I'm currently dual-booting OSX and Ubuntu on my Macbook Air, but it'd be nice to run OSX within Ubuntu via VirtualBox. This seems possible using VirtualBox and is legal - there's even a post on an Oracle blog describing this: http://blogs.oracle.com/karim/entry/installing_mac_os_x_in. Actually, I've read elsewhere that it's only legal with OSX Server, but can't find a reason why it'd be illegal with normal OSX - please let me know if you think otherwise.

The problem I have is that a MacBook Air doesn't come with a bootable DVD, but with a "Reinstall Drive" which is a USB stick that comes up as a CDROM drive. It doesn't seem to be ISO9660-formatted though but has an Apple partition table, with OSX installed on an HFS partition. refit says that it has a "boot.efi" as well. I don't know Apple booting/partitioning very well and would really appreciate some advice on how to convert this USB into an ISO or boot it in VirtualBox some other way.

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    "but can't find a reason why it'd be illegal with normal OSX" - because the EULA doesn't allow you to. Jun 25, 2011 at 7:57
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    While I believe you are asking a question in good faith, note that you are still trying to get around restrictions that are probably there for a purpose. Whether all that is perfectly legal or not, that's not a matter of discussion here. Related: Mac OS X as guest on VirtualBox with Ubuntu Host? and How to install Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in VMWare? (only to mention a few)
    – slhck
    Jun 25, 2011 at 8:17
  • The difference between my question and those two is that I am planning to run OSX on an "Apple-branded computer" as required by the EULA, which has no mention of virtualisation. Which part of the EULA do you think this would violate?
    – eug
    Jun 25, 2011 at 8:51
  • BTW, the EULA is at images.apple.com/legal/sla/docs/macosx106.pdf
    – eug
    Jun 25, 2011 at 8:57
  • Well one reason simply being that you are only allowed to have one copy of OS X. The virtualization ("running on Apple hardware") probably is not the biggest legal issue here -- consider that by running it in a virtualized hardware environment, you are bypassing OS X system checks that would normally check for Apple hardware underneath. But I'm no lawyer, so I can't give you a definitive answer.
    – slhck
    Jun 25, 2011 at 9:03

1 Answer 1


I got it working by booting from my physical partition. Doesn't exactly answer my original question but it works.

The are two ways of doing it:

  1. Converting the physical partition into a vdi (VBoxManage convertfromraw ...)
  2. Accessing the raw partition directly. I also made it immutable so that VirtualBox puts writes into a separate file - makes me feel safer since raw access is supposed to be quite dangerous (i.e. it's easy to damage the OSX install).

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