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Help on Virtual machines VMs on a Thinkpad

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jrmwalsh
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Help on Virtual machines VMs on a Thinkpad

#1 Post by jrmwalsh » Sat Feb 20, 2021 3:18 pm

Hi,
I need some help getting started with virtual machines and I am hoping someone can point me in the right direction.
I am familiar with installing operating systems (for 30 years), and setting up computers as dual-boot machines (20 years), either Windows/Linux or MacOS/Linux.
I use PC type machines but my wife is more familiar with Macs. I provide the help she needs to keep her 2009 MacBook running.
As time passes her MacBook is getting older and it cannot run Apple's latest OS releases. It will need to be replaced soon, so I am wondering whether, instead of buying a new Macbook (at great expense), it would be feasible or practical for me to buy something like a second-hand Lenovo Thinkpad (maybe a P50 or similar) and set it up so that it runs MacOS as a virtual machine on the Thinkpad hardware.
But I don't know the first thing about setting up a computer so that it can run VMs (virtual machines).
Do I set up some VM software as the primary OS and then install other OSs for the VMs that I want to run?
Or do I set it up to run an OS such as Fedora Linux as the primary OS, then install the VM software as a second step. And I understand that Fedora Linux, and some other distributions of Linux already include virtual machine software. Is that right?
And then how does one install another OS, such as Windows for a Thinkpad which comes on Recovery Disks which partition and format the HDD? Will doing that process wipe out the Linux installation and the vm software. How does it all work?
Does anybody know of any tutorials or lessons online for people like me who know how to do the basics of formatting and partitioning HDDs and installing Operating Systems but for whom VMs are bit of a mystery?
How do I get started? Is there a VMs for Dummies lesson or something like that?
Thanks for any hints.
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Re: Help on Virtual machines VMs on a Thinkpad

#2 Post by RealBlackStuff » Sun Feb 21, 2021 12:28 am

Probably going against the grain of everyone on this Forum, but:
apparently the 2015 Macbook Pro (13" or 15") is still your best (affordable) bet if you want to stay with Mac.
After that, they're spiraling downward with abominable keyboards and other unmentionables.

VM Dummies can be helped here.

Methinks that any Thinkpad that can have 16GB or more RAM would be a candidate for VM.
Many have been Hackintoshed, for more info, read our OS-X forum.
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jrmwalsh
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Re: Help on Virtual machines VMs on a Thinkpad

#3 Post by jrmwalsh » Sun Feb 21, 2021 5:25 am

RBS,
Thank you for your suggestions. My wife has a love/hate relationship with her Mac.
For me it's just a hate relationship.
I have been forced into learning more about Macs than I ever wanted to know and I didn't enjoy the process. I have reached the stage where I can run any Mac apps, delve into the dpthe of their Library systems, install Mac OSs and back things up and restore them. I can even do a little CLI stuff to improve the way they behave, but I have no love for the Macintosh world.
She needs some of the Mac apps and that is the only reason that I would be wanting to run OSX.
I have dismantled Macs and put them back together again and I can see the quality of the Macintosh build, but their quality is aimed at stopping anybody messing about with it.
OSX is based on BSD Unix (as far as I can tell) and even though Apple has the opportunity to be more Linux-friendly they refuse to do it. The file structure is very similar to Linux, and the OSX CLI even runs the same commands as Linux, (commands like ls, cp, pwd, etc all work on a Mac in the same way they do in Linux) but then Apple won't use standard file system config files like fstab which would make the Mac much easier to configure!!! And they have the opportunity to swap to a more friendly File System like ext(x) or even BTRFS bur they will only stick to HFS+ which nobody else uses. Apple are a bunch of ornery unhelpful baskets!

I have read about Hackintoshes but I don't think that is the route I want to take.
So, my aim is still to find out if it is feasible to run OSX as a virtual machine on a Thinkpad with 16G RAM (or something like that) with Linux as the main OS and MacOS in a virtual machine. I currently use a Thinkpad W520 (with a T410 as a spare) but I would buy something with a little more "grunt" for this project; maybe a P50 or something like that. I am passionate about Thinkpads. I won't buy anything else for myself.

