Creating an OS X VMware image using Packer

The time has come to look at OS X VMs. I’d put this off for a while as the amount of development I’d have to do on OS X didn’t warrant the effort. But curiosity, easier management of upgrades and the need to learn new things has spurred me on this path of learning.

So without attempting to chew too much in one go my first attempt is to create a VM image using Packer.

Why Packer? From one config you can create images for different platforms – like VMware, VirtualBox, AWS etc.

For my own learnings I was creating images for VMware.


  1. Have packer installed. If using homebrew simply run
  2. Have VMware Fusion or Fusion Pro installed
  3. Clone the os-x-vm-template project
  4. Have the installation file of OS X available. If you don’t you can download it as follows:
    • Open App Store
    • Search for the OS – in my case I looked for ‘os x yosemite’
    • Click download. It’ll download to /Applications

Creating the image

  1. Go to wherever you cloned the os-x-vm-template project.
  2. Run the script

    This will finish and chuck out some output similar to:
  3. Copy the template.json file in the packer directory
  4. Open the osx-template-vm-ware-iso.json file and:
    • Remove the builder entries for parallels-iso and virtualbox-iso.
    • Modify the iso_checksum and iso_url variable values to match the ones spat out in Step 2. E.g.:
  5. Validate that your config file looks okay:
  6. If your template is all good the next step is to create the image

    This step will take a while as it’ll create a new VM, install and configure OS X then export it as a new vm. The output will be created in a folder of the same name prefixed with output – e.g. output-vmware-iso.

Next up I’ll look at using this image as the image as the base source image to create other more specific images. Why do I want to do this? I want the ability to easy trash and recreate OS X environments but I want this to occur fairly quickly. By keeping a base source image I won’t need to sit through the OS X installation each time I need to start with a ‘fresh’ VM.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Greetings from Lassen Volcanic National Park. Lassen is located in north east California and contains the southern most volcano that makes up the Cascade Range of volcanoes. It is sort of like a super tiny version of Yellowstone in some ways. There’s geothermal areas with hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles. Completed with the smell of sulphur wafting through the air at points. The park apparently is also one of the few places where all four different types of volcanos can be found.

There’s meadows in places

The park for the most part is fairly remote, it’s been about 1.5 hours of driving each way to get in/out of where we want to walk. One of the walks we did was called Bumpass Hell (yep another somewhat intriguing name that got my attention). It’s called Bumpass Hell after K.V. Bumpass an early settler in the area. He found the area and whilst showing it around fell through the earths crust burning his leg. As the Bumpass Hell trail wasn’t that long we continued on down to Cold Boiling Lake. Cold Boiling Lake sounded interesting as it’s named what it is due to it being a cold lake that looks boiling due to escaping carbon dioxide. In reality though it didn’t look like it was ‘boiling’ as bubbles only rose from certain areas and rather slowly at that. It did look pretty though as it was surrounded by a meadowy looking area.

Making our way to hell
A view without as much steam of Bumpass Hell
View on our way to Cold Boiling Lake

The other hike on my list was Lassen Peak. Lassen Peak is possibly the largest plug dome volcano in the world. Its last activity was May 1914 – May 1917, with its dramatic eruption happening in May 1915. With the eruption being relatively recent, one could say that some of the rocks in the area are California’s youngest rocks. We had to start this hike early as the peak is known for having thunderstorms past noon. The area has been having a bout of cooler than normal weather lately so  as we got higher the fog set in and let’s say it was fairly cold. Probably should have had gloves and a beanie. Eventually we made the top rest area and the fog cleared for a few minutes. You could just see Mount Shasta off in the distance. Everywhere else around was cloud. Some snacks and then it was on the way back down. My fingers were going red and hurting cos they were so cold. It was kind of odd later on when they were warming back up because they had a weird sensation.

Am I standing above the cloud line?
Am I standing above the cloud line?

Today on our last day we went for a drive instead of hiking. First we headed out to Subway Cave which is in the adjoining national forest. The cave is a lava tube formed by lava flowing through lava that had already cooled/hardened. When the flowing lava eventually disappeared a tube like cave was left behind. So with torches in hand into the tube we went. It was only 1/3 long inside it was pitch black and many degrees cooler than outside. There was info boards in the cave that you could read to find out more about the formation. They were easy to find as they’d kindly put reflectors on them.

No pictures of the cave ‘cos its too dark, but we did make light trails

After Subway Cave we went over to the Butte Lake area of the National Park as Cinder Cone was over there. Cinder Cone is another volcano and flow of lava from it created what is known as the Fantastic Lava Beds. We didn’t bother hiking to the top of Cinder Cone as we were all hiked out and had already spent over 2 hours driving already. So instead we hiked part way up the trail to get a better look then headed back.

Cinder Cone

The next two days are driving days on our way back to LA before we finish of the trip with a few days at Disney.

Redwood National and State Parks

The second last park of this 2 month adventure brings us to Redwood National and State Parks. The parks are located in the north coast region of California and consist of the National Park along with 3 of California’s State Parks. The State Parks actually existed from the 1920’s and came about as a result of the work of conservationists and citizens who were concerned about the extensive logging of old growth redwood forests. Through public donations and buying back of land the state parks were formed. Yet there was still concern about the extent of logging around the boundaries so in 1968 the creation of the National Park happened to protect lands around the State Parks.

