“Hey, Windows Guru, how do you run Mac OSX on a PC.
Hey, Matt. Whether you’re looking for a more secure operating system on PC hardware or simply trying to set up a test bed for your applications, there could be several different reasons why you might want to find a way to run the Mac OS X operating system on a PC. Although I am a “Windows Guru”, as it turns out, I have two different ways to accomplish this.
The main problem you will run into is that the Mac OS is not designed to run on standard PC hardware. It is designed to run on the PowerPC architecture. This is mostly due to the use of a Trusted Platform Module, or TPM, that is designed to prevent the operating system from running on standard PC hardware, but that’s for another article. We’re not interested in the whys; we’re interested in the hows. So let’s get down to business!
The long and short of this is that you need to make OS X think that it’s running on PowerPC architecture when it’s not. Do manage that, you’ll need to use an emulator. An emulator is a program that emulates the behavior of one hardware while using another. In our case, the emulator will act as a software bridge that makes x86 hardware appear to act like PowerPC hardware.
One such emulator is PearPC. After downloading and extracting the PearPC files, you’ll need to acquire hard disk images to use with PearPC. These can be created using any disk imaging program and then formatted. If you’re not familiar with the proper formatting or disk image creation, you can simply download pre-built blank images from the PearPC web site.
There are two different sizes to choose from: 3GB and 6GB. The size you use is dependent upon how much hard disk space you want to allocate to this project. If you plan on installing the full Mac OS X operating system, you should use the larger 6GB image. Once you’ve decided upon a size, you can download your image from the link above. The pre-built images are downloaded in compressed format so you’ll need to uncompress them before you can use them. Any zip client that supports BZ2 or GZip will suffice.
Next, you’ll need the Mac OS X installation CD. PearPC doesn’t support CD-Rom drives in Windows so you’ll need to create an ISO image of your CD using Nero, Fireburner, or some other CD Imaging program.
Now that you’ve gathered all of the necessary pieces together, you’re ready to start configuring PearPC to run Mac OS X. You’ll need to build a configuration file for PearPC that tells it, among other things, where to find the hard disk and CD images. You can follow the instructions on the PearPC web site to create the configuration file manually; or you can use the third-party application PowerPC Control Panel to manage your PearPC emulation. I recommend the latter.
The PowerPC Control Panel is a wizard-style program that creates a configuration file for you. Walk through the wizard step-by-step providing the necessary information such as disk locations, resolution settings, and the like. Be sure to use G3 CPU emulation and not G4. The other settings should be either fairly obvious or optional. Once you’ve completed the wizard, save the configuration file and note it’s location.
That’s that. You can now fire up PearPC with your Mac OS X configuration and begin the installation process. Be aware that many users experience problems installing the operating system. You may be asked several times to “reboot your machine”. In these cases, just close PearPC and try again. After a few attempts it should install and run properly.
Keep in mind that you are emulating hardware. This is significantly slower than actual hardware when it comes to installing software. It will most likely take you several hours to get up and running dependent upon your actual specific hardware configuration. Be patient, you’ll only need to do this once.
As an alternative to PearPC, you might want to consider OSx86. The OSx86 Project will allow you to install Mac OS X in a manner that allows your PC to boot into Mac OS X without having to run a host operating system such as Windows or Linux. They also have guides for running Mac OS X inside VMWare if you prefer to use an existing PC emulator.