If you want to install Mac OS X in a VirtualBox on an Intel PC…

…maybe the following can help!

For about a week now I am owner of an iPad and it is actually pretty nice. Air Video Server allows me to watch all my stuff on my couch or bed and some of the games during Christmas sale are pretty nice, especially Dungeon Defenders and Angry Birds of course.

So, as I am a Developer I just want to develop and test some stuff on my iPad, to get into the iOS environment and broaden my horizon. Just out of curiosity. But the thing with nearly all Apple products in general is: They work fine… in their controlled AND closed environment!

If you want to develop for iOS you actually have to own an Intel Mac (i.e. Mac Mini, Macbook etc.). At least this is the only official way. There are some other possibilities such as with the Dragonfire SDK that builds a whole SDK for iOS development on Windows based on “normal” C/C++ or to use engines such as Unity and Shiva3D that deploy onto iOS (actually Flash CS5 also provides an iOS publishing profile). But this is not what I want, I just want to try some things and get into the normal iOS development with XCode and Objective-C.

So as I decided to not follow some of the other ways I needed to get hold of a Mac Machine. But I am not willing to pay at least 600€ for a Mac Mini just to “play around” with iOS. So I had to find a way to install Mac OS X Snow Leopard on my machine. As this is not supported by Apple and a little tricky I did not want to start installing it directly to my notebook but thought about trying it in a virtual machine. “Good thought” you might say… but tricky as I noticed!

I chose VirtualBox as the Virtual Environment to test an installation. I did some googling and actually found many MANY resources, tutorials and board messages explaining how to do it. I am pretty sure I read nearly all of them and experimented for about 3 days to get it running… day and night (got no sleep during that time as I wanted it to run). But all the time something went wrong.
That one didn’t boot! The other one wouldn’t get my network card right. Audio is still a big problem… and so on and so forth. But all of a sudden, as I was already giving up (really!!!) I found two excellent WebSites and Tutorials that got it working for me.

The one that started the effort again was flyNflip. It was the first very clear and simple tutorial how to get started. That was the first easy tutorial that got me to a “just working” installation. The only thing you need is to get hold of a Snow Leopard DVD. I got an update Version, it’s not too expensive.
But it wouldn’t boot! What did I do wrong? Going through the comments I found the second WebSite at Sysprobs. It showed nearly the same steps how to install MacOSX in a VirtualBox but went a little further. It explains the EFI problem. It gives examples and further tutorials for getting rid of issues and more.

So now I have a running MacOSX Snow Leopard running in my VirtualBox. It’s also up to date (10.6.5) and actually somehow smooth for a virtual machine. Currently I am installing XCode and the iOS SDK (as you can see on the picture) and I hope everything will work out. If so, maybe I will post some stuff about iPad development…

MacOSX running in a VirtualBox
MacOSX running in a VirtualBox

Nevertheless, I am still very curious about why Apple does try to prevent you to explore MacOSX on other Machines (actually I am pretty sure I know why ^^’). But at least for developers that want to develop iOS Apps on a Windows or Linux Machine they should give out a possibility to do so. I would never buy a Mac Machine just to do so but I am very curious to try it and maybe develop the next #1 App ^^. They nearly lost me during the process and what I did is actually neither supported nor endorsed by Apple. I hope I won’t get into trouble but as I am owning an iPad and want to give something back I hope not.

So, I will get back to my MacOSX installation (XCode and iOS SDK installation is nearly finished) and hope I provided two good resources for others that think like me.

*UPDATE* XCode and iOS SDK installed. Works fine! But I have trouble if I want to set a widescreen display resolution. 4:3 works fine (e.g. 1280×1024), widescreen has some problems (e.g. 1440×900). It still boots but the redrawing of the window is somehow messed up.

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