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macOS Sierra and VMware Fusion 8

Hot off the heels of WWDC, Apple has made available the next major update to it’s flagship operating system for Mac. With a new name, macOS, Apple seems to be getting away from the OS X moniker and aligning with the rest of the OS’s that it has in it’s bag: tvOS, iOS, watchOS, and now macOS.

Users have been excited to run this in a VM to test, but it doesn’t “just work” in Fusion yet unfortunately. The reason is that Developer Preview builds have debugging code included which changes the memory layout of the installer. We specifically require a certain block layout of the .app to create the bootable install image, but because the layout is different due to debugging code, it fails with an ‘Internal Error’.

There are 2 ways to get around this:

  1. Install 10.11 and upgrade it to 10.12
  2. Manually create the bootable install image and attach it to an empty 10.11 VM.

The first one is pretty easy, and you can make an OS X 10.11 VM using the recovery partition with just a couple of clicks from File > New.

Once it’s up and you’ve installed VMware Tools, you can drag the ‘Install 10.12 Developer Preview.app’ onto the desktop of your 10.11 VM, double-click it and begin the install.

For folks that don’t have the time or who want to walk through a fresh installation there is a multi-step method that I’ve written about here that will show you the way and explain what’s happening along the trip.


For folks who want to run Sierra on the Mac itself and use Fusion, there is a bit of a bug that we’re working on, but there’s an easy workaround.

Currently if you try to run a VM it will fail/crash with an ‘Internal Error’.

The simple work around for now is to disable 3D graphics acceleration (per-VM setting). 

It’s possible that this ‘goes away’ when Apple moves to the public beta branch (it has different debugging code enabled than the developer previews), but we’ll be keeping a close eye on things as they develop and share what we learn.

Overall, I’ve found that macOS Sierra as a Host and as a Guest work pretty well. Siri tends to work better on the Host in my experience, so we’ll be examining how to make it a smooth experience in a VM as well. For now, my advice is to speak slowly to her when she’s ‘trapped’ in a VM 😉

(talking about AI with ‘he’ and ‘she’ is weird… welcome to the future!)

18 thoughts on “macOS Sierra and VMware Fusion 8

  1. Pingback: Michael Tsai - Blog - WWDC 2016 Links

  2. Todd

    Thank you for this blog, I was wondering if there was a workaround for the internal error VM crash issue, but was too busy to look until now.

    I will be trying this later, and hope for my sake that it works.

  3. Jose Gomes

    Thank you for this, very helpful.

    Just a quick point: it also works pretty well on Fusion 7.x, except that VMware tools won’t install…

  4. Eurico Costa

    I’ve upgraded a Mac OS X 10.11 MBP to macOS Sierra, and since then, none of my VMs can get network enabled, meaning, while before I was able to access the internet from my VM, after the upgrade, I’m no longer able to do so, and I have tried all possible permutations of the network setting in the VM. I have this problem with a linux fedora 20 VM, and with a windows 7 desktop VM as well.

    As anyone seen this bug in your testing of macOS Sierra with VMware Fusion 8?


  5. Kanwaljit Virdi

    The following comment was really really helpful.

    “Currently if you try to run a VM it will fail/crash with an ‘Internal Error’.

    The simple work around for now is to disable 3D graphics acceleration (per-VM setting).”

    1. Michael Gill

      OK. Thanks for the tip.

      However –

      “3D acceleration cannot be changed until the virtual machine is shut down. To change 3D acceleration, first resume the virtual machine and then shut it down.” !!

      1. Dustin

        Select the Virtual Machine, hold down Option and go to the Virtual Machine menu and select Power Off. This’ll let you force it to shutdown and you can change the option.

  6. asg252

    i got the ‘internal error’ message as well. unchecking / disabling 3D graphics acceleration did the trick. it loaded windows for me! THANK YOU

  7. Jona

    To Get my Virtual Machines to Run on VMWare Fusion (8.1.1) on a MacOS 10.12 host (macOS 10.12 Beta (16A238m)) I had to do the following:

    1) Remove the saved state from the machine (like hard rebooting a machine, so any in progress work will be lost)
    1.1) Go to the file for your Virtual Machine using the Finder
    1.2) Right-Click on the file and select “Show Package Contents”
    1.3) Delete any files with the following file extensions: *.VMSS &. *.LCK
    1.4) Open the .VMX file in a plain text editor (I used Visual Studio Code for Mac, TextWrangler, BBEdit, vim, nano, etc… would also work)
    1.5) find the line with checkpoint.vmState = “SomeFileName”. and change it to be just: checkpoint.vmState = “”
    1.66) Save the file and close it from your text editor

    2) Clearing the Graphics conflict
    2.1) Go back to VMWare Fusion, and open the settings for your Virtual Machine.
    2.2) In the Display settings remove the option for accelerated 3D Graphics

    3) Start up your Virtual Machine.

    The VM runs slower, but at least you can get in and do stuff.

