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Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: Robert M
Date: April 21, 2022 02:22PM
Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]

Hi everyone,

In a previous post I inquired about transforming an existing machine running OS X Mojave into a virtual machine running Mojave. I tried with Virtual box with no success. I couldn’t even create a brand-new virtual machine running Mojave with it. This is because VirtualBox couldn’t find the Mojave installer on the recovery drive of the machine I was using for this project. Same thing happened on two other machines. Apparently, VMWare Fusion has a similar problem.

I couldn’t test Fusion personally because Fusion Player, the current version of it which is free for non-commercial use, requires Mac OS X Big Sur or later. I had no interest in throwing Big Sur onto any of my machines. Since VirtualBox was out, I looked at Parallels. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the current version of Parallels runs under Mojave _and_ it was easily able to find the Mojave installer on the recovery drive of my machines. That allowed me to use it to create a basic virtual Mojave machine as the first step in my virtualization project. No muss, no fuss.

In theory, none of these virtualization apps should have to find the OS installer on the recovery drive to install the OS on a virtual machine. Parallels, Fusion and VirtualBox should should be able to use any version of the installer to install the OS be it from the Applications folder of the current machine or a different folder on the machine. That they search for it on the Recovery Drive and balk if it is inaccessible is significant annoyance. Unlike VirtualBox and Fusion (based on articles I found), at least Parallels finds the installer on the recovery drive without any issues. That the current version of Parallels runs under Mojave is a bonus.

Parallels, for the record, doesn’t require a subscription. Although upon first jumping to the site, it appears you have to go the subscription route, that is actually not the case. You can still purchase the current version with a non-subscription license. It’s just not immediately apparent and it means if you want to move to a newer version of it, you have to buy it. Due to the above success, I bought a copies of Parallels, which runs under Mojave, in non-subscription form for my home and my office.

I installed Parallels to a spare work machine running Mojave and, within it, created a basic virtual Mac running the current version of Mojave. I even used iCloud Drive to transfer a couple of 32-bit applications and some data back and forth between the virtual machine and my various Macs. I ran the apps with ease. Since this was a success, I proceeded to stage two of my virtualization project. I created a virtual machine from of a scaled down version of one of my active machines.

In a previous version of VMWare Fusion, I’d been able to convert an existing Windows machine from a physical version to a virtual version. It was a matter of connecting the Windows laptop to my desktop Mac and using Fusion for virtualize the Windows box. VMWare includes a feature that imports the physical machine as if you were cloning it to an image file. It worked beautifully! Crazy as it sounds, I still have a virtual version of the “craptop” stored away. I was hoping to do the same with Parallels and the scaled down clone of an active machine. Unfortunately, Parallels doesn’t offer this feature for the Mac, only for Windows. Annoying.

I really needed a bit of handholding for the conversion stage of my project. Fortunately, I found some basic instructions that allowed me to complete it. Here is a link:

[forum.parallels.com]

Step one was to make a working clone of an active machine to an external SSD. My current active machines are full-scale work machines and use anywhere from 675GB to 750GB of a 1TB SSD. I didn’t want to take on that level of a job for the initial test of converting an active machine from physical to virtual. So, I booted off the clone and scaled it back to the general basics of what I planned to run virtually. That meant deleting all of the contents in iTunes, Photos, removing various unnecessary locally stored archives and deleting 64-bit apps I knew I didn’t need to run virtually. After a bit of effort, I was able to scale the machine down to 200gb or so, which I felt was manageable for this step..

I followed the instructions in the link to create the basic virtual machine running Mojave, just like I did previously. That was easy. After confirming the newly created virtual Mojave machine was fully operational, I prepped it for the next step: cloning the scaled machine from the physical drive to a virtual drive within the virtual machine. For this step, I created a second virtual hard drive within the virtual machine. I made it 256GB since that was more than enough space for the scaled down clone. Within the virtual machine, I downloaded and powered up Carbon Copy Cloner v5 and used it to clone the physical drive to the second virtual drive. Since the virtual machine was being stored on a microSD chip in a USB 3.0 card reader/writer, it took quite a bit of time. Successful but time consuming.

I hit my first snag trying to get the virtual machine to boot from the virtual clone. I tried the steps listed in the above article but couldn’t find how to change the boot order of the drives. Figured out after the fact but I’d found a workaround by that time which got the job done. Since that wasn’t working due to my oversight, I tried changing the startup disk in System Preferences. That didn’t work. I ended up powering down the virtual computer, removed the original boot drive in its settings and rebooted the machine. Once I did that, the virtual machine booted off the clone. I chose it as a Startup disk officially in System Preferences just to be on the safe side.

Once the virtual machine was running off the clone, I plugged in the login information for DropBox (and noticed some display issues which proved annoying but surmountable), let it sync and tried running a few apps. The key app was Quicken 2007, which worked flawlessly. Entered a transaction, quit the app, let Dropbox sync the file to the cloud and powered up Quicken on the actual machine. Voila! Everything was updated perfectly. (I had a backup of the file on hand as a precaution in the event of disaster).

