Apple Silicon VMware Guide

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This page describes the process of installing Gentoo on VMware Fusion Tech Preview on Apple Silicon Mac. The procedure in this guide has been tested on the following platforms:

  • Apple MacBook Pro, M1 Max CPU, VMware Fusion Tech Preview 22H2

VM Settings

Before booting the VM, change the settings:

  1. Hard Disk Bus Type Go to VM Settings > Hard Disk > Advanced > Bus Type. Set bus type to SATA.
  2. Hard Disk Size Set the disk size to at least 30 Gbytes.
  3. Memory Size Go to VM Settings > Processors & Memory and configure the VM with at least 4 Gbytes of memory.
  4. Number of CPUs In VM Settings > Processors & Memory set the number of Processors.

Preparing the Disks

Once the VM is booted, start by preparing the disks using fdisk. This guide uses GPT partition table and UEFI firmware.

livecd ~ # fdisk /dev/sda

 Command (m for help): g
 Created a new GPT disklabel (GUID: A75C1035-8C9C-2749-9F86-73C15F41A835).

Command (m for help): p
 Disk /dev/sda: 40 GiB, 42949672960 bytes, 83886080 sectors
 Disk model: VMware Virtual S
 Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
 Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
 I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
 Disklabel type: gpt
 Disk identifier: A75C1035-8C9C-2749-9F86-73C15F41A835

Create the EFI System Partition

Command (m for help): n
Partition number (1-128, default 1): 1
First sector (2048-83886046, default 2048): 
Last sector, +/-sectors or +/-size{K,M,G,T,P} (2048-83886046, default 83886046): +256M

Created a new partition 1 of type 'Linux filesystem' and of size 256 MiB.

Command (m for help): t
Selected partition 1
Partition type or alias (type L to list all): 1
Changed type of partition 'Linux filesystem' to 'EFI System'.

Command (m for help): 

Create Root Partition

Create a second partition, and accept the default values for all prompts:

Command (m for help): n
Partition number (2-128, default 2): 
First sector (526336-83886046, default 526336): 
Last sector, +/-sectors or +/-size{K,M,G,T,P} (526336-83886046, default 83886046): 

Created a new partition 2 of type 'Linux filesystem' and of size 39.7 GiB.

When partitioning is complete, the layout should look like:

Command (m for help): p
Disk /dev/sda: 40 GiB, 42949672960 bytes, 83886080 sectors
Disk model: VMware Virtual S
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: gpt
Disk identifier: A75C1035-8C9C-2749-9F86-73C15F41A835

Device      Start      End  Sectors  Size Type
/dev/sda1    2048   526335   524288  256M EFI System
/dev/sda2  526336 83886046 83359711 39.7G Linux filesystem

Use the w command to write the new partition layout to disk:

Command (m for help): w
The partition table has been altered.
Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
Syncing disks.

Creating Filesystems

Each of the partitions that were just created needs to have a filesystem stored on it to save files:

livecd ~ #mkfs.vfat -F 32 /dev/sda1
livecd ~ #livecd ~ # mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda2

Mounting the root partition

livecd ~ #mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/gentoo

Getting a Stage 3 Tarball

Go to the Gentoo downloads page and copy the link to the stage 3 tarball. MAKE SURE TO GET THE ARM64 version. This is a compressed file that contains a minimal filesystem for your new Gentoo installation. Inside the VM, use the wget utility to download that stage 3 tarball.

Before downloading the stage 3, make sure to cd /mnt/gentoo, the directory where the rootfs was mounted in the last step.

livecd ~ #cd /mnt/gentoo
livecd /mnt/gentoo #wget <URL OF STAGE3>

Next, extract the tarball into the rootfs:

livecd /mnt/gentoo #tar xpf <STAGE3 FILE NAME> --xattrs-include='*.*' --numeric-owner

Setting Up make.conf

The make.conf file has config options that tell Gentoo's package manager how to compile packages.

A sample make.conf is below

FILE /etc/portage/make.conf
# These settings were set by the catalyst build script that automatically
# built this stage.
# Please consult /usr/share/portage/config/make.conf.example for a more
# detailed example.
# WARNING: Changing your CHOST is not something that should be done lightly.