Thanks again, and we'll see what other suggestions the other members can give me.
(I have posted this same question on the Lenovo forums and the Fedora Forums)

Regards

Michael
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Re: Help on Virtual machines VMs on a Thinkpad

#4 Post by RealBlackStuff » Sun Feb 21, 2021 6:13 am

Still NOT a great day for a Guinness! (the Real Black Stuff).
Ireland is on FULL lockdown until Easter 2021!
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Re: Help on Virtual machines VMs on a Thinkpad

#5 Post by TRS-80 » Sun Feb 21, 2021 8:58 pm

Yes indeed, it is just BSD under the hood. Which makes it only all the more obnoxious, IMO. But that is one of main reasons I am more of a "Free Software" than an "Open Source" guy, as that sort of stuff simply doesn't fly with the former.

I don't think the advice RBS gave is crazy at all, if you really cannot talk the wife into using something else. But ultimately, you will be fighting an uphill / losing battle, IMO. Sooner or later, I am afraid it's going to become unbearable.

I am not sure how bad of a case of the iMania that your Missus has, but perhaps begin planting seeds of moving to another platform. The campaign may take years, but it will be worth it in the end, IMO. :thumbs-UP: :D
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Re: Help on Virtual machines VMs on a Thinkpad

#6 Post by jdk » Fri Feb 26, 2021 8:43 pm

You can continue to run the latest macOS on an older, unsupported MacBook by using the DosDude1 patcher.

If you want to get a more modern MacBook, the 2015 15" MacBook Pro is the pinnacle of Apple's laptops. You can still upgrade the SSD and the keyboard is still solid, and it has a better screen than any ThinkPad. It also runs any OS you want throw on it. Mine runs Debian and another runs OpenBSD. You can find these laptops in great condition for about $800. I just bought my fourth one because I like them, and I put in another 2TB solid state drive (my third) from OWC.

If you go this route, know that Apple just had a recall at the end of 2019 where they replaced the battery and topcase (keyboard, aluminum casing, etc) on the 2015 MacBook Pro for free. So you can get one cheaply, with a newer battery, that looks and feels new. The one I just bought has less than 50 charge cycles on it.

I echo your sentiments about macOS. As recently as 2015, it supported fstab entries and was no big deal accessing my server over nfs, but that went away for some reason. In the mid 2000's, macOS represented everything a professional UNIX should be. Standard hardware, up to date GNU userland, great graphics, commercial support if you wanted it. Then they realized they could make more money from less effort with the iPhone type devices, so they focused there and macOS became a second class citizen. Jordan Hubbard from FreeBSD left Apple back in 2013 and macOS has been on life support since then. Apple could easily rectify this by updating to an OpenBSD userland and adding a ports style system, but they won't because they don't care.

But your wife, like mine, probably doesn't care about that stuff and just wants her MacBook to work smoothly with macOS, so I would get a 2015 Pro and use that for the next half-decade.
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Re: Help on Virtual machines VMs on a Thinkpad

#7 Post by jdk » Fri Feb 26, 2021 8:45 pm

Also note: it is possible to virtualize macOS in VirtualBox, but it against Apple's EULA to run it on non-Apple hardware. Things like iMessage and possibly Facetime won't work if you go that route.
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Re: Help on Virtual machines VMs on a Thinkpad

#8 Post by jrmwalsh » Fri Feb 26, 2021 10:56 pm

JDK. Thank you for your suggestions. I have been looking at dosdude1's pages and what he has done is very impressive. It bears a little more investigation.
My wife also has an old White Mac 3.1 (2007) which is an interesting machine. She still has a soft spot for it as she used it for her "work machine" for a few years. I put in a $20 160G SSD to speed it up, and made it dual-boot Snow Leopard and Linux Mint 18, which it runs very well. Mint also allows it to run more modern browsers like Firefox. I would have preferred Fedora but on my first attempt I could not get all the hardware to run. This was probably due to lack of drivers, but to be fair to Fedora I didn't put much time into looking for them.

Thanks again and I'll look into the 2015 MBP option that you suggest. I would have preferred the Thinkpad P5x route with OSX in a VM but I can see the difficulties and that it might not be practicable. The 2015 MBP route might be the path I finally go down.
I won't be dragged into the Mac world but I still need to help out those who choose stay there.

Regards
MW
When fools come to power, the whole nation groans.

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