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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: 19 Votes
36 months ago
Let's see if I can put a virtual machine within another virtual machine now.
Rating: 16 Votes
36 months ago
Haha kids! Rosetta support is mine once again!
Rating: 12 Votes
36 months ago
PPC forever! Glad to see that PPC apps can be run in Lion now.
Rating: 10 Votes
36 months ago
Now if only more people would use such licensing check methods...

Attempt to play an old iTunes song that still has FairPlay, for example, and rather than have to figure out which iTunes account it was downloaded with, just click the "Yep, I'm authorized to listen to this." button.

Oooh! This could be used instead of passwords, too!

Slide to Unlock your iPhone and instead of a keypad, it simply says "Please verify you're allowed to use this iPhone."

And for getting into and starting cars!

"Please verify you're allowed to drive me."

Ahhh, the possibilities are endless. I would like such a world, I think.
Rating: 9 Votes
36 months ago

My iMac came with Snow Leopard (10.6.6), but i got Lion from up-to-date program. I think i have the right to use current-1 OS since i legally have current OS. At least for personal use there shouldn't be any legal issues.

Why are people so obsessed with the EULA? Just do whatever you want, nobody will sue you. There is no legal issue either way, the only legal issue is within yourself.
Rating: 8 Votes
36 months ago

Forgive me for possibly being lazy, but what does this software cost?

Around $50. VirtualBox is free, and I am successfully running Snow Leopard virtual under Lion with VirtualBox.
Rating: 7 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.
Rating: 6 Votes
36 months ago

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

Rating: 6 Votes
36 months ago

This is big news. It will let more people upgrade to lion as well.

You could already do this. The problem is not the technical aspect, it's the licensing aspect.


Smart move if they want Mac OS X Server to be taken seriously in the future. I would say at least half of the servers I work with are virtualized. Also, when writing server side software, we almost always get a VM image that we use rather than fussing with setting up a local machine.

This is a very smart move IMO.

Smart move wha... ? This has changed nothing at all, especially not in the server arena.
Rating: 6 Votes

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