Home > Mac administration, VMware > NetBoot support now available for OS X VMs in VMWare Fusion’s Technology Preview

NetBoot support now available for OS X VMs in VMWare Fusion’s Technology Preview

VMWare has released a new version of their VMWare Fusion Technology Preview. Among its new features is one that Mac admins have been wanting for a while: NetBoot support for OS X VMs.

The NetBoot support is still in the experimental stage, so it currently requires some setup in order to work. See below the jump for the process I’m using.

1. Set up a new 10.7 VM and select Install Mac OS X Lion.app as the boot source.

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 12.38.53 PM

2. When prompted, set it that you want to customize settings. That option is available when you hit the Finish window, there’s a Customize Settings button at the bottom of the window.

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 12.38.59 PM  

3. Open the VM’s Settings and select Network Adapter.

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 12.56.36 PM

4. In the Network Adapter settings, select Ethernet Sharing: Ethernet (If you’re connecting to your NetBoot server over a wireless network, select Ethernet Sharing: Wi-Fi instead.)

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 12.58.40 PM

5. Close out of Settings and boot the VM. It should boot to the Lion installer.

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 11.31.36 AM

6. Once you’re at the point where you can access the Apple menu, go into Startup Disk.

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 11.31.48 AM

7. Select your 10.7 NetBoot set and then shut down.

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 11.32.52 AM

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 11.33.12 AM

8. Go back into the VM’s Settings window and select Startup Disk.

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 11.37.23 AM

9. Select Network Adapter Ethernet in the Startup Disk settings

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 11.50.43 AM

10. Close the Settings window and boot the VM.

At that point, your VM should show the NetBoot spinning globe and boot to your NetBoot set.

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 6.32.50 AM

Your VM will boot off of the network adapter until the VM is set to boot off of the VM’s boot drive.

To set the boot drive as the startup disk:

1. Go back into the VM’s Settings window and go to Startup Disk.

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 11.37.23 AM

2. Select Hard Disk (SCSI)

Screen Shot 2012-06-21 at 11.37.34 AM

Categories: Mac administration, VMware
  1. Patrick Fergus
    June 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm


    Wouldn’t the NetBoot OS have to be Mac OS X Server? Or is this intended to be something for booting into a NetInstall- or DeployStudio-and-then-image scenario?

    – Patrick

    • June 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      This new feature was added so that the VM can NetBoot from a NetBoot set hosted by a server, like DeployStudio, NetInstall, etc.

      For example, I’m using it to test new machine build workflows, where I boot the VM to my DeployStudio server and then run my imaging workflow on the VM.

  2. max
    December 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Could I boot one VM off the other? VM1 running the server, and VM2 booting of it, both sitting on the same host?

  3. April 16, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I was not able to replicate the same boot option, I followed it exactly the way you did. I am running vmware fusion 5.0.3 any ideas? I see the netboot server within my own OSX startup disk. We are running Casper, does that matter?

  4. mitsunari
    July 14, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    try below


    > NetBooted Mac OS X guest might fail to reboot
    > A NetBooted Mac OS X guest can fail to boot from the network when the guest OS is restarted.
    > Workaround: A cold start of the virtual machine is required to reinitialize the virtual Ethernet adapter.

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