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Apple to Allow Virtual Mac OS X Server Instances 167

Posted by Zonk
from the server-in-a-server-in-a-server dept.
Glenn Fleishman writes "Apple has changed its license for Mac OS X Server 10.5 (Leopard Server) to allow virtualized instances. VMware and Parallels are poised to offer support. This probably presages a thoroughly overhauled Xserve product with greater capability for acting as a virtual machine server, too. 'Ben Rudolph, Director of Corporate Communications for Parallels, told me, "Enabling Leopard Server to run in a virtual machine may take some time, but we're working closely with Apple on it and will make it public as quickly as possible." Pat Lee, Product Manager at VMware, concurred, saying "We applaud Apple for the exciting licensing changes implemented in Leopard Server. Apple customers can now run Mac OS X Server, Windows, Linux and other x86 operating systems simultaneously on Apple hardware so we are excited about the possibilities this change presents." Although neither company committed to specific features or timetables, it appears as though we should be seeing virtualization products from both that will enable an Xserve to run multiple copies of Leopard Server in virtual machines.'"
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Apple to Allow Virtual Mac OS X Server Instances

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  • The problem VMware and others face in getting Mac OS X up an running in a VM is that the OS might not support the hardware they're emulating. Work that out an they'll have to OS up and running in no time.
    • Parallels is in the better position on this one since they are now part of SWSoft. The Virtuozzo/OpenVZ team could likely look to implement OS Virtualization for OS X that would bypass the hardware emulation concerns. Sure it ain't as flexible as full-stack virtualization but it would work for many just the same and would provide better performance than hardware emulation to boot.
    • by MikeFM (12491)
      I've had OS X running in VMWare for about a year. It requires a couple tweaks, mostly to turn off Trusted Computing, to make it fast enough to use properly but thats about it. Now that VMWare can legally support OS X I expect it'll become a lot easier to setup OS X really soon.
  • by kebes (861706) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @01:32PM (#21186089) Journal
    Note that this change means that you can run multiple copies of OS X server on a single physical machine... as long as that machine is Apple-branded hardware. They are not permitting you to run OS X Server in an arbitrary virtual environment on arbitrary x86 hardware. The new license reads:

    This License allows you to install and use one copy of the Mac OS X Server software (the "Mac OS X Server Software") on a single Apple-labeled computer. You may also install and use other copies of Mac OS X Server Software on the same Apple-labeled computer, provided that you acquire an individual and valid license from Apple for each of these other copies of Mac OS X Server Software.
    (emphasis added)

    That having been said, I have to wonder whether people will attempt to side-step this restriction. Once OS X Server and virtual solutions (like VMWare) are tweaked so as to allow easy virtualization, one would imagine it would be easy to move the virtual image to different (not Apple-branded) hardware. Then again, perhaps part of this collaboration with VMWare and Parallels is specifically to have hooks that will allow OS X Server to verify that the physical hardware is a genuine Apple machine.

    Or maybe it's not a major concern, since the target market for OS X Server is large-scale businesses that typically abide by software license agreements. (Or am I being naive?)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by domatic (1128127)
      I've never seen any reason for Apple to disallow virtualization on their own hardware. There's been times I could have used it myself. I used to run Linux on a Pismo Powerbook and used MOL for those times I needed OS X. It ran really well too. But no soap doing that with an Intel Mac. It just takes hooks so that even a virtual OS X can make the Apple hardware checks. They really need to extend this to the client OSes as well. I have and like an Intel MacBook but would rather mimic my old Pismo setup.
      • by statusbar (314703) <jeffk@statusbar.com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @03:33PM (#21187591) Homepage Journal
        The reason I have been wishing for mac os x support in vm's (but not server support!) is because I hate that when I bought a new laptop it came with tiger and panther would not install on it. So if I wanted to sell a program that is validated to work on panther, I had to keep old hardware around that would run panther. Same issue now with leopard and tiger. If I could run the o/s in a vm like I do with windows 2000, xp, and vista, then I'd be able to validate the software for all the o/s's easily. Even win98 if I had to, even without an old computer that could still run it.

        jeffk
    • by Scootin159 (557129) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @01:52PM (#21186365) Homepage
      Apple-labeled computer? So I only need to put an Apple sticker on my computer?
    • by javaxman (705658)
      Plenty of *very* small business use ( or could afford ) an XServe. Now they're giving a business the chance, via VMware, to run, on one easy-to-admin XServe, any number of x86 Unix or Windows Server ( or non-server ) instances. Instead of buying some Dell server to run that one windows-only ( or Solaris-only )service or app, we can buy one XServe, virtualize the server OS we need, and run/maintain everything on that one XServe. Is that attractive to small businesses and small IT departments? Heck ya.

