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  1. Computer Skills
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Computers

How to Test Drive Apple's New OS X 10.11 El Capitan

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

By taking advantage of virtualisation software, it is possible to install and experiment with other operating systems. 

It might be that you own a Mac and have always wondered if Windows is really as bad as some people make out. The answer is, generally, yes but Windows 10 looks interesting so install that one.

It might be that you have software that only works on a particular operating system with no version being available for OS X. Again, this is where virtualisation can help.

Virtualisation software allows you to install other versions of OS X, Windows, Linux—such as the popular Ubuntu distro—and more besides.

In this tutorial, I'll show how you can test drive El Capitan without overwriting the hard drive in the Mac. Ideal if you just want to see if Apple's new iteration of OS X is right for you.

What You'll Need

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using an Apple MacBook Pro running OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite and VMware Fusion 8. Version 8 of VMware Fusion allows the installation of Windows 10 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan

OS X 1011 El Capitan will be released in Autumn 2015
OS X 10.11 El Capitan will be released in Autumn 2015

VMware Fusion version 7 will allow you to install earlier versions of the Microsoft and Apple operating systems, but not Windows 10 or OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

  • Apple Mac
  • OS X 10.10.5 Yosemite
  • VMware Fusion 8
  • OS X 10.11 El Capitan public beta

Download the El Capitan Public Beta

In order to obtain a download of the OS X 10.11 El Capitan public beta, it is first necessary to sign up to Apple's Beta Software Program.

Its now easy for anyone with an Apple ID to take part in Apples public betas
It's now easy for anyone with an Apple ID to take part in Apple's public betas

It's easy to take part. 

Use your Apple ID to sign into the Beta Software Program
Use your Apple ID to sign into the Beta Software Program

Once you have signed up, you'll be able to download the OS X El Capitan Public Beta by clicking on the blue button.

download the OS X El Capitan Public Beta by clicking on the blue button
Download the OS X El Capitan Public Beta by clicking on the blue button.

You'll be redirected to the Mac App Store. The public beta of OS X 10.11 El Capitan is downloaded through the App Store in the same was that versions of OS X 10.7 Lion, 10.8 Mountain Lion, 10.9 Mavericks and 10.10 Yosemite have all been distributed.

Log in to the Mac App Store in the normal way if you are not logged in already.

Log in to the Mac App Store in order to download the El Capitan Beta software
Log in to the Mac App Store in order to download the El Capitan Beta software

The OS X El Capitan download will start automatically. You can keep track of the download progress by clicking on the Purchased tab at the top of the Mac App Store.

Find the El Capitan download under the Purchased tab in the Mac App Store
Find the El Capitan download under the Purchased tab in the Mac App Store

When OS X 10.11 El Capitan has dowloaded, it will prompt you to run the application to upgrade the Mac's operating system. That's not what you are trying to achieve, in this tutorial, so ensure that you cancel to prevent it upgrading the current operating system.

There are a couple of ways that you can test-drive El Capitan without upgrading the current version of OS X. 

  1. Partition the existing hard drive
  2. Create a virtual machine

In a previous tutorial, Install Yosemite Open Beta on a Bootcamp PartitionAlex Spencer explained how to partition the existing hard drive of the Mac. The principle is the same for OS X El Capitan.

Create a Virtual Machine

When it comes to virtual machines, for Macs, there are three main choices:

  1. VMware Fusion 8
  2. Parallels 11
  3. Oracle VirtualBox

There is a cost to the first two, and both are very good. The latter is open source software that is freely available.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using VMware Fusion 8.

Step 1. Launch VMware Fusion 8

Open VMware Fusion 8
Open VMware Fusion 8

Open VMware Fusion 8. As you can see, in my example, there are a number of operating systems set up as virtual machines already.

Click the + Add button, at the top left, to start the process to create a new virtual machine.

Step 2. Select Install Medium

Selecting the installation method
Selecting the installation method.

