Category Archives: USB2-E1000

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Supporting PXE over USB Deployment Scenarios for tablets and ultrabooks

Many enterprise IT admins are facing a new challenge: how to deploy and manage systems with only WiFi for networking and USB for IO ports.  As a result, we’re often asked whether our USB network adapters support PXE boot.  In short, this is the wrong question- Mu.

When designing a deployment environment where USB is your fastest or only I/O option, it is likely that using bootable USB storage devices to abstract away from the limitations of the motherboard UEFI/BIOS will be your best option for two reasons:

1. Support for booting USB mass storage class devices is class-based and ubiquitous.  Almost all modern motherboard BIOS/UEFI builds support USB mass storage class device boot. A number of minimal OS with support for accessing a network share and installing the OS via this pre-installation environment. One valid option would be to use an CD ISO to USB bootable converter program like LiLi to create a USB Bootable iPXE environment, and add the open-source 88179 driver here if you need wired and can’t boot from built-in wireless. Another would be to use Windows PE with Bootcamp drivers for Windows as discussed here on Technet forums. In either case, the key is to build support for the network driver into a USB bootable pre-installation environment.

2. Support for USB network devices is not class driver based- individual chips have notable functional differences, and as such there is no class driver for USB networking- thus, support is left to motherboard OEM’s to build support for individual networking devices into their devices- a challenging task.

For this to be possible, the BIOS/UEFI on the motherboard has to natively support the chip used in the USB network adapter- so this answer will always depend on the motherboard, and require research into both the chipset of the USB network device and then whether the UEFI/BIOS a given motherboard runs supports this chip.

The vast majority of “legacy” systems will NOT have the ability to PXE boot a USB attached adapter. On more modern systems, this functionality will vary from model to model and is NOT something we can answer with certainty, as it is effectively a question of whether the motherboard’s software has support for the chip used in the adapter.

This is much less likely to work on newer USB 3.0 networking devices than on  USB 2.0 devices, since those are based on chips that have been around longer, thus giving motherboard OEMs and the open source community time to integrate support for these USB devices into BIOS/UEFI and the alternate pre-installation environments. 

Our most widely compatible adapter, capable of 10/100 operation rather than gigabit speeds, is the AX88772 based Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Macbook, Chromebook, Windows 8 and Earlier, Surface Pro, Wii, Wii U, Linux, and Specific Android Tablets (ASIX AX88772 chipset)

For Gigabit connection speeds (although potentially lower performance than the USB3-E1000), check for support for the ASIX 88178 chip used in our, consider the Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Linux, and Specific Android Tablets (ASIX AX88178 Chipset)

While it is theoretically possible to select only hardware that has native support for booting form USB network adapters, unless you need to PXE boot regularly or are trying to integrate ultra books with SCCM or some other enterprise management system, in most deployment only scenarios it should be easier to use USB media to deploy from since it is relatively easy to setup a USB bootable pre-installation environment, and build support for the driver into the PE instead of having to investigate BIOS/UEFI support for USB network device chips before making every device purchase. Information about what chips are supported this way is virtually impossible to find outside of hands on testing.

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Macbook, Chromebook, Windows 8.1 and Earlier,... Product Details
$12.95

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Linux, and ... Product Details
$25.00

Before You Upgrade To Mac OS X 10.9 (“Mavericks”)

Good news: Mac OS X 10.9 is available today and for the first time, it’s a free update, so app and hardware developers will be able to start counting on Mac hardware running the latest software in general (kinda like the iOS world).

Bad News: Mac OS X versions have historically broken some percentage of 3rd party hardware, and OS X 10.9 appears to have a particularly big impact. Many hardware devices will need updated drivers for 10.9, either because the older drivers simply don’t work at all, or because they work but with new problems.

If you can, it may be better to wait for the adventurous to forge ahead and report their findings on 10.9, before taking the upgrade.

DisplayLink Based USB Products

Users with DisplayLink-based USB Docking Stations and Graphics Adapters should avoid updating to 10.9, if at all possible. See here for details.

DisplayLink-based USB devices that work well on 10.8.5 (up to 4 additional USB displays) will be broken for most uses by the 10.9 update. In particular, 2+ USB displays or any HDMI-attached displays (even non-DisplayLink) don’t work reliably because of screen configuration issues.

We don’t know when this is going to be fixed — but evidence is it will require fixes both from Apple and DisplayLink, so that will take a significant amount of time.

If you are able to stay on 10.8.5, or if you only need a single USB attached DVI/VGA monitor on 10.9, use
DisplayLink’s latest 2.1 Beta drivers.

