When I started using Revit back in 2005, I was an Apple Macintosh user. As with learning any new application, and in this case learning about the technology of Building Information Modeling itself, I became obsessed and I wanted a version of Revit for Mac. Of course, back then Autodesk didn’t even offer a version of AutoCAD for Mac! The good news is, things are quite different now an we finally have some viable options for running Autodesk software on an Apple machine.
Autodesk has provided an Apple version of AutoCAD for several years now, but still there is no native version of Revit for Mac in sight. Rather than waiting for Autodesk to release Revit for Mac, there are several options for running Windows applications on an Apple machine.
Bootcamp and Virtualization
Apple has gone to the extreme and has finally given its users the option to partition their hard drive and boot directly to a Windows installation using Bootcamp, which obviously will let you run any Windows application you like. Really, at that point you have transformed your shiny Apple into a Windows box. On the plus side, this method gives users a true Windows experience and allows users to leverage the premium hardware that Apple users seem to be committed to. I will say that if you don’t need to do any heavy lifting in Revit, splitting up your precious drive can be quite the chore especially if your sole purpose of partitioning is only to get a version of Revit for Mac.
If you only need an instance of Revit for Mac to review models or do some light work, you may want to go the route of using virtualization software such as Parallels or Fusion. In a nutshell, this sort of emulation gives your non-Windows machine a virtual machine “inside” of it.
In computing, an emulator is hardware or software that enables one computer system (called the host) to behave like another computer system (called the guest). An emulator typically enables the host system to run software or use peripheral devices designed for the guest system. Emulation refers to the ability of a computer program in an electronic device to emulate (or imitate) another program or device.
The major downside to using an emulator to run Revit for Mac is your machine is technically working nearly twice as hard to run an operating system inside of an operating system. Although this will get you up and running faster than partitioning your hard drive, it is probably not the best solution for most Revit users.
Rather than covering the concept of partitioning your hard drive (it is pretty straightforward), I want to run through the option of using a virtual machine to run Revit for Mac or Linux.
Installing Revit for Mac or Linux
I am no longer a Mac user, however I am a Linux user and I’ve recently had the opportunity to install Revit on Ubuntu 17.10. If you are looking to learn how to run an instance of Revit for Mac, you’ll be pleased to know that this tutorial has you covered because Mac OSX and Linux are cut from the same cloth, so to speak, as they are both Unix-based operating systems.I wanted to see if there were any improvements on running Revit for Mac or Linux on a virtual PC. Overall, I was rather impressed with the outcome, but again, I wouldn’t recommend any heavy-lifting with this sort of configuration.
Download Oracle’s VirtualBox (free)
I like free things, so I chose to use Oracle’s VM VirtualBox virtualization software. This application is feature-rich and gives its expensive, for-pay competitors that I mentioned earlier a run for their money. They have packages for a number of hosts such as Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.You can download VirtualBox here.
Did you know that Microsoft allows you to download and install Windows 10 for free? You won’t be able to activate it without a legitimate license, but if you are simply looking to test out how an instance of Revit for Mac would run on your machine, this is a great place to start.
Again, even if you don’t have a license for Windows 10, you can still test performance of Revit for Mac or Linux by installing Windows 10 without activating it. However, if you are planning to use Windows for anything beyond that, please activate it!
Create Your Virtual Machine
Give the virtual machine a name and choose the appropriate Type and Version of Windows.
In the following dialogs, you will be prompted to choose some settings for your virtual machine such as allocating RAM and the Hard disk. I am far from an expert at virtual machines so I won’t pretend to know the best settings, but for this test I went with 10GB of RAM and a VDI hard disk of a fixed size. I went with a fixed size hard drive because I’ve heard that it can improve performance for virtual machines.
For the record, the desktop that I’m using is a Dell Optiplex 980 with an Intel i5 Intel® Core™ i5 CPU 670 with 16GB of RAM. Not the most powerful machine out there, but I was still rather impressed with the results.
We’re almost done setting up an instance where we can run Revit for Mac and Linux, but we still need to install Windows. Double-click your new virtual machine to start her up and VirtuaBox will prompt you to select a startup disk because you don’t have an operating system installed yet. Click the folder icon to the right of the dropdown menu and browse to the Windows ISO that you downloaded earlier in this tutorial.
Click the Start button and you’ll see your brand new machine booting up and ready to install Windows 10.
Install Revit as Usual
Once Windows is installed, you can move into the final step of getting Revit for Mac and Linux, you simply need to install Revit as you normally would. Since I am a subscription user, I downloaded the Revit installation files from Autodesk Manage. Don’t forget, there are three files that need to download for the installer to work.
Revit for Mac and Linux
In the screenshots below, you can see that I have successfully launched an instance of Revit for Mac or Linux!
As I mentioned earlier in the post, this probably isn’t the best solution for most Revit users, however, without a doubt this is the fastest way to install Revit for Mac or Linux. This installation was simply to see how technology has progressed in terms of emulation. I am not entirely sure if this configuration would work well in a production environment, but please leave a comment below and let me know if it worked or didn’t work for you and why.