do NOT create the hard disk as we already have one, acknowledge to the warning message and continue.
  5. Go to setting of the newly create VM and selected the Storage on left. Keep the CD/DVD drive and delete all Virtual Hard Disks if you accidently created in last step. Add a SATA Controller and select the newly downloaded vdi file. Use the folder icon with green arrow to add the disk if it is not already in the Hard Disk dropdown list.
  6. Start the VM and have your Mac OS X running, the user id and password are both “vbox”.
  7. To change the screen resolution, follow the instructions in the manual install option.

Snow Leopard 10.6.4 pre-installed bootable VirtualBox disk image download links from fileserve:

Install Using iBoot and Snow Leopard Retail DVD image

Somebody may prefer this option because it allows you customize the installer where you can select if you would install the additional languages and print drivers. I’ll save my time by introducing you to that post for most of it and just noting down things that you need to watch out here.

My Environment

Lenovo ThinkPad X201, Core i5 M520 CPU, 4GB RAM, Integrated Graphics, Windows 7 Ultimate 32bit, VirtualBox 3.2.8

I have Snow Leopard 10.6.3 Install DVD iso image on hand and so that’s what I used. I believe 10.6.4 will sure work and 10.6.2 is the first version supports Core i series CPU so it “should” work too. Anything older than that won’t work, don’t bother trying.

Install Boot Loader to HDD

It is very important that you must update to 10.6.4 before installing the boot loader from MultiBeast package. Otherwise, your Mac won’t boot at all, not even from the iBoot boot loader iso. Always take a snapshot of your VM before you do this.

Screen Resolution

There are three methods described on this page. I tried first one, doesn’t work, than I tried 2nd one, I cannot start VM. So eventually, that’s how I made it work.

  • You need both method 1 and 2, any one along won’t work.
  • You must have the boot loader installed to HDD first, i.e. you must be able to boot directly from HDD.
  • For method 1, you must edit the plist file under /Extra, not the one under /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration.
  • The command line described in method 2 will corrupt your machine XML file. I had to edit the file manually. To edit the XML file:
    1. Find the location of the xml file by going to File->Preferences of you VirtualBox console and get the value of Default Machine Folder (see the image above). Go to that folder and see <Your Machine Name> sub folder. The XML file is there.
    2. Shutdown all VM instances and also close VirtualBox console. This is very important as otherwise your change will be overwritten.
    3. Backup <Your Machine Name>.xml file.
    4. Use any text edit to add below line right under <ExtraData>, and set the resolution that you want, make sure it is the same resolution was what you set in the com.apple.Boot.plist file.
      <ExtraDataItem name="CustomVideoMode1" value="1280x800x32"/>

The final xml should look something like below:

... ...
      <ExtraDataItem name="CustomVideoMode1" value="1280x800x32"/>
      <ExtraDataItem name="GUI/LastCloseAction" value="powerOff"/>
... ...


Good luck and your mileage may vary.


Anonymous said...

Works fine. Thanks!!
Antonio Pereira
Mexicali, Mexico

Antonio Pereira said...

Works fine. Thanks!!
Antonio Pereira
Mexicali, Mexico

Anonymous said...

Replacing the vdi file does not work. VirtualBox recognizes by uuid that the file is not the one that was created for the machine.

Kenneth Xu said...

@Anonymous, thanks for pointing it out. You should actually use the setting page to add and select the new vdi. I'll update the post shortly.

Tony Tinsay said...

do i have to download all eleven (11) snow leopard files or just one? if the latter, which one is the most stable in your experience? thanks.

Kenneth Xu said...

@Tony, you need to download all of them then use 7zip to extract the image. as you know today's OS image is large!

Anonymous said...

ey you helped me a lot!
Now i can change the screen relsoution of my vm and that awesome! :)

Shyama Karan Dubey said...

Thanks a lot in helping my AppsProb Tips .

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