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Some system emulations on Linux use KVM, a special emulation mode which claims to reach nearly native speed. KVM is mainly used for x86 (32 and 64 bit) emulation on x86 hosts running Linux. Should you want to run Qemu with KVM support on a G5, depending on your distribution, you might have to compile your own kernel with KVM support.

If your host's (your computer) architecture matches the guest's (QEMU) architecture and is running Mac OS 10.10 or higher, then you could speed up execution to near native speed using this option: -accel hvf

Installing QEMU using a package manager


 brew install qemu


 brew install qemu


 sudo port install qemu


 fink install qemu

Building QEMU for macOS

The system requirements are:

  • One of the two most recent versions of macOS (currently Catalina or Big Sur)
  • The clang compiler shipped with the version of Xcode for that OS X. GCC might also work, but we recommend clang

Additional build requirements are:

make (when installed through brew, make is installed as gmake, so use gmake)

After downloading the QEMU source code, double-click it to expand it.

Then configure and make QEMU. The target-list option is used to build only the machine or machines you want. If you don't specify it, all machines would be built. Probably not what you want.

./configure --target-list=<list of machines here>

This way doesn't require you to wait for the configure command to complete:

./configure --target-list=<list of machines here> && make

If your system has the 'say' command, you can use it to tell you when QEMU is done

 ./configure --target-list=i386-softmmu,ppc-softmmu && make ; say "I'm all done compiling QEMU"

You can use './configure --help' to see a full list of options.

Here are all the currently available machines:

  • aarch64-softmmu
  • alpha-softmmu
  • arm-softmmu
  • cris-softmmu
  • i386-softmmu
  • lm32-softmmu
  • m68k-softmmu
  • microblaze-softmmu
  • microblazeel-softmmu
  • mips-softmmu
  • mips64-softmmu
  • mips64el-softmmu
  • mipsel-softmmu
  • moxie-softmmu
  • or32-softmmu
  • ppc-softmmu
  • ppc64-softmmu
  • ppcemb-softmmu
  • s390x-softmmu
  • sh4-softmmu
  • sh4eb-softmmu
  • sparc-softmmu
  • sparc64-softmmu
  • tricore-softmmu
  • unicore32-softmmu
  • x86_64-softmmu
  • xtensa-softmmu
  • xtensaeb-softmmu

We recommend building QEMU with the -default compiler provided by Apple, for your version of Mac OS X (which will be 'clang'). The configure script will automatically pick this.

Errors on old compilers

Note: If after the configure step you see a message like this:

ERROR: Your compiler does not support the __thread specifier for
       Thread-Local Storage (TLS). Please upgrade to a version that does.

you may have to install your own version of gcc. You can build it from source (expect that to take several hours) or obtain third party binaries of gcc available from Homebrew or MacPorts.

You can have several versions of GCC on your system. To specify a certain version, use the --cc and --cxx options.

./configure --cxx=<path of your c++ compiler> --cc=<path of your c compiler> <other options>

Build with LLVM/Clang 7

If you need to compile with newer versions of clang (to get f.i. AVX/AVX2 support), you can install llvm through e.g., brew.

brew install llvm

Note that building for machines with CPUs supporting such extensions will exclude running your binary on earlier machines.

Compile with:

export PATH="/usr/local/opt/llvm/bin:$PATH"
./configure --cc=clang-7 --cxx=clang++-7 --host-cc=clang-7 \
--extra-cflags=-mavx2 \
--extra-cxxflags="-I/usr/local/opt/llvm/include" \
--extra-ldflags="-L/usr/local/opt/llvm/lib -L/usr/local/opt/libffi/lib -L/usr/local/opt/llvm/lib -Wl,-rpath,/usr/local/opt/llvm/lib" \
--target-list="<list of machines here>"


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