Boot into the "service console only" option and check the error logs. If I had to guess I would say that you're going to need to disable the onboard nic and use either a broadcom or intel e1000 card. You may also want to pass the noapic option to the kernel to see if you can get it to boot.
Unfortunately, none of these did it for me. I tried booting to the service console, but I still can't get past the initial boot step of "Uncompressing Linux... Ok, booting the kernel." I also tried disabling the onboard nic as well as passing the noapic option to the kernel - same results.
Is there any other way to try to find out what it's hanging on?
does switching the screen to the debug mode using ALT-F12 show anything?
No - it doesn't get to the point of having a debug screen.
Disable all the onboard stuff that you can. SATA controllers, integrated nic, parallel port, serial ports etc.
I disabled everything I could (everything but the rear USB controller, so my keyboard would continue to function, but I did unplug the keyboard for the boot attempt) and got the same result.
I am not sure that this really helps but...
I was trying to install ESX 3.5 u3 on a P690 with 2 Xeon E5320 1.86 processors in out Test Lab. On the install it kept hanging at "Uncompressing Linux... Ok, Booting the Kernel." I tried everything I could from bios settings to any esx text switches that I could find, noapic etc. I had read about installs failing from SATA CD-ROM drives but I had two IDE drives hooked up. I even tried a PXE boot install - it still hung up.
ESXi 3.5 u3 would install with no issues.
After looking up the processors in the ESX3.5 HCL, I noticed that the E5320 processor only was listed in single socket server configurations. So, I pulled CPU1 out and tried the regular ESX install - it completed and the ESX host also booted.
I was hoping that once installed I would be able to add the second processor back in (different kernel for install versus OS boot) but it was not to be. Once two processors were back in, it again hung on "Uncompressing Linux... Ok, Booting the Kernel." Obviously, no one would run it without the second processor just to run it.
I don't know that this information fixes anything but it may save somebody a lot of time reconfiguring bios, firmware and other settings trying to do an unsupported install. ESXi is definitly more forgiving.
One question I have is does anyone have a list of "switches" that can be passed to the ESX text install? The few that I found were based on google searches.
Dell Precision 690 (Xeon Quad E5345, RAM 12 Gb, SATA drives)
ESX 3.5 won't run with 2 xeon quad processor, but one is OK
ESXi run with 2 xeon quad (like E5345), but...
I noticed a lot of problems in both case, and very poor performance on VM (one VM running Geebench2.0 = 2500)...
And data transfert always I/O Error
I have tried different combinations with onboard SATA connection and LSI1068 but still same problem...
May be I should give up running ESX on this cheap motherboard... ?