Create Bootable Lion OS X Installer Image For VMware in Windows Intel Based Computers

Recently I have published a post about the difficulties and available hints on installing Lion on VMware as a virtual machine. Here is the great news: I managed to install on my Windows 7 32Bit OS with VMware. This guide is part of the full complete guide which I will be publishing in coming days.The available Lion installation DMG is not working with VMware on non apple computer. We need to create a bootable installer image which can be used as a boot loader and installation medium to complete our task. Here I show how to create a bootable Lion OS X Installer Image for VMware in Windows host.


I’m demonstrating these steps in Intel Core2duo computer with 3GB RAM with Windows 7 32Bit computer and VMware workstation 7.1.


What You Need?

1) Working Snow Leopard Virtual Machine in VMware or VirtualBox

Check my earlier guides to install Snow Leopard on VMware or on VirtualBox

2) Lion Leopard Installation DMG (Available for developers in Apple site and some torrents sites). You can use the original retail DVD after the final release.


Why You Need This Installer Image?

1) There are no boot loaders available to boot the original Lion installer in VMware.

2) The installation package available in DMG file can’t be installed in virtualization platform.


Steps to Follow.

1) Attach a 5GB new virtual hard disk (VMDK) file to working Snow leopard Virtual machine.

Bootable Lion OS X Installer Image VMware Windows 7

2) Press Initialize when you start the Mac OS X virtual machine.  Create a partition with following configuration in newly attached 5GB virtual hard disk.

  • Name – LionInstaller
  • Format: Mac OS X Extended
  • Partitions: Single partition – Apple Partition Map

Bootable Lion OS X Installer Image VMware Windows 7

3) Now attach the Lion Installation DMG or ISO you downloaded from Apple or Torrent sites to VMware virtual machine’s CD drive. Once you connect, it will be automatically mounted in SL virtual machine.

Convert DMG file to ISO in Windows host as shown here. The file is mounted as “Mac OS X Install ESD” under Volumes.

desktop virtualization software


4) We need to copy the base system image from mounted ISO to our LionInstaller (new VMDK file). Mount the base system image from terminal and run the following command.

cd "/Volumes/Mac OS X Install ESD" 

open BaseSystem.dmg

desktop virtualization software

This will mount it as “Mac OS X Base System” in desktop and under Volumes.

5) After Base System mounted, we can use Restore feature under disk utility to copy the entire data.

Go to Disk Utilities and select the source and destination as shown below to start the restore – this will copy the entire base system to 5GB hard disk.

Bootable Lion OS X Installer Image VMware Windows 7

Provide the root access password.

6) Copy the kernelcache files with following command.

 cp "/Volumes/Mac OS X Install ESD/kernelcache" /Volumes/LionInstaller/kernelcache


7) Modify the plist file to enable the kernelcahce we copied in new installer disk.

Go to /Volumes/LionInstaller/Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/ and open file with TextEdit.

Enter following string and save the file.

<key>Kernel Cache</key> 



If you face any permission issues, save this file to Desktop or any other folder then move to the destination, this time it will ask to authenticate, provide root access password.

OR, use sudo vi command to modify this file in terminal.

Make sure this file is modified as shown in above example in new installer image.

8.) Now copy the installation packages by following commands.

sudo rm /Volumes/LionInstaller/System/Installation/Packages 

sudo cp -R "/Volumes/Mac OS X Install ESD/Packages" /Volumes/LionInstaller/System/Installation/Packages


Second command will copy large size of data to new VMDK file. Wait for some time.

9) We are almost done. Since VMware supports Mac OS X server versions only, newly created installation image should be flagged as server version.

Run the following command.

cd /Volumes/LionInstaller/System/Library/CoreServices 

sudo touch ServerVersion.plist



That’s it, our bootable Lion installer image is ready and it can boot in VMware without any boot loaders. Shutdown the running Snow Leopard virtual machine and remove the 5GB VMDK file from virtual machine. This VMDK file can be attached to other new Lion VM to boot and install.

I successfully managed to install Lion OS X 10.7 on my VMware workstation 7.1 in Windows 7 Intel host computer with this image.

I will be sharing the complete installation steps in coming days. Stay tuned with Sysprobs.

This guide is based on other guide published in, where he created installer image on Mac host computer and used the same image in VMware Fusion. Big thanks for owner for excellent idea which can be used in Virtual machine and Windows VMware also.

