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Run one - or more - operating system along another operating system. E.g. MS Windows inside Mac OS X, Linux inside Mac OS X, Windows inside Mac OS X, and so on.

Last updated 2009-09-16 (Document History)

Introduction <TOC>

  Traditional1 Computer
- No virtualization
  More than one OS installed
but only run one at the time
(select which when booting computer)
  More than one OS installed
run multiple at the same time
(start second (third, ...) inside the host OS
Level 'components' Level 'components' Level 'components'
3. (Applications, Documents)
2. Operating System 2b. Operating Systems
(e.g. Mac OS X or MS Windows)
2c. Guest OS(s)
(e.g. MS Windows, some Linux)
2b. Virtualization technology
(e.g. Parallels or VMware Fusion; on Mac)
2a. Boot loader/manager technology
(e.g. Apple's Boot Camp)
2a. Host OS (e.g. Mac OS X,
or MS Windows, or some Linux)
1. Hardware
(some with special support: AMD-V, Intel VT-x)
1 First thought of calling it "Standard" [Computer] but as virtualization is becoming more and more popular and for instance Mac OS X include one technology (Boot Camp), what is "standard" changes. (So also "traditional" but still seems more suitable when writing this in Nov 2008.)

Host Operating System

Guest Operating System(s)

Getting Started Videos (from CNET) <TOC>

( From CNET's Insider Secrets podcast series (http://insidersecretspodcast.cnettv.com): "Get the inside scoop on how to get more from your technology. Extend that battery life, speed up that PC, go faster, higher, stronger! Our team of editors pass along the best tips and tricks and show you how to make them happen in clear easy steps. "... - Learn more on podcasts including how to subscribe in J&P Multimedia Labs' Podcasts section.)

Comparison of Some Mac Alternatives <TOC>

Product: Boot Camp Parallels VMware Fusion VirtualBox
Type: boot manager
(not virtualization)
hypervisor hypervisor hypervisor
Manufacturer: Apple Parallels VMware SUN
Cost: Free,
part of Mac OS X 10.5
Home page: apple.com/macosx/
parallels.com vmware.com/
Host OS(s):
  • Macintosh HW
    (Note: Boot Camp
    simply allows dual-
  • Mac OS X
  • Mac OS X (for Fusion; VMware also has lots of products for MS Windows etc).


  • Mac OS X
  • MS Windows
  • Linux
  • OpenSolaris
Guest OS(s):
  • MS Windows
    (Boot Camp only
    - as far as know -
    support two OSs:
    1) Mac
    2) Win
    (No *NIX, ...), on
    two different
  • MS Windows
  • Linux distros
  • "Supports 32- and 64-bit virtual machine operating systems such as Windows, Linux and Solaris — not included."
  • MS Windows
  • Linux distros
  • ... "Windows, Linux, and more than 60 other operating systems on the Mac"
  • MS Windows
  • SUN OpenSolaris
  • "supports a large number of guest operating systems including but not limited to Windows (NT 4.0, 2000, XP, Server 2003, Vista), DOS/Windows 3.x, Linux (2.4 and 2.6), Solaris and OpenSolaris, and OpenBSD."
(To the larger degree, Parallels, VMware Fusion, and VirtualBox all support all the most common client- and server- OSs)
Mac OS as Guest:
(more below)

Officially supports (in prod doc):

  • OS X Server 10.5.x Leopard
  • OS X Server 10.6.x Snow Leopard (experimental support)
  • (No support for OX X desktop variants)

Seems to support:

  • OS X Server 10.5.x Leopard
  • OS X Server 10.6.x Snow Leopard (experimental support)
  • (No support for OX X desktop variants)

Inofficial solutions seems to exist for running both desktop and server variants of Mac OS X in VirtualBox environment. (more below)

Version2: v3, per Mar 2010
(v2.1, rel. 2008-04-24)
v5, per Mar 2010
(v4.0, rel. Nov 2008)
v3, per Mar 2010
(v2.0.1, rel. 2008-11-14)
v3, per Mar 2010
(v2.0.6, rel. 2008-11-21)
Min requirements:
  • Mac Intel HW
  • Mac OS X 10.5
  • 10 GB free HD
  • Mac Intel HW
  • Mac OS X 10.5; 10.4.11 or later
  • 450 MB HD for appl.,
    req. 15 GB per guest OS3
  • Mac Intel HW
  • Mac OS X 10.5; 10.4.11 or later
  • 400 MB HD for appl.,
    req. at least 5 GB per guest OS3
  • Mac Intel HW
  • " all versions of Mac OS X supported"
  • 70 MB HD for appl.4
More (below): Boot Camp Parallels VMware Fusion VirtualBox
At Wikipedia: wikipedia Boot Camp wikipedia Parallels Desktop wikipedia VMware Fusion wikipedia Virtualbox
1 The list price for both Parallels and VMware Fusion has been around $80 for a long time but as usual - shop around! (E.g. when buying computer from MacMall they often has included virtualization sw for 'free' - after mail-in rebate i.e.)
2 updated 2010-03-05 with info on latest generation; previous info per 2008-11-26
3 Requirements as described per each manufacturer; for guest operating systems it more depend on the operating system and what modules are installed than the host os.
4 From installed application, no actual req specs found in doc (not looked that much though)



Products <TOC>


Boot Camp <up>

Boot Camp is not really a virtualization technology but a boot manager utility that allows a Macintosh computer to into an alternative operating system (MS Windows).


