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ESXi 5.5 Error 110: Connection timed out

Setting up ESXi 5.5 on a new box for my home lab:

Step 1) Install the hypervisor on it’s new hardware, yeah not so easy.  First run smooth as silk… only to find that VMWare had stripped the Realtek 81xx nic drivers…  rebuild install iso with drivers…check  Re-install…  as they say “That’s when the fight started”  Multiple attempts each resulting in Error 110: Connection timed out anywhere from 26% through 76% complete.  Maybe a bad burn (I was installing from CD), switch back to the first Realtek-less iso still errors, swap out the brand new CD/DVD drive (maybe it has issues), grab another brand new hard drive, nothing seemed to work.  Same thing with multiple flash drives.  Re-download the installer and try a few more times…  Just before removing what little remains of the hairs on my head I had a thought and powered down my workstation, dropped the CD in and the USB flashdrive (just for good measure I pulled the SATA cables from my drives, no need even allowing the remote chance of 4T of drives being blasted for no good reason).  Booted the CD and the installation zipped right through.

Now for the moment of truth, could it actually work on different hardware?  Booted right up and has been happy ever since.. <insert shocked face here>

My ESXi ‘server’
Asrock 970 Pro3 R2.0 mainboard
AMD FX-6300 Vishera 3.5GHz (4.1GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 95W 6-Core
8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (another 24G is coming soon)
Radeon HD 7750 Core Edition 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16  (WAY overkill, but will work great for pass-thru video later)
Boot Drive – 4G Kingston USB Thumbdrive (new from the parts drawer)
Datastores are currently being served via NFS (FreeNAS on similar hardware with 5 1T drives in RAID10 w/hot spare)

My Workstation that actually did the initial install
Asus M5A97 LE R2.0 mainboard
AMD FX-8350 Black Edition Vishera 4.0GHz (4.2GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 125W 8-Core
8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
XFX Double D FX-787A-CDFC Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB 256-Bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16

The question remains, why would the Asrock system not complete the install to any media?  This board has been used by many and known to work quite well.  The Asus board on the other hand not so much.

Either way, I know many others have run into this Error 110: Connection timed out issue with all sorts of hardware…taking many many install attempts to get through the process.  Just for grins and to make sure I hadn’t just gotten lucky I build several more thumbdrives from my workstation and they were all successful on the first attempt.

Something is screwy with the Asrock system.  Now to find out why….

In any event if you encounter this problem repeatedly… you CAN install from another system and transplant the drive and it *should* work, given my limited testing so far.

Of course my patent-pending 50/50 guarantee applies, if you break your box in half… you get to keep both halves!