Citrix demonstrates their client hypervisor on a Mac running Mac OS X in a VM!

The biggest jaw-dropping moment for a lot of people at Citrix Synergy last week was when Citrix demonstrated a version of their upcoming XenClient Type 1 bare-metal client hypervisor (formerly known as "Project Independence") running on a MacBook Pro.

The biggest jaw-dropping moment for a lot of people at Citrix Synergy last week was when Citrix demonstrated a version of their upcoming XenClient Type 1 bare-metal client hypervisor (formerly known as “Project Independence”) running on a MacBook Pro. While there are several products on the market that let you run Windows as a VM guest on a Mac OS X host (like VMware Fusion, Parallels Workstation, and the free Virtual Box), Citrix's demonstration showed Mac OS X and Windows running side-by-side. In other words, that demo was the first time a real company showed Mac OS X running in a VM on a laptop.

This is something that everyone guessed would happen sooner or later since client virtualization and Macs have both exploded with popularity over the past few years. Probably the only thing really holding it back was the fact that client hypervisors had yet to be invented. ;)

I had always heard that the Apple license agreement prevented running the Mac OS X desktop in a virtual machine, and in fact that's what I wrote in the live blog as I was watching the demo. But afterward Citrix's John Fanelli told me that wasn't accurate. So today I did something that I've never done before: I read the Mac OS X license agreement. (!)

It actually wasn't too bad. Apple has a dedicated page with links to PDFs of all the various agreements. Here’s what the license agreement says about the desktop version of Mac OS X 10.5:

Single Use. This License allows you to install, use and run one (1) copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time. You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so. This License does not allow the Apple Software to exist on more than one computer at a time, and you may not make the Apple Software available over a network where it could be used by multiple computers at the same time.

So to me this seems like it's perfectly legal to run OS X in a virtual machine as long as you do it on Apple hardware and you only run a single instance of the Mac OS. It doesn't say anything that would prevent you from running it in a VM. So I guess really the only limiting element in the past was the fact that client hypervisors hadn't been invented yet?

Just for kicks, I decided to take a look at the license agreement for Mac OS X 10.5 Server.

Mac OS X Server Software.  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. You agree not to install, use or run the
Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so. This License does not allow the Mac OS X Server Software to exist on more
than one computer at a time.

In this case they're specifically calling out the virtualization use case. But as long as each Mac OS instance is properly licensed (which makes sense), then it's fine, which would lead me to believe that since they didn't deliberately disallow it than it's okay.

So what?

A lot of people see this demo and have the same reaction I did, which was something like, "So what? Seamless Windows apps in my Mac OS X? I can already do that with products like Fusion and Parallels." But of course these seamless apps are coming from a virtual machine at the same level as Windows, so there's a lot more that can be done there. (First and foremost, now I can reboot my Mac OS X without taking down the Windows guest.

As a Mac user and borderline Echo Generation guy, I'm very excited about this. I use my Mac every day for my personal stuff, and I have all my work stuff running in a VM. It seems that no matter how I configure that VM, it's always a bit sluggish. And it's too bad that I have to shut it down or suspend it every time I have to patch and reboot the host Mac OS.

I absolutely love the concept of my locked-down, Windows-based work VM publishing seamless apps onto my Mac desktop. I love the idea of being able to use the Citrix receiver or Dazzle for Mac to pick up a streamed Windows app, and to have the streaming send it down to my local Windows OS.

The bottom line is that this is not going to help Mac apps enter the workplace. Instead it will mean that these various desktop virtualization solutions will be able to cohabitate with each other across platforms.

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Performance and security are good reasons to prefer the Type 1 approach and as well as parallel boot as Brian points out. While this is all well and good, the real benefit will come when you can manage these VMs well with policy. Until then I don't see this as an Enterprise play en mass. Great that it can be done though. One other thing to think about is that the MAC was not a VPro device (Yippey) so I hope this means that Type 1 will be more broadly adopted over time. Since you need at least VT to run a Type 1, I don't think it will be available to the masses for a while. That's why I think the Moka5 video a few weeks ago was really an eye opener. There is no reason why they couldn't move to a Type1 over type and achieve broad adoption.


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Is there any chance you could show a demo/video of what was shown at Synergy?


Apple made their licensing agreement change about a year and a half ago, and VMware's Fusion Team even did a video and post a blog post about this last year: blogs.vmware.com/.../virtual-leopard.html


My understanding is that only the Server version can be virtualized and not the regular Workstation OS, which means you would to pay more $$$ if you were really looking at taking the VDI mainstream in the enterprise.  I installed Leopard Server within Fusion last weekend and can honestly say the install was really smooth and easy from within Fusion, but again like you said that was through a Type II hypervisor not a Type I.  It's also too bad that the Project independence couldn't be loaded inti the EFI, thus preventing the need to virtualize the OS at all.  I only hope that Citrix releases this technology to the general public, so everyone can benefit from it.


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community.citrix.com/.../Ian+Pratt+Demonstration+of+Xen+on+a+Client+Device(s)


Since this is Xen, I see no reason the Opensource community will not benefit from this technology once it is ready.


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Some of this concept I championed internally back in August, but called it Transparent XenDesktop.  It included the Open Kernel Labs piece, as well as the access method to heterogenous hypervisors, specifically Type 2.  


Creating a specialized Citrix Receiver was front end to the access method, so that the user was not responsible for "windowing" through to the app.  Make it a seamless/unity/coherent experience, but make it single click access.  Sure not revolutionary in the idea, but something where Citrix could impact the daily lives of multi-virtual-taskers.


