If the ks.cfg file is skipped although it’s placed in a correct network location for the semi-automated installation (booted from CDROM), you may need to check these steps in case you missed them.
Booting it CD ROM
After you have pressed Shift+O after reboot, it is by default kernelopt=cdromBoot is shown. From there you can remove the line and put the kickstart file location. See the example below.
ks=http://00.00.00.00/kickstart/ks.cfg nameserver=00.00.0.0 ip=00.00.00.000 netmask=255.255.255.0 gateway=00.00.00.000
If the management adapter needs a VLAN ID, then make sure you add them in the boot kernel options. See the example below.
vlanid=100 ks=http://00.00.00.00/kickstart/ks.cfg nameserver=00.00.0.0 ip=00.00.00.000 netmask=255.255.255.0 gateway=00.00.00.000
Disable Secure Boot
If you placed the ks.cfg file in the network location and the secure boot is enabled at the same time, the kickstart file will be skipped as Secure Boot ensures the integrity and authenticity of the bootloader and operating system components during the boot process. This is not applicable if you placed the kickstart file in the custom ISO.
Encoding of the Kickstart File
Make sure the kickstart file is encoded in ASCII format. If it’s in other encoding format, you can change it by Save As option notepad and verify it again.
If none of the steps work, the last but not the least is you can install the ESXI manually on one server, enable ssh and try wget to download the file and open the file with vim, this file is expected to have human readable characters.
If you still have problems with network kickstart file, another option is you can re-create the ISO with the embedded kickstart file according to the VMware document.
Here is the command to download file with wget in esxi shell.
Open with vim editor by using the following command after which you can exit from vim by typing :q!