How To: Add Windows 7 Under OS X Snow Leopard for Free

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We love OS X, but we’re very excited that Microsoft’s Windows 7 has shaped up to be a solid OS release, for the fact that competition is a healthy thing for any and all players. If you’re on a Mac and want to see what all the hoopla is about from the other side of the fence, there is now a way to run Windows 7 as an integrated virtual machine under OS X 10.6.1 in just 5 steps without paying for virtualization software…

Anil Dash has compiled a way to convert your Boot Camp enabled machine to run the newest and greatest from Microsoft using a fully up to date Snow Leopard Mac machine, a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate and VirtualBox 3.08:

Here’s Anil’s very easy to follow instructions; the process requires just 15 minutes and just 5 steps:

  1. Install Windows 7 under Boot Camp, following the normal instructions. All of the Vista drivers for Boot Camp worked fine for me, and the install was actually pretty quick.

  2. Download and install VirtualBox. This is an open source virtualization system that runs on Mac OS, a lot like Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion, but available for free.

  3. The tricky part: You’ll need to do a little bit of geeky stuff. First, eject the Windows boot camp disk in Finder. (It’s usually called “Untitled”.) Then, launch Terminal so you can enter two commands.

    • sudo chmod 777 /dev/disk0s3
    • VBoxManage internalcommands createrawvmdk -rawdisk /dev/disk0 -filename win7raw.vmdk -partitions 3

  4. Start up VirtualBox, make a new Windows 7 machine, and browse to win7raw.vmdk in your home directory to choose the virtual hard drive for the machine. Your Windows install should boot up. It’ll fuss for a little while as it installs new drivers.

  5. Once that’s done, you can optionally install the VirtualBox Guest Additions software to let your Windows install completely integrate with your Mac OS X environment.
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