Using wireless USB adapters with an Xbox 360
Are Xbox wireless adapters the same as PC USB adapters?
The Microsoft Xbox console has USB ports for connecting peripherals such as racing wheels or a camera. Many Wi-Fi network adapters also connect via USB, but these products are usually connected to a computer and require special configurations before they can work.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to create a generic USB network adapter on an Xbox console. However, there are other options.
Because it doesn’t work
Generic Wi-Fi network adapters require certain device drivers that are not compatible with Xbox consoles. While it is of course possible to connect these adapters to the Xbox, they will not work properly without the accompanying drivers in place.
Since you cannot easily install your own drivers on an Xbox, the necessary software components cannot be transferred to the console for the network adapter to work.
Wireless USB Gaming Adapters
To set up an Xbox console for wireless networking, consider using a Wi-Fi gaming adapter instead of a general adapter. Game adapters are specifically designed not to require device drivers to be installed and will therefore work with Xbox.
The Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter, for example, plugs into the console’s USB port and supports standard home Wi-Fi networking. This is the easiest way to get your Xbox working over Wi-Fi so you can play online or with other consoles on your network.
Note: Make sure you read what the device can do before buying something called an “Xbox Wireless Adapter”. Some USB devices, such as the Microsoft Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows, are only useful if you want to connect your Xbox controller to a computer so you can play games on your computer. This device, for example, does not allow wireless connection to your Xbox like a game adapter.
Ethernet-to-Wireless Bridge Adapters
Instead of using a USB port, you also have the option of connecting a network adapter to the console’s Ethernet port. The Linksys WGA54G Wireless-G Gaming Adapter, for example, serves this purpose for both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360.
Creates a wireless connection without the need for 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 run on a heavily modified Xbox. Using the XDSL distribution from the Xbox Linux program, for example, allows you to install the required drivers and configure these adapters as you would on regular computers.
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 Xbox brings you other technical advantages that some techies can’t live without.
Your Xbox may already support built-in wireless
Most modern game consoles, including the Xbox, support wireless connections by default, so you don’t need to install an additional device to connect to the network. This setting is probably in Settings, in the Network Settings or Wireless menu.
Here’s how to connect your Xbox 360 to a wireless router if your Xbox supports it