# NOTE: This stage was built with the bindist Use flag enabled

# This sets the language of build output to English.
# Please keep this setting intact when reporting bugs.

USE="-qt5 -kde X gtk gnome -gnome-online-accounts -wireless -bluetooth -ppp"

VIDEO_CARDS="vmware fbdev"
CPU_FLAGS_ARM="aes sha3 crc32 neon v8 vfpv4"

Note: The -march=native flag seemed to cause problems when compiling ffmpeg, so it has been removed in this sample make.conf.


Copy resolv.conf which contains DNS server info, into the new rootfs:

livecd /mnt/gentoo #cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/gentoo/etc/

Mount a bunch of pseudo filesystems needed by Linux:

livecd /mnt/gentoo #mount --types proc /proc /mnt/gentoo/proc
livecd /mnt/gentoo #mount --rbind /sys /mnt/gentoo/sys
livecd /mnt/gentoo #mount --make-rslave /mnt/gentoo/sys
livecd /mnt/gentoo #mount --rbind /dev /mnt/gentoo/dev
livecd /mnt/gentoo #mount --make-rslave /mnt/gentoo/dev
livecd /mnt/gentoo #mount --bind /run /mnt/gentoo/run
livecd /mnt/gentoo #mount --make-slave /mnt/gentoo/run

Enter the new rootfs environment

livecd /mnt/gentoo #chroot /mnt/gentoo /bin/bash
livecd /mnt/gentoo #. /etc/profile

Mount the /boot partition:

(chroot) livecd / #mount /dev/sda1 /boot

Configure Portage

(chroot) livecd / #emerge-webrsync
(chroot) livecd / #emerge --sync

Update the @world package list:

(chroot) livecd / #emerge --ask --verbose --update --deep --newuse @world

Setting the Timezone

(chroot) livecd / #echo "America/Chicago" > /etc/timezone
(chroot) livecd / #emerge --config sys-libs/timezone-data

Configuring the Kernel

Install the linux-firmware and gentoo-sources packages:

(chroot) livecd / #emerge --ask sys-kernel/linux-firmware
(chroot) livecd / #emerge --ask sys-kernel/gentoo-sources

gentoo-sources gives us the Linux kernel source, which must be hand-built.

(chroot) livecd / #eselect kernel list
 [1] linux-5.15.80-gentoo
(chroot) livecd / #(chroot) livecd / # eselect kernel set 1
(chroot) livecd / #cd /usr/src/linux
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #make menuconfig

The minimum requirement to make the VM boot is enabling the DRM driver in the kernel. This is needed to display a terminal prompt.

KERNEL Enable support for VMware DRM
-> Device Drivers                                                                                                                                                                     
  -> Graphics support 
    [*] DRM driver for VMware Virtual GPU

If you also want open-vm-tools integration, which provides performance improvements and improved integration with the host (shared clipboard, etc), enable the following in the kernel:

KERNEL Enable support for VMware DRM
-> Device Drivers                                                                                                                                                                     
  -> Network device support
    [*] VMware VMXNET3 ethernet driver

When this guide was written (Jan 2023), most of the host integration features in the kernel were only supported on x86.

After configuring your kernel, you can build and install it. The following command uses -j10 to start 10 build jobs. Usually the number of build jobs should be the same as the number of CPU cores you configured your VM with. The more build jobs you use, the faster your build will finish.

(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #make -j10 Image && make install && make modules_install

Install dhcpcd, needed to get IP address via DHCP:

(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #emerge dhcpcd
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #rc-update add dhcpcd default

Find the name of the VM's Ethernet interface by looking at the output of ifconfig. In this example, it's called ens160:

ens160: flags=4163<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST>  mtu 1500
        inet  netmask  broadcast
        inet6 fe80::23be:d7df:9454:bb82  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x20<link>
        ether 00:0c:29:c8:a5:1d  txqueuelen 1000  (Ethernet)
        RX packets 807368  bytes 1097038659 (1.0 GiB)
        RX errors 0  dropped 0  overruns 0  frame 0
        TX packets 292703  bytes 28455835 (27.1 MiB)
        TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0
        device interrupt 69  memory 0x38500000-38520000  

lo: flags=73<UP,LOOPBACK,RUNNING>  mtu 65536
        inet  netmask
        inet6 ::1  prefixlen 128  scopeid 0x10<host>
        loop  txqueuelen 1000  (Local Loopback)
        RX packets 1952  bytes 155712 (152.0 KiB)
        RX errors 0  dropped 0  overruns 0  frame 0
        TX packets 1952  bytes 155712 (152.0 KiB)
        TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #nano /etc/conf.d/net
FILE /etc/conf.d/net/etc/conf.d/net example
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #cd /etc/init.d
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #ln -s net.lo net.ens160
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #rc-update add net.ens160 default
  * service net.ens160 added to runlevel default

Set the Root Password

Use the passwd utility to set the root password. It might look like your characters aren't registering them when you type them, but they are. The utility just doensn't print anything on the screen when you're typing a password.

