Grey Screen of Death – ESXi 5.X Installation

As I was working on upgrading my home lab to ESXi 5.5, I kept running into a problem.


To give you some feedback, I was using Fusion 6.0 on my MacBook Pro. The ESXi 5.5 software was locally on the Mac and I was attempting to install it on a USB drive. Note that I will have a detailed blog post on this process soon.

The install kept getting stuck on the “Grey Screen of Death” (shown to the left) or at least this is what I called it after hours of trying to figure out what was happening. Note that the red text says : “Logs are stored on non-persistent storage. Consult product documentation to configure a syslog server or a scratch partition.”

I tried the install on my Air, I tried different ESXi software, I tried a lot of things and nothing. This screen showed up after I selected F11 for accepting the license. The grey screen just showed up. It was weird and when I was doing the install, you could see the grey screen show up before I selected “Enter” to continue. It was driving me crazy. I had called everyone to figure it out, brought the laptop to a going away party to get groups of people to look at it, I did webexs, and it ended getting solved by Tyler Britten ( @vmtyler ). Oh how I am get grateful to Tyler. #Team04 all the way

You see I was using a Mac and the damn keys were configured for a Mac world. Specifically the F11 button was mapped to Show Desktop which means that ESXi never got the command. (See below)

keyboardSo in case you ever run into issues with bringing too many worlds together, always try to think of the simple things. Think about what is really occurring and that maybe it is because you have mapped the system all backwards. VMware wants one button and the Mac already used that button for something else. Remember to always think of the simple things… is it plugged in… did you verify the IP addresses… DNS… are the keys mapped correctly? Cause more than likely… that is it. Thank you again East Coast I will always call you first.

  1. #1 by Brian on May 5, 2014 - 12:21

    Thanks a million. Spent an hour trying to figure out what was going on.

  2. #2 by Mandy on November 20, 2014 - 16:41

    This was great! Thank you. I spent a long time trying to work it out. But removing the [F11] key mapping worked a charm.

  3. #3 by ChinHui on May 5, 2015 - 06:59

    Thank you!!!! It saves me a lot of time!!!!

  4. #4 by DC on May 5, 2015 - 07:00

    Thank you!!! It saves me a lot of time!!!

  5. #5 by adisor19 on June 15, 2015 - 21:03

    OH WOW I can’t belive how much time I wasted trying to figure this out ! THANK YOU !

  6. #6 by Teit on December 7, 2015 - 13:24

    THANKS X 1000 Use a lot of time to figure this out !!

  7. #7 by Spunner on January 15, 2016 - 13:33

    YOU ARE A FRIGGIN GENIUS! Been fighting with this for a week. I am not using a Mac – but my “F” keys are configured to use the “Alt” so I can change volume and stuff without hitting the “Alt” Used a USB keyboard and VIOLA! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  8. #8 by Marvin on April 29, 2016 - 18:26

    Hey Dude, thank you very much for sharing!! You saved my life…THANKS A LOT!!!

  9. #9 by Chris on June 2, 2016 - 15:41

    Same issue but on a Dell using iDRAC. Likely Java got messed up. Tried a different browser and it was fine. Thanks. “Grey screen of death” I like that.

  10. #10 by camerabells on October 13, 2016 - 01:40

    Supper annoying. Thanks for the tip!

  11. #11 by VJ on March 13, 2017 - 23:25

    Thanks. I had the same issue on Cisco UCS blade. Nice tip.

    • #12 by Erin K. Banks on March 21, 2017 - 17:10

      Yay! Glad I could help

    • #13 by FHK on February 6, 2019 - 01:24

      But how did you implement this solution in UCS?…I am really having a headache with this issue not getting resolved.

  12. #14 by vvjadhav on March 14, 2017 - 00:43

    Thanks, the ip helped to solve similar problem on Cisco UCS server.

  13. #16 by Siyuan on March 21, 2017 - 13:13

    Saved my life……. a lot of thanks from Singapore!

    • #17 by Erin K. Banks on March 21, 2017 - 17:09

      glad i could help!! I still remember how frustrated I was at the time

  14. #18 by Lobet Mathieu (@omlet05) on April 13, 2017 - 06:17

    You are my hero ! Thanks for sharing

  15. #19 by EZXS on May 4, 2018 - 03:19

    Erin, bundle of thanks.

  16. #20 by mattbodman on May 28, 2018 - 22:09

    Oh wow. thank you

  17. #21 by Naseath Saly on February 24, 2020 - 04:49

    Thanks you so much for sharing this tip, it took me and my colleague two days until we find your post here

  18. #22 by Madhusudan M.I on July 15, 2020 - 06:04

    Oh My God… Seriously? This killed my time too… Thank you so much.

  1. VMware Fusion 7.1.1 OVF Tool Error + Drag & Drop | common denial
  2. I Missed You All | common denial

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: