Test Driving macOS 10.13 High Sierra on VMware Fusion 8.5.7

Last week’s WWDC marked another annual iteration of our favourite operating system, macOS. This year, moving from Sierra to High Sierra, we see a number of great reasons to upgrade when it’s released in the fall:

  • Metal 2
  • HEVC H.265 Support
  • APFS
  • Siri updates
  • Safari Updates

Full release notes can be found over at the developer.apple.com release notes page, as well as links to download and the installation guide.

Test Drive!

Naturally we were inclined to check things out in VMware Fusion, and we were met with some mixed results. By and large the OS runs as a VM, but at this time things aren’t working exactly as we’d like.

Here are the two main issues you can currently expect with macOS 10.13 High Sierra as a VM:

  • Fail to install macOS 10.13 guest, got error “Unable to create the installation medium”
  • No APFS driver in UEFI renders the Guest OS unbootable when the Guest boot volume is using APFS.

Install Fresh vs. Upgrade?

What we’ve seen is that upgrading existing macOS VM’s is the easiest path to go. Always make sure to have a snapshot or a clone [clones are Fusion Pro only] of your VM so you have a known good roll-back point if things go awry. Upgrades are done in the guest just like they are on a physical machine, so Apple’s instructions apply and can be found right here.

For installing fresh, we had a fix for this last year which the community has updated with a new fix! (oh how I love our users!)

so go get the patch already... ;)
Without the patch, this is what happens

The process is the same as I outlined before, just replace the .tool with the new one from here. Original blog post: http://blogs.vmware.com/teamfusion/2016/06/fix-for-installing-macos-sierra-as-a-vm.html

Let the magic begin
Ah, there we go…


To APFS or not to APFS?

Isn’t that the question? Unfortunately Fusion’s current lack of support makes the decision for us. Rest assured we are very excited about and interested in leveraging the new capabilities found in Apple’s new File System, but for now it will give you an OS that you can not boot in a Virtual Machine.

As such, during the installation, be sure to NOT check the ‘Use APFS’ checkbox, otherwise you will render the VM unbootable.

uncheck the box
We currently need to uncheck this box to boot successfully

If it remains checked, here’s what things look like after the installation has completed:

no booty
Missing APFS UEFI driver

With the added message:

APFS = no booty
It looked, but alas could not find it.

Again, simply not choosing APFS during the installation gets around this limitation, but I wanted to make sure users were aware that we knew about it and how to still take High Sierra for a test drive. Rest assured we are very excited about and interested in leveraging the new capabilities found in Apple’s new File System!

On another note, what we’ve also noticed is that not everyone gets the full OS installation image downloaded when they grab the ‘Install macOS High Sierra.app‘ package from the App Store. Originally mine was only 5MB and it downloaded the OS during the installation itself, but after upgrading my Host MBP to 10.13 (with APFS) and tried to run the upgrade again, it clearly downloaded the update in a different (earlier) stage of the installation. I quit before actually installing a second time and then use that .app to install my VM with the ~5GB .app file that I now had.

So there we have it! In summary:

  • Fusion 8.5.7 runs on 10.13 Host with or without APFS
  • macOS 10.13 High Sierra runs as a Guest without AFPS after a small patch to one of our scripts to support the new OS image structure changes.

A bit of business, but please note that ‘support’ for this new os is still considered experimental, so it’s definitely not recommended in production environments, but it makes for some fun and exciting times on testing machines!

Let us know in the comments or the Communities how your experience has been!