I thought it might be helpful for people following my guide for installing macOS Mojave on Proxmox if I described my setup and how I’m using macOS.
Proxmox hardware specs
- Motherboard: Asrock EP2C602
- RAM: 64GB
- CPU: 2 x Intel E5-2670 for a total of 16 cores / 32 threads
- Samsung 950 Pro 512GB NVMe SSD for macOS
- 30TB of spinning disks in various ZFS configurations
- 1TB SATA SSD for Proxmox’s root device
- EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
- EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti
- AMD Radeon R9 280X (HD 7970 / Tahiti XTL)
- 2x onboard Intel C600 USB 2 controllers
- Inateck USB 3 PCIe card (Fresco Logic FL1100 chipset)
- 2x onboard Intel 82574L gigabit network ports
- Lian Li PC-X2000F full tower (sadly, long discontinued!)
- Lian Li EX-H35 HDD Hot Swap Module (to add 3 x 3.5″ drive bays into 3 of the 4 x 5.25″ drive mounts), with Lian Li BZ-503B filter door, and Lian Li BP3SATA hot swap backplane. Note that because of the sideways-mounted 5.25″ design on this case, the door will fit flush with the left side of the case, while the unfiltered exhaust fan sits some 5-10mm proud of the right side of the case.
- CPU cooler
- 2 x Noctua NH-U14S coolers
- EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G2 750W
My Proxmox machine is my desktop computer, so I pass most of this hardware straight through to the macOS Mojave VM that I use as my daily-driver machine. I pass through both USB 2 controllers, the USB 3 controller, the NVMe SSD, and one of the gigabit network ports, plus the R9 280X graphics card.
Once macOS boots, this leaves no USB ports dedicated to the host, so no keyboard for the host! I normally manage my Proxmox host from a guest, or if all of my guests are down I use SSH from a laptop or smartphone instead (JuiceSSH on Android works nicely for running
qm start 100 to boot up my macOS VM if I accidentally shut it down).
On High Sierra, I used to use the GTX 750 Ti, then later the GTX 1060, to drive two displays (one of them 4k@60Hz over DisplayPort) which both worked flawlessly. However NVIDIA has not yet released compatible graphics drivers for Mojave, so now I’m back with my old R9 280X, which has some built-in support.
This Radeon card is not stable for the guest; I get flashing video corruption on parts of the screen intermittently, and it’s not stable for the host, triggering DMAR warnings that suggest that it tries to read memory it doesn’t own, and causing random host lockups the second time that a VM that uses it is booted. I’m looking forward to those new NVIDIA drivers so that I can stop using this card!
Take note that if your video card does not support booting using UEFI, you’ll be in a world of pain due to VGA bus arbitration conflicts with the host. Although it is possible to patch the VBIOS of some old video cards to support UEFI, you will save a lot of blood, sweat and tears by just buying a newer video card!
On this motherboard is a third SATA controller, a Marvell SE9230, but enabling this in the ASRock UEFI setup causes it to throw a ton of DMAR errors and kill the host, so avoid using it.
What I use it for
I’m using my Mojave VM for developing software (IntelliJ / XCode), watching videos (YouTube / mpv), playing music, editing photos with Photoshop and Lightroom, editing video with DaVinci Resolve, buying apps on the App Store, syncing data with iCloud, and more. That all works trouble-free. I don’t use any of the Apple apps that are known to be troublesome on Hackintosh (iMessage etc), so I’m not sure if those are working or not.
Here’s my VM’s Proxmox configuration, with discussion to follow:
args: -device isa-applesmc,osk="..." -smbios type=2 -cpu Penryn,kvm=on,vendor=GenuineIntel,+invtsc,vmware-cpuid-freq=on,+pcid,+ssse3,+sse4.2,+popcnt,+avx,+aes,+xsave,+xsaveopt,check -smp 32,sockets=2,cores=8,threads=2 balloon: 0 bios: ovmf boot: d cores: 16 cpu: Penryn efidisk0: vms:vm-100-disk-1,size=128K hostpci0: 03:00,pcie=1,x-vga=on hostpci1: 00:1a.0,pcie=1 hostpci2: 00:1d.0,pcie=1 hostpci3: 82:00.0,pcie=1 hostpci4: 81:00.0,pcie=1 hostpci5: 0b:00.0,pcie=1 machine: pc-q35-2.12 memory: 40960 name: Mojave-Desktop net0: e1000-82545em=2B:F9:52:54:FE:8A,bridge=vmbr0 numa: 1 onboot: 1 ostype: other scsihw: virtio-scsi-pci smbios1: uuid=42c28f01-4b4e-4ef8-97ac-80dea43c0bcb sockets: 2 tablet: 0 vga: std
- My CPU masquerades as a Penryn (which appears to be a requirement for macOS to boot) but Mojave also requires CPU features that were first introduced in the subsequent Nehalem CPU generation, so those need to be added (ssse3, sse4.2, and popcnt). On top of that I’m passing through some more features that my CPU supports that can speed up macOS (AVX, AES-NI, etc) . You can use
cat /proc/cpuinfoon Proxmox to check what features your CPU supports.
