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Running SAS on Macintosh OS X 10.4 and Above

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Native SAS for Mac

The last version of SAS produced for Mac was the PowerPC version of SAS 6.2 so this is not an option for most people. JMP does have a universal distribution for Mac that is very nice but expensive. For regular SAS users the only option is to do some sort of Windows installation using Boot Camp or a virtualization tool.

Running SAS for Windows on a Mac

Boot Camp

Apple's Boot Camp (bundled with the OS) allows you to boot directly into Windows using the dual core Intel Macs, but at this point you are using pure Windows. This may be the easiest way to run SAS on a Mac but OS X is not involved so the advantage of using a Mac is removed.


If you have a Mac, then you probably want to keep the look and feel as Mac as possible and this is easily done using OS X 10.5 and later using a virtual machine. The concept of keeping it Mac is the focus of this article. The virtualisation software options are:

Parallels Desktop for Mac by Parallels, Inc.
Commercial software.
VM VirtualBox by Oracle (formerly by Sun)
Open source software.
VMware Fusion by VMware, Inc.
Commercial software though VMware makes it's full range of products available for Academic research and teaching related purposes at no cost. This includes VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation, ESX, etc. All you need to do is apply to the VMWare Academic Program. You'll still need to acquire a valid windows license, check with your institution's IT dept and see if they have an existing Microsoft Campus Agreements which may cover use of Windows.

You can also create virtual machines for Linux and a few other operating systems as well. Multiple VMs can be run simultaneously as long as there are enough resources. The screenshot below shows MS DOS 6.22 and Windows XP SP2 running side-by-side on the same Mac using Parallels 3.0.

Screenshot of MS DOS and Windows XP VMs


Going with the installation defaults in either Parallels, VirtualBox, or VMware will get you started with Windows on a Mac, you can tweak later if necessary. The following screenshots go through the details of tweaking at install time if you want to control things a little bit more. Once Windows is installed, everything else works just as it does on a PC.

Building a Windows VM Using Parallels 3.0

  • Download or Purchase and install Parallels 3
  • Get a licensed copy of Windows XP. The VM is a separate computer for licensing purposes. An OEM version is acceptable since the VM is essentially a new computer.
  • Install Windows and SAS

(click on image for larger version)

ParStep1.gif ParStep2.gif ParStep3.gif ParStep4.gif ParStep5.gif ParStep6.gif ParStep7.gif

Customizing the VM After Installation


The memory allocation can be changed when the VM is shut down. Changing the hard drive allocation is done using the Parallels Image Tool.



VM Views

SAS in a Windows XP virtual machine (Parallels) within a window. This window can be any size, and can be resized on the fly. Notice the VM controls on the left side margin. It is important to start and stop Windows VMs in the same way that you start and stop Windows PCs. The VM can be stopped using the stop button but this has the same effect of turning the computer off while Windows is running.

A very handy tool of virtualisation software is the ability to suspend the VM. Suspending the VM works the same as hibernating a PC. Once the VM is suspended the VM software can be closed. Starting the VM at a later time results in un-hibernating and the OS returns to the state it was in when suspended. This is similar to taking a snapshot, but multiple snapshots can be taken and saved while suspension only applies to the current instance of the OS. There is more about this later in this article.


Full Screen


Coherence Mode. In Coherence mode Windows windows appear to be directly on the Mac desktop. The Windows start bar floats directly above the Dock. Windows files can be dragged from Windows windows directly to Mac Windows. Coherence


The Parallels menu is used to send CTRL-ALT-DEL and other Windows key combinations to the VM.


Snapshots are instances of the operating system "frozen" in time. Booting into a snapshot will give you the operating system exactly as it was when the snapshot was taken. Snapshots are compressed so that they use only a fraction of the space used by the VM HDD image. They tend to be around 5-10% of the image size so having multiple snapshots is not a problem with most disk rich systems. Below is a picture of the Parallels Snapshot Manager.


Other Options

  • If you have a Linux or UNIX SAS server with the X Window System you can log into that server and start an X session directly on your Mac.
  • Use a Remote Desktop Connection to connect to an existing Windows machine running SAS. One option is Microsoft's free Remote Desktop Connection software.
  • Use JMP for Macintosh (a universal distribution) either native or to connect to an existing SAS server.
  • Use SSPS for Macintosh.
  • Use R for Macintosh (GNU).


--SamC 12:57, 5 April 2008 (EDT)