Occasionally, all USB devices, including a keyboard and mouse, stop functioning during ESX Server 3.x installation. This might occur after the initial selection in the graphical or text mode installation, that is, after pressing the Enter key or typing esx text on the initial installation menu.
Workaround: Specify noapic at the initial installation menu. To do this, for the graphical installation, rather than just pressing the Enter key, type esx noapic and press the Enter key. For the text installation, type esx noapic text and press the Enter key.
Based on VMware KB 2152