- macOS refuses to boot on my machine if I pass certain numbers of cores through to it, so I ended up having to pass all 32 threads through to the VM instead of the 24 I intended. Proxmox’s configuration format doesn’t natively support setting a thread count, so I had to add my topology manually here by adding “-smp 32,sockets=2,cores=8,threads=2”.
- I’m passing through 6 PCIe devices, which Proxmox doesn’t support natively (it normally maxes out at 4), so I had to patch Proxmox to add support. From first to last I have my graphics card, two USB 2 controllers, my NVMe storage, a USB 3 controller, and one gigabit network card.
- 40 gigabytes, baby!
- I usually have this emulated network card disabled in Mojave’s network settings, and use my passthrough Intel 82574L instead.
- Although Mojave has a driver for the Intel 82574L, the driver doesn’t match the exact PCI ID of the card I have, so the driver doesn’t load and the card remains inactive. Luckily you can edit the driver to fix this. First check the PCI ID of the network card in Proxmox:
# lspci -nn | grep 82574L 0b:00.0 Ethernet controller : Intel Corporation 82574L Gigabit Network Connection [8086:10d3]
The PCI ID here is 8086:10d3. Now edit /System/Library/Extensions/IONetworkingFamily.kext/Contents/PlugIns/Intel82574L.kext/Contents/Info.plist. Find the section which defines IOPCIPrimaryMatch and IOPCISecondaryMatch:
<key>IOPCIPrimaryMatch</key> <string>0x104b8086 0x10f68086</string> <key>IOPCISecondaryMatch</key> <string>0x00008086 0x00000000</string>
Those define the hardware that the driver will be loaded for. Remove those lines and replace them with a new “IOPCIMatch” section that has your PCI ID in it:
Note that in this format, the last part of the PCI ID (10d3) needs to come first, followed by the first part (8086). After rebooting macOS, the network driver will now consider your card to be compatible, and will load for it. Note that changing your network card can break software that relies on your MAC address staying the same for license checking / DRM.
Guest file storage
The macOS VM’s primary storage is the passthrough Samsung 950 Pro 512GB NVMe SSD, which can be installed onto and used in Mojave with no issues. TRIM is supported and enabled automatically.
For secondary storage, my Proxmox host exports a number of directories over the AFP network protocol using netatalk. I installed netatalk onto Proxmox from source following these directions:
My configure command ended up being:
./configure --with-init-style=debian-systemd --without-libevent --without-tdb --with-cracklib --enable-krbV-uam --with-pam-confdir=/etc/pam.d --with-dbus-daemon=/usr/bin/dbus-daemon --with-dbus-sysconf-dir=/etc/dbus-1/system.d --with-tracker-pkgconfig-version=1.0
Netatalk is configured in /usr/local/etc/afp.conf like so:
; Netatalk 3.x configuration file [Global] [Downloads] path = /tank/downloads rwlist = nick ; List of usernames with rw permissions on this share [LinuxISOs] path = /tank/isos rwlist = nick
When connecting to the fileshare from macOS, you connect with a URL like “afp://proxmox”, then specify the name and password of the unix user you’re authenticating as (here, “nick”), and that user’s account will be used for all file permissions checks.
Passthrough of PCIe devices requires a bit of configuration on Proxmox’s side, much of which is described in their manual. Here’s what I ended up with:
... GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet intel_iommu=on rootdelay=10" ...
vfio vfio_iommu_type1 vfio_pci vfio_virqfd
blacklist nouveau blacklist nvidia blacklist nvidiafb blacklist snd_hda_codec_hdmi blacklist snd_hda_intel blacklist snd_hda_codec blacklist snd_hda_core blacklist radeon blacklist amdgpu
options kvm ignore_msrs=Y
# Nested VM support (not used by macOS) options kvm-intel nested=Y
options vfio-pci ids=144d:a802,8086:1d2d,8086:1d26,10de:1c03,10de:10f1,10de:1380,1b73:1100,1002:6798,1002:aaa0 disable_vga=1 # Note that adding disable_vga here will probably prevent guests from booting in SeaBIOS mode
After editing those files you typically need to run
update-initramfs -k all -u, then reboot Proxmox.
In the UEFI settings of my host system I had to set my onboard video card as my primary video adapter. Otherwise, the VBIOS of my discrete video cards would get molested by the host during boot, rendering them unusable for guests (this is especially a problem if your host boots in BIOS compatibility mode instead of UEFI mode).
I’ve heard that one way to avoid needing to change this setting (e.g. if you only have one video card in your system!) is to dump the unmolested VBIOS of the card while it is attached to the host as a secondary card, then provide that copy of the VBIOS as a file to Proxmox using a “romfile” option like so:
Or if you don’t have a spare discrete GPU of your own to achieve this, you can find somebody else who has done this online. However, I have never tried this approach myself.
In Mojave, I have system sleep turned off in the power saving options (because I had too many instances where it went to sleep and never woke up again).
Drive encryption did not work the last time I tried it, seemingly because UEFI keyboard drivers were missing that would allow password entry on the boot screen. Drive encryption support is mentioned in Clover changelogs frequently, so it may already be working by the time you read this.
I used Clover Configurator to set my SMBIOS to iMac 14,2 before I tried passing through any hardware.