Bumped:

Only two people contributed to this Q/A, so maybe we could get some more opinions.

Background

Recently there seem to be a lot of questions on the topic of installing OS X as a virtualized instance using VirtualBox or other virtualization software. Like this (was a question about OS X server, so that's fine), or this, which came up just today.

Now, the OS X EULA says,

[...] you are granted a limited non-exclusive license to install, use and run one (1) copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-branded computer at a time. You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-branded computer, or to enable others to do so.

We have agreed that the following questions are definitely off-topic on SU:

  • How to install OS X on a PC (i.e. non-Apple hardware) – basically, Hackintosh
  • How to install OS X as a virtual machine running on a PC

We can also agree that the following is on-topic (because it's allowed):

  • How to install OS X Server as a virtual machine

A case that is not so clear

But there is one case where the people posting the question think they are in the right to do so:

  • How to install OS X as a virtual machine running on a Mac

They think that it is legal, as they are still running on Apple hardware. They quote an Oracle blog entry that basically says it is legal. Apple however has only specifically addressed virtualization in the OS X Server EULA.


What should we do?

Now, I am very open to discussion about this. I am no expert in legal issues, but I was under the impression this is still not allowed, as you are basically installing on virtualized hardware that is not made by Apple. OS X checks for Apple hardware during installation and therefore I believe some hacking is needed to get that running.

So, it all boils down to:

  • Should we allow questions about this?
  • Or should we close them?

What do you think? My understanding was that in the case of a legal grey area we should not encourage such questions.

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Please add that as an answer, seems to be the answer to the question. It's legal now, so it wasn't before. –  slhck Jul 3 '11 at 21:38
    
Lion is not yet commercially available AFAIK, and we still need to distinguish between lion and pre-lion then! –  Daniel Beck Jul 4 '11 at 17:57
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6 Answers

Wait, you're asking about a case which Apple doesn't even try to forbid in the license (unlike installing OSX on non-Apple hardware, which Apple forbids in its EULA but with a provision that's likely to be void in many jurisdictions). What are you concerned about? It's not illegal in Stack Exchange's jurisdiction, it's not against the license, and the subject is squarely with Super User's topic. So these questions are perfectly fine.

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If it were legal, VMware Fusion would support it, wouldn't you say? But they don't — they only support OS X Server guest systems for their Mac OS X product. This is about OS X in general, i.e. as VM guest on Mac hardware. –  Daniel Beck Jun 25 '11 at 14:24
    
Since all virtualization vendors now only offer support for OS X 10.7 and OS X Server, all other versions may not be virtualized. It is against the license. And we don't allow Hackintosh questions for the same reasons, so it's illegal in SU moderation terms. –  slhck Feb 22 '12 at 10:01
    
@slhck I haven't looked at Apple's license, but from Daniel's summary of it, virtualizing OSX on Apple hardware is not against the license. I don't see what support from other vendors (or even availability from Apple itself) has to do with Apple's licensing. And “illegal in SU moderation terms” is nonsense. You might decide that Hackintosh questions are not accepted on SU, that's stupid but your prerogative (you = the SU community); it doesn't make the questions “illegal”. –  Gilles Feb 22 '12 at 12:17
    
Not "illegal", but "off topic". Anyway, the thing with support from vendors is closely linked to it, since they are not allowed to support these guests. VMware once made a mistake when they shipped a version that did so, and they immediately released a "bugfix" that again would only allow OS X 10.7 as a guest. Regarding the license, it's specifically stated in 10.7, but not in the ones below. –  slhck Feb 22 '12 at 13:45
    
@slhck Then OSX in a VM should be allowed on SU at least for versions up to 10.6. I disagree even with forbidding questions about OSX 1.7 in a VM, it's not up to Stack Exchange to enforce or even care about Apple's license, but I've already given up on fighting against SU's silly topic restrictions, so I'll leave that to others. All hackintosh questions are welcome on Unix & Linux (I can't promise we have the resident expertise, but we don't discriminate on the basis of imaginary license restrictions). –  Gilles Feb 22 '12 at 14:04
    
> I disagree even with forbidding questions about OSX 1.7 in a VM – Why? No one forbids that. 10.7 may be virtualized on Apple hardware. It's exactly the other way round. I don't want to get into the whole Hackintosh thing, but there are no "imaginary license restrictions", they are there. And the fact that the moderation team has decided that they're off topic, well, can't change that, and if they follow this policy, they need to be consistent. –  slhck Feb 22 '12 at 14:08
    
@slhck Oh, sorry, I think I misparsed your statement, so invert <1.7 and ≥1.7 in mine. It wouldn't be a decision from the moderation team, it would be a community decision (or an SE policy, but there's no such SE policy). For example, on the Hackintosh issue, what matters is the number of votes on Diago's answer, and that's hardly a consensus in comparison with Arjan's (which should not have been deleted). –  Gilles Feb 22 '12 at 15:33
    
@slhc By the way, on this discussion, the conclusion is that virtualization questions are allowed (+16 in favor, +8 against is not quite consensus but is a clear dominant opinion). –  Gilles Feb 22 '12 at 15:36
    
The thing with the other question is that diamond mods refused to officially say anything about that decision, even though I asked about that at least three times. I'm fine if the community decides otherwise, but then we should re-think the entire issue. The only problem I have with your answer is that you are wrong about the license. The real question is whether it matters on SU. –  slhck Feb 22 '12 at 15:46
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Disallow.


