I recently purchased a Unifi UVC-G3 network camera for the outside of my house. It works great in standalone mode, but has no recording capability without a Unifi NVR. The Ubiquiti hardware one is about $350, but a lot of people just repurpose a small linux box to do the job. That, to me, seemed silly since I have a Mac Mini that serves as my home media server, and runs my weather station (and a few other things). I also have a Raspberry Pi in the garage that runs Cacti (for network monitoring), and the Unifi wireless controller. This all got me thinking, “wait, I could just run the free version of VMWare ESXi (vSphere) and virtualize all of this on the Mac Mini”. The problem was, was that really possible? I know Apple allows virtualization of it’s OS on Apple hardware, and there are hacks to get it to work on non-Apple hardware, but I’d never actually managed a vSphere server before. Sure, I have tons of VMs at work, but the system is managed by another group, and all the VMs are Windows or Linux. So, I had to try.
Grabbing a spare Macbook Pro (4 core i7 (8 cores counting Hyper Threading), 16GB of RAM), I threw an SSD in it, and installed ESXi 6U2 (very simple, just burn to disk, or use a USB thumbdrive). Once that was installed, and working (worked perfectly out of the box), I created a couple Linux and Windows VM’s just to test. Thinks worked perfectly. So, I found these instructions, and tried. Basically, create a VM for 10.10, but you install 10.8 to start with. I only uploaded the InstallESD.dmg from the 10.8 installer. Also, I did thin provisioning for the HD. Worked great. But, no matter what, the VM wouldn’t boot from the dmg. Finally, looking around online, I found a thread on the vmware forums saying you had to add “smc.present = true” to the VM config. You do this by doing “Edit Settings” for the VM within the web interface, then VM Options, Advanced, and “Edit Configuration”. Click the plus to add, and the Key should be “smc.present” and the value should be “true”. Save in all the windows, and then start the VM back up. It should immediately boot.
Seeingly, VMware just broke ESXi 6U2 from a Mac OS X install capability. Once you have 10.8 installed, you should be able to then update to 10.11, or whatever you want.
Now I just have to see if indeed I can make everything my Mac Mini does work virtualized… then I’ll just migrate over my files, processes, and then move over the SSD to the Mini rather than the Macbook Pro. =)