Installing macOS High Sierra on Proxmox 5

This tutorial for installing macOS Sierra has been adapted for Proxmox 5 from Kholia’s GitHub project for installing into vanilla KVM. There is more documentation there which will help out with enabling extra features and diagnosing problems!


I’ll assume you already have Proxmox 5.1 installed. You also need a real Mac available in order to download High Sierra from the App Store and build the installation ISO. Your Proxmox host computer must have an Intel CPU at least as new as Penryn (I believe you would need a a custom Mac kernel in order to use an AMD CPU). Continue reading Installing macOS High Sierra on Proxmox 5

Passthrough of advanced CPU features for macOS [High] Sierra guests

When emulating macOS on Proxmox, it seems that we are forced to set the guest’s CPU type to “Penryn”. This is a very old architecture, and is missing some features that could unlock higher CPU performance. In particular, I wanted to use AVX (for accelerated stream processing) and AES-NI (for encryption), but macOS panics on boot if I set the CPU to Sandy Bridge, which would match my CPU which includes those features.

Luckily, kholia over at the OSX-KVM project has discovered that we can keep using Penryn, but enable the passthrough of individual advanced CPU features and have Sierra use them, even though Penryn never supported these features.

Continue reading Passthrough of advanced CPU features for macOS [High] Sierra guests

Upgrading a Proxmox 5 macOS Sierra guest to High Sierra

macOS 10.13 High Sierra has finally been released, and the good news is that it works with Proxmox 5!

Here’s how I upgraded my Proxmox 5 Sierra installation, which has been previously updated to use Clover/UEFI boot and is stored on a passthrough NVMe SSD. Your setup may differ and your upgrade steps may need to change. I doubt these instructions would work for enoch/chameleon boot.

Take a snapshot of Sierra

I cannot stress this enough! If your filesystem gets completely trashed by the installer, you really need to be able to roll it back to a snapshot!

Continue reading Upgrading a Proxmox 5 macOS Sierra guest to High Sierra


After reinstalling Mac OS Sierra, I found that Chrome could no longer use my HTTPS client certificates. Instead, after choosing my certificate from Chrome’s pop-up certificate picking menu, I just got a fatal “ERR_SSL_CLIENT_AUTH_SIGNATURE_FAILED” error. The HTTPS client certificates worked fine in Safari, so it seemed to be a Chrome-specific problem.

I was able to fix this by opening the Keychain Access program, right-clicking my HTTPS private key and selecting Get Info, then on the Access Control tab I changed it from “allow all applications to use this item” to “confirm before allowing access”. The next time I tried to view the website in Chrome, Mac OS popped up to confirm that I wanted to allow it to use the key, and it worked perfectly after clicking Allow! I guess the Keychain’s application permissions got messed up at some point, and this reset it.

Emulating MIPS guests in Proxmox 5

I wanted to emulate MIPS guests on my Proxmox hypervisor so that I could do some security research on router firmware. Unfortunately, Proxmox has customised some of the QEMU packages and their dependencies, which makes it difficult to install the standard Debian qemu-system-mips package. In particular, Proxmox provides its own pve-libspice-server1 package which conflicts with the libspice-server1 package that vanilla QEMU depends on, so attempting to install it will complain:

Some packages could not be installed.

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 qemu-system-mips : Depends: libspice-server1 (>= 0.12.5)

To solve this, we need to build a modified version of the package from source.

Continue reading Emulating MIPS guests in Proxmox 5

Login bypass in Ubiquiti airMAX/airOS before 8.0.2, 7.2.5, 6.0.2, 5.6.15 if airControl web-UI was used

After seeing this arbitrary command execution vulnerability in Ubiquiti equipment, discovered by SEC Consult, I was intrigued. In that bug, code that would have been secure on a more recent version of PHP was rendered vulnerable because of the ancient PHP version used (2.0.1, which is nearly 20 years old). I wanted to see what other bugs might be caused by PHP that works in unexpected ways.

My friend owns a “NanoBeam AC” running firmware WA_v8.0.1, so I downloaded that firmware from Ubiquiti’s website and unpacked it with binwalk. I found a bunch of PHP scripts, a custom patched PHP 2.0.1 binary, and a custom patched Lighttpd server which handles session management and serves the files.