By putting XenClient underneath, it provides addional layers of security, and obviously next-gen thinking, coupled with self-service dazzle.


Ultimately, I would like to see us expand this "Transparent Receiver" to the Type 2's as well, as that's an incredibly large market to make their lives easier.


I also see that Microsoft is providing a simliar function, or single-slick access with MED-V called "Auto-Publish".  Good to see that these user-intensive problems are being addressed by both partners.


We'll see where it goes, the fun is just beginning!


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The management of the Windows machine within the Mac systems will be handled the same way you can manage XenDesktop and Provisioning Server (PVS) desktops today.  What Citrix is giving us with the XenClient (project independence) is the ability to push that management to a level 1 client hypervisor.  Biggest bonus (in my opinion) is the offline nature.  With PVS requiring a gig network, it just won't work in a wireless or offline mode.  The other major advantage of the XenClient is seamlessly enabling "bring your own computer" or BYOC that Citrix champions.  Let users pick any computer they want (which meets CPU requirements) and deliver them a secure, locked down corporate image.


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I see no need in any vendor investing into Type 2 Client Hypervisors after seeing what Type 1 Client Hypervisors can do.


Really, what would the benefit be of using a Type 2 Client Hypervisor be over a Type 1? Other than running on 'inferior' hardware that doesn't support vPro or VT technologies.


I see that as a double hit for performance anyways, not really a benefit.


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@Craig - PVS doen't need gigabit to the client - 100mb/s is more than adequate (in fact 10Mb/s works well too). the link from the PVS server of course should be at least gigabit for scalability reasons.


Once an image has been streamed (cached on XenClient) the only traffic will be deltas when the base image is updated. Not sure how the delat management is going to be handled, but I'm guessing the hypervisor is the easy part - the management stuff around it is where the effort is going to be required.


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@MrIncredible


Good to know the bandwidth functionality for PVS.  How many users have you successfully rolled out over the lower speeds?


For deltas, my understanding is that it will do the delta sync whenever the network is available and not being used.  My understanding is that you can would be able to have the same golden image for both XenDesktop and XenClient users since they'll both be running on type 1 hypervisors.  That part is somewhat of an inference from my conversations with Citrix folks though.


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Type 2 means a sizable addressable market now, as opposed to waiting 2-3 years for a hardware refresh that may or may not happen that fast. The value is in the management layer and who builds the best one independent of the Hypervisor Type.  


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sounds nice, but you have to miss something having Mac virtualized compared to what you have when you have it physical


that is why I love my mac


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@appdetective


I guess it really depends on the organizations policy for hardware refreshes. In my case we usually get yearly refreshes and the majority are definitely not considered to be top of the line, but they do have VT.


We are also a Mac shop as well and we anticipate the possibility of a larger Mac install base in the future so we have diversity. A lot of them also have VMware Fusion or Parallels installed so there is definitely a VM sprawl and it is out of control.


The XenClient is an immense step further to help battle a lot of problems with IT resource management today.


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@Craig - here's a link that will take you to the demo video... blog.xen.org/.../xen-client-initiative-demos


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The demo was pretty cool.  I was actually lucky enough to be able to attend both Summit and Synergy this year.  They definitely saved the good stuff for the Synergy kick-offs. I can't wait to get my hands on the XenClient.  Save me from my self-imposed re-build for each new beta and random Linux distro I throw on this thing.


As for the earlier post about performance on physical versus layered in a VM, it shouldn't be too noticeable.  I'd honestly be surprised if anyone notices a difference to be honest.  The main thing is the memory constraints of having two OS's running at the same time.  Any of the MacBook Pro models should have plenty of horsepower.  


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The demo was pretty cool, but really it did just look like the Unity/Coherence of a Type II.  The really should have demoed something that was the reverse like opening GarageBand or iPhoto or something like that and then presenting that application to the Windows Vista host.  That would have been much cooler.  But I still think everyone is missing the current hidden cost behinds this, you still have to be using the Leopard Server in order for this to be legal according to Apple's EULA, which runs at a minimum $499 per host. store.apple.com/.../A


That's a big added cost, when really such a small benefit.  It's probably cheaper to just get a thin client and plop it down next to the Mac. and then use some sort of KVM to plug the two into the same monitor.


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@Craig. I think you are missing the point that users can now use personal machines (sunk cost) and have secure corporate images side by side. That reduces costs for companies to provide hardware and hopefully support as well if they get the management right. The fact that they can do Mac and Windows hardware gives CONSUMERS choice. Power to the consumer who works in an enterprise!!!!


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@appdetective I agree with you when you say "Power to the consumer who works in an enterprise!!!!", but forcing me to pay $400 and then reload my system with the server edition of an OS is a big undertow for that privilege.


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@craig I don't think it costs you extra to run the desktop version of OSX. You just need to run it on Apple hardware (where they make their money) and you are good. At least that is how I understand it. Server OSX is a different story.


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@Craig Miller


There are no added costs for license fees for Apple.


As Brian mentioned, quoted from Apple's OS X EULA:


"Single Use. This License allows you to install, use and run one (1) copy of the Apple Software on a single Apple-labeled computer at a time. You agree not to install, use or run the Apple Software on any non-Apple-labeled computer, or to enable others to do so. This License does not allow the Apple Software to exist on more than one computer at a time, and you may not make the Apple Software available over a network where it could be used by multiple computers at the same time."


I see Windows running on a Mac, which means a VECD license would need to have been purchased extra and that's no different than a PC.


In regards to VDI there is now a very thin line with PC and Mac now, Mac = PC with OS X. * It has to have OS X per EULA.


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