Dinesh is the founder of Sysprobs and written more than 400 articles. Enthusiast in Microsoft and cloud technologies with more than 15 years of IT experience.

67 thoughts on “Create Bootable Lion OS X Installer Image For VMware in Windows Intel Based Computers”

  1. okay can someone tell me what i have to do in step 3?
    step by step?!
    i don´t understand it because my english isn´t very good…

  2. Hi, I have an issue on step 2, when I add the 5.0 GB virtual hd and start up the snow leo virtual machine it doesn’t boot… If I add the virtual hd once it is booted disk utitity doesn’t detect it.

    any help?

  3. Hi everybody,

    The bootable Lioninstaller works perfect to install Lion on VMware Used it many times. Lion works perfectly with sound, display resolution change etc. But now I have installed VMware 8 and the bootable Lion installer won’t work! I have also tried different settings with no result. But Lion already installed on VMware works fine in VMware 8 (after I used the Lion patch for VMware 8). So ever time I want to have a new install of Lion, I have to downgrade to VMware and after finishing the installation, upgrade to VMware 8! Just because the Lion bootloader won’t stops booting after the Apple logo.

    Any thoughts? Anyone? Please?


  4. I’ve done all the steps as outlined above. However, VirtualBox doesn’t see the attached image as a bootable media. Why not? What’s going on?


  5. The command in step 8:
    sudo cp -R “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install ESD/Packages” /Volumes/LionInstaller/System/Installation/Packages
    Should be:
    sudo cp -R “/Volumes/Mac OS X Install ESD/Packages/” /Volumes/LionInstaller/System/Installation/Packages
    Like in the image. Otherwise it copies the packages folder to inside the new packages folder.
    I didn’t read all the comments so someone else might have already said that

  6. Dear all,

    Thanks for this readable tutorial.

    Unfortunately I’m facing the same issue as Joshua, I’ve followed all instructions properly, however VirtualBox (4.1.4 w7 x64) still sees the LionInstaller hd image as not bootable.

    Any clue ?

  7. I also tried following the instructions step by step, but with Lion 10.7.2, and the resulting vmdk is not bootable, it gets stuck on the Apple logo.

  8. Anyone else have an issue where it gets stuck on the Apple logo and then the logo turns to a crossed out circle? I believe I’ve followed the directions exactly as described.

  9. Hi, I am trying to install mac os x lion on windows 7 using VMWARE, but its showing error “Can’t find mach_kernel”. How can i get rid of this…

  10. hi
    when i m insatlling mac os lion on windows 7 using vmware
    then screen contain only mac logo page.
    no further progress is being done.

    after few minutes a message is showing up that plz updates tool.
    nd then setup cancels
    plzz help

  11. Great Post,

    I’m getting error while booting from this bootable image

    “no hpets available CPU(s) configured incorrectly”

    can anybody help me out, please

  12. When I setup a new Workstation using the disk prepared I get the CPU Disabled by guest error. How can I get around it?

  13. i want to configure a virtual mac lion on my win 7 via vmware. now the problem is whenever im trying to run
    it showing no operating system found

  14. I have Mac 10.6.8 VM running on VMware Workstation 8.0. I downlaoded the Lion installer App (10.7.3). Do I need to perform any additional setps for 10.7.3 for creating bootable disk or above mentioned steps will work?


  15. Hello…i’m new in virtualization and i’ve a question…

    I don’t have a vm with snow leopard, but i have a imac running lion 10.7.2. Can I create teh Bootalbe Lion on pendrive directly in imac?


  16. I’m getting a “This copy of the Install Mac OS X Lion application is damaged, and can’t be used to install Mac OS X.” error trying to install Lion on latest VirtualBox. I followed the tutorials to the letter, booted with HackBoot, and have tried creating the image using both 10.7.0 and 10.7.3 with no success. Any assistance would be much appreciated.

  17. Hi All,
    Did any one installed MacOSX Lion on VMware on LInux, I have the iso verion of image but it says OS not found.
    I have selected the .iso image in vmware instead of disk(cd/dvd).

    Any suggestions on what i might be doing wrong / to verify the iso to see if it is working on vmware.
    Thanks in advance.

  18. Hi all

    I have done all the things. But When the vmware starts my macos disk it does not start and stays on apple logo.

    What might be the problem ?

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