  8. ZapNZs

    Running Fusion 8.1.1 on a host with a physical OS of OS X 10.11.6, I copied a guest version of 10.11.6, booted it, and through this guest I enrolled in Developer, downloaded the upgrade tool, and ran it directly inside of the VM. Install took about 30 minutes and was without issue…even with graphics acceleration enabled. I’m guessing Beta 3 fixed something to stop the error caused by hardware accel. I must say that for a beta which is still months away from a stable release, it’s quite refined. With that said I’m not all that surprised given how El Capitan fixed the hoard of issues with Yosemite, so they had a solid foundation to build upon.

  9. Prokash Sinha

    Can someone point me to the right website link or forum for – kernel debugging using Fusion VM on OSX ? Up until 10.10 this works with Fusion 8, but for later version(s) of osx it does not work.

  10. Pingback: macOS Sierra in the wild - TFindley Technical

  11. Howard Brazee

    I downloaded and installed the “Create Mavericks Installer.tool”. If I drag it to th VM icon, I am told ‘Unknown file type “tool”‘. I did the two sudo commands. I tried starting the VM while pressing option.

    I still get an uncaught exception. I still can’t select [Show Details], [Crash], or [Continue]. I stil can switch over to the 2nd virtual screen and see black. I still have to force quit the process to get out. I can’t even select the apple to kill it unless I move to my 2nd monitor.

    The only thing I use VMware anymore is to run an application that needs Windows XP (it won’t run under newer Windows). I installed MacOS Sierra yesterday.

  12. Roc

    I encountered very tricky problem. I had suspended my windows vm before I upgraded my OS X EI Capitan this morning. After I got home in afternoon, I found it’s already done, but couldn’t resume my virtual machine then. I tried to turn of the 3D accelerator as the instruction teaches, it required me to shutdown virtual machine first. But to shutdown it, I have to resume it first. So I got into the endless loop and have no ideas how to fix it.

    Any suggestions? Thanks.

  13. Jim Kirby

    Yep, does not work. I’m on Sierra 10.12.1 and I get the “internal error” on all of my VMs (Win7, WinXP, MacOS 10.9) which were all working under El Capitan and Fusion 6.0. Upgraded to Sierra, upgraded to fusion 8.5 and everything stopped working. Disabled 3D acceleration on all VMs; disabled USB support; tried every other trick in all the forum threads Nothing Works. I rely on these VMs regularly for work and have now been offline for more than two weeks. I’m not happy, my boss is not happy and this situation is totally unacceptable. I’ll take any and all advice available since none that I’ve found so far actually works. Guess I’ll have to try VirtualBox in the meantime, perhaps permanently.

  14. Jim Kirby

    SOLVED! I completely removed all Fusion related files and directories from everywhere (App, caches, prefs, app support, etc both home dir and global) following instructions I found online. I then installed Fusion 8.5.1 from scratch and after one crash upon logging in to my Win7 VM everything has been working normally. Hope this helps.

  15. Gabriele

    Jim, i have the same problem but with fusion 7, i try to clean file froma everywhere, reinstal a clean copy of vmware, reinstal a clean copy of OSX (with HD format) but nothing solved internal error …. i disabled all from VM (net, 3D, usb, floppy…all…) but nothing.

    Someone can help me?

  16. Philippe

    I have the same issue with the latest version of Fusion 8 (as of Nov 14), latest version of El Capitan (as of Nov 14).
    It first started in June when I decided to upgrade from Fusion 7 with Yosemite to Fusion 8 with El Capitan (I had a 2 Tb SSD drive installed on my iMac).
    My iMac was getting just crazy randomly i.e. crashes, color screens, getting hot, network issues, etc.
    I then opened a case with Fusion support.
    Very nice people who made different testings on the iMac.
    They noticed the Cache memory was higher than standard figures and advised to ask Apple about this.
    I then went to the Apple Store.
    Very nice people too who tested all the components of my iMac (logic board, video board, fans, etc.) and came to the conclusion the iMac was perfectly fine.
    We then decided to format my 2Tb SSD drive and do a clean install.
    Nevertheless, the iMac was still having the same weird behavior i.e. crashing, etc..
    We therefore decided to change my 2Tb SSD drive with my 1Tb SSD drive and do a clean install.
    The iMac was working fine just as it used to be.
    When I saw it was behaving fine I then decided to install the latest version of Fusion 8 with Windows 7 Professional.
    A couple of minutes after, the iMac just displayed color screens and crashed.
    It was impossible to start it again since it would crash repeatedly…
    I then decided to re-open the case with Fusion support on Thursday night (Nov 10).
    They asked me to send a log file (which I did) and told me they would get back to me with an action plan to implement.
    I hope they will get back to me today so I can use my iMac again.
    I am afraid that Fusion 8 just leave a sort of “mark” / “damage” on the SSD drive each time that happens since the iMac was still crashing after a format and clean install of my 2Tb SSD drive. The thing is, I have repeated the same scenario with my 1Tb SSD drive on which my iMac was working fine some days ago…
    I look forward to talking to the Fusion support people again and to see which plan of action they want to implement.
    Any news on your side, guys?

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