Virtualization of OS X Server is such a big dealTM exactly because you are allowed to do it per the EULA. That's why VMware Fusion and its competitors support it.

If the situation for standard OS X were to change or would have changed in the last few years, the VM software vendors would support it immediately (and charge a sweet upgrade price for it). Since they don't, it's safe to assume Apple doesn't want us to virtualize non-Server OS X.


Ergo it's a similar situation to OS X on non-Apple hardware. Which for us means: Vote to close, flag, and downvote.


edited to add after +8 score: apparently, Mac OS X 10.7, the upcoming major release, will allow use as virtual machine client. Wile we should allow questions about that, I don't think this should lead to us tolerating the same questions about earlier versions (which will happen, e.g. For people doing compatibility testing)

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Personally, I'd love to allow it, since I'm interested in experimenting with it. I just don't think (although IANAL) it would be any different from OS X on non-Apple hardware, regarding the legal situation. Both violate the EULA. –  Daniel Beck Jun 25 '11 at 16:58
    
That was exactly what I was thinking as well. In fact I've seen an article with the a Parallels manager who said they wouldn't do it unless Apple came to them and specifically asked them to allow it (link). –  slhck Jun 25 '11 at 17:04
    
Now it seems we have a more-or-less complete answer. Let's see what Lion's EULA specifically says when it's out, but it seems like: 10.7, allow -- 10.6 and below, disallow. –  slhck Jul 4 '11 at 18:09
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So, I think we can agree that for non-Server versions:

  • OS X 10.6 and below: It is not allowed to ask about its virtualization, as this equals running "Hackintosh" modifications, which we have never allowed.

  • OS X 10.7: It is allowed to ask about its virtualization, but only within Mac OS X running on an Apple computer.

The pure reason being that Apple specifically allows it for 10.7:

(iii) to install, use and run up to two (2) additional copies or instances of the Apple Software within virtual operating system environments on each Mac Computer you own or control that is already running the Apple Software.

… and the fact that, for example, Parallels 7 finally specifically allows the virtualization of OS X 10.7, but not any other OS X version.

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Just for server or for consumer as well? –  Snow_Mac Jul 8 '11 at 20:53
    
No, this is for consumer only. –  slhck Jul 9 '11 at 4:12
    
I don't think this is a good idea. 10.6 server can legally be virtualised. –  Daniel Beck Nov 26 '11 at 15:47
    
@DanielBeck > … that for non-Server versions (unaccepted in the meantime, but maybe you know more?) –  slhck Nov 26 '11 at 17:31
    
Oops -- sorry about that, didn't see that introduction. –  Daniel Beck Nov 26 '11 at 17:36
    
I'm not sure we should even ban non-Apple-hardware questions, which would differ from policy on a very similar case decided on Meta SO. See my answer below. –  Mechanical snail Jul 28 '12 at 0:19
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Starting with Lion, Apple now explicitly allows exactly one virtual instance inside your existing physical OS X install, so I would think these questions need to be allowed now.

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Stack Exchange is not party to, and is not bound by, the presumed license agreement between Apple and the poster. The consensus opinion on Meta Stack Overflow is that SE should not enforce 3rd-party agreements because it is not obligated to do so, and in fact doing so might actually expose SE to liability.

That answer was marked as accepted and the question made an FAQ by the diamond moderator Won't with no objection by SE employees, suggesting it is the official or semi-official position. See also Jeff Atwood's answer here that we should give the benefit of the doubt to questions about things possibly illegal in some jurisdictions.

Absent a specific reason that the same argument doesn't apply here, we should not close questions about virtualizing OS X.

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This was about NDAs and DRM, thus a little different – in fact, some SE sites handle NDA differently, including Super User. DRM topics are usually fine, of course. However, if you virtualize OS X, you'll always have to get the software somewhere, without even having the proper license for it, which is akin to pirating. I'll be glad to give the community another chance to vote on this — also, since Gilles answer misses the fact that it is against Apple's license. –  slhck Jul 28 '12 at 7:08
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To me:

1) Disallow consumer & server questions about non-apple hardware

2) Allow Consumer & server questions on Apple hardware. (ex vmware support questions)

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