      Of cour
  • Expected (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @01:34PM (#21186127) Homepage

    I've been wondering if they would allow this for a while. My idea was Apple would allow it, but only when the host system is Apple hardware (possibly running an Apple OS as the host OS). That way you could run 10 copies of OS X Server on your XServe, that would be OK with them. But you couldn't run copies of OS X Server on your Dell.

    That seems like the Apple solution to the problem to me. You can do what you want, but under our slightly restrictive policies that wouldn't be a problem for many people (but others won't like).

  • by FranTaylor (164577) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @01:35PM (#21186137)
    In the story John Walsh says that virtual machines are more important in Windows. It's just as important with Linux. Much commercial Linux software requires a distribution that you probably don't want to run on your machine. With virtualization, it's no problem.

    It's not clear to me what problem is being solved by having virtual OSX.
    • by vux984 (928602)
      It's not clear to me what problem is being solved by having virtual OSX.

      Same problems as virtualization has always solved.

      The ability to deploy different versions of the same services on the same ports without deploying a new box.

      The ability to run different versions of OSX on the same box.

      Server consolidation.

      Testing/debugging environments.

      etc, etc.
      • If I have to buy a license for each instance, it's going to get expensive fast.

        Is the license for instance copies, or running instances? How about suspended instances? Do they count? What if I copy an instance and it's running in two places at once? Even if I suspend one as soon as the second unsuspends? Running a licensed OS in a virtual machine is an exercise in ambiguity.

        Right now there's only one version of OSX that will support this, so that's not interesting.

        Just about anything you can do on an O
      • by ThosLives (686517)

        I still amuse myself from time to time thinking, "Heck, if we virtualize OS software, why don't we go one step further and virtualize virtualization software! A whole new untapped market!"

        Seriously, though, if applications and OSs were structured differently, there would be no reason for "virtualization".

        (After all, isn't the OS supposed to be the "virtualization" between applications and hardware in the first place?)

        • by vux984 (928602)
          I still amuse myself from time to time thinking, "Heck, if we virtualize OS software, why don't we go one step further and virtualize virtualization software! A whole new untapped market!"

          Actually the above is likely to happen.

          Seriously, though, if applications and OSs were structured differently, there would be no reason for "virtualization".

          Not really. It would look different but we'd still need it.

          Consider if the hardware abstraction provided by virtualization had been there all along, and was standardis
          • by ThosLives (686517)

            Interesting points, but I feel there is more discussion:

            ...and decisions would have to be made on how to provide each OS a 'video' card, while still allowing hardware acceleration, etc.

            How is that different than simply providing each application with a graphics context? Sounds the same to me, just with a different flavor.

            Other facets are thread and memory management,...

            A VM today has to do this between the various OSs. OSs already do this today. I don't see any difference, other than an OS wants to have m

            • by vux984 (928602)
              You made so many points worth responding to, but let me just say this.

              An OS is big and complicated. The more services, interfaces, options, libraries, etc that it provides the harder it becomes to ensure its defect free.

              And you are suggesting making them even bigger (allowing applications to move from one to the next, allowing multiple windowing systems to run at once, allowing multiple applications to bind to the same port number on different ip addresses even if one of them is ill-behaved and assumes it c
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It's not clear to me what problem is being solved by having virtual OSX.

      Availability

      Imagine having an instance of an OSX operating system running on a rack of XServers. Now imagine that particular XServer getting bogged down by another OSX instance, or worse beginning to show signs of failing. By having instances of OSX running on virtuallized servers (especially on identical hardware), that particular instance of OSX can migrate to a better performing XServer within the rack without the software or the

    • > It's not clear to me what problem is being solved by having virtual OSX.

      The change to their license only applies to OS X server, so it it applies to their server product. I run my domains on a $20/mo VPS service. This is fine for dns, web, e-mail, moderate database, etc. A server like this is more than enough for a small business.

