FYI -- Parallels 16 now supports BigSur as a VM on older systems

Christopher Nielsen mascguy at
Mon Dec 7 02:16:22 UTC 2020

> On 2020-12-06-S, at 20:15, Ryan Schmidt <ryandesign at> wrote:
> As you know the 2009 Xserves I use to run the MacPorts Buildbot system run VMware ESXi 6.0.0 and are running VMs from Snow Leopard through Big Sur. Leopard works too and Tiger supposedly works with an installer patch from Landon. You probably don't want VMware ESXi but I would guess a contemporaneous version of VMware Fusion would have similar capabilities. VMware ESXi 6.0.0 doesn't know about newer macOS versions but that doesn't seem to be a problem. The Big Sur VM, for example, is configured as "Mac OS X 10.8 64-bit" but works fine. Booting from APFS requires giving VMware a custom EFI, following instructions I found online.

Cool, I didn’t realize you folks were using Xserves. Certainly makes sense though.

As for hypervisor hardware compatibility, ESXi 6.x is a fundamentally different beast. It supports far older hardware, vs. VMware’s desktop products.

From VMware’s ESXi support page:

*** ESXi 6.7 supports 64-bit x86 processors released after September 2006

Pretty awesome, right?

Whereas VMware Workstation [Linux/Windows] now requires a processor from 2011 or later.

VMware Fusion is similarly strict, stating that “Macs from 2012 on are supported, along with the 2010 MacPro.” More troubling, is the fact that Fusion 12 now requires a host running either MacOS 10.15 or 11.0. I believe they also utilize Apple’s Hypervisor framework, which isn’t necessarily as performant… and certainly isn’t all that mature yet.

Given that older CPUs can clearly be supported — and you’d hope they’re reusing as much hypervisor code as possible between products — it doesn’t make much sense. Apart from reducing their support expenses, which is presumably the driving factor.

In any case, I’m glad ESXi 6.x is still carrying the torch for older hardware. Unfortunately ESXi 7.x is also going to tighten the compatibility screws, similar to their desktop products...

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