Can I use a USB network adapter for boot-time PXE scenarios?


I have a Dell XPS 13. I have installed the latest drivers from the plugable website. It works fine once you logon to the laptop. I am trying to boot from network to create a WDS Image. This does not work.

Can you kindly assist on this please?

Note: This topic was created from a reply on the USB3-E1000 + Win7 VM (not working) topic.


This boils down to whether the UEFI or BIOS on the target system you are trying to capture from has support for the chip used in the USB network adapter in question. In the vast majority of cases, this will *not* work.

To say that a different way, the drivers used by the operating system in no way help before the OS is loaded. Before the OS is loaded, you have to rely on whatever UEFI/BIOS supports- which is very limited.

For it to be possible for a system to access a USB network adapter during boot time, the UEFI/BIOS on the host or capture target must both:

  1. Provide support for the specific USB network chip, in this case the new and thus unlikely to be supported ASIX 88179
  2. Be configured to use the USB network device 1st (ahead of any internal network connections, if those exist).

Typically, the only workable option for ultrabooks or other systems with no built-in ethernet is to use an older, slower USB 2.0 network adapter. Since these chips have been around much longer, many more motherboard OEM’s have integrated support for their chips into their UEFI/BIOS builds.

Further details on the general topic are in my blog post linked below, feel free to reply here or preferably comment on the blog post with additional questions. Hope this helps, I know deploying to/from ultrabooks is a challenge that basically boils down to finding a usb network device with a chip that the motherboard you’re trying to capture off of supports, and finding relevant UEFI/BIOS settings to ensure this device is being used 1st during boot time.…

Best wishes-

Jeff Everett
Technical Support Engineer
Plugable Technologies