Running CentOS 6.0 on an iMac

After a very long wait, CentOS 6.0 is finally out. If you are developing code to be run on a CentOS web server this is very good news. The CentOS 5 packages were horribly out-of-date for those of us using open source scientific packages. To ensure that your development environment is the same as your soon-to-be-upgraded server environment you will want to install CentOS 6.0 as a virtual machine on your desktop. This post describes the process on an iMac.

(See Running Ubuntu on an iMac for the same process with Ubuntu.)

Here is the setup we’re starting with:

  • 27″ iMac w/ 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB 1067 MHz RAM
  • Mac OS X 10.6.8
  • VMware Fusion 3.1.3

The following step-by-step process worked without a hitch:

0) Read up! CentOS is not as user friendly as Ubuntu and it’s worth while reading the CentOS 6.0 Release Notes and FAQ before starting.

1) Install VMware Fusion. You can purchase VMware Fusion online or sign up for a 30-day free trial.  If you buy it from a retail store be sure to get the latest update after installation.

2) Download the CentOS image file. Go to centos.org and click on the Download: i386 link to choose your mirror site. Your options include .torrent and .iso versions of:

  • LiveCD (684M) — to be run from a CD
  • LiveDVD (1.6G) — to be run from a DVD
  • bin-DVD (4.4G) — full GUI version with many packages
  • minimal (257M) — minimal server version
  • netinstall (173M) — super-minimal version

For a full desktop environment, install bin-DVD.

Being curious, we first started a direct download of the 4.4 Gb .iso file and saw download speeds of ~450 KB/sec. To improve download speeds you can install BitTorrent. It installed without a hitch on the iMac and resulted in download speeds of 650-720 KB/sec, a 50% improvement, bringing the total download time to around 2 hours. (Now is a good time to finish the reading material you skipped in step zero.)

3) Once downloading is complete it’s time to create a new virtual machine. Start up VMware Fusion and use the New Virtual Machine Assistant (File -> New). Just direct it to the CentOS-6.0-i386-bin-DVD.iso image file you just downloaded.

4) Follow the instructions in the New Virtual Machine Assistant.  Accept the automatically chosen operating system and select Easy Install.

5) Here’s what we have for default settings.  You can always give the virtual machine more memory after installation.

6) VMware Fusion will crunch for a while, creating a virtual machine from your CD image file and installing all the packages but will eventually display the login screen below.

7) When you go to log on to your new virtual CentOS system, the initial login information will be the same as your Mac login.

That’s all there is to it. Now you can develop new web services using the latest software.

Enjoy!

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