USB Network Adapters


Mac OS X 10.9 (and 10.8.5) includes support for both the AX88772 chipset and the AX88178 chipsets in our USB 2.0 USB Ethernet adapters, and UD-160-A docking station. For these chips, we recommend first uninstalling any ASIX drivers and repairing disk permissions before upgrade to 10.9 (relying on your built-in net connection), and just plugging in to use the Apple drivers after upgrade.


For our USB 3.0 Gigabit Ethernet adapter, an updated ASIX driver is required. In addition to Mavericks support, compatibility issues with Android File Transfer seem to be resolved. That said, we’re seeing reports of some new problems with 10.9 and would recommend caution. For those who have already updated to 10.9, the compatible driver is available at:
the latest ASIX driver version to get 10.9 compatibility. Note that this driver does not yet have the new 10.9 signature, so you’ll also need to click ok on installing the driver unsigned.

USB Serial Adapter

The latest driver version is required to work with 10.9.

Plugable USB to RS-232 DB9 Serial Adapter

Serial devices will be automatically created (“ls /dev | grep serial”" to see them), however the network control panel in 10.9 now no longer shows serial devices as connected, even when they’re in use.

Other Devices

For all of our other devices, we’re recommending in-box drivers, or they don’t require 3rd party driver installs (hubs, cables, etc).

If you have a question about a product we didn’t mention, please feel free to comment below. We’ll get it added.

And if you hit any 10.9 upgrade problems with Plugable products, we’ll work to help. Just email support@plugable.com anytime.

Thanks!

Plugable USB Ethernet Adapters – Driver Updates with Windows 8.1 Upgrade

Q: What actions are needed for installing Plugable USB Ethernet adapters when upgrading to Windows 8.1 from Windows 8?

Note: these instructions only apply to traditional Intel/AMD based Windows, not Windows RT

A: When upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, if you have our USB2-E100, it is supported with no additional actions needed as Windows 8.1 has the driver built-in. This also applies if you have our UD-160-A USB 2.0 Universal Docking Station.

For our USB2-E1000 or USB3-E1000, you will want to be connected to the Internet to allow the Microsoft Windows Update program to automatically install the latest driver for both of our gigabit network adapters. We strongly recommend when upgrading to Windows 8.1 to select the option “Go online to install updates now (recommended)” at the beginning of the upgrade process.

For a clean install of 8.1 without upgrading, a preexisting Internet connection will be needed for Windows Update to automatically install our USB2-E1000 or USB3-E1000.

Also, while the Windows Update drivers function without any issues, we recommend downloading the latest drivers from ASIX for our USB3-E1000 for the best performance: Version 1.16.9.0

Also see: Upgrading to Windows 8.1 on the Surface RT Will Break Wired Internet Access

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100 Fast Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Macbook, Chromebook, Windows 8.1 and Earlier,... Product Details
$12.95

Plugable USB 2.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Wired Network Adapter for Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Linux, and ... Product Details
$25.00

Plugable USB 3.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Network Adapter Product Details
$18.95

OS X Mid-2012 MacBook USB and Graphics update

Good news Mac owners! Apple has released a graphics and USB focused update just for late model, Mid 2012 MacBook models including “all Mac notebooks released in June 2012.” This update “includes graphics performance and reliability enhancements and improves compatibility with some USB devices.”

As with any OS X update, simply choose updates in the App Store or choose Software Update from the Apple menu. Once all prerequisites are installed (which include 10.8.2), the update will appear.

Details on the update are rather sparse at the moment, however initial findings on the 11 inch Air I use as a primary work laptop are positive. After installing the update, some U3 Communicator HD docks which I had previously identified as defective actually worked consistently and at normal speeds.

I’ve also noticed better reliability on the arrangement of the quad display panel I use with the tiny Air and a set of our DisplayLink-based UGA-165 adapters. Previously I could virtually never reboot and have my display arrangement persist, but now that seems to have been corrected- however this probably has more to do with the unusual number of hubs and devices I go through in day to day equipment testing and the constant swapping of ports that comes with it.

One frustrating issue that persists is when an USB storage volume unexpectedly disconnects, finder will freeze- immediately if you instruct it to eject the improperly disconnected volume. Forcing a reboot corrects the issue, however the system is largely unresponsive until the reboot which of course could result in data loss.

We’d love to hear your input on how this update is affecting your Plugable devices on those shiny new MacBooks!

