Do USB Wireless Network Adapters Work On Xbox?

The Microsoft XBOX 360 is seen at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
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Microsoft Xbox and Xbox 360 game consoles all feature USB ports for connecting peripherals like racing wheels or a camera. Many Wi-Fi wireless network adapters also connect via USB, but these products normally plug into a computer and require special configuration. Is it possible to set up a USB network adapter to work on an Xbox console?

It is not possible to use generic USB wireless network adapters with the Xbox or Xbox 360 game console.

The reason: generic Wi-Fi network adapters require the installation of device driver software that standard Xbox consoles cannot accommodate. Although it is physically possible to plug these adapters into the Xbox, they will not function properly without the accompanying drivers in place.

USB wireless game adapters: To set up a standard Xbox console for wireless networking, consider using a Wi-Fi game adapter instead of a generic adapter. Game adapters are specifically designed to not require the installation of device drivers, and will therefore work with Xbox. The Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter, for example, connects to the console's USB port and supports standard Wi-Fi home networking.

Ethernet-to-wireless bridge adapters Alternatively, you may set up a wireless link similar to the above by connecting a network adapter to the Ethernet port instead of using USB. The Linksys WGA54G Wireless Game Adapter, for example, serves this purpose for both the original Xbox and Xbox 360.

It creates a wireless connection without requiring device drivers by bridging the Xbox built-in Ethernet. Microsoft's standard network adapter for the original Xbox (MN-740) was also an Ethernet bridge device. Many people prefer this option as the Ethernet Wi-Fi adapters often cost less than USB Wi-Fi game adapters.

Running Linux on your Xbox: Device driver based USB network adapters can only be installed and work on a heavily modified Xbox. Using the XDSL distribution from the Xbox Linux project, for example, you can install the required device drivers and configure these adapters as you would on ordinary PCs. This option is not appealing to the casual gamer as it requires effectively rebuilding your console with a new operating system, but running Linux on your Xbox brings other technical advantages that some technophiles cannot live without.

For more information, see How to Connect Xbox Consoles to a Wireless Router.