Do USB Wireless Network Adapters Work On Xbox?

Are Xbox Wireless Adapters the Same as PC USB Adapters?

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 feature USB ports for connecting peripherals like racing wheels or a camera. Many Wi-Fi network adapters also connect via USB, but these products normally plug into a computer and require special configuration. 

Unfortunately, it isn't possible to have a generic USB network adapter work on an Xbox console. However, there are other options.

Why It Doesn't Work

Generic Wi-Fi network adapters require certain device drivers 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 an 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

Instead of using a USB port, you also have the option of connecting a network adapter to the Ethernet port. The Linksys WGA54G Wireless-G Gaming 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 connection.

Microsoft's standard network adapter for the original Xbox (MN-740) was also an Ethernet bridge device.

Many people prefer this option since Ethernet adapters often cost less than USB adapters.

Running Linux on your Xbox 

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, lets you install the required drivers and configure these adapters as you would on ordinary PCs.

This option is not appealing to the casual gamer because it requires effectively rebuilding your console with a new operating system. However, running Linux on your Xbox brings other technical advantages that some technophiles cannot live without.