(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #passwd


Installing Grub

(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #emerge --ask --verbose sys-boot/grub
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #grub-install --target=arm64-efi --efi-directory=/boot --bootloader-id=Gentoo
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg

Rebooting the System

(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #exit
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #umount -R /mnt/gentoo
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #reboot



When this guide was written (Jan 2023), there were a lot of unstable video and device drivers in Gentoo that are required to install Gnome. In order to install the required drivers (vmware mouse and video drivers), we need to manually unmask them.

Unmasking Packages and USE flags

Need to unmask the fbdev and vmware video drivers to allow them to be installed. Create a new file /etc/portage/profile/use.mask:

FILE /etc/portage/profile/use.mask/etc/portage/profile/use.mask

Enable gnome-light by providing ACCEPT_KEYWORDS variable. Create the file /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords/gnome_light with the following contents:

FILE /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords/gnome_light/etc/portage/package.accept_keywords/gnome_light
gnome-base/gnome-light **
x11-drivers/xf86-video-vmware **
x11-drivers/xf86-video-fbdev **

Set use flags for mesa by creating /etc/portage/package.use/mesa with the following contents:

FILE /etc/portage/package.use/mesa/etc/portage/package.use/mesa
media-libs/mesa xa

Installing Gnome

Need to set your profile to Gnome Desktop:

(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #eselect profile list
Available profile symlink targets:
   [1]   default/linux/arm64/17.0 (stable)
   [2]   default/linux/arm64/17.0/hardened (exp)
   [3]   default/linux/arm64/17.0/hardened/selinux (dev)
   [4]   default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop (stable)
   [5]   default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/gnome (stable) *
   [6]   default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/gnome/systemd (stable)
   [7]   default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/gnome/systemd/merged-usr (stable)
   [8]   default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/plasma (stable)
   [9]   default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/plasma/systemd (stable)
   [10]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/plasma/systemd/merged-usr (stable)
   [11]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/systemd (stable)
   [12]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/desktop/systemd/merged-usr (stable)
   [13]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/developer (exp)
   [14]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/systemd (stable)
   [15]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/systemd/merged-usr (stable)
   [16]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/systemd/selinux (exp)
   [17]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/systemd/selinux/merged-usr (exp)
   [18]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/llvm (exp)
   [19]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/systemd/llvm (exp)
   [20]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/systemd/llvm/merged-usr (exp)
   [21]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/big-endian (exp)
   [22]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/musl (dev)
   [23]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/musl/llvm (exp)
   [24]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/musl/hardened (exp)
   [25]  default/linux/arm64/17.0/musl/hardened/selinux (exp)
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #eselect profile set 5
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #emerge gnome-light

Start dbus service, needed by X (and Gnome)

(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #/etc/init.d/dbus start
(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #rc-update add dbus default

Set display manager to GDM:

(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #nano /etc/conf.d/display-manager
FILE /etc/conf.d/display-manager/etc/conf.d/display-manager

Start the login manager:

(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #/etc/init.d/xdm start

Optional: Installing open-vm-tools

The open-vm-tools, provides some nice integration features between host and guest. When this guide was written, a lot of the kernel drivers that are required to support host integration are x86-only, but some stuff (like HGFS file sharing) still works.

Since open-vm-tools is still experimental, unmask it:

FILE /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords/open-vm-tools/etc/portage/package.accept_keywords/open-vm-tools
app-emulation/open-vm-tools **
dev-libs/libdnet **

Then add USE flags for open-vm-tools

FILE /etc/portage/package.use/open-vm-tools/etc/portage/package.use/open-vm-tools
app-emulation/open-vm-tools gtkmm resolutionkms fuse

(chroot) livecd /usr/src/linux #emerge open-vm-tools


Check the log file /var/log/Xorg.0.log for error messages. Error lines start with EE.