ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Discussions related to using VirtualBox on Mac OS X hosts.

ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby macandroid » 23. Jun 2020, 13:35

Apple just announced macOS 16 / Big Sur along wil ARM (A12) based Macs, the first ones to be announced the end of this year. And after a few years INTEL Macs will completely be phased out.

That means for running Windows / Linux on an ARM Mac requires an ARM version of VirtualBox (and obviously ARM versions of the guest OSes, of which Windows and Linux are availble now.

But does Oracle plan to port the macOS version of VirtualBox to ARM ?
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby mpack » 23. Jun 2020, 15:13

Nope, there will be no port, for the same reason that VirtualBox isn't available on an iPhone. VirtualBox is not a CPU emulator, it requires x86 CPU.

I suspect VirtualBox will be only one of many "obscure" applications that won't make it into the Apple/ARM ecosphere.
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby ptram » 24. Jun 2020, 02:08

Is there any chance it will run under Rosetta?

Paolo
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby macandroid » 24. Jun 2020, 08:41

I don't mean a CPU emulator, but VB running natively on ARM, so it can obviously only run ARM guests, so ARM Windows or ARM Linux (and even Android), which are already available.
I don't expect an ARM Virtualbox running X86 guests as it is not an emulator.
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby mpack » 24. Jun 2020, 08:56

macandroid wrote:I don't expect an ARM Virtualbox running X86 guests as it is not an emulator.

Even so, I think you've missed that VirtualBox is an emulator of PC peripheral hardware. If you recompiled it for ARM (and let's ignore the fact that ARM doesn't have VT-x/AMD-v), it would still be emulating PC peripherals. What use is that with an ARM CPU? Targeting a different hardware platform would be a huge undertaking, basically a complete rewrite - and for that to be worthwhile there would have to be a PC like standardized platform with a huge market of people itching to buy this... and I doubt that the MacOS ecosphere is it, not for the next decade anyway.
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby multiOS » 24. Jun 2020, 09:09

Oracle is a commercial enterprise; and so is therefore driven by profitability (current and future) and its own future business needs/plans. I would imagine developments, such as the one you are asking about, will only happen if there is a perceived and quantifiable business need and earning potential forecasts which support the development and future maintenance costs. Nobody on these forums is likely to be privy to such sensitive business information, so you will simply have to wait and see.

Edit: mpack beat me to the business side of the answer.
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby mpack » 24. Jun 2020, 09:19

multiOS wrote:Nobody on these forums is likely to be privy to such sensitive business information, so you will simply have to wait and see.

Yes, it should always be emphasized that these are user discussion forums. Few of us (e.g. nobody here) is an Oracle employee, and even those few that are will not have been empowered to reveal company plans to the masses, even if they were privy to them. Hence all of this discussion is personal opinion.
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby XavierR » 26. Jun 2020, 09:08

I understand the current macos version shares most of its code with the versions for other OSes as architecture dependant code is the same.
That being said, I very much hope there will be some ARM version, as a large part of my work relies on having a virtualized Linux running on the Mac. I am now planning on getting the last Mac intel I can get so that the I have to deal with the question later rather than earlier.
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby scottgus1 » 26. Jun 2020, 20:13

While one could wish for lots of things it is important to remain grounded in reasonable expectations so we don't get stuck in 'wish mode' and never get anywhere.

Virtualbox is tuned to the x86 CPU environment, not the ARM environment. So it is unlikely that Oracle will desire to port Virtualbox to ARM as things stand now.

Macs use x86 Intel processors now. Virtualbox runs on that x86 platform. Apple's phones and tablets use ARM, and an emulator is needed to run ARM code on an x86 CPU. As mentioned before, Virtualbox is not an emulator, so it cannot handle iPhone & iPad code. It's the wrong tool.

If Mac moves to ARM, Virtualbox won't run on a Mac anymore. After that it will take enough of Oracle's rich paying customers who use Macs to want Virtualbox on ARM Macs before Oracle would port Virtualbox over to ARM (in my opinion, of course, and if it can be done). One or two customers probably wouldn't move ARM Virtualbox into existence unless they're the biggest customers and definitely no amount of free Virtualbox users will have any say.

