It's always the hardware

It's always the hardware.  If it's not the firewall, it's the network.  If it's not the network, it turns out, it might be the CD drive.  Strangest situation encountered today.  Tyring to install Exchange 2010 SP1 integrated on a new server (virtualized).  The CD is linked to the physical CD on the host.  When we attempt to run the GUI setup, the scripts on the splash screen fail to load and setup cannot continue (in fact, we cannot even get a graphic to display).  We switch to the shell, since that was our plan anyway. /role:um /installwindowscomponents fails.  But it fails in a weird way.  It says, "Copying Setup Files Complete."  No errors, no logs, no install. 

Instinctly, I blame the hardware.  We copy the CD contents (the CD is known good) to a local drive and try running setup from the E: drive.  Same thing.  At this point, I am at wits' end and the customer suggests taking the CD from the host server, putting it into the laptop's DVD drive (which is remotely connected to the remote desktop session).  I'm not crazy about the speed problems we're going to encounter, but I agree, because I need to rule out hardware.

As I started the post so too will I end it.  It's always the hardware.