I still need to run a few more tests but I can say tentatively this was a success. However, the clone I used for the test isn’t optimal. It still has several items on it that I’d like to remove and I’d like to scale it back further. For now, I’m going to copy the test machine to an archives drive for safekeeping and create a new one using an optimized version of the external. One benefit to this is that if I need to unexpectedly switch to a new Mac that has to run Catalina or newer, I know I can jump to the new machine, install Parallels, copy the virtualized machine to the new computer and be about my business relatively quickly. The test virtual machine will be replaced by the optimized virtual machine once I complete it.

I plan to draft more detailed instructions as I go through the process of virtualizing the optimized machine for the benefit of the forum. For now, the link while far from perfect, is the best instructions I’ve found for turning a physical Mac into a virtual Mac. I’m hoping my “revised” version of those instructions will prove a bit more detailed to prevent a couple of the unexpected burps that I came across when following the original.

Robert
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: p8712
Date: April 21, 2022 02:47PM
Think the VM would work on an older version of parallels?
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: Robert M
Date: April 21, 2022 02:59PM
p8712,

Not sure. What version of Parallels do you have in mind? Depending on the version, you could run into issues. Apparently, older versions of Parallels have issues with various versions of the Mac OS. Here is a thread that notes an example:

[forum.parallels.com]

One thing I'm glad I decided to do is to choose one virtualization app and standardize on it. Apparently, VMWare Fusion, Parallels and, I'm going to assume, VirtualBox, each has its own virtual machine format. It is problematic switching a virtual machine from one app to the other.

Robert
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: gadje
Date: April 21, 2022 03:02PM
Why do you do this, for 32 bit Apps? Which Apps in particular?

I went 64 bit only on my macOS and Linux machines. I highly recommend Docker. The only 32 device I use is a Raspberry Pi model B as Pi Hole and I also have a Raspberry Pi 4 that I plan to upgrade to 64 bit.
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: Robert M
Date: April 21, 2022 03:12PM
gadje,

I'm doing it to ensure I can continue running a handful of 32-bit apps, i.e Quicken 2007, Adobe CS v5.5 and a handful of others.

I can replicate the functionality of the Adobe apps with 64-bit alternatives from Affinity but it's going to take time to recreate the files. I need the option of running CS v5.5 until all the files I replicated.

There is no viable replacement for Quicken 2007. There will be if Quicken, Inc finally includes a Reconciliation Report in a current 64-bit version of Quicken. Same goes if one of Quicken's competitors includes said report.

Robert
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: Forrest
Date: April 21, 2022 05:25PM
How about continuing to use Mojave on your old Mac and buying a new M1 Mac to run the newer OS and apps?
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: Robert M
Date: April 21, 2022 05:35PM
Forrest,

That''ll work but I want a plan for when keeping the older machine around is no longer viable. A virtual machine does that nicely. I have a spare 1TB SSD. Very tempted to use it to make a virtual version of an entire working Mojave machine rather than a scaled down version of it. My gut is telling me that it'd be too much for Parallels to handle, though.

Robert



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/21/2022 05:43PM by Robert M.
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: rich in distress
Date: April 21, 2022 06:09PM
Kudos! That’s a great project.
Wouldn’t the size of the drive be of no relevance to the parallels app?
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: gadje
Date: April 21, 2022 06:12PM
check this out, docker running various versions of macOS

[hakin9.org]

[youtu.be]

[github.com]
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: btfc
Date: April 21, 2022 07:01PM
Thanks for this info, Robert!
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: rz
Date: April 22, 2022 06:32AM
Quote
Forrest
How about continuing to use Mojave on your old Mac and buying a new M1 Mac to run the newer OS and apps?

I’m going to do that when my Studio arrives, but Snow Leopard instead of Mojave. Have an old app that won’t run past 10.7. I have my son’s old mini which I’ll run it on.
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Re: Converting an existing OS X Mojave installation into a virtual machine in Parallels. Tentative success! [WARNING - IT'S A LONG POST]
Posted by: Robert M
Date: April 22, 2022 07:21AM
Rich,

This is the project in its entirety:

Stage 1

Find an virtualization system that runs well under Mojave and newer OSs and create a Mojave virtual machine.

- Complete. Parallels got the job done.

Stage 2

Create a virtual Mojave machine that can run a few 32-bit apps and sync the data to a non-virtual machine without issues.

- Complete. Used Parallels to create the above machine, copied Quicken 2007 to it, copied a data file to it via iCloud. Used iCloud Drive to share the file between the viortual machine and the physical machine.

Stage 3

- Complete. Create a virtual machine and use Carbon Copy Cloner via the instructions I found to virtualize a scaled down version of an active machine.

Stage 4

- Not complete. Create a virtual machine and use Carbon Copy Cloner via the instructions I found to virtualize an optimized version of a scaled down active machine. That means removing unnecessary data and apps like Scansnap, Screens, AnyDesk and several other items that don't need to be on the virtual machine.

Stage 5

- Not complete. Switch to Catalina or newer based OS on the existing machine for day to day work and use the virtual machine for the few tasks that require 32-bit apps.

Stage 6

- Not complete. Replace the existing Mojave capable Intel machine with a non-intel Mac. Use the new machine for day to day tasks and the virtual machine for the few tasks that require 32-bit apps.

Now that I've proven the concept, I am going to start to work on Stage 4.

Robert
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