MacRumors of course has a thread on the topic with very active discussion: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1486234

The Windows RT and Surface USB Device Compatibility Story

[Updated 11/20/2012]

Microsoft’s official statement is “Windows RT uses class drivers and in-box drivers exclusively, departing from a common driver added scenario on the x64 or x86 architectures.” (see Microsoft policies). There is no DDK. Officially, installing drivers on Windows RT is not supported.

That said, it turns out there is at least oneWindows ARM driver that exists (probably built and extracted from a full Windows RT platform development kit), and as a user you can install those drivers on a normal, unmodified Microsoft Surface device at least.

Whether Microsoft will close this mechanism in the future is unclear.

But for now, these steps show how to install a driver on the Surface to get wired ethernet support for particular devices like ours.

Below is a more complete list of all the Plugable devices which can and can’t be made to work with the surface today. Most use the drivers already built into the RT, so none of the above is a concern — but Windows RT is “special” so check for compatibility before assuming a device will work!

What devices work out of the box with ARM-based Windows RT (without a 3rd party driver install)?

USB hubs, including

USB extension cables, including

USB storage devices, including

USB keyboards and mice, including

What needs a driver package, but don’t have one for ARM-based Windows RT devices

Anything with a USB graphics function, including

Quite a few other devices with driver installs required, such as

What needs a driver package and has one available for ARM-based Windows RT devices

Feel free to add additional information in the comments, if you discover anything new or find any errors.

Raspberry Pi and Plugable Devices

We recently received a Raspberry Pi at the Plugable offices and we have been using it to test how our various devices interact with it. The Raspberry Pi has 2 USB 2.0 Ports, and no USB 3.0 ports, so our testing was focused on USB 2.0 devices and a couple USB 3.0 storage devices.

All of these tests were carried out on a Raspberry Pi Model B using the latest version of Raspbian wheezy. Here’s a video of the full setup, followed by a bunch of detail about our tests:

Hubs

  • Plugable USB 2.0 7 Port Hub with 3A Power Adapter – No Issues
  • Plugable USB 2.0 4 Port Hub with 2.5A Power Adapter – No issues
  • Plugable USB 2.0 10 Port Hub with 2.5A Power Adapter – Causes the Raspberry Pi to reboot upon connection, because it supplements the 2.5A wall power with 500mA from the upstream port. This is too much for the Pi., but just at the moment it is plugged in. If you plug the 10 port hub in when the Pi is powered down, you can boot into the Pi and all will be well. But since there are better options (like the 7 port hub above), we don’t recommend our 10 port hub with the Pi.
  • USB2-2PORT – Causes the Raspberry Pi to reboot upon connection. This is simply because this is an unpowered hub. Only hubs with their own power adapter should be used with the Pi.
  • USB3-HUB7-81x – USB HID devices(Mice, Keyboards) are known not to work with this hub on the Raspberry Pi.
  • USB3-HUB81x4  - USB HID devices(Mice, Keyboards) are known not to work with this hub on the Raspberry Pi.
  • USB2-SWITCH2 – No issues

Other Devices

The common pattern with all devices is you must have one of the powered usb hubs above and connect the device through that. If you don’t, the Pi won’t be able to handle the power draw, and it will drop voltage and reset.

Ethernet:

Storage:

Plugable USB2-Micro-200X USB Microscope:

  • On a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian we have test our Microscope connected through a powered USB hub to work with GTK+ UVC Viewer by using the following terminal commands:

    “sudo apt-get install guvcview”
    “guvcview”

Let us know if there are any other Plugable products you’d like us to test, or if you have any questions at all – we’d be happy to help. Thanks for your support of Plugable products!

Where to Buy
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UPDATED: Plugable Products on Mac OS X 10.8 (aka Mountain Lion)

Listed below are our latest updates about how to make your Plugable products work on Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion with all the caveats shared by customers. If you read this post before and notice changes, it’s because we’ve revised our advice based on differences between our test results and what many customers were reporting. For now, in all cases we are recommending the solutions that have worked for everyone.

Any Plugable products not listed below have not yet been tested or have no Mac support (USB 3.0 graphics adapters, USB 3.0 docking station, Windows Easy Transfer cable).

Product
Type
Products
Tested
Drivers
Needed
Download Site/
Setup Notes
10/100 Ethernet Adapter USB2-E100 N Uninstall previously installed third-party ASIX AX88772 driver before upgrading 10.7 or 10.8, to use Apple’s built-in drivers.
Gigabit Ethernet Adapter USB2-E1000 Y Leave the Gigabit adapter unplugged. Go to network settings and delete any existing USB Gigabit Ethernet interfaces by highlighting and clicking the minus button.

