UCSM KVM Console Displays Black Screen

Over the past several weeks, I have been standing up new hardware in order to expand a cloud infrastructure. During this process, I was tasked with standing up new UCS hardware. I configured the static IP addresses on the N6K devices, configured the firmware to the appropriate versions and created the appropriate service profiles. The next step was to install the base operating systems.

With PXE in place, I opened the KVM console from UCSM and waited for the server to power on. Once the server was powered on, I saw the Cisco splash screen as expected. The problem was once the the system posted, only a black screen was seen on the console. It appeared the blade was functioning and no error messages were seen on UCSM, however the screen remained blank 30 minutes later. I attempted to open the console on several other blades and to my surprise they are experienced that same problem.

When I plugged a physical KVM directly into the server to check the console, the screen displayed as expected. What was going on?

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Sluggish Windows Console

The other day, I created a Windows 2008 VM and installed VMware Tools on it. One thing I noticed upon reboot was that the console was extremely sluggish. Upon thinking about it, I realized that unlike in Windows 2003 VMware Tools did not prompt me to adjust the hardware acceleration for the display. As such, I decided to check and ensure it was properly set to full. As I expected, it was not. Upon setting it to full and rebooting the VM the console became much more responsive. (As a side note, if you want to adjust the hardware acceleration and have it take effect without rebooting the VM, change the resolution or the colors before adjusting the hardware acceleration, but do not apply the changes. Next, set the hardware acceleration to full and apply the changes. Finally, you can revert the resolution or colors back to the default setting. Once completed, you should notice the console is much more responsive without rebooting the VM, though you are still prompted to do so.)

I would be remissed if I did not also mention that you should also ensure the “VMware SVGA II” driver is being used. If you see “Standard VGA Display”, go to the properties of the device and select “Update Drive…”.