Microsoft VirtualPC <up>

Originally developed by Connectix and at that time existed for Mac PowerPC-based computers. Aquired by Microsoft.

Microsoft discontinued development (officially in Aug 2006) for Mac after the introduction of Intel-based Macs in Jan 2006.

I.e. no VirtualPC for Intel Macs exist.



Parallels <up>

One of the primary competing commercial alternatives aside VMware Fusion. Home page: parallels.com.

- Comparison of VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop (Wikipedia)

(Additions 2009-08-11):


VM conversion function



VM conversion function - stated 'Yes' for both Parallels and VMware in wikipedia's Comparison of VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop


(Found via google.com/search?q=VM+conversion+parallels)





VMware Fusion <up>

One of the primary competing commercial alternatives aside Parallels. Home page: vmware.com/
. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VMware_Fusion.

- Comparison of VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop (Wikipedia)


VirtualBox <up>



Sizes, Requirements, ...

(Added 2009-09-16)

Windows 95 4 MB 55 MB 1
Windows 98 16 MB 300 MB 1
Windows Me 32 MB 400 MB 1
Windows NT 3.51 8 MB 90 MB 1
Windows NT 4.0 12 MB 110 MB 1
Windows 2000 Pro 64 MB 650 MB 1
Windows XP 64 MB 1.5 GB 1
(Mac OS X 10.5 512 MB 9 GB 2 Desktop variant; virtual use not allowed by Apple)
Mac OS X 10.5 Server 512 MB/1 GB 9 GB 3)
Windows Vista 512 MB/1 GB 15 GB 1
Windows Server 2008 512 GB 10 GB 1
(Mac OS X 10.6 1 GB 5 GB 4 Desktop variant; virtual use not allowed by Apple)
Mac OS X 10.6 Server 2 GB 10 GB 5
Ubuntu 8.1 Linux 384 MB 8 GB 6
Xubuntu 8.1 Linux 256 MB 6 GB 6
Windows 7 1 GB/2 GB 16 GB 1
1 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Windows_versions
2 Requirements for Mac OS X v10.5ddd
3 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS_X_Server, accessed 2009-09-15
4 www.apple.com/macosx/specs.html, accessed 2009-09-15
5 www.apple.com/server/macosx/specs.html, accessed 2009-09-15
6 https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/SystemRequirements, accessed 2009-09-15




Virtual Hard Disks, File Formats <up>

This section is work-in-progress###

Format, Ext Origin What What, Primary Use By    
.dmg Apple Disk img

A disk image format; not VM per se.

.iso ### Disk img

A disk image format; not VM per se but used for (e.g.) CD/DVD optical disk images and sometimes can be mounted

and used as such.

.hdd Parallels ###

Parallels VM hard disk image


Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is an open standard for packaging and distributing virtual appliances or more generally software to be run in virtual machines.

.vdi SUN ### SUN VirtualBox    
.vhd Microsoft ###

virtual hard disk, MS Virtual PC

.vmdk VMware ### VMware    
.vmwarevm VMware ###

(Mac) VMware virtual machine

  xxx MB - xx GB


Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) <up>

Format used by MS VirtualPC (MS Windows - only)

Appliances <up>

search http://www.google.com/search?q=smallest+virtual+machine+with+internet+explorer+6


From www.petri.co.il/virtual_top_5_free_vmware_appliances.htm retrieved 2009-08-30:

What are the Top 5 Appliances I should download today?

  1. Openfiler - a powerful browser based Network Attached Storage appliance. It runs on top of CentOS Linux and supports iSCSI, SMB, NFS, FTP, and other file transfer protocols. You can download the Openfiler NAS appliance here. Openfiler is a free open-source application.
  2. Nagios - an excellent free open-source network monitoring application using the Groundwork open source network monitor, MySQL, and Suse Linux. You can find the virtual appliance for Nagios here.
  3. Cacti - a network performance graphing system. This virtual appliance also offers other applications like syslog and SNMP. You can download the free Cacti appliance at this link.
  4. Fedora Linux - why wait to download it and install it when you can download it "already installed" at this link?
  5. Exchange 2007, others - Microsoft offers a number of virtual machines that can be downloaded from the Internet. While these are designed to run on MS Virtual Server, once downloaded, these can be imported into VMware. For more information on this, checkout our article on how to Download Exchange 2007 Virtual Machines.

Guest Operation Systems Notes <TOC>

Mac OS as Guest <up>

First, Apple does in general not permit this. First exemption is the Server variant of OS X 10.5 (not Desktop).

Windows Virtual Appliances by Microsoft <up>

(Updated 2009-08-11, more in Document History):



  1. Download virtual applicance from Microsoft (exe-file). E.g. IE6-XPSP3.exe, 504.2 MB (2009-08-30, from Time-limited...). Expires Jan 1, 2010.
  2. (Opening exe-file in Mac environment doesn't seem to work (with Parallels installed) - Parallels starts but doesn't start executing file.)
    So, copying the exe into a temporary directory on Boot Camp partition ([C] Boot Camp, /private/tmp/75584/C from Mac OS X)
  3. C:\tmp

Windows 98 as Guest <up>



Document History <TOC>

2009-07-06 Last edit before adding this section
2009-08-11 Added short findings (links) at beginning of document. Added this section.
2009-08-30 Quite a few addions in multiple areas including multiple new headings.

Added Sizes, Requirements, ... (, plus various smaller adds/mods elsewhere


Updated and extended Comparison of Some Mac Alternatives table.

Continued adding to Virtual Hard Disks, File Formats.




This section uses Nov 08 CSS Frames.