I spent a lot of time investigating the USB device passthrough on Vmware ESXi. I wrote specifically the word device in the title, meaning any USB device, storage, keyboard, mouse or else.
The passthrough of USB to Vmware ESXI is actually quite a pain, and not very straight forward.
Vmware really support passing USB storage via USB 3 to the VMs, not devices.
In a nutshell, there are three main ways to do this.
- Passthrough of the USB controller on the motherboard to ESXI.
- Buy a USB hub network connected device and connect USB over LAN (Digi Anywhere)
- Passthrough of a PCI dedicated card with USB controllers on it and compatible with ESXI
Solution 1 comes with significant caviarts. It relies on the the ability of the detection of the components of the motherboard by the ESXI kernel and Vmware has not been very keen on fixing these issues for the prosumer user. I was semi successfull with my motherboard but after an update on ESXi, I couldn’t pass any USB device despite having passedthrough the USB controller to ESXI and having it being detected correctly.
Solution 2 is very expensive and is really meant for the enterprise market, to pass license dongles to VM (in my opinion).
Solution 3 was then the direction that I turned too and I started reading.
One of the amazing ressources for ESXI whitelabs is the great website of Tinkertry.
He wrote very good articles about USB passthrough and I highly encourage to read this one