Download and install drivers from:
plugable.com/products/usb2-e1000/drivers

After installation and reboot, plug in the adapter.

Go to network settings. If a new USB Gigabit interface hasn’t been created, then click the plus button, and add a new interface for the USB Gigabit Ethernet adapter.

Click the gear button, choose to set the service order, and drag the Gigabit Ethernet interface to the top of the list to make it your primary network connection. Approve the change to return to the main network settings screen.

Click Apply in network settings.

If the status in network settings goes green with a good IP address (not 169.x.x.x), the adapter is working properly.
USB 2.0 Graphics Adapters UGA-2K-A,UGA-165,
USB-VGA-165,
UGA-125
Y Uninstall any old DisplayLink drivers before upgrading from 10.7.x.After upgrade, download and install the production version of DisplayLink’s v1.8 driver (or later) for OS X at DisplayLink’s Mac driver page.

Note that the performance of USB graphics on Mac is not yet at the same level as Windows. And some customers have reported crashes and hangs after installing DisplayLink drivers on Mountain Lion. See DisplayLink’s Mac user forum for the latest details. There is a specific thread on possible causes of Kernel panics.

We are filing bugs with DisplayLink based on Plugable customer feedback. If your system is not performing properly once you have installed the latest DisplayLink drivers, please contact us at support@plugable.com for assistance.
USB 2.0 Universal Docking Stations UD-160-A, DC-125 See Notes Follow the instructions above for the 10/100 Ethernet adapter and the USB 2.0 graphics adapters.
Hard Drive Dock USB3-SATA-U3 N
Serial Adapter PL2303-DB9 Y http://plugable.com/drivers/prolific/ (Mac security settings must allow installation of executable files from anywhere)
Hubs, Switches, Extension Cables N 10.8 has a regression where USB Hard Drives attached to a Mac through a USB hub may report “drive wasn’t ejected properly” on return from sleep. We have customer reports of this issue in particular with USB 3.0 hubs like USB3-HUB4

Please feel free to comment here or e-mail us at support@plugable.com with your findings, questions, or problems. We’re here to help.

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USB Gigabit Ethernet speed on Mac OS X

USB to Gigabit Ethernet adapters are especially useful for adding faster wired network capability to otherwise WiFi-only machines like the Macbook Air.

You can buy Apple’s branded 10/100 USB adapter — but price-wise, it will cost more than some gigabit adapters (like our Plugable USB Gigabit adapter). A gigabit adapter is also a nice upgrade for machines that only have a 10/100 ethernet port, but are connecting to a gigabit-capable network.

Because there’s often confusion about the rated speeds and actual throughput, especially when running 1000Mbps Ethernet over USB 2.0′s 480Mbps bus, we did some testing to establish a base line.

The test:

We installed the latest ASIX AX88178 Mac drivers for the Plugable Gigabit Adapter (currently v6.3.0). We used the open source network testing tool iperf running on a Mac Mini Server running 10.7.3 and a MacBook running 10.6.8. If you’d like to duplicate our tests, here’s a nice pre-compiled GUI version available here: JPerf-2.0.2.dmg. In order to isolate the adapters as completely as possible, we connected directly between two ethernet ports, set the address manually and ran iperf as both server and client in each direction. Remember that in order to get gigabit speeds, your entire network (including any routers in-between) need to be gigabit capable.

The results:

PCI-Gigabit Ethernet
940/936
USB-to-Gigabit Ethernet (Plugable USB2-E1000)
250/320
USB 10/100 Ethernet
94/94

* send/receive speeds to a 2nd machine running PCI Gigabit Ethernet

These are low-level performance numbers (raw TCP/IP throughput). Real world throughput like copying a file over the network will be substantially lower due to transport overhead and any bottlenecks on the network or on either side of the transfer.

Using a tool like iperf and isolating the ethernet adapters to a direct connection establishes a base line for data speeds. To further identify potential networking bottlenecks, introduce one network component at a time and rerun your tests to see how the throughput is effected by the increasing complexity.

For detailed instructions on installing Mac drivers for the Plugable USB2-E1000, see Howto: Installing ASIX’s USB Gigabit Ethernet Driver on Mac OS X Lion 10.7.

We hope these numbers are useful to set performance expectations. Have any questions? We’d be happy to help. Reply here or email support@plugable.com anytime. Thanks!

