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VMWare Fusion Now Allows Virtualization of Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard [Updated]

With the release of OS X Lion, Apple updated their licensing agreement to allow the virtualization of Mac OS X under programs such as VMWare Fusion and Parallels. This functionality allows you to deploy different sandboxed installations of OS X on a single machine. The change, however, appeared to only apply to OS X Lion and not to previous non-server versions of Mac OS X such as Leopard and Snow Leopard.

So, when the Lion optimized version of VMWare Fusion was released, it allowed users to run additional virtualized copies of OS X Lion, but continued to prohibit running older versions of Mac OS X under Lion.

Those rules seem to have changed a bit in the latest version of VMWare 4.1 which was released on Friday. As first noted by Macworld, VMWare's Fusion no longer strictly prohibits the virtualization of client editions of Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard.
But one big change with this update isn’t documented anywhere: The software has been modified so that it will run the non-server versions of Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) and Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5). Previously, VMware Fusion supported virtual Macs running Lion, Lion Server, Snow Leopard Server, and Leopard Server.
The change in support, however, is a bit subtle. Instead of prohibiting the use of non-server Snow Leopard and Leopard, VMWare prompts the user to verify that they are licensed to run such copies:


Macworld's Jason Snell confirmed that simply agreeing allowed him to to install and run non-server Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Leopard under Lion. Now, whether end users actually have such a license is less certain. When questioned by Macworld, Apple simply reiterated that virtualization is allowed for Mac OS X Lion, Snow Leopard Server and Leopard Server.

The main advantage for end users of such a configuration is the ability to run older PowerPC-based applications on demand. Apple removed Rosetta PowerPC emulation support in Mac OS X Lion, stranding some users who depend on legacy PowerPC applications. By running Snow Leopard in a virtual machine under OS X Lion, those users could continue to run their PowerPC applications on occasion while otherwise using OS X Lion.

Update: VMware has noted that the Snow Leopard and Leopard client virtualization was made possible by an omission of a server edition check from the new Fusion 4.1 software. WMware will be releasing an update to address the issue.

Top Rated Comments

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36 months ago

Let's see if I can put a virtual machine within another virtual machine now.




You probably could, but the performance would be awful ;)
Rating: 17 Votes
36 months ago
Let's see if I can put a virtual machine within another virtual machine now.
Rating: 15 Votes
36 months ago
Haha kids! Rosetta support is mine once again!
Rating: 10 Votes
36 months ago

Let's see if I can put a virtual machine within another virtual machine now.


Mac-ception.
Rating: 6 Votes
36 months ago
So does this mean I can finally upgrade to Lion and just run my Adobe Creative Suite apps in Snow Leopard virtualized?

Incompatibility with Adobe apps is the only thing keeping me from upgrading to Lion right now.
Rating: 4 Votes
36 months ago

So does this mean I can finally upgrade to Lion and just run my Adobe Creative Suite apps in Snow Leopard virtualized?

Incompatibility with Adobe apps is the only thing keeping me from upgrading to Lion right now.


What incompatibility? CS5 is running just fine for me in Lion.

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This is definitely a concern. Apples shortsighted ultimate greed may quash this excellent new development. Yet again with Cook at the helm perhaps cooler heads with less fear will prevail. Jobs was terribly insecure, Cook as I understand it is not. Also as one who understands the benefits better, he may leave it stand as it is.

I'm forced to take a wait and see approach based on Apples very unpredictable moves in this early phase of Cooks rein. It's hard to tell what's coming directly from Cook, vs what remnants of Jobs "plans" he's still forced to carry out.

Time will tell.


Man, I sure wish there was a "super" vote down button so that I could vote this down to -1000 in one go. This is one of the inane comments I read in a long time.
Rating: 4 Votes
36 months ago

I wonder how hard Apple will sue them for this. Sadly.


I find it more likely that they were actually consulted about this and have at least unofficially lifted the restriction on virtualizing L.&SL.
Rating: 3 Votes
36 months ago

Let's see if Apple turns a blind eye to this or asks VMWare to remove it. If they do the former, it could help spur adoption of Lion since people who need Quicken 2007 or another PowerPC application could still go ahead and purchase Lion or a new Mac.


It wouldn't surprise me at all if Apple told VMWare they could go ahead and do this.

This is only good for Apple. It gives rosetta users an upgrade path; they can buy a new machine that only runs Lion, and still run their old apps.
Rating: 3 Votes
36 months ago
Now only if you could virtualize OS X in Windows :cool:
Rating: 3 Votes
36 months ago
Steve probably wouldn't have allowed this. He'd get mad and cry.
Rating: 3 Votes

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