MacStadium Releases Free Orka Desktop macOS Virtualization Software

Mac cloud services provider MacStadium today unveiled Orka Desktop, a free virtualization tool that allows Mac users to create and manage macOS virtual machines locally via an easy-to-use admin panel.

orka desktop
Orka users can create or download custom macOS images locally for their own personal use, or to collaborate with team members using a familiar workflow, versioning, audit, and review controls. The tool has been designed for iOS/macOS Developers, DevOps Engineers, and IT Admins, as well as students, hobbyists, technologists, and others.

MacStadium claims it is the "ideal tool" for those who want to learn more about Mac virtualization and learn how an image can be built and tested locally, then uploaded to the cloud.

"Orka Desktop provides the tools to allow developers to create many different macOS image versions locally, commit those into a shared repository, and pass them around for collaboration. Developers can also scale further by pulling those resources into an Orka Cluster at MacStadium where you can orchestrate workloads with cloud resources," said Chris Chapman, MacStadium's chief technology officer."

MacStadium says Orka Desktop achieves near-native performance on Apple Silicon, with virtualization overhead as low as 5% in most cases. Orka Desktop also wraps and compresses macOS images with an Open Container Initiative (OCI)-compliant specification, which allows it to reduce a 90GB image by as much as 80%, shrinking it to nearly 15GB, making it much easier to move around.

There are two options for creating a new VM in Orka: Clean Install, where the image is created from an existing IPSW file, and Pull Image, where the image is pulled from an Image Repository. There is also an option to pull the latest IPSW directly from Apple's servers. More information can be found in Orka's documentation.

orka desktop macos
The new VM application requires macOS Ventura or macOS Sonoma running on an Apple silicon Mac with at least 8GB of RAM and more than 50GB of free disk space. Orka Desktop can be downloaded for free from the MacStadium website.

Tag: Orka

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Top Rated Comments

JosephAW Avatar
5 days ago at 08:47 am
Would rather have Intel emulation on Apple silicon at 5% utilization and near 100% speeds so I can keep a copy of Mojave operating for legacy software.
For now using an Intel Mac mini to run my old software. :rolleyes:
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sirdir Avatar
5 days ago at 09:03 am
I’d install that on my iPad in a heartbeat, if it would exist…
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jdb8167 Avatar
5 days ago at 08:13 am

Is this just a rewarmed UTM? My hunch is yes.
Nah. Apple made it incredibly easy to make a macOS VM host. A bare bones version takes about 100 lines of Swift code. Most of the work will be the UI for settings.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jdb8167 Avatar
5 days ago at 08:22 am

Surprised how many people don’t know about Virtual Buddy which is open source and totally amazing
Howard Oakley from eclecticlight.co has a free macOS VM as well. It's not open source though.

Viable ('https://eclecticlight.co/virtualisation-on-apple-silicon/')

He also has a similar download for running Linux in a VM.

Liviable ('https://eclecticlight.co/virtualisation-on-apple-silicon/')
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jmonster Avatar
5 days ago at 01:23 pm

This looks promising for DevOps. I’m looking forward to experimenting with it as another way of keeping a pristine base Mac config while experimenting/prototyping/developing.
You may prefer this https://tart.run/
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
goaliefight Avatar
5 days ago at 08:17 am
Surprised how many people don’t know about Virtual Buddy which is open source and totally amazing
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)