Pressing F8 during Windows install on Vmware ESX 3.5

After scouring the Intertubes for an answer and not finding a solution, I feel this is a worthy tidbit of new technical information I should share with the rest of the world.

It’s a simple yet annoying problem.

While installing a fresh copy of Windows XP Pro on a Vmware ESX 3.5 host, I got to the usual “Licensing Agreement” page (you know the one with all the legalese). It asks for the F8 key to be pressed to “agree”.

To my surprise, pressing F8 just wouldn’t work! No combination of CTRL, ALT, shift, ascii-codes would work either, I was stuck on the agreement page!

I had seen this before with a Vmware Workstation installation.  Where, if I wanted to enter a VM’s BIOS settings I needed to use a PS/2 keyboard (in addition to my regular USB keyboard) in order to press “ESC” to enter the configuration page.  The only theory I had in mind was that maybe the USB devices weren’t loaded early enough to access the BIOS, while PS/2 support was. *shrug*

Well, back to ESX. I tried pressing F8 through both the VIC2.5 Console tab and through a separate Console window. No luck.

It turns out that the only solution to pressing F8 was to access the VIC2.5 through another workstation (using a PS/2 keyboard) and finally F8 was accepted. Weird.

Yes it’s simple yet annoying problem.

(For the record, my workstation has a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (ver 1.0))

Update 20080814: One reader’s comment really fixes this beautifully

hey4ndrw Says:
If you have the Microsoft Wireless Natural Multimedia ergonomic keyboard, and no amount of leaning on the F8 key to select “I Agree” works when reinstalling XP, try tapping once on the F Lock button (one key to the right of F12), then pressing F8. Worked for me.

Advertisements

13 thoughts on “Pressing F8 during Windows install on Vmware ESX 3.5

  1. Hello,
    Have the same problem.
    Have the same keyboard plugged into my laptop.
    Used the laptops “F8” and found that it worked.
    I probably should install the disk that came with the keyboard to see if there is something missing from the “F” keys.
    Rick

  2. If you have the Microsoft Wireless Natural Multimedia ergonomic keyboard, and no amount of leaning on the F8 key to select “I Agree” works when reinstalling XP, try tapping once on the F Lock button (one key to the right of F12), then pressing F8. Worked for me.

  3. Hey Elias,

    If I may leave one suggestion: Please include hey4andrw’s suggestion in your original text. It works just fine!

  4. I searched the entire building for a USB keyboard but no luck. Everything these days is wireless……..
    No problem. Go Start…. Run…. osk.exe and hit enter. Move the On Screen Keyboard into the console of your XP installation, click within the console area and F8 should work.

  5. Peterzara, I was hoping the OnscreenKeyboard would have sorted this. But it didn’t help. Not on vSphere and a 2k3 install anyhow. I’m experiencing this with a USB logitech keyboard, so sadly there’s also no F-lock function to assist.

    Br,
    Ravi

      • On two subsequent installs I ~was~ able to use the OnscreenKeyboard in the same environment. I would attribute my earlier post to a quirk or a user error.

        Getting the Onscreenkeyboard to work mind you took a couple moments of clicking in the area, and on the osk. But it does work.

        Cheers,
        Ravi

  6. It does work and you need to do two things. You need to position the On Screen Key Board so the title bar is just out of the view of the console screen. You then need to click in the VMWare console and then on the On Screen Keyboard.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s