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Windows 8 Consumer Preview Support

We’re as excited about the Windows 8 Consumer Preview release as we expect many of our customers are. And we’re here to help if you install Windows 8 Consumer Preview on computers where you’re using or plan to use any Plugable devices.

We’ve already begun installing Microsoft’s latest operating system on PCs in our lab for the fun of hands-on exploration and–more importantly–for testing the compatibility of Plugable products on this platform.

Here’s what we know already.

Graphics Adapters
All Plugable graphics adapters rely on DisplayLink drivers that are explicitly called out during Windows 8 Consumer Preview setup as incompatible with the new operating system. DisplayLink has made Beta drivers available for Windows 8 on its public forum.

1) You will need to uninstall your current DisplayLink drivers when prompted to do so by Windows 8 Consumer Preview setup.

2) Once Windows 8 Consumer Preview is installed, you can download and install the DisplayLink drivers from http://plugable.com/drivers/displaylink. Please read the release notes to be aware of any that may affect you.

We have used DisplayLink drivers successfully on a computer running Windows 8 Consumer Preview with a Plugable UGA-2k-A graphics adapter. With an extended desktop, the Windows 8 “Metro” interface showed on the primary desktop, and the extended desktop functioned like a Windows 7 extended desktop.

The ability to control whether in duplicate or extend mode was located on an option called “Devices” that can be invoked from the lower right corner in the “Metro” UI.

Network Adapters
Windows 8 Consumer Preview should find the compatible ASIX or Realtek drivers for all Plugable network adapters via Windows Update. The computer will need a network connection separate from the one made available by the Plugable adapter.

USB 3.0 Devices
Windows 8 has native support for USB 3.0 and should properly manage the host controllers in any Plugable USB 3.0 cards and hubs. No third party drivers should be required.

Windows Easy Transfer Cable
The Plugable Windows Easy Transfer cable works in Windows 8. We’ll devote a future post to the topic of what the user interface looks like in Windows 8.

We’ll also cover using the optional Bravura software (license comes with the Plugable cable) in that future post.

If You Need Support
We hope all Plugable products function to your satisfaction on Windows 8 Consumer Preview. But if you experience problems or previously unseen quirks, we encourage you to post your questions at http://support.plugable.com or write to us at support@plugable.com. We’re here to help and eager to hear about your experiences with Windows 8.

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Howto: Installing ASIX’s USB Gigabit Ethernet Driver on Mac OS X Lion 10.7

If you plug one of our Plugable USB2-E1000 USB 2.0 to Gigabit Ethernet Adapters or others based on the ASIX 88178 chipset into an Mac Lion system, Apple will match it with the Apple Gigabit Ethernet driver that’s included in Lion.

But things often fail on non-Apple adapters in a confusing way: it will show as “Connected” in the Network control panel, but connections out won’t work — you’ll notice it has a self-assigned IP address (169.*), no router, and no DNS server. It looks something like this:

Fortunately, ASIX has an updated driver which works on Lion 10.7 (and older versions). Note that if you had done this before upgrading to Lion, your old driver may be 32-bit. Lion moves all systems to a 64-bit kernel, so in the case of a Lion upgrade, you may have to uninstall the old driver (uninstaller included in the driver package), and follow the steps below to get ASIX’s latest driver.

Download the Plugable USB2-E1000 (ASIX 88178 chipset) driver from our USB2-E1000 driver page.

If you’re downlading with Safari, look for the Download folder the Lion has in your Dock by default. Click on that to bring up recent downloads, which looks like this:

Open that folder, then click on the “.dmg” to open the ASIX driver installer disk image.

The image then shows up on the left side of the window, below your other drives, called “DISK IMAGE”. Click on this to open the image, then click on the installer (the icon with the package opening).

You’re finally out of Lion’s folders and into the installer proper.

The ASIX 88178 driver isn’t big (254K)

You will be prompted to let the driver install.

A reboot is required for the newly installed driver to be active.

After the reboot, if you open the Network control panel, you should now see “Connected”, but now also with a properly assigned IP address, DNS, etc.

If that’s not the case (or something goes awry later), it’s common on Mac OS X to need a fresh interface for the adapter, which you can create via the network control panel (this creates a new, clean configuration for an adapter). See the ASIX Mac installation guide for details.

And once you have that automatically assigned IP address, you should be done – open Safari and enjoy!

And if you have a Plugable adapter and have any problems at all, we’re here to help. Visit support.plugable.com or email support@plugable.com anytime. Thanks!

Where to Buy

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