As you probably know by now, Apple announced that they’re committing to annual releases of OS X (no longer “Mac OS X”) and in addition announced this year’s model, 10.8, Mountain Lion. If you’re a member of the paid developer community, you can download a preview version now. Since I need to make sure TicketDrum works on it, I downloaded a copy.
At this point – preview 1 – I expect the OS to be only semi-stable. So I don’t really want to run it on top of any of my existing installs. I’m not even sure it’s worth putting on an external drive at this point – I think I’ll wait for the next release. So how do I plan to test? Virtually.
I have both VMWare Fusion and Parallels Desktop software (because I have found one or the other necessary at one time or another as they add features). So I figured I’d load it up in both, just to see if it worked.
I started out with Parallels. Both products let you load from a real or virtual disk, so I opened the package contents from the Mountain Lion installer and mounted the install disk inside. But I couldn’t get Parallels or Fusion to use that disk to install. Then I remembered that they both support using the installer, so I unmounted the drive and told Parallels to use the install app instead – bingo. The wizard led me through setting up a new virtual machine, although it was stumped as to the OS – I had to tell it I was installing OS X. But after that, things went flawlessly. After booting, I was able to install Parallel tools. If you’re not familiar with the Tools, they are extra drivers that allow you to do things like move your mouse seamlessly from the VM to the real machine and back, resize the screen and have the VM auto-resize, share files and folders more easily, etc. Fusion has something similar.
After getting everything working and connecting to iCloud, I decided to try Fusion. It all went well – I pointed Fusion at the install app, and it correctly deduced I wanted to install OS X. I let the wizard set up a virtual machine for me, then let the installer go. Again, flawless. Then the final reboot and BAM! Kernel panic and crash.
I wasn’t sure if it was a fluke or if Fusion just couldn’t handle it. Because I hadn’t really configured anything, I could have just thrown the VM away and begun again. But I wanted to try out the recovery partition. The recovery partition was a feature added in Lion that is supposed to let you boot to a hidden partition and re-install the OS. I haven’t needed to use it on any of my systems, so I thought I’d give it a try. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to access it in Fusion, but I half down Command-R while booting, and after a couple of minutes of staring at the boot screen, the recovery program came up. I told it I wanted to re-install, and it asked me for my App Store ID and password. Once those were entered, the installer began downloading another copy of Mountain Lion to install.
It then rebooted and proceeded through the install process again. I would have been faster to start with a new VM, but I wanted to see for myself how a restore went. It took about 30 minutes on my fairly-fast Internet connection to download the OS.
If you get bored with the progress bar, you can see the detailed log of the install (this is not new with 10.8, it’s been available for a few releases now). Just hit Command+L while the install is running. Chances are it won’t mean much to you, but I found it interesting. Don’t be worried when you see errors in the log – there always are some. That’s because the installer has to check for many different configurations, and some things just aren’t going to be on every system.
I let the install finish, rebooted and – BAM! Kernel panic. So if you’re planning to give Mountain Lion a virtual whirl, you might want to try Parallels. I have seen claims from others that they got it working under Fusion, but I can’t.
(Stick with the video for a minute or two to get to the music.)