As part of moving my ESXi environment from 5.5 to 6.0, I have a 2012 Mac Pro which I’m using to host my OS X test environment for work. As this server is already configured the way I want it, I wanted to do a straight upgrade and preserve my existing settings and datastores. Fortunately, the 2012 Mac Pro is listed on VMware’s hardware compatibility list as being supported hardware.
While ESXi 6.0 is not yet listed as a supported release, I had it on reasonably good authority that I could use the stock ESXi 6.0 installer to upgrade. All I needed to do was get a copy of the ESXi 6.0 installer ISO file from the VMware website and use Disk Utility to burn the ISO file to a CD. For more details, see below the jump.
Something I’ve been doing for a while is running ESXi on my home server setup. Up until now I’ve been running ESXi 5.5.x on a 2011 Mac Mini, but with the release of ESXi 6.0 by VMware, I decided it was time to upgrade to new hardware. I opted to use the 2012 Mac Mini Server over the 2014 Mac Mini because the 2012 Mini Server uses quad-core processors with hyper-threading. Hyper-threading effectively doubles the number of available processors, so I would be upgrading from four available processors on my 2011 Mini to eight available processors on my 2012; in turn doubling the number of virtual machines which I could host and run inside of ESXi.
Unlike my previous installation of ESXi 5.x on a 2011 Mac Mini Server, where I needed to add ethernet drivers to the stock ESXi 5.x installer, ESXi 6.0 will install and work without additional drivers or installer modification needed. All I needed to do was download a copy of the ESXi 6.0 installer ISO file from the VMware website, use Disk Utility to burn the ISO file to a CD and use that to install ESXi 6. For more details, see below the jump.
Being able to virtualize OS X with VMware Fusion has been a great tool for Mac admins, as it allows them to test out new workflows and configurations before committing them to actual Macs. To go along with the convenience, there can be a performance trade-off between VMs and physical Macs, but it’s usually been one where assigning adequate RAM and processors to the VMware Fusion VM usually resulted in decent performance in the VM.
This changed with Yosemite, where the graphics performance in a VM was sluggish and assigning more RAM and processors to a VM did not address the issue. Even ensuring that the VMware Tools were installed did not markedly improve performance. I also saw redraw issue involving windows that had been in the background and hidden behind other windows. These windows were not redrawing correctly when they were selected and brought to the foreground, resulting in parts of windows showing up as being transparent.
On investigation, the root cause of the issue was beam synchronization, which is a technique first introduced in 10.4.x to better handle screen redraw and allow OS X’s window management process to be more efficient. Beam synchronization works fine on Yosemite when running on actual machines, but it is apparently a significant issue when running in a VMware VM.
Fortunately, the answer to the problem is relatively simple – disable beam synchronization. Once that’s done, the performance of an OS X VM running 10.10.x improves dramatically. However, there were two hitches:
- The way to disable it was to use Apple’s Quartz Debug developer tool.
- You had to disable it on every login.
Enter BeamOff, an application designed to do one thing – disable beam synchronization. For more details, see below the jump.
When VMware released VMware Fusion 7 Professional in September 2014, among the new items included in the Features list was this one:
The ability to access virtual machines running on VMware vSphere, VMware ESXi, and VMware Workstation directly from VMware Fusion Pro including:
- Remote display, keyboard, and mouse control
- Ability to select media for CD, DVD, floppy devices, including files on your Mac
- Ability to power virtual machines on and off and configure the network they connect to
- Ability to move virtual machines from your Mac to a remote location by dragging and dropping
- Ability to move virtual machines from a remote location to your Mac by dragging and dropping
- See the state of your remote server with at-a-glance health summary based on Activity Monitor
What this new feature meant for Mac admins was that they now had a native Mac application which they could use when managing virtual machines (VMs) on VMware’s ESXi or vSphere services. The capabilities are not as full-featured as you may find in the Windows VMware vSphere client or the vSphere web client, but they are equivalent to the ESXi or vSphere management capabilities that VMware has been building into VMware Workstation for Windows. For more details, see below the jump.
I’ve updated the create_vmware_osx_install_dmg.sh script which I had previously posted about here. The script now includes support for Yosemite, so the script can now be run on 10.7 – 10.10 to create custom OS X 10.7.x, 10.8.x, 10.9.x and 10.10.x installers for VMware Fusion and VMware ESXi. See below the jump for the details.
“Bringing the Casper Suite to Life with Virtual Test Environments” session video from JNUC 2014 now available
For those interested, the JNUC session videos are available on JAMF Software’s site. For convenience, I’ve linked my session here.
Update: The session videos are also now available on YouTube, so I’ve linked the YouTube video as well.
A new feature that appeared in VMware Fusion 7 Pro was its new ESXi management. This included the ability to upload VMs from Fusion directly to an ESXi server. However, when I tried to upload OS X VMs something seemed to go wrong. The upload would work, but the OS X VM would then hang on boot.
Non-OS X VMs were uploading fine, so the problem was specific to OS X VMs. Since I could still build OS X VMs using the Windows vSphere client, I didn’t invest a lot of time into solving this issue. Fortunately, Calum Hunter was more motivated in this regard and found a solution.
There are a few things to know about if you want to upload an OS X VM to an ESXi server running 5.5, so I’ve put together a procedure for those who want to leverage Fusion 7 Pro to upload OS X VMs. See below the jump for the details.