Just mentioning the practical side so we don't get stuck.

On the other hand, Virtualbox is open source, so a Mac enthusiast or 20 could band together....
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby multiOS » 27. Jun 2020, 12:21

Well said scottgus1; and I think those who have "VirtualBox for ARM" on their Wish List also do need to recognise that IF it were ever to come to pass, it could not run any x86 VMs because they wouldn't recognise the ARM processor. So, for example, Mac Developers/Users wouldn't be able to run MacOS 10.15 (Catalina) or earlier MacOS versions as a VM on an ARM system. Nor could they use any other non-ARM OS, just as current VirtualBox Users cannot install/run non-x86 VMs.
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby ChristopherSchultz » 12. Nov 2020, 22:40

Apparently, Parallels thinks that there is profit to be made, here:

https://www.parallels.com/blogs/paralle ... licon-mac/

Also VMWare:

https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/11 ... -companies

Of course, it's ARM-on-ARM, not x86-on-ARM (which would require emulation, which none of these virtualizers offer).
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby Dimitrisv » 14. Nov 2020, 11:31

I for one I am keen on getting the new MacbookPro M1 and would have loved to have my VirtualBoxes running on it.
I am considering going for the latest Asus Zephyrous G14 with Razen9 instead because I guess it will take some time. I hear that even Adobe does not currently support apps in M1.
Yet I suggest for the team here to port the box on ARM because next year many of us will move to the ARM powered MacBook Pro 16in
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby mpack » 14. Nov 2020, 11:45

I don't understand why people insist on not getting this simple fact: VirtualBox can't be ported to an ARM, because it's an x86 hypervisor, not a simulator. In VirtualBox your x86 guest code runs at near full speed directly on the host processor. A CPU simulator is an entirely different animal that runs hundreds of times slower: that's good enough for debugging but totally useless for real work.

Face facts: if you go down the Apple ARM road you leave x86 behind. Period. That doesn't mean that Parallels and VMWare won't try to sell you stuff, but they won't be running an x86 hypervisor on an ARM, nor will it be any other practical solution for running x86 apps on a Mac.
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby mstekker » 14. Nov 2020, 13:26

mpack wrote:I don't understand why people insist on not getting this simple fact: VirtualBox can't be ported to an ARM, because it's an x86 hypervisor, not a simulator. In VirtualBox your x86 guest code runs at near full speed directly on the host processor. A CPU simulator is an entirely different animal that runs hundreds of times slower: that's good enough for debugging but totally useless for real work.

Face facts: if you go down the Apple ARM road you leave x86 behind. Period. That doesn't mean that Parallels and VMWare won't try to sell you stuff, but they won't be running an x86 hypervisor on an ARM, nor will it be any other practical solution for running x86 apps on a Mac.


This is not fully true... It would be nice if there will be an M1-ARM port of virtual box. That version could be used to run most ARM based OSes on the Apple M1 SOC. I would like to run (ARM) Linux on a M1 with Virtual BOX or in future maybe ARM Windows. That is what VMWARE and Parallels are doing right now. Because you are right... an emulation is mostly useless for production machines. I have a bit of a fear that VB development for the Intel MAC and the ARM MAC is not a priority. One can see this even now. VB is not running smoothly with Big Sure although there was a long beta-periode and the release is there. VMWARE has made it's player free to use and released a Big Sure version. I am a huge VB fan, but also like the Apple universe. So ... with a bit of pain, I just started to test Fusion Player to be safe in the near future as the Apple road map of VB is not clear.
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Re: ARM Macs: Will Virtualbox be ported ?

Postby mpack » 14. Nov 2020, 15:05

What I said is absolutely, fully true. Wishing otherwise will have no effect. Sure, you can do an ARM hypervisor, but who does that help?

And in any case: an ARM hypervisor would have to be developed from scratch. It's not a port of VirtualBox.
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