      Without support for virtualization, I'd need to buy and colocate an XServe, which would be around an order of magnitude more expensive. This pretty much rules OS X out without
      • by mosch (204)
        This pretty much rules OS X out without even getting into a discussion of the pros and cons, it just can't participate at a price that's interesting.

        At a price that's interesting to you.

        For me, it'd be a cost saver. If I had an acceptable way to host OS X Server, I could install that and reduce the maintenance and problems associated with running my own jabber and imap servers. I might be able to ditch my kerberos and ldap servers as well.

        This would be such a fantastic win that a few thousand dollars in l
        • > For me, it'd be a cost saver.

          Sure. Now that virtualization is supported. That's my point. My post refers to the advantages of virtualization.
    • by MikeFM (12491)
      I run OS X in VMWare on Linux and Windows so that I can test software on all three platforms regardless to what I'm actually running as my host platform at a given time. Before Safari was released for Windows it was the only real way to test websites on Safari if you didn't have a Mac handy.

      I haven't actually run OS X in VM on top of OS X. The only reason I can see to do so would be to test software against different versions of OS X.
  • by GoRK (10018) <johnl&blurbco,com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @01:39PM (#21186195) Homepage Journal
    It would be important to note in the summary that they seem to be allowing virtualized 10.5 server but still only if you do it on Apple-branded hardware and only if you buy licenses for each instance. It is kind of strange considering that the users who need this sort of thing are also the users who are quite good about being license compliant. A lot of these people who are asking for this are ready to deploy virtual Xserves right on top of existing VMWare ESX clusters today if it were simply ALLOWED. I can't really see the justification from a piracy concern standpoint or honestly even from the standpoint of losing hardware sales on the Xserve line.

    What they really ought to allow is desktop OS X to be virtualized on top of apple hardware (ie run OS X VM's on xserve clusters) and allow OS X server to be virtualized on top of non-apple hardware. Not allowing this is really going to hurt their server business over the next few years I suspect. I also think that virtual desktop instances of OS X would be a very appealing way forward for the education market. I think Apple is enjoying its last days of lock-in in schools and having really NO computing product that is purpose built for education will probably make them slip soon.
    • What they really ought to allow is desktop OS X to be virtualized on top of apple hardware (ie run OS X VM's on xserve clusters) and allow OS X server to be virtualized on top of non-apple hardware. Not allowing this is really going to hurt their server business over the next few years I suspect.

      I dipped into the comments for this article *knowing* that someone was going to make something like this comment... but I gotta ask, if you're gonna ask to virtualize osx server on non-apple hardware, why not go all
    • I think this (not allowing virtual servers on non apple hardware) demonstrates clearly that apple isn't serious enough about making inroads with OSX server. Apple has little to gain by forcing users to buy apple branded hardware for servers. There is no market to support such a thing, but there is a huge market for a good server OS on commodity hardware, which would be possible with virtualization.

      As it is, there's just no good reason to do anything with OSX server. It just doesn't stand up to the competiti
  • by TheDrewbert (914334) <thedrewbert AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @01:45PM (#21186291) Homepage
    It would be more interesting if I could run virtualized OSX server on my quad-processor AMD boxes alongside Linux and Server2003.
  • Now if only they can rug up a means to run OSX (Not the server version) on Non-Apple hardware... such a tease!

    (I know, I know - but while I'm dreaming and all, I'd like a pony).

    /P

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @01:55PM (#21186401)

    This probably presages a thoroughly overhauled Xserve product with greater capability for acting as a virtual machine server, too.

    Huh? The current Xserve supports 3 SATA drives, 32GB of memory in 8 slots, and redundant power. Oh yeah, and 4 processor cores. Far as I know, all recent Xeon processors support intel virtualization features.

    Regardless- I don't think you'll see Apple kowtowing to the virtualization fetish. Beyond the usual desktop virtualization needs, I don't think Apple's target audience for the Xserve needs this capability.

    Let's all take a step back and realize that the current base Xserve is THREE GRAND and pretty damn bare-bones for that price-point; that does include OS X server unlimited, but yeeeeeesh- that's still almost $2k. I'm the first to argue that Apple's hardware isn't as overpriced as everyone claims, but this is one notable exception. It doesn't even include basic hardware RAID capabilities- you have to buy a (inserts pinky into mouth) ONE THOUSAND DOLLAR proprietary raid card to do hardware raid! Jeeeeesus christ, even the cheapest 1U boxen support BASIC raid, typically, or it's a $100-200 option...