There are 3 types of redwood trees, more commonly known as coastal redwood, giant sequoia and dawn redwood. The coastal redwood and giant sequoia both occur naturally in the California however the giant sequoia only occurs in the Sierra Nevada. Having been to Sequoia National Park before and seeing the giant sequoias it was interesting to see redwoods. Both types of trees have claims to fame. Redwoods are the tallest living things on earth whilst giant sequoias are the largest single trees and largest living thing by volume. To highlight the difference, the redwoods are basically taller but skinny whereas the giant sequoias are slightly shorter but have massive circumferences. Both can have trees that are over 2000 years in age.

Tallest trees in the world
Tallest trees in the world
The park also includes some of the coast
The park also includes some of the coast

When planning our visit to this region I wasn’t actually sure what to expect as I knew there was super tall trees but that was about it. I’d also wondered how different it was to Sequoia. Having spent a few days here I’m glad to say that it has been enjoyable. There’s a great variety of hikes you can take through the forest as well as trails along the coast. It’s also got a number of fairly accessible trails for those who can’t walk far that take you through old growth forest that still looks relatively untrampled on. Having been on a number of the old growth trails in the other parks this trip I can say that the other parks having nothing compared to RNSP. Standing on a trail, dwarfed by tall trees and just the sound of birds has something serene about it. Maybe it’s why I like doing these park holidays. It’s an escape from my normal life that’s filled with technology, traffic, thinking.

Shrouded in fog
Trees shrouded in fog

One of the cool hikes we did whilst here was a 11.6 mile loop in Prairie Creek park. The nice thing about this trail is that it goes through a variety of environments, from forest to canyon to beach and back. The canyon is known as fern canyon and has 6 different types of ferns in it. The ferns cover the canyon walls giving it a look from some era long gone by. So much so it’s been used in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Star Wars.

Feeling tiny
Fern Canyon
Fern Canyon
Where does this lead?
Where does this lead?
To the coast!
To the coast!

Tomorrow it’s onwards to Lassen Volcanic National Park, the last park in this 2 month adventure.

Crater Lake National Park

Hello from Crater Lake, where today it’s the 4th of July, America’s Independence Day. Crater Lake is in the state of Oregon and the only national park in the state. The crater is actually a caldera formed when Mount Mazama erupted about 7000 years ago. The eruption was so huge that once the magma escaped the volcano the mountain collapsed in on itself. Within the lake sits Wizard Island a volcanic cinder cone that actually has a crater at the top. Wizard Island was created by a number of smaller eruptions that happened after the Mount Mazama eruption.

Wizard Island
Wizard Island sitting within the lake

During summer the park concessionaire runs a boat tour of the lake but only 2 of the trips each day include the stop at Wizard Island. Tickets only go on sale exactly 24 hours before and as the boat only takes 37 people you can guess what our first stop on arrival day was. Get some boat tickets.

So our first full day started with yet another early wake up call as we had to make the 1 hour drive round to the rim drive to hike down 1.1 miles in the boat dock. Being on a small boat on the lake was cool as you really got a look at how blue the water was and how high the crater walls were. After getting across to the island we had 3 hours to do whatever we wanted. The majority of people including ourselves decided to go for the summit trail. So up we walked to the top of Wizard Island. At the top you could clearly see the shape of the crater, you could even walk down into it if you wanted too.

Crater at the top of Wizard Island
Crater at the top of Wizard Island
Looking out into the lake from Wizard Island
Looking out into the lake from Wizard Island
Wildflowers. These guys live a hard life...
Wildflowers. These guys live a hard life…

We didn’t think we had enough time to walk to Fumarole Bay so after making our way back went to the dock to chill. I’d taken my shoes off and was dangling my feet in the water which was nice and cool. I wasn’t planning to go swimming and hadn’t packed any swim gear. But after seeing the ranger who was onboard our boat tour jump in fully clothed, I was like… well if she’s just jumped in fully clothed so am I. Soon after there was quite a few of us jumping in fully clothed. Usually the surface water in summer is between 55 – 60 fahrenheit (12.7 – 15.5 celsius approx), but it didn’t feel that cold. No colder than the beach on a summers day.

In we go...
Into the lake we go…

The water is so clear and clean that on the way back we made a stop and the ranger offered to fill anyones water bottles up. She did have to say that obviously there is a risk of giardia but there hadn’t been any detected. Seeing she was filling up her own bottle most of the other passengers did as well. That and I think some of them were running low on water and there was the 1.1 uphill hike at the end.

Day 2 and 3 was time to get some hiking in. There’s a few hiking trails here but not to many. Most of them aren’t that long in the scheme of things either. The Pacific Crest Trail does run through the park though and hikers can take an alternate trail that takes them to the rim trail before rejoining up with the original PCT. We did both our hikes early in the day as there’s been a bit of a heatwave of late. That and it’s 4th of July weekend. You should’ve seen the amount of people coming into the park around lunchtime and trying to get a park!

Changing colours as the sun was going down
Small island called Phantom Ship.

This evening we’re going to head to Klamath Falls fairground as apparently there is something happening there from 6PM for Independence Day. We have no idea what it’ll be like, a small country fair maybe?