How to Install Linux (Ubuntu Server 18.04) on a Mac with VMware Fusion

Virtualization Fusion Ubuntu

This post shows you how to create a Ubuntu virtual machine that runs on a Mac, giving you the ability to use Linux without needing extra hardware.

Introduction

VMware Fusion* is a desktop virtualization program that lets you run multiple different operating systems on your Mac at the same time. This is useful if you’re a developer because you can test your software before putting it into production.

It’s also good for creating virtual labs to test the design of IT infrastructure, or to get hands-on experience with new technology when practicing for a certification.

In this post, we’ll use VMware Fusion to create a Ubuntu Server 18.04 VM so you can run Linux on your Mac without needing extra hardware.

Prerequisites

Before we begin, you should have VMware Fusion* installed on your Mac and have downloaded the Ubuntu Server ISO.

The steps in this tutorial have been tested on VMware Fusion 11.5* using the alternative download of Ubuntu Server 18.04.

Let’s begin.

Create the Ubuntu VM

Open VMware Fusion, click + then New…

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 1

Select Create a custom virtual machine then click Continue.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 2

Select Linux > Ubuntu 64-bit then click Continue.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 3

Leave the firmware on Legacy BIOS then click Continue.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 4

Select Create a new virtual disk then click Continue.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 5

Click Customize Settings.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 6

Give the virtual machine a name, for example ubuntu, select a location on your Mac to save its files, then click Save.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 7

The virtual machine Settings screen will load, and from here, we can change the virtual hardware before powering it on. Let’s reduce the memory by clicking on Processors & Memory.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 8

Change the amount of memory to 512 MB, which is the minimum requirement for Ubuntu 18.04, then click Show All to view all the settings again.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 9

We also need to attach the Ubuntu ISO to the CD/DVD ROM drive so that when you power on the VM, the installer is loaded. We’ll do that now by clicking on CD/DVD (SATA).

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 8

Select Choose a disc or disc image… from the dropdown.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 10

Browse to the location of the Ubuntu image located on your Mac, then click Open.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 11

Tick the Connect CD/DVD Drive option so that the drive is connected to the VM at startup then close the Settings screen.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 12

Click the play button to start the VM.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 13

The Ubuntu Server installer should load and you’re now ready to install the operating system.

Create Ubuntu VM on VMware Fusion - Step 14

Installing Ubuntu

Walkthrough the installer as you would on other hardware or virtualization software. Choose your language, keyboard layout, network config and user settings. When you get to the end of the installer, install the OpenSSH server, so you can connect to the VM from the Mac terminal using SSH.

Install VMware Tools

Once you’ve installed Ubuntu, you should install VMware Tools because it makes the VM run faster and enables features like copy and paste between the host and VM. Read this tutorial to learn how.

Final thoughts

In this tutorial, we learned some of the reasons why you might want to use virtualization to run a Linux virtual machine on your Mac. We used VMware Fusion* to create a Ubuntu 18.04 VM, and we learned how to edit its virtual hardware by adjusting the amount of memory.

Written by: Tony Mackay

Links marked with a * are affiliated and may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you, should you click through and make a purchase.