Installing ESXi though UCSM KVM via RDC on OS X

How’s that for acronyms?

In all seriousness, though, as I was installing VMware ESXi this evening onto some remote Cisco UCS blades, I ran into some interesting keymapping issues and I thought it might be handy to document what worked for me in the event others run into this issue as well.

So here’s the scenario: I’m running Mac OS X 10.6.7 on my MacBook Pro, and using VMware View 4.6 to connect to a remote Windows XP Professional desktop. Within that Windows XP Professional session, I’m running Cisco UCS Manager 1.4(1i) and loading up the KVM console to access the UCS blades. From there, I’m installing VMware ESXi onto the blades from a mapped ISO file.

What I found is that the following keystrokes worked correctly to pass through these various layers to the ESXi install process:

  • For the F2 key (necessary to log in to the ESXi DCUI), use Ctrl+F2 (in some places) or Cmd+F2 (in other places).
  • For the F5 key (to refresh various displays), the F5 key alone works.
  • For the F11 key (to confirm installation at various points during the ESXi install process), use Cmd+F11.
  • For the F12 key (used at the DCUI to shutdown/reboot), use Cmd+F12.

There are a couple of factors that might affect this behavior:

  • In the Keyboard section of System Preferences, I have “Use F1, F2, etc., keys as standard function keys” selected; this means that I have to use the Fn key to access any “special” features of the function keys (like increasing volume or adjusting screen brightness). I haven’t tested what impact this has on this key mapping behavior.
  • The Mac keyboard shortcuts in the preferences of the Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection do not appear to conflict with any of the keystrokes listed above, so it doesn’t appear that this is part of the issue.

If I find more information, or if I figure out why the keystrokes are mapping the way they are I’ll post an update to this article. In the meantime, if you happen to need to install VMware ESXi into a Cisco UCS blade via the UCSM KVM through VMware View from a Mac OS X endpoint, now you know how to make the keyboard shortcuts work.

Courteous comments are always welcome—speak up and contribute to the discussion!

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  1. Aaron Delp’s avatar

    Hey Scott – Just wanted to let you know that I don’t think it is related to the UCS system. I have the same issue when I install ESXi into a VMware Fusion vm on my mac. Everything is local and I have the same Fn key settings. Hope that helps in your research.

  2. slowe’s avatar

    Hi Aaron! I agree; I don’t think that the UCSM KVM plays a role here. I think it falls squarely on the Mac and how it is interpreting the keystrokes.

  3. Jason Sjöbeck’s avatar

    Yes, this is a seemingly unimportant topic until today, when I was trying to remote control Citrix Xen (the native desktop console) through HP ILO Advanced, from my Apple MBP running Lion (10.7) and can not figure out how to send it F8. I’ll try to post my results.

  4. Neil Lovering’s avatar

    Great info above! FWIW, I just went through an install of ESX 5.5 on a Cisco USC-E blade and found a few “F11s” that worked and some that did not. The at the first request for an F11 seemed to send the KVM into a grey, unrecoverable “screen of death” ( When I reinstalled ESX, I used at the first F11 and it proceeded fine. The had never had any effect in the ESX KVM. At the second F11 request, did nothing while worked fine. ESX 5.5 is installing as I type :).

  5. Jason Garrett’s avatar

    Why not just remap the F keys or whatever keys you need in the KVM console Macros Menu. Given the options change a little from UCS firmware rev to rev but mapping and using the Macro seems to work across revisions.

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