    • I'm the first to argue that Apple's hardware isn't as overpriced as everyone claims, but this is one notable exception.

      I'm sure someone could come up with a feature list that would make an XServe look competitive to a straw man "equivalent" box. Let's see, dual dual-core woodcrest plus *3* drive bays? Most 1U servers only have 2 bays, so that'll narrow things down... and don't forget, when you're comparing Mac and PC you don't worry if the PC is overspecced: you gotta have every feature of the Mac solution
      • by Macrat (638047)

        The Mac Tax is the price you pay to get OS X. It's been worth the price for me, so far, but that doesn't mean it's not there.

        How is this different from the Microsoft Windows tax imposed on all OEMs even if they ship Linux?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by argent (18001)
          How is this different from the Microsoft Windows tax imposed on all OEMs even if they ship Linux?

          1. You have to pay the Windows Tax even if you're not buying a device made by Microsoft (such as an XBox).
          2. You don't have to pay the Mac Tax unless you're buying a device made by Apple (such as a Macintosh).
          3. If you're not interested in running OS X, why the hell are you buying Apple's grotty kit?
      • I'm sure someone could come up with a feature list that would make an XServe look competitive to a straw man "equivalent" box. Let's see, dual dual-core woodcrest plus *3* drive bays? Most 1U servers only have 2 bays, so that'll narrow things down

        Not really, considering there are many 4-bay choices out there; ALL of the 1U NAS boxes are 4-bay. The Xserve used to have 4 bays, and they cut it back to put in cooling ducts. The third drive is largely useless considering that all most people want to do in t

        • The third drive is largely useless considering that all most people want to do in that market segment is have a pair of mirrored drives.

          Aha, now I get to abandon the devil's advocate side! Thanks for the opening, I really appreciate it.

          This is how they got to tell me that I couldn't beat my Macbook Pro with a "comparable" thinkpad, by taking three or four features of the Macbook Pro that I don't actually care about (or that I would prefer not to have) and "discovering" that only the top of the line Thinkpad
    • I agree with you. Considering all that you get out of the box, Apple servers are pretty cheap. Especially compared to the Dell "frankenboxes" that you constantly have to babysit.
      • by Slashcrap (869349)
        I agree with you. Considering all that you get out of the box, Apple servers are pretty cheap. Especially compared to the Dell "frankenboxes" that you constantly have to babysit.

        So what exactly are the differences between Apple servers and equivalently priced Dell servers which make the Dell ones so inferior and in need of babysitting?

        I suppose that the Apple servers come fitted with RAS cards allowing full out of band remote diagnostics and OS provisioning while the Dells don't, right? Please reply with re
  • by lordholm (649770) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:12PM (#21186581) Homepage
    "We applaud Apple for the exciting licensing changes"

    Is it just me? But I hardly find a license change exciting, not even the the slightest bit. They should really send the PR person who wrote this to a shrink or a psychiatrist.
    • "We applaud Apple for the exciting licensing changes"

      Is it just me? But I hardly find a license change exciting, not even the the slightest bit. They should really send the PR person who wrote this to a shrink or a psychiatrist.
      Is it just me? But I hardly find a difference between a "shrink" and a "psychiatrist," not even the slightest bit. They should really send the poster who wrote this to the Department of Redundancy Department.
  • This - alas - doesn't solve the need for developers to have access to Mac OS X for testing and porting their apps. Especially OSS developers, who may not want to fork out for a mac just for testing.

    With luck Apple will at some point release a developer-only Mac OS X client OS (perhaps one without all the apps it normally comes with etc, just a barebones OS) for testing apps. They'd still face some risk people would use it for other things, but people who do so are likely to want to jump to real Apple gear a
  • I am SOOOO sick of folks being so sure that Apple should bless MacOS X on generic PCs.

    Do you all honestly think that the folks at Apple are entirely congenital idjits?

    (I know, it wouldn't be /. if 99% of the posters weren't convinced their 30 seconds gloss on any random topic didn't give them profound insights those investing their professional careers on a subject astonishingly oblivious to...)

    Perhaps, just perhaps, Apple has run the numbers.

    Indeed, possibly, Apple actually HAS the numbers to run a

  • The notion that Apple (or any software vendor) has any say in this whatsoever is disgusting.

Put no trust in cryptic comments.

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