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USB Network Native Driver for ESXi

USB has become one the most widely adopted connection type in the world & USB network adapters are also popular among Edge computing platforms. In some platforms, there is either limited or no PCI/PCIe slots for I/O expansion & in some cases, an Ethernet port is not even available. Another advantage of a USB-based network adapter is that it can be hot-plugged into an system without a reboot which means no impact to the workload, same is true for hot-remove.

This Fling supports the most popular USB network adapter chipsets found in the market. The ASIX USB 2.0 gigabit network ASIX88178a, ASIX USB 3.0 gigabit network ASIX88179, Realtek USB 3.0 gigabit network RTL8152/RTL8153 and Aquantia AQC111U. These are relatively inexpensive devices that many of our existing vSphere customers are already using and are familiar with.

  • VMware ESXi 6.5, 6.7 & 7.0
  • USB Network Adapter with AX88178a, AX88179, RTL8152 or RTL8153 Chipset
Any adapters using the following chipsets and with the following VID/PID are supported.

AQUANTIAAquantia Pacific0x2eca0xc101
CISCO LINKSYSRTL81530x13b10x0041
INSYDE SOFTWARE CORPInsyde Software Corp.0x0b1f0x03ee
SUPERMICROSupermicro computer Inc0x15d90x1b83

Step 1 - Download the ZIP file for the specific version of your ESXi host and upload to ESXi host using SCP or Datastore Browser

Step 2 - Place the ESXi host into Maintenance Mode using the vSphere UI or CLI (e.g. esxcli system maintenanceMode set -e true)

Step 3 - Install the Offline Bundle by running the following command on ESXi Shell:
esxcli software vib install -d /path/to/the offline bundle
Step 4 - Plug-in the USB NIC and reboot for the change to go into effect. Once the host has rebooted, ESXi should automatically pickup and claim the USB NIC (e.g. vusb0)

Note: Secure Boot can not be enabled if you decide to use the USB NIC as your primary NIC for Management Network. Since the settings do not persist, you will need to create a startup script (see Instructions for more details) and this is not allowed when Secure Boot is enabled. If USB NIC is not your primary NIC for the Management Network, then you do not have to disable Secure Boot

Intel NUC 10 (Frost Canyon) Considerations

The built-in Intel NIC is not automatically recognized by ESXi and requires an updated ne1000 driver which can be found here. You will need to create a custom ESXi ISO that contains this driver and install ESXi prior to installing the USB Native Driver ESXi Fling.

Persisting USB NIC Bindings

Currently there is a limitation in ESXi where USB NIC bindings are picked up much later in the boot process and to ensure settings are preserved upon a reboot, the following needs to be added to /etc/rc.local.d/ based on your configurations.

Note: The vusbX vmkernel interface may not show up in either ESXi Embedded Host Client and/or vSphere HTML5 UI, this does not mean there is an issue. ESXi was never designed to support USB-based NICs for Management Network and the UI may not properly detect these devices when using the UI. It is recommended to use the ESXi Shell for any operations requiring configuration of vusbX devices.

Standard Virtual Switch (VSS)

Here is an example which binds the physical USB NIC (vsub0) to Standard vSwitch and the respective portgroups that are also attached on the VSS
vusb0_status=$(esxcli network nic get -n vusb0 | grep 'Link Status' | awk '{print $NF}')
while [[ $count -lt 20 && "${vusb0_status}" != "Up" ]]
    sleep 10
    count=$(( $count + 1 ))
    vusb0_status=$(esxcli network nic get -n vusb0 | grep 'Link Status' | awk '{print $NF}')

if [ "${vusb0_status}" = "Up" ]; then
    esxcfg-vswitch -L vusb0 vSwitch0
    esxcfg-vswitch -M vusb0 -p "Management Network" vSwitch0
    esxcfg-vswitch -M vusb0 -p "VM Network" vSwitch0

Distributed Virtual Switch (VDS)

Here is an example which binds the physical USB NIC (vsub0) to a Distributed Virtual Switch (VDS). You will need to update both VDS_NAME and VDS_PORT_ID variable to match your enviornment

vusb0_status=$(esxcli network nic get -n vusb0 | grep 'Link Status' | awk '{print $NF}')
while [[ $count -lt 20 && "${vusb0_status}" != "Up" ]]
    sleep 10
    count=$(( $count + 1 ))
    vusb0_status=$(esxcli network nic get -n vusb0 | grep 'Link Status' | awk '{print $NF}')

if [ "${vusb0_status}" = "Up" ]; then
    esxcfg-vswitch -P vusb0 -V ${VDS_PORT_ID} ${VDS_NAME}
April 6, 2020 - v1.5
  • Added support for ESXi 7.0
Note: This is ONLY for ESXi 7.0, for ESXi 6.5/6.7, please ensure you are using the correct version of driver.

February 12, 2020 - v1.4
  • Add SuperMicro/Insyde Software Corp USB Devices in the supported list
  • Resolved 9K Jumbo frame issue on RTL8153 chipset devices
  • Resolved invalid speed reporting for some quick devices by using the default speed

November 27, 2019 - v1.3
  • Resolved USB device detection issue on Intel XHCI controller
  • Resolved packet record issue for ASIX USB network adapters

September 27, 2019 - v1.2
  • Added support for Aquantia Multi-Gig (1G/2.5G/5G) USB network adapter (see Requirements page for more details)
  • Added support for Auto Speed/Connection detection for RTL8153/RTL8152 chipsets

June 17, 2019 - v1.1
  • Added support for 9 additional USB NIC devices including USB 2.0 RTL8152 & TPLINK (see Requirements page for complete list)
  • Added support for Jumbo Frames (up to 4K) for RTL8153 & AX88179

February 12, 2019 - v1.0 (Initial Release)