VirtualBox, IE9, OSX, Test Environment

Since switching to developing on a Mac a year ago one thing which has always been a bit of a pain for me is when I need to test a site specifically on Internet Explorer. Whilst things have improved greatly recently in the need to support this as a browser there are still occasions, albeit quite infrequently, when I simply need to replicate an issue on IE. These occasions are infrequent simply because I use a good base point for my FE work, and IE8/9 are actually quite good (in comparison to IE6/7). Coupled with a policy of progressive enhancement seems to get me 95% of the way there most of the time.

Still there is always those odd occasions to deal with. Because they are so infrequent I have so far gotten along with hi-jacking a colleague’s PC and hoping its a quick fix. Of course this was never going to be a long term solution as its not always going to be a quick fix and it isn’t always going to be available to me. A more permanent solution is required.

As I saw it I had 3 options:

  • Buy a test machine
  • Purchase Parallells and a Win7 License
  • Find a free option

The yorkshire man in me wanted to opt for the third option, after all I have spent a hefty sum on a Mac to do development, spending more money for the odd occasion irked me. Ultimately tho I didn’t hold out for a free option so have been looking to buy a test machine which could double as a machine for my wife. Only problem here is that if my wife has it and I need it then back to square one.

Well this morning I stumbled upon a tweet which looked like it could fulfil my needs. I’d heard of VirtualBox (and even had it installed) but the idea of subsequently having to install an OS such as Win7 seemed like more expense and a lot of hassle. Step forward Greg Thornton who has provided a wonderful script that does everything for you to get up and running with VirtualBox in kinda no time!

Visit Greg’s github page for instructions on how to install it on Mac, then be prepared to wait as it downloads a massive 4GBish of data, just to install IE9. But post install I finally had IE9 available on demand on my Mac for free.

There were a few things I had to discover post install to help with dev which I will detail below but its all available with a quick Google and certainly isn’t a complaint from me.

  • Password to login as Admin was “Password1” – this gets hinted to you on the login screen but still would be nice to be in the README file
  • To access my Mac’s localhost, use the IP
  • Hosts file needs to be edited as administrator, right-click on Notepad.exe and select “Run as Administrator”

And thats it, I was happily debugging an IE7 mode in IE9 without having spent a penny. The silver lining was that the money I was saving for a test machine I have spent on a shiny new 27in LED monitor :-)