Can you install the macOS Big Sur public beta in a VM?
Quick answer: Yes
The details: Now that Parallels Desktop 16 has been released, I am able to talk about this new version of Parallels Desktop that I have been using for about the last six months.
I was able to install the macOS Big Sur public beta in a VM. In fact, this is my preferred way to test out a new OS that is under development, and I have been doing so for years. OSes under development can have significant issues, and if you test them out in a VM there is no risk to your Mac.
Can macOS Big Sur be installed in a Parallels Desktop 16 VM?
Yes, it can, but an additional variable to consider is the host OS.
On a Catalina host
I encountered no issues at all, but it did take a while. A large portion of this time was downloading the “Install macOS Big Sur public beta” app—a 12.3GB download!
Normally, installing the Parallels Tools in a new OS under development is a mistake. The Parallels Tools are individually designed for each guest OS. While it is possible, having the Tools for an older OS work in a newer OS is unusual. Installing older versions of Tools can sometimes cause an OS to “lock up”. So, what I usually do is not install the Tools by default, make a copy of the Tool-less VM, and then see what happens when I install the Tools.
I did this for the Big Sur VM on my Catalina host, and the Parallels Tools did not cause any issues. Not everything worked perfectly, but it is quite usable.
On a Big Sur host
This went perfectly and everything I have tested works fine. However, I am not a professional tester, so I will wait to hear the experience of the engineers in the Parallels QA team.
Can macOS Big Sur be installed in a Parallels Desktop 15 VM?
On a Catalina host
The answer is “yes” this can be done, but there are several gotchas to worry about. My first three attempts did not succeed, but on the fourth try I did get it to work.
I will wait until macOS Big Sur is released to share images and videos of the installation and use of a macOS Big Sur VM in both Parallels Desktop 15 and Parallels Desktop 16. Perhaps some of the issues I encountered will be gone in the actual customer release of Big Sur.
Please also refer to this knowledge base article for further information.
Feel free to test Parallels Desktop 16 for Mac for 14 days for free.
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