Continue reading Login bypass in Ubiquiti airMAX/airOS before 8.0.2, 7.2.5, 6.0.2, 5.6.15 if airControl web-UI was used

Passthrough more than 4 PCIe devices to Proxmox 4.4 and 5 guests

By default in Proxmox 4.4 and 5, you are unable to pass through more than 4 PCIe devices to the guest. If you try, you’ll get an error when attempting to start the VM which reads:

vm 100 - unable to parse value of 'hostpci4' - unknown setting 'hostpci4'

Passed-through PCIe devices are attached to the four ports called “ich9-pcie-port-{1,2,3,4}” which are defined in /usr/share/qemu-server/pve-q35.cfg. These ports occupy PCIe function numbers 0-3, leaving function numbers 4-7 unused.

It’s a simple matter to add definitions for an extra 4 ports to use up those spare function numbers in /usr/share/qemu-server/pve-q35.cfg: Continue reading Passthrough more than 4 PCIe devices to Proxmox 4.4 and 5 guests

Fix for macOS [High] Sierra 10.12.4+ “don’t steal mac OS” error on boot on Proxmox 4 and 5

In Sierra 10.12.4, macOS added some extra copy protection which is able to tell that the SMC emulation that QEMU provides is not a real Mac. This causes a fatal error during boot on Proxmox 5.1 and earlier.

One way of fixing this would be to remove the SMC device from the virtual machine’s arguments, and use FakeSMC.kext instead, like a regular Hackintosh, but this is inelegant.

Instead, we can patch QEMU to fix the SMC support, using the fixes from here: Continue reading Fix for macOS [High] Sierra 10.12.4+ “don’t steal mac OS” error on boot on Proxmox 4 and 5

Accelerate IO for macOS Sierra Proxmox guests by passing through an NVMe SSD

Recently I migrated my MacBook Pro into a Proxmox virtual machine to use as my daily-driver. This made for a rather large stepdown in IO performance, since my MacBook used an SSD, and Proxmox was using a RAIDZ1 array of spinning disks. On top of the IOPS penalty for spinning disks, there are currently no macOS drivers for the virtio SCSI paravirtual device, so we have to use IDE/SATA emulation instead, which is very slow (although this may change in the near future).

One way to improve things would be to use PCIe passthrough to pass through a whole physical SATA controller to the guest. This would eliminate almost all of the performance penalty of the virtualised SATA controller. But there’s a new option for drive passthrough: NVMe SSDs.

NVMe is a new standard for operating systems to communicate with a disk controller, which has been specifically designed to extract the most speed possible from SSDs. NVMe SSDs are PCIe devices (typically x4), so we can pass them straight through to macOS. I’m using the Samsung 950 Pro. You might also consider the faster 960 Pro.

The only missing piece of the puzzle is NVMe support in macOS Sierra. Thankfully, modern macs have begun shipping with NVMe SSDs inside, so we have an official Apple driver we can use. It just needs to be patched to accept our SSDs.

Note that in High Sierra, the built-in NVMe driver already supports most SSDs, and we don’t have to mess with it any more! Continue reading Accelerate IO for macOS Sierra Proxmox guests by passing through an NVMe SSD

Using Clover UEFI boot with Sierra on Proxmox

My previous Proxmox post described how to install Sierra into Proxmox using the Enoch bootloader (SeaBIOS boot). Since then, I’ve been using it as my daily-use desktop, and it has generally been working out great for me. However, I had some real struggles getting the graphics card passthrough to work reliably. I managed to fix these by updating to UEFI boot with Clover.

One of the problems with legacy BIOS boot and GPU passthrough is VGA arbitration. From what I understand, the video cards in the host and guest can end up both contending to own the VGA resources, which can cause a deadlock on boot. When a Sierra guest loads its video driver during boot, my Proxmox host hangs, and the screen fills with black and white bars.

UEFI boot doesn’t suffer from this problem, since it does away with the legacy VGA interface. So if your video card’s firmware supports UEFI/EFI boot (my R9 280X already does), you can switch the guest to boot using OVMF instead. This requires us to use a macOS bootloader that supports UEFI. I chose Clover. Continue reading Using Clover UEFI boot with Sierra on Proxmox