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USB to Ethernet Adapters and PXE

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11 replies to this topic

#1
Tripredacus

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Does anyone know of any USB 2-3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet adapters that are capable of doing a PXE boot? I found this one on Dell's website:
http://accessories.u...19&sku=a6003700
But I talked to Startech tech support and they say that it doesn't support PXE, nor do they sell any that do.

Any suggestions?

I know that Argon sells one but it is only Fast Ethernet. :(
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#2
RenCheill

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I don't know if you ever got a reply, but I will post this for anyone who may be looking for this answer. I have had good luck with StarTech USB21000S2. I use them to PXE boot the Dell UltraBooks for Imaging.

#3
jaclaz

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I don't know if you ever got a reply, but I will post this for anyone who may be looking for this answer. I have had good luck with StarTech USB21000S2. I use them to PXE boot the Dell UltraBooks for Imaging.

Since that is seemingly the same model that Tripredacus originally linked to, what remains to know are the names of the "Startech tech support" guys that talked to Trip... :whistle:

jaclaz

#4
Tripredacus

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I actually did test that device on various notebooks, desktops and tablets, and not one could see the USB NIC as a valid bootable device in the BIOS or boot menu.
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#5
mchipser

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I actually did test that device on various notebooks, desktops and tablets, and not one could see the USB NIC as a valid bootable device in the BIOS or boot menu.





I haven't seen any that would allow it, and the BIOS would have to support it, more so than the USB NIC, I think..

I know you wanted to know about USB boot NICs.. Have you tried booting from a floppy / flash drive and pass the pxe stack to the usb device? I'm not even sure you would want to do this, but just an idea.

#6
jaclaz

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I haven't seen any that would allow it, and the BIOS would have to support it, more so than the USB NIC, I think..

I know you wanted to know about USB boot NICs.. Have you tried booting from a floppy / flash drive and pass the pxe stack to the usb device? I'm not even sure you would want to do this, but just an idea.

Just for the record, theoretically it would be possible, to have an "all in one" thingy, if you think at those 3G USB sticks they have a "modem" (please read as NIC) part and a CD part.
The CD part could be bootable and contain a PXE boot stack, but it would hardl ywork on *all* PC's let alone DELL's which have a consolidated tradition for having BIOS behave "strangely".

Let's wait until RenCheill comes back to try and understand if he can provide more details. :unsure:

jaclaz

#7
jwillis84

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This thread looks almost a year old.

 

But chiming in here. The assumption here is that the [boot order] could be resequenced to included a [Hot plug] device in BIOS.. probably never gonna happen.

 

Current USB PXE support depends on the inclusion of a device driver in the BIOS for a specific USB device. The BIOS writers then allocate and make room for that specific device in the boot order if it is present [on power up]. It "appears" hot plug, but in reality the bus is not reenumerated so technically "appearences can be deceiving".. it is definitely "not" hot plug. It is "convience plug" -- if it happens to be plugged in "before" power up it will be added to the boot order.

 

If you have access to a BIOS update and can uncompress and list the "modules" included in the BIOS you "may" find some device driver names that look familar. This is not "hacking" the BIOS or decoding or anything spectacular.. its just looking under the hood to see whats supported because currently BIOS distributors don't really document what they put into the BIOS in the way of firmware drivers very often. Its left to marketing to pickup up on "new sales features". The "Change Log" for a new BIOS update is the most common accidental way of discovering new USB to Network chipset support... and they are "not" Universal at all.

 

Smsc (Smart Mixed-Signal Connectivity, Inc.) for example seems to be a popular device driver to include, after American Megatrends announced a tighter integration with Smsc and then Microchip acquired them in 2012. They also make reference code for a BIOS PXE UNDI driver freely available which tends to wind up in many BIOSs. The same driver for LAN7500 works for the LAN9500 chipset which appears as an Smsc device. As far as I know the StarTech USB21000S2 is the most common Smsc USB2.0 to NIC dongle available. But will only work if your BIOS includes the driver.

 

The LAN9500 chipset tends to wind up in Laptop and Tablet Docks which means its far more common for PXE to work for a Laptop or Tablet -- while it is "Docked" -- than when using a generic USB to Network dongle. The BIOS would have a Smsc device driver and automatically add the Dock ethernet port to the boot order.

 

StarTech and other Dongle manufacturers really have no way of knowing if their devices are PXE capable, because PXE is usually the domain of the boot order in the device BIOS. Anyone could add, remove, or accidentally enable or disable (if using secure boot with efi) the function.

 

Realtek also has a Dongle chipset the RTL8153 which is a USB 3.0 to NIC chipset, IOcrest, Sybausa and Anker sell such a dongle. But its fairly new and unless the BIOS has been updated to include a device driver for this new chipset, it will not PXE boot. If it has been updated to include the device driver, like the Dell XPS 15 9530 BIOS apparently has.. then it should appear in the boot order and should PXE boot.

 

Be forewarned!

 

There are many, many - USB to Network dongles based on the ASIX chipsets, they are fairly pervasive.. and not many seem to be including a device driver in the BIOS for these [yet] some of the Tablets like the Dell Venue line appear to be [starting] to include device drivers for [some] of the ASIX chipsets.. but it is completely at the whim of the BIOS designer, vendor, ect.. BIOS tends to be highly specialized OS writing and has to fit a lot into a small space so they don't tend to include a lot of device drivers out of the box, or first release. There are also licensing issues to consider when embedding device drivers from hardware vendors. EFI bioses in "theory" will make things better eventually as there should be a flash memory space to "toss" EFI drivers to support additional dongles.

 

But the recursive problem remains, out of box, straight from the factory.. how do you include the device driver to support your USB network device? Probably unless we get universal class drivers for everything.. the best that can be done is for BIOS makers to begin thoroughly documenting the device drivers included in each release.


Edited by jwillis84, 28 March 2014 - 01:12 PM.


#8
Tripredacus

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Tablet demand is still pretty low, so we've been looking into products that have built-in Ethernet. We even have found some Ultrabooks that have a collapsable NIC port.
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#9
technick

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It appears that the only USB>NIC dongle Dell supports for the XPS 13 is the StartTech USB21000S2 (none of the other dongles we have are recognized by the BIOS). When we try to PXE boot, it gets all the way to the boot image, then activity lights turn off, and we are greeted by the overly welcoming "No device drivers were found for the current network adapter" message, even though all of the drivers are in the boot image.

 

Ideas?



#10
uid0

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I think you'd need to add the drivers into your PE with dism



#11
Ponch

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I think you'd need to add the drivers into your PE with dism

I think you're confused between PXE and PE x.

The goal here is to "PXE boot" from the device (NIC / LAN). What OS and drivers are loaded from there do not matter at this point.



#12
jaclaz

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Yep, but the point here is that technick did not provide any meaningful detail. :(

 

You can PXE boot DOS, Linux, a Windows system or a PE (or other OS) through PXE, the message :

"No device drivers were found for the current network adapter"

can be coming from *whatever*, i.e. the PXE BIOS part, the actual PXE loader, the actual boot image and/or it's bootmanager or OS loader.

Since the PXE BIOS part does recognize the NIC (otherwise it wouldn't even start the PXE booting) this is the only thing that can be excluded, all the other ones are a possibility. :unsure:

 

jaclaz






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