Run Mac OS X Lion 10.7 in a Virtual Machine on Top of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
If you don’t want to deal with dual booting between Lion and Snow Leopard, another option is to run Mac OS X Lion in a virtual machine atop an older 10.6 Snow Leopard installation. This is not supposed to work with 10.6 without a quirky configuration, but it does, and it’s easy to do.
For the record, this also works in OS X Lion if you want to run a VM of Lion atop Lion for testing purposes or whatever, that is also perfectly acceptable in the EULA.
VirtualBox and Parallels may work also if you’re installing Lion on top of an existing OS X Lion base, but it doesn’t seem to work with Lion on 10.6.
Installing OS X Lion in a Virtual Machine Over Snow Leopard
Proceed to install VMWare as usual, and make sure you have the OS X Lion installer .app somewhere that’s easy to access. Everything else is just as straight forward:
- Launch VMWare and use the Virtual Machine assistant to create a new VM, configure it how you want
- At the “Installation Media” section, drag and drop the OS X Lion Install.app into the window, so that “Use operating system disc or image” is checked and the ‘Install Mac OS X Lion.app’ is the media
- Click on “Continue” and configure the VM, then boot it so the OS X Lion installer is loaded When Mac OS X Utilities is loaded, select “Reinstall Mac OS X” and click “Continue”, clicking through the familiar Lion installer
Don’t expect the virtual machine to perform at nearly the same level as a native installation, but it works if you’re in a pinch for quick testing. If you have a real need to run both Mac OS X 10.6 and 10.7 for app compatibility, you’d be best served using the dual boot method we mentioned before for performance reasons.
Enjoying the whole virtualization thing? We’ve covered a few more OS’s that you can run atop Mac OS X (or Windows and Linux for that matter), and they’re all free: