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Oracle VirtualBox runs OS X guests in VMs, at odds with Apple EULA

Friday, May 21, 2010

By John Rizzo

Oracle's VirtualBox 3.2.0 is the first virtualization software to add support for running Mac OS X in a virtual machine--and the first to be at odds with Apple restrictions on the use of the OS. The new version of VirtualBox adds "experimental" support for running Mac OS X as a guest OS on Apple hardware, a use that could violate Apple's end user license agreement (EULA).

Apple's Mac OS X EULA permits only one copy of the operating system to be run on a Mac at one time--even with a 5-license Family Pack. The EULA for Mac OS X Server, however, has not had this restriction since Apple changed the Server EULA at the end of 2007.

Oracle's support of OS X guests goes beyond that of Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion, which support running Mac OS X Server in virtual machines, but don't support user version of Mac OS X. Parallels and VMware have cited the Mac OS X EULA as the reason for not supporting the user Mac OS X in a virtual machine.

There are hacks posted around the Internet that enable Mac OS X to be run in virtual machines in Parallels and VMware software, but Oracle is the first virtualization developer to officially sanction the ability.

Oracle stops short, however, of crossing the more serious line of supporting Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware. This is prohibited in the EULAs of both Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server. Although VirtualBox is available for Mac OS X, Windows, and a number of Linux and Unix implementations, it can only be installed in the Mac OS X version of VirtualBox, according to Oracle.

VirtualBox 3.2 adds a number of other improvements, including optimized support for the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors in some of the newer Macs. Oracle said that there are several under-the-hood enhancements that improve performance, including faster networking, a newer, faster I/O storage subsystem, and faster video performance.

Version 3.2 also adds support for multiple monitors, as well as the ability to access Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) storage via a built-in virtual SAS controller.

Oracle VirtualBox is free for personal use and is US $50 for business uses.

If you've tried VirtualBox 3.2 what you thinnk of it.

For a comparison of VirtualBox, Parallels Desktop, and VMware, see Running Windows on Intel-based Macs, a Survey of Available Solutions.

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