For macOS High Sierra, follow README.md for High Sierra. Consult this document for debugging and general tips.
See the debugging section below and closed issues before opening a new issue.
Host System Details
Known to work on:
Ubuntu 15.10 running on i5-6500 CPU.
Ubuntu 16.10 running on i7-3960X CPU.
Fedora 24 running on i5-6500 + i7-6600U CPU.
Tested with QEMU 2.4.1, 2.5, 2.6.1, and 2.8.
AMD CPU(s) are known to be problematic. AMD FX-8350 works but Phenom II X3 720 does not. A CPU with SSE4.1 support is required for macOS Sierra.
Intel VT-x / AMD SVM is required.
Preparation steps on your current OS X / macOS
Download OS X El Capitan or macOS Sierra installer from Apple App Store.
Clone this repository. Files included in this repository are needed for ISO creation.
git clone https://github.com/kholia/OSX-KVM.git
Run the ISO creation script
create_install_iso.sh included in this repository. Run it with
This script supports specifying the path to OS X / macOS installation application manually via the
Copy the generated ISO from your Mac to your QEMU/KVM machine.
Preparation steps on your QEMU system
Clone this repository again on your QEMU system. Files from this repository are used in the following steps.
Install QEMU and other packages.
sudo apt-get install qemu uml-utilities virt-manager
See networking notes to setup guest networking.
Create a virtual HDD image where the OS X operating system will be installed. If you change the name of the disk image from
mac_hdd.img to something else, the boot scripts will need updating to point to the new image name. A base install of OS X needs 10 GiB of space. Adding Xcode or other large software obviously increases that requirement.
qemu-img create -f qcow2 mac_hdd.img 64G
Now you are ready to install OS X / macOS.
To install OS X, you can use the included
boot-macOS.sh script for a more solid alternate to the following
virsh method. Use either the
boot-macOS.sh method or the following
virsh / virt-manager method to install OS X / macOS.
virt-manager method is no longer recommended, and no support is provided for it.
macOS-libvirt.xml file and change file paths for
Install_OS_X_10.11_El_Capitan.iso (bootable ISO image) and
Create a VM by running the following command
Start the VM in virt-manager and hit return in the console window.
After booting, the initial language selection should show up.
After selecting the language, fire-up the Disk Utility …
… and initialize the new harddisk. If this step fails and the menu bar shows “Language Chooser” then see the Debugging section below.
After disk initialization, open a terminal window (in the Utilities menu) and recursively copy the /Extra folder to the newly initialized target volume using
cp -av /Extra "/Volumes/NewVolumeName"
When done, quit Terminal.
Now, you can continue with the installation as usual
When finished, the VM will reboot automatically and the first time setup continues as usual.
boot*.sh scripts have the installation ISO listed in them but this is only required for installation. Once installation is complete, comment out the
-drive lines referring to MacDVD and the installation ISO.
Inside the guest, you may modify the
/Extra/org.chameleon.Boot.plist file to change the default resolution of the virtual screen. See notes for instructions on how to do this and some limitations on the resolution choices.
Download a Chameleon wizard such as Chameleon Wizard or Champlist in order to generate a usable smbios.plist. This file goes into
/Extra and can be used to assign a reasonable serial number to your virtual Mac. Generating this file sometimes fixes software incompatibilities that occur when the software can’t determine what Apple hardware it is running on.
For better mouse behavior, install https://github.com/pmj/QemuUSBTablet-OSX and configure QEMU to use the “usb-tablet” absolute pointing device.
To get sound on your virtual Mac, see the “Virtual Sound Device” in notes.
For macOS Sierra change the CPU model from
boot-macOS.sh script already has this change.
While booting from the macOS Sierra ISO installer, you might get stuck on the “Language Chooser” menu bar (with no option to launch Disk Utility). The solution is to use Ctrl+F2 and arrow keys to navigate the “macOS Installer” menu bar, and to launch the “Disk Utility”.
An alternate solution is to type
Super is the Mac command/clover key next to the
Alt key). Type this sequence multiple times until a terminal window opens up. In the termianl window type:
This will generate a list of all attached disks. Look for the disk with a size similar to the
mac_hdd.img created in an earlier step. Once identified, note the disk number. Run a command to initialize the filesystem.
diskutil eraseDisk JHFS+ <name of disk> <disk#>
diskutil eraseDisk JHFS+ SYS disk2
Then select your language and click the forward arrow to move to the next step.
Host machine may need the following tweak for this to work,
echo 1 > /sys/module/kvm/parameters/ignore_msrs
Type the following in the bootloader if the guest VM fails to boot (some older ISO images may require this),
If you see “hdiutil: attach failed – Resource busy” error message during the ISO creation step, quit the “Install macOS Sierra” program and unmount (eject) the “Install macOS Sierra” device. Disk Utility can help for unmouting disk images.
$ hdiutil info $ hdiutil detach /dev/disk2 # or something similar
If the App Store doesn’t work, check the notes file for instructions on how to solve this.
If you are getting “Dont_Steal_MacOS” related errors, see
Building QEMU (recommended option) and
FakeSMC installation sections in notes file.
If the boot process is getting stuck on the Apple logo, upgrade your host kernel and QEMU. For example, Linux 3.16.x from Debian 8 is known to be problematic, whereas Linux 4.9.x with QEMU 2.8.x works fine on the same distribution.
Is This Legal?
The “secret” Apple OSK string is widely available on the Internet. It is also included in a public court document available here. I am not a lawyer but it seems that Apple’s attempt(s) to get the OSK string treated as a trade secret did not work out. Due to these reasons, the OSK string is freely included in this repository.
Gabriel Somlo also has some thoughts on the legal aspects involved in running macOS under QEMU/KVM.