Apple Silicon macOS VM software

I'm considering replacing several existing Intel Mac Mini servers with a single Apple Mac Studio running each server as its own VM. Each VM would also be running macOS, with FileMaker and Apache services.

My question is, what's the best software to set up & run these VMs?

Commercial software:

  • Parallels - seems to have the most robust support for VMs on Apple Silicon
  • VMWare Fusion - just came out with beta support for Apple Silicon

Other solutions (open source / freeware):

Any advice, recommendations?

Update with some info:

  • VMWare Fusion does not yet support macOS VMs on M1 silicon, so that's out of the running for me.
  • Parallels does support macOS VMs on M1, but the support is quite limited (for example, to adjust the VM settings, you have to edit a text configuration file, and there's no drag & drop file sharing...)

Good points ... And Parallels is really subscription only, sadly.

Hey @xochi,

You created a similar topic some time ago. Back then, Mac OS licensing limited what you can do with VMs. I have no idea if today's Mac OS license has changed so you might want to take a look.

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...and why stay on macOS for FM/Claris, server hosting can be done on Linux too and this opens up a lot of opportunities like virtualizing on proxmox

That's where I started with VMs for FMS or other tools like Univention

a nice one for substituting MS-domain-services


In my case, I need VM software to run Windows. Thus, until there are VMs capable of running Windows on Apple silicon, I have to stick with Mac/Intel. I've read that it's Microsoft's fault for not licensing whatever is needed, but the bottom line is it doesn't really matter if it doesn't run...

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Both Fusion and Parallels can now do this - you have to run an ARM version of Windows, but I believe that ARM Windows will run intel x64 code in emulation.

Not what I plan to do: I want to run macOS inside the VM. Why? Because I'm most comfortable with it. I could run Linux, but simplicity is a major goal of this project.

Licensing: as pointed out, the macOS VM license may or may not allow commercial use, so I'll have to look into that as well.

I just checked and it seems that VM Fusion is still in a public beta for the Apple Silicon processors, but perhaps you have seen something more current?

The review I read of someone using that public beta was not encouraging.


Yes, it's in beta (Fusion 22H2 Technical Preview), and though I did not try it myself, reading about it, I concur: it's early days still.

Yep, I'm stuck for now.


Last I checked (about a year ago) an Apple license restriction was that VMs, MacOS must run on Apple Hardware (hackintosh's violates the EULA). Also only 2 additional copies of MacOS may be virtualized, and only for 4 specific use cases; (a) software development; (b) testing during software development; (c) using macOS Server; or (d) personal, non-commercial use.

IMHO, a more reliable scenario might be
using multiple M1 minis plus something like 360Works MirrorSync or Linear-Blue's SyncServerPro. Both provide warm failover, and no license issues, along with redundant hardware.

FWIIW, FileMaker seems to run considerably faster in docker than in a VM ( as does many things). Fabrice over at One-More-Thing offers FMS Linux hosting using Docker.

Running my dev server there now and adding a couple clients in the next couple weeks. Performance has been great but not done much load testing yet.

I have almost every client moved to univention for directory services. Makes Microsoft active directory look like a dinosaur. Awesome stuff. Been using it for 9 years now

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I've been using Proxmox for about 2 years. I have all OS virtualized.
The recent FMS for Ubuntu 20 is by far the best server platform for FileMaker. Significantly more responsive and stable. The ability to clone, backup and restore the VM offers a great level of flexibility and redundancy.

Paralllels is not only by subscription, I have bought a copy running smoothly on my M1 MBP

One time subscription is only meant for private use as far as I know.

I don‘t know (and I do not really care :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:). But I will try to find out! Thanks

Apparently the "2 macOS VM" limit is enforced by Apple: See Virtualisation on Apple silicon Macs: 8 How Apple limits VMs – The Eclectic Light Company

The moment that you try to run a third macOS guest, the Virtualization framework returns an error and fails to start it, with a VZErrorDomain Code of 6, interpreted as “The maximum supported number of active virtual machines has been reached.”

Parallels have just made Parallels Desktop 18 available for download. The marketing information includes:

More Compatibility
Run more Intel (x86) Windows apps on your M series Mac. With over 200,000 Windows-only apps supported—we have you covered.

Ultimate Productivity
Start fresh with a one-click Windows 11 installation on Intel Mac, and easy-to-manage file sharing between macOS and Windows.

Stay Focused
No more forced restarts or losing unsaved documents—you decide when you want to restart Windows.

Just upgrading at the moment.


You used to be able to use a single FMP license on the same hardware, for MacOS and a VM of Windows. I'd dev on Mac and test of Windows on the same hardware. It worked out well, as the majority of deployments were on Windows, and the development tools are far better on MacOS for FM. Compounded with the brain-dead font rendering screen model on Windows, every UI element needed to be tested on Windows even when they looked perfect on MacOS.

A few revisions back (FM17?), the license would no longer work in the above scenario. I can't confirm this anymore, as I've moved to a partner development license, so 2 seats are no longer a restriction.

It looks like Parallels running Windows 11 for ARM is pretty good for intel compatibility. It seems to run FileMaker 5.5 really well (in XP compatibility mode) :slight_smile:

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