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 ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver by Trickstarter 
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Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:31 am
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 ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver by Trickstarter
First off, I work for a very broke Non-Profit, so we are as cheap as they come. 0:-)

In an effort to utilize the much cheaper Mac Mini's as ESX host, I have run in to an issue for the VMware Storage Virtual Appliance setup, in that for a host to be part of the storage group, it must have at least 4 Gigabit NIC's. A quick ThunderBolt to Gigabit NIC adapter (It is a Broadcom Chipset) got me to two NIC's. However, since I still need two more, I bought 2 USB to gigabit ethernet adapters and am attempting to port the linux driver over to ESX. This puts my total cost of my ESX host right at about $1,100. :-D It runs 4 VM's very nicely after the 16GB RAM upgrade, even keeping in mind that the quad core i7 is a mobile version. Not to mention the lower cost of overhead when compared to a Dell Poweredge for example. And let's not forget the 2TB storage that makes using the Storage Virtural Appliance a no-brainer.

Anyway, any help I could get with the port would be most appreciated. As of now, I've found that RHEL5 seems to be the best build environment. (please correct me if someone knows a better way.)

Where I really need help is in editing the default build-driver.sh to compile my linux source code.. It seems everything I've tried has failed miserably.. :-( I am currently trying on RHEL 6.3 because I didn't know it would have the newer versions of gcc and ld from binutils.

The chipset in my usb NIC's is the AX88179_178a from ASIX. I downloaded the source code from them and compiled it successfully for the Linux Kernel. Now for ESX...

Can anyone help me with a, "how-to" for setting up a build environment and correctly editing the build script to compile my driver?

Thanks in advance to Dave for modding and maintaining this incredible site! ;-)
And many thanks as well to any and all contributions to this thread.

Please disregard any randomness of this message. I'm not a coder and my brain hurts from trying to work outside my realm of expertise. Lol ;-)

I will continue to maintain this thread and add further developments until I have a successful driver and will post it here for all to use.

Thanks again! Have a wonderful day!


Last edited by AdamK on Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:36 am, edited 4 times in total.



Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:09 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:31 am
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Post Re: ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver Needed
The public source for 5.0.0u1 has been released and comes with a build script to get the right versions of gcc and ld installed.. I just found this last night and it seems to create all the correct utilities and paths so that the , 'build-vmkdrivers.sh' script will run without modification or error. I'm going to try to set this up and test it today.


Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:46 am
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Post Re: ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver Needed
How have you made out with this?

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Dave Mishchenko
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Now available - VMware ESXi: Planning, Implementation, and Security
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Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:31 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:31 am
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Post Re: ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver Needed
Dave,
Thanks for asking and giving this thread some life!

Yes the new public source listed above does contain the scripts to successfully build and set up the environment to use the build-drivers.sh without modification. However, some of my default drivers still don't build 100% successful. And I have not been able to successfully build the USB driver. The default linux driver won't even build on RHEL 5.9 so I have been a little stuck. Copying the usbnet.h header from RHEL 6.3 has drastically reduced my errors by I still have about ten lines of errors left I haven't been able to get rid of to date.

I honestly think my current troubles arise from using the incorrect header files so I'm going to try to copy in and use the headers from RHEL 6.3. When I have more info on progress, I'll report here. I'm also making a, "how-to" that I will post here with step by step instructions after I have a successful driver.

As always, ANY input to this effort is welcome and appreciated.

Have a great day!


Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:49 am
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Post Re: ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver Needed
You may have already seen these links, but there are a few on this page for developing NIC drivers.
http://www.vm-help.com/esx41/developing_for_ESXi.php

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Dave Mishchenko
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Now available - VMware ESXi: Planning, Implementation, and Security
Also available - vSphere Quick Start Guide


Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:47 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:31 am
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Post Re: ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver Needed
Dave,
Thank you again my friend. Yes I have looked at those and based my methods upon those guides. They are extremely helpful for anyone trying to get started developing their own port from Linux. They have been instrumental in me getting this far.
The reason I thought that the headers might be the issue is a post I saw that explained the user was successful in compiling drivers once he made a symbolic link to the headers included in the esx base image. It was actually the gentlemen that made the open-source project that originally gave a lot of the forum use of the Realtek 8178 and 8179 NIC's. However I no longer see this "base" in with the public source.

Anyone have an idea where this is for 5.x?


Thanks again Dave!


Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:16 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:31 am
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Post Re: ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver Needed
Just found this in the new public source I referred to above:


REQUIRED BUILD ENVIRONMENT

CentOS 5.3 64-bit (unless otherwise explicitly stated in individual BUILD.txt files)

These vendor dependencies (or their equivalent) must be installed:

Admin Tools
Author and Publish
Base
DNS Name server
Development Libraries
Development Tools
Java
Legacy Software Support
Network Servers
Server Config Tools
System Tools
Text-based Internet
Editors


IMPORTANT NOTE: Unless a package includes a BUILD.txt file, the original package's
build instructions apply (if an older operating system is needed, it is noted).

You must be 'root' in order to perform package build and installation.

Each package must be built independently in their respective directory (some
packages use the generic build process as follows):

% ./configure
% make
% make install

Example:
% cd ntfsprogs-2.0.0
% tar xzf ntfsprogs-2.0.0.tar.gz
% ./configure
% make
% make install


Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:41 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:31 am
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Post Re: ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver Needed
I've only been able to find CentOS 5.3 x64 at the following link;

http://mirror.metrocast.net/centos/5.3/isos/x86_64/


Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:10 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:09 pm
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Post Re: ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver Needed
Code:
2013-02-13T01:24:02.616Z cpu3:136014)Loading module ax ...
2013-02-13T01:24:02.616Z cpu3:136014)Elf: 1852: module ax has license GPL
2013-02-13T01:24:02.616Z cpu3:136014)module heap: Initial heap size: 262144, max heap size: 9756672
2013-02-13T01:24:02.616Z cpu3:136014)vmklnx_module_mempool_init: Mempool max 9756672 being used for module: 127

2013-02-13T01:24:02.616Z cpu3:136014)vmk_MemPoolCreate passed for 64 pages

2013-02-13T01:24:02.616Z cpu3:136014)module heap: using memType 2
2013-02-13T01:24:02.616Z cpu3:136014)module heap vmklnx_ax88179: creation succeeded. id = 0x41001cf80000
2013-02-13T01:24:02.616Z cpu3:136014)<6>usbcore: registered new interface driver ax88179_178a
2013-02-13T01:24:02.616Z cpu3:136014)Mod: 4485: Initialization of ax succeeded with module ID 127.
2013-02-13T01:24:02.616Z cpu3:136014)ax loaded successfully.


I have no idea whether this will actually work or not, but it loaded OK in to my system. Try loading it in to the running system with the USB NIC attached? If it loads in and prints encouraging messages in /scratch/log/vmkernel.log let us know.

Attachment:
File comment: ax88179 kernel module, esx5.1
ax88179.gz [323.51 KiB]
Downloaded 404 times


Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:14 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:31 am
Posts: 137
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Post Re: ASIX AX88179_178a USB NIC Driver Needed
Trickstarter,
First let me just say how immensely grateful I am for the time and effort you put in to this driver. You are to be commended for your efforts. I salute you good sir.
Second, I will definitely try this out and report back all the relevant vmkernel logs. As far as I know, if this works, you'll be the first person EVER to enable USB NIC's on ESX and I want to contribute in any way I can.

Anyway, I'm gonna get started on it all now. Thanks again!


Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:26 am
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