VMware defaults to installing from a disc image, as highlighted in blue, as shown in the screenshot above.

Click Continue.

Step 3. Select the Image

VMware should automatically find the OS X 10.11 El Capitan Public Beta that you downloaded earlier. If it does not, click Use another disc or disc image... and browse for the download using Finder.

Using Finder to locate the downloaded disc image
Using Finder to locate the downloaded disc image

Step 4. Confirm

VMware Fusion will confirm details for the configuration of the virtual machine that it will create. Leave these set to the default values for the time being.

Click Finish.

VMware shows the configuration of the virtual machine Click Finish to complete
VMware shows the configuration of the virtual machine. Click Finish to complete.

Step 5. Give It a Name

Enter a meaningful name to describe the virtual machine
Enter a meaningful name to describe the virtual machine

Enter a meaningful name to describe the virtual machine that you are creating. This is useful if you have a number of different virtual machines, as per my example, above.

It defaults to OS X 10.11 but I have chosen to make it more descriptive so that it shows as OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

Step 6. Installing OS X 10.11 on a Virtual Machine

VMware Fusion will then create and install the virtual machine from the OS X 10.11 downloaded image.

Creating the VM
Creating the VM
Creating the VM
Creating the VM

Choose a language for the operating system.

Choose a language
Choose a language

Select Install OS X and click Continue.

Creating the VM installing the OS
Creating the VM, installing the OS

Click Continue.

Creating the VM installing the OS
Creating the VM, installing the OS

Click Agree.

Creating the VM installing the OS
Creating the VM, installing the OS

Select Macintosh HD and click Install.

Creating the VM installing the OS
Creating the VM, installing the OS

Allow a few minutes for the software installation.

Creating the VM installing the OS
Creating the VM, installing the OS

The virtual machine will reboot itself and continue with the installation of the operating system.

Creating the VM installing the OS
Creating the VM, installing the OS

Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

Following the installation of the downloaded image into a virtual machine, OS X will reboot to a state whereby the customisation and set up process of the operating system will begin.

You may already be familiar with this process as it is the same as anyone will conduct on setting up any new physical Mac device.

Select your country. I have chosen United Kingdom.

Configuring OS X 1011 in the Virtual Machine
Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

Select the keyboard layout. I have chosen British.

Configuring OS X 1011 in the Virtual Machine
Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

I'd recommend selecting Don't transfer any information now.

Configuring OS X 1011 in the Virtual Machine
Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

Decide whether you wish to use Location Services and click Continue.

Configuring OS X 1011 in the Virtual Machine
Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

I've chosen Don't Sign In with Apple ID. You can if you wish.

Configuring OS X 1011 in the Virtual Machine
Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

Click Agree to the Terms and Conditions.

Configuring OS X 1011 in the Virtual Machine
Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

Create an account for the computer.

Configuring OS X 1011 in the Virtual Machine
Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

You can read about Diagnostics & Usage before clicking Continue.

Configuring OS X 1011 in the Virtual Machine
Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

When the configuration process is complete, you'll see the El Capitan OS desktop, as shown in the image below.

Configuring OS X 1011 in the Virtual Machine
Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

The Feedback Assistant will launch automatically. Remember, this is a public beta and Apple expects beta testers to feedback any problems, bugs, issues and so forth.

Configuring OS X 1011 in the Virtual Machine
Configuring OS X 10.11 in the Virtual Machine 

From here, you can explore OS X 10.11 El Capitan and use it just as you would your current version of OS X. 

Remember, though, this is beta software and should not be run in a production environment. This is precisely why I've installed it on a virtual machine.

When you next launch VMware, the Virtual Machine Library now shows the newly installed OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

VMware showing different virtual machines available
VMware showing different virtual machines available

Conclusion

In this tutorial, I have shown you the software required to create a virtual machine in order to test the public beta of Apple's new operating system, OS X 10.11 El Capitan.

I have shown you how to sign up for the public beta, how to download the operating system and how to install